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Brazil's nuclear power program undone by corruption

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green ‒ Nuclear Monitor editor

The future of Brazil's partially-built Angra-3 reactor is uncertain in the wake of a wide-ranging corruption scandal that has engulfed the country. Angra-3 was conceived in controversy in 1975 and it may die in controversy.

The turnkey Angra-1 reactor was built by Westinghouse from 1971 to 1982. Angra-1 suffered continuing problems with its steam supply system and its load factor was only 25% over its first 15 years, but since 1999 it has performed "much better" according to the World Nuclear Association.1

Then came the hugely controversial "deal of the century" between Germany and Brazil for the supply of eight reactors, a suite of nuclear fuel cycle facilities and oodles of technology transfer despite Brazil's obvious interest in nuclear weapons. Academic Matthew Bunn explains:2

"In 1975, Brazil and Germany agreed on a nuclear "deal of the century" in which Germany was to provide several reactors and a complete nuclear fuel cycle, including both an enrichment plant and a reprocessing facility, under international safeguards. (The deal was later drastically scaled back, due to delays, economic constraints, and U.S. pressure.)

"At about the same time, Brazil launched a secret, unsafeguarded "parallel program" run by the military, divided into segments run by different services, with the Navy pursuing centrifuge enrichment (ultimately successfully establishing an enrichment facility), and the Army pursuing plutonium production.

"Personnel trained in the safeguarded program with Germany were transferred to the weapons program, and technologies from the safeguarded program are believed to have been used in both the unsafeguarded enrichment facility and a small plutonium separation facility. The weapons program was cancelled under a later civilian government, and following the Brazil-Argentina rapprochement, all of Brazil's nuclear facilities are now under safeguards."

Under the Germany/Brazil agreement, the Angra 2 and 3 pressurized water reactors were to be built immediately, with equipment from Kraftwerk Union (KWU). Work began on Angra-2 in 1976 but was suspended due to a lack of finances and lower than expected growth in electricity demand. Work resumed in 1995 and the reactor came online in 2000. Three years earlier, Eletronuclear was formed as a subsidiary of state energy utility Eletrobrás and assumed responsibility for construction and operation of nuclear power plants.


The development of Angra-3 ‒ a Siemens/KWU pressurized water reactor, identical to Angra-2 ‒ began in 1984 but was halted in 1986 before full construction began. In 2006, the government announced plans to complete Angra-3 and also to build four more reactors beginning in 2015. In 2008, Eletronuclear signed an agreement with Areva for work on Angra-3. In mid-2010, the National Nuclear Energy Commission granted a construction licence and work began on Angra-3 after a 24-year hiatus. In November 2013, a contract was awarded to Areva in line with the 2008 agreement.

And then the Angra-3 project began to fall apart ... again. Funding was a problem. Areva said in April 2015 that progress on the project was "dependent on the securing of project financing by the customer".3 Areva announced in June 2015 that it had reduced its activities at Angra-3 due to delays in securing financing for the remainder of the project.4,5

In August 2015, four Brazilian construction companies stopped work on Angra-3 due to non-payment of millions of dollars from Eletronuclear, and in the context of an escalating bribery corruption scandal engulfing the construction companies as well as Eletronuclear, Eletrobrás, politicians and political parties.6,7

The following month, Eletrobrás suspended work on Angra-3 pending an internal corruption inquiry. Eletronuclear CEO Pedro José Diniz de Figueiredo ‒ newly appointed after the July 2015 arrest of former CEO Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva in connection with the corruption scandal ‒ said all building contracts for the project had been frozen for 90 days.8

Over a year later and the Angra-3 project remains frozen. Figueiredo said in April 2016 that several issues needed to be resolved: completion of the internal corruption investigation; setting a new budget for the project, cancelling contracts suspected of being fraudulent and conducting a new tender process, and renegotiating funding for the project.9

When construction began in 2010, commissioning of Angra-3 was expected in late 2015.1 Now, Eletrobrás and Eletronuclear hope to commission the reactor in 2021.10 But that timeline assumes that work will resume, and that it will resume in 2017, and both assumptions are doubtful. According to the World Nuclear Association, the timeline for completion of Angra-3 is "indefinite, maybe 2022"; in other words, it may never be completed.1

Construction of Angra-3 is about two-thirds complete according to Eletronuclear.9 But more funding is required to complete the project. According to, an additional US$1.8 billion is required in addition to a government loan previously secured.11 In December 2016, Eletronuclear executives will visit China in an attempt to secure new investors to complete Angra-3.12 China might be interested in supporting Angra-3 if it opens up options for the deployment of Chinese reactor technology in Brazil (as with Chinese funding for Hinkley Point C in the UK). But it is doubtful whether new reactors will be built in Brazil in the foreseeable future.

Eletrobrás and its subsidiary Eletronuclear are in no position to be covering the funding shortfall for Angra-3. In November 2015, Eletrobrás booked a 3.39 billion reais (US$980 million) impairment charge on Angra-3.13 In the same month, Eletrobrás announced that it would cut 13,000 jobs over the next two years, around 30% of the utility's staff.10

Then Eletrobrás reported its biggest ever annual loss: a net loss of 14.4 billion reais (US$4.1 billion) in 2015. Economic consulting firm BNamericas reported that the largest write-down was 5 billion reais (US$1.44 bn) for Angra-3.14

The estimated cost of Angra-3 has increased significantly. According to BNamericas, in the late 2000s the estimated cost was US$5.4 billion whereas the latest estimate is 121% greater at US$12 billion.15 According to the World Nuclear Association, the estimated cost in 2010 was US$6 billion and it is now US$7.6 billion.1 Cost increases have arisen due to exchange rate fluctuations, inflation and additional works required to satisfy environmental concerns.15 Eletronuclear reportedly estimates additional losses of US$1.7 million per day if the reactor is not operational by the end of 2018.7

Corruption and crisis

Angra-3 featured in the 'Most Controversial Projects 2015' list compiled by RepRisk, a business intelligence provider specializing in environmental, social, and governance risk analytics.16 Angra-3 was listed at number five in RepRisk's top 10. The award citation read:

"Repeated allegations of corruption have led to the inclusion of Brazil's third nuclear power plant, the Angra 3 Nuclear Reactor, in the MCP 2015 report. ... [I]n May 2015, Eletrobras found itself embroiled in a corruption scandal, when it was alleged that Edison Lobao, Brazil's former Minister for Mines and Energy, had received BRL 1 million (USD 250,000) to help the construction company, UTC Participacoes, win a contract for the Angra 3 Nuclear Plant.

"It was then revealed that the CEO of Eletronuclear had accepted bribes from construction companies involved in the Angra 3 project and in July 2015, he was arrested for allegedly receiving BRL 4.5 million (USD 1.1 million) in kickbacks between 2009 and 2014 from Andrade Gutierrez and Engevix Engenharia (Engevix). A senior energy executive of Andrade Gutierrez was also arrested. Investigators then began to probe the Angramon consortium, charged with constructing Angra 3 ...

"Later in July [2015], hundreds of shareholders of Eletrobras filed charges against the company in New York, claiming that the firm had known about the corruption at Eletronuclear and had hidden the fact for more than a year. One month later, Eletrobras and some of its executives were sued in a class-action lawsuit in a US District Court for violating the US Securities Exchange Act and for providing materially false statements related to the awarding of USD multibillion construction projects, including the Angra 3 Nuclear Reactor.

"In November 2015, the Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE) launched an investigation into a group of construction companies, including UTC Engenharia, EBE, Construtora Andrade Gutierrez, Construtora Norberto Odebrecht, Construtora Queiroz Galvao, Camargo Correa, and Techint, on suspicions that they had formed a BRL 3 billion (USD 775.3 million) cartel to rig the bidding for the Angra 3 Nuclear Reactor. According to CADE, the cartel was known as the "big group," which held meetings to agree on the prices and winners of each construction tender.

"In December 2015, Brazil's Federal Criminal Court ratified the charges brought by the Federal Ministry of Public Prosecution against Eletronuclear and former executives of Andrade Gutierrez for corruption related to the Angra 3 Nuclear Reactor. The CEO of Eletronuclear, a shareholder of Engevix, and the former president of Andrade Gutierrez Energia were placed under house arrest."

Eletronuclear CEO Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva, considered the father of Brazil's nuclear program, was arrested in July 2015. In the same month, Luiz Pinguelli Rosa, a nuclear physicist and Eletrobrás' chief executive from 2003‒2005, said: "The arrest is a tragedy for the industry. The industry was already in crisis, but now the corruption concerns are bound to delay Angra 3 further and cause costs to rise even more."17

The drama has continued this year. In August 2016, Silva was sentenced to 43 years in prison for colluding with executives at Brazilian construction companies to set up an over-billing and kick-back operation for Angra-3.18,20 Investigators alleged Silva skimmed up to 30 million reais (US$8.6 m) from Angra-3 engineering and construction contracts.19

The judge said in his ruling: "The elements of the court findings permit the conclusion that the corruption scheme was structured before, during and after the tenders for Eletronuclear's construction of Angra 3 and consisted in the payment of bribes to public servants and agents" by the construction and engineering companies.18

In addition to Silva, 12 other people, including Silva's daughter, were sentenced in August 2016 for their involvement in the embezzlement of public funds.20

In July 2016, prosecutors announced that Eletronuclear CEO Pedro Figueredo had been suspended from his duties for allegedly colluding with Silva and interfering with the company's internal investigations.19 In the same month, 19 people were arrested for allegedly paying bribes to senior executives of Eletronuclear.22 In return for bribes, Eletronuclear executives allegedly let construction companies inflate the cost of contracts for Angra-3, and politicians and political parties were also beneficiaries of the corruption.22

In May 2016, Brazil's second biggest contractor, Andrade Gutierrez, agreed to a plea deal and will pay one billion reais (US$288 million) to settle the matter. The company was involved in corrupt dealings in connection with Angra-3 and other projects.21

A future for nuclear power in Brazil?

Angra 1 and 2 provided Brazil with 13.9 terawatt-hours or 2.8% of its electricity in 2015, down from a maximum of 4.3% in 2001.23

In addition to Angra 1‒3, plans for an additional 4‒8 reactors have been discussed. However, as the World Nuclear Association notes, "funding is likely to be a problem".1 Claudio Salles, president of Instituto Acende, a Brazilian energy-research group, said in mid-2015: "These [nuclear] plants take 10−15 years to build and as time goes on they become less viable."17

Plans to expand renewable energy have better prospects. The World Nuclear Association states that power from existing nuclear plants at about US$75/MWh is about 1.5 times more expensive than hydropower, and power from Angra-3 is expected to be slightly over twice as expensive as hydro.1

Hydro generates about three-quarters of Brazil's electricity. Plans are in train to add around 40 gigawatts (GW) of new hydro capacity by 2035, primarily from small- to medium-sized run-of-the-river plants which generally have a small impact on the environment and indigenous tribes when compared to some large hydro projects.24

Brazil's Ministry of Mines and Energy says that wind power will make up over 30% of new capacity in the next 11 years, and that at least 25 GW of new wind power capacity will be added by 2035.24

Modest increases of solar and biomass (primarily leftovers from other production processes, such as bagasse from sugarcane processing) are planned. Brazil plans to shut down its coal-fired power plants (2.5 GW) by 2030, and no new permits for coal-fired plants will be granted.24

In mid-2015, Brazil announced its intention to increase the share of non-hydro renewable electricity sources to 20% by 2030.25


1. World Nuclear Association, Sept 2016, Nuclear Power in Brazil,

2. Matthew Bunn, 2001, "Civilian Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Weapons Programs: The Record",

3. AREVA, Press Release, 29 April 2015.
4. WNN, 29 June 2015,

5. Laura Buckley, 29 June 2015, 'Work slows at Brazilian nuclear plant, says AREVA',

6. Reuters, 3 Sept 2015, 'Eletrobras suspends Angra nuclear contract as contractors quit',

7. Lise Alves, 13 Aug 2015, 'Brazil's Angra 3 Nuclear Reactor May be Delayed',

8. Michael Place, 30 Sept 2015, 'Brazil's Eletronuclear suspends US$4bn Angra 3 project',

9. 29 April 2016, 'Brazil's 3rd nuclear plant on track to come online in 2020',

10. Michael Place, 21 Nov 2016, 'Brazil postpones Angra 3 nuclear project',

11. 'Angra-3 PWR Nuclear, Brazil',

12. Michael Place, 24 Nov 2016, 'Brazil seeks Chinese investors to kick-start Angra 3 nuclear works',

13. Caroline Stauffer and Jeb Blount / Reuters, 13 Nov 2016, 'Eletrobras posts 3rd-quarter loss on Angra 3 nuclear plant impairment',

14. Michael Place, 31 March 2016, 'Eletrobras posts record loss',

15. BNamericas, 'BNamericas' Angra 3 risk analysis',

16. RepRisk, March 2016, 'Most Controversial Projects 2015',

17. Reuters, 30 July 2015, 'Brazil Nuclear Leader's Arrest May Stymie Atomic Ambitions',
18. Reuters, 4 Aug 2016, 'Brazil Eletronuclear CEO gets 43-year sentence for corruption -paper',

19. Michael Place, 6 July 2016, 'Lava Jato: Police arrest former Eletronuclear head',

20. Lise Alves, 4 Aug 2016, 'Eletronuclear President Sentenced to 43 Years for Corruption in Brazil',

21. Rod Sweet, 10 May 2016, 'Brazil construction giant pays $284m and says sorry to 'all Brazilians' for corruption',

22. Jeb Blount, 6 July 2016, 'Brazil police arrest 19 in Eletrobras nuke-plant bribe probe',

23. Mycle Schneider, Antony Froggatt et al., 2016, World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2016,

24. Nov 2016, 'Future Electricity Policy of Brazil & Planning of Energy Projects',

25. Suzanne Goldenberg and Dan Roberts, 1 July 2015, 'Brazil announces massive reforestation and renewable energy plan with US',


Brazil's nuclear power program in crisis

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green − Nuclear Monitor editor

Othon Luiz Pinheiro da Silva, the former CEO of Brazil's nuclear power company Eletronuclear was formally charged on September 1 with accepting bribes. Reuters reported that Pinheiro allegedly took bribes totaling 4.5 million reais (US$1.1m; €1m) from construction and engineering firms involved in the construction of the Angra 3 nuclear power plant.1 The figure could be as high as US$10 million according to Associated Press.2

The payments were allegedly made to fix the bidding process and increase prices for work on the Angra 3 reactor under construction 100 km west of Rio de Janeiro. Pinheiro has been in jail since July 28, and in early August he resigned as CEO of Eletronuclear, the nuclear subsidiary of state-run utility Eletrobras. Eletronuclear operates Brazil's two nuclear power reactors and is building Angra 3 with the help of French nuclear utility Areva and numerous smaller construction firms.

Pinheiro, a retired navy admiral and nuclear engineer, has for decades been at the forefront of Brazil's programs to develop nuclear power, an aborted nuclear weapons program when Brazil was under military rule, and ongoing plans to build submarines including one nuclear-powered submarine. The submarine tendering process is under investigation.3

Fourteen other people, including Pinheiro's daughter Ana Cristina Toniolo and six construction firm executives, were also charged with crimes such as money-laundering and offering or receiving bribes.1 In addition to the arrests, 'Operation Radioactivity' involved the execution of 23 search and seizure warrants according to a federal police statement.14

"The arrest is a tragedy for the industry," said Luiz Pinguelli Rosa, a nuclear physicist and Eletrobras' chief executive from 2003 to 2005. "The industry was already in crisis, but now the corruption concerns are bound to delay Angra 3 further and cause costs to rise even more."4

The Angra 3 project has descended into farce:

  • Areva announced in June that it had temporarily reduced its activities at Angra 3 due to "delays encountered in securing financing for the remainder of the project's activities".5
  • At least four Brazilian construction firms halted work in mid-August due to lack of payment from Eletronuclear.
  • Eletronuclear said on September 2 that it planned to suspend for 60 days a contract with the consortium building the reactor plant. Some constructions firms have pulled out of the project altogether.6 Eletronuclear is considering whether the remaining construction firms are financially and technically capable of carrying out the work.

Eletronuclear reported a loss of 1.36 billion reals (US$340 million) in the June quarter, with the largest contributor to the loss being a provision for contingencies on lawsuits against the utility.

Corruption pervasive in the energy sector and beyond

The scandal extends beyond the nuclear industry to the entire power sector and the oil and gas industries ... and beyond. The prosecutors' charging document states: "The cartel naturally expanded using the same modus operandi and the same companies (as in the case of Petrobras) to take part in Eletronuclear tenders."1

Petrobras has written off more than US$2 billion in corruption-related losses.3

In addition to executives from the oil, construction and electricity industries, some politicians face charges including the leader of the lower house of Congress and a former president.1

A public opinion poll found that 60% of respondents want Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff impeached over the widespread corruption. Standard & Poors said the arrest of Pinheiro was another "political uncertainty" that caused the agency to change Brazil's credit outlook to negative.7

Alexandre Barros, a political risk consultant with the Brasilia-based firm Early Warning, said the Eletronuclear scandal was indicative of broader patterns of corruption in state-run companies, and raised the spectre of a return to military rule: "Schemes like these have long been part of our culture and I think other similar schemes start emerging all over the place. My big fear is that the armed forces may start feeling uneasy."2

History of underachievement

Brazil's nuclear power industry has a history of underachievement. The decision to develop nuclear power was taken by the 1964−1985 military dictatorship. A covert nuclear weapons program was also pursued. Public debate was not tolerated. "Protesting against nuclear energy was like protesting against the government, which meant prison, torture or death," said ecologist Vilmar Berna.8

The Angra 1 reactor suffered ongoing problems with its steam supply system and its load factor over the first 15 years was only 25%.9 The most recent problem with Angra 1 occurred in February 2015, when the reactor was temporarily shut down after a failure of the capacitors used to cool steam.10

Work on Angra 2 began in 1976 but the reactor did not commence operation until the year 2000.

Work started on Angra 3 in 1984. Around 70% of the equipment was delivered, but full construction did not begin and work on the project was suspended in 1986. In November 2006 the government announced plans to complete Angra 3 and construction began in June 2010. Operation was anticipated in 2015, but now there is considerable doubt as to whether the new 2019 start-up date can be met (or if the project will be completed at all). The total estimated cost for the project is US$7.59 billion, substantially greater than earlier estimates.9

"The goal of 2019 will be very hard to meet. And the other plants, who knows?" said Claudio Salles, president of Instituto Acende, a Brazilian energy-research group in Sao Paulo. "These plants take 10−15 years to build and as time goes on they become less viable."4

Ildo Sauer, a nuclear physicist who worked under Pinheiro in the late 1980s and a former head of Petrobras natural gas' division, says Brazil's nuclear program is too expensive and has been co-opted by politicians and construction and engineering firms. "The problem is the lobbyists who see nuclear as a chance to build expensive megaprojects with little regard for cost. It's no longer about science or energy. It's about politics and money, and that brings corruption."4

Private sector

No private investment in nuclear power is allowed in Brazil, though this is under review. In May 2015 the government said that Angra 3 would be the last nuclear power plant built as a public project, opening the way for private equity in future reactors.9

In early 2015 energy minister Eduardo Braga said that he was looking for private sector investment for another four reactors. The government plans to allow private companies to bid for the construction of reactors with financing guarantees of future revenues.11

Pro-nuclear commentator Dan Yurman wrote: "Any private sector vendor that planned to step up to financing and building four new nuclear reactors, worth [US]$25−30 billion, might find a steep challenge in keeping the construction venues free of people with real or imagined influence coming out of the woodwork with their palms stretched out. U.S firms, which face potential prosecution under laws that prohibit giving bribes for contracts, would need to spend serious time with their legal advisors before venturing into the Brazilian market. Where Brazil is going to get private sector vendors to take on $5−10 billion projects is anybody's guess."12

In any case the commitment to build more reactors is half-hearted. In May 2012 the government said that construction of any new plants would not commence until after 2020.9 The government's 'Decennial Energy Plan 2022', released in late 2013, made no mention of nuclear power plans other than Angra 3.13

In 2012, gross electricity production in Brazil was 553 billion TWh, with 75% from hydro; 14.5% from gas, coal and oil; 6% from biomass and wastes; 3% from nuclear; and 1% from wind and solar.9

Pinheiro said in 2013 that nuclear power's share should not grow much beyond 4%, because hydropower and other renewable sources will meet rising demand.8

Power from Angra 1 and 2 at about US $75/MWh is about 1.5 times more expensive than that from hydro, and power from Angra 3 is expected to be slightly over twice as expensive as hydropower.9


1. Reuters, 1 Sept 2015, 'Brazil charges ex-CEO of nuclear power company with taking bribes',

2. Associated Press, 28 Aug 2015, 'Police ask that charges be filed against former head of Brazil's nuclear power company',

3. Reuters, 29 July 2015, 'Brazilian police probe nuclear submarine program - Folha',

4. Reuters, 30 July 2015, 'Brazil Nuclear Leader's Arrest May Stymie Atomic Ambitions',
5. WNN, 29 June 2015,

6. Reuters, 3 Sept 2015, 'Eletrobras suspends Angra nuclear contract as contractors quit',

7. Dan Yurman, 2 Aug 2015, 'Rocky times for nuclear executives in Japan, Finland, & Brazil',

8. Fabiola Ortiz, Dec 2013, 'Nuclear Energy Small but Strategic in Brazil',

9. World Nuclear Association, Sept 2015, 'Nuclear Power in Brazil',

10. 20 Feb 2015, 'Brazil's Nuclear Power Plant Angra 1 is Shut Down After Failure',

11. Reuters, 27 May 2015, 'Brazil sees expanded private role in nuclear power - minister',

12. Dan Yurman, 7 June 2015, 'Four major nuclear deals with a lot of waiting ahead',

13. Togzhan Kassenova, 2014, 'Brazil's Nuclear Kaleidoscope: An Evolving Identity',

14. Reuters, 28 July 2015, 'Update 4 − Two Brazilian executives arrested as Petrobras probe hits utility,


In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Israel: first permit for uranium exploration.
Israel’s Energy and Water Ministry on April 3 granted Gulliver Energy the first ever uranium exploration permit. The Israeli oil and gas exploration company is headed by former Mossad intelligence agency director Meir Dagan. In a statement dated April 3, Gulliver said the permit is for a year and covers 1,200 acres in Israel’s northern Negev Desert region near the town of Arad. The area to be explored extends to the Dead Sea. Gulliver requested the permit after radioactive material was discovered at shallow depths of less than 100 meters during oil exploration testing last year. A feasibility study conducted in the past year concluded there was a high probability of finding uranium there. Initial tests were conducted to a shallow depth but further tests at various depths are planned in order to assess the prospects for finding uranium.

Arad Mayor Tali Peloskov said the town will not allow any mining in the area. He has requested a meeting with Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman on the matter in order to assess the health risk of mining in the area. Local residents who are opposed to mining operations have also set up a lobby to oppose efforts to mine for uranium as well as phosphates near the town. The land involved is near large phosphate reserves. Israel conducted a national uranium survey in the late 1980s, and the region near Arad was found to have potential for uranium. In the past Israel attempted to extract uranium from phosphates. The Weizmann Institute of Science, a multidisciplinary research institute in Rehovot, Israel, developed a technique that was costly and the project was dropped. Neither the company nor the ministry has said whether the uranium would be used in Israel or exported.
NuclearFuel, 16 April 2012

Myanmar: no longer pursuing nuclear program.
Myanmarese President Thein Sein said on May 14, the country had given up its plan to develop nuclear programs in cooperation with Russia in the mid-2000s. Sein told visiting Korean President Lee Myung-bak that Russia offered to build two 10 megawatt nuclear reactors for civilian, not military, use. But the country’s military junta did not pushed the project due to its inability to manage it, he was quoted as saying by Lee’s security aide Kim Tae-hyo. In 2007, Russia's atomic energy agency and Myanmar signed a deal to build nuclear research reactor. Reports said the reactors would use low enriched uranium consisting of less than 20 percent uranium-235. The plans to buy a nuclear reactor from Russia have been in the pipeline for years, and were met with suspicion. (See for instance Nuclear Monitor 657, 21 June 2007: Myanmar: a new Iran in the making?)
Asia News Network (The Korea Herald), 15 May 2012

Brazil shelves plans to build new nuclear plants.
Brazil announced on May 9, it has abandoned plans to build new nuclear power stations in the coming years in the wake of last year's Fukushima disaster in Japan. The previous government led by former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had planned to construct between four and eight new nuclear plants through 2030. But the energy ministry's executive secretary, Marcio Zimmermann, was quoted as telling a forum May 8, that there was no need for new nuclear facilities for the next 10 years. "The last plan, which runs through 2020, does not envisage any (new) nuclear power station because there is no need for it. Demand is met with hydro-electrical power and complementary energy sources such as wind, thermal and natural gas."

Brazil has two PWR in operation. The Angra I was the first Brazilian nuclear reactor, which has been hampered by problems with corrosion in the steam generators due to a metal alloy used by westinghouse, which forced the recent replacement of both steam generators.

The Angra II reactor was completed after more than 20 years of construction, as costs soared from initial estimates of 500USD/kW in 1975 to over 4000USD/kw.
The total cost of Angra III, whose completion has been delayed for years, will be around 10 billion Brazilian reais (US$5.9 billion, 4.7bn euro).
AFP, 9 May 2012 /, 9 May 2012

Used parts sold for new in South Korea.
On May 11, a South Korean businessman has been jailed for three years for supplying potentially defective parts to the country's oldest atomic power plant Gori, near Busan. The man, identified only as Hwang, was sentenced for selling recycled turbine valve parts. He cleaned and painted used parts stolen from the plant's dump by an employee. He then sold them back to the plant, on three occasions since 2008, disguising them as new products. Hwang pocketed some three billion won (US$2.6 million) through the fraud, according to the court. The plant employee who stole the scrapped parts was sentenced to three years in prison in April.
There have been previous scandals over potentially defective parts in nuclear power plants. In April the nuclear safety watchdog launched an investigation at Gori and another plant, after they were found to be using components developed by a local company but based on illegally obtained French technology. The Gori-1 Reactor at the plant was also at the centre of a scare in February when it briefly lost power and the emergency generator failed to kick in. Several officials and engineers have been punished for covering up the incident.
AFP, 16 may 2012

Nigeria proposes two reactor sites. In the category ‘uhh, sorry?’ the following:
Nigeria’s Kogi and Akwa Ibom states are being put forward as proposed areas for nuclear reactors, pending approval of the federal executive council, the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) has said. Chairman of the commission, Dr Erepamo Osaisai, said it would submit the two locations for the siting of nuclear power reactors in the country soon to the Presidency. Dr Osaisai made the disclosure in a lecture to the fellows of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering in Sheda, Abuja. He said the preliminary sites' survey and evaluation project investigated a number of technical, environmental, security, social and economic issues. The two locations are within Geregu and Ajaokuta local governments in Kogi State and Itu Local Government in Akwa Ibom.

Nigeria is planning to generate 1000 MW of electricity through nuclear energy by 2020 and gradually increase it to 4000 MW by 2030. Osaisai expects that NAEC will apply for the licensing of the approved sites by the end of 2013. He said a draft law for the implementation of the national nuclear power program has been developed and has been subjected to detailed scrutiny by all major stakeholders with technical input of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), according to the news report.
The Nigerian Voice, 28 May 2012 / Nuclear Energy Insider, Policy & Commission Brief 24 – 30 May 2012

Tanzania: uranium mining threat to World Heritage site.
The Unesco World Heritage Committee (UWHC) will break the deadlock in June when it will decide whether or not to allow mining of uranium in Selous Game Reserve, one of the largest remaining wilderness areas in Africa, harboring the largest elephant population on the continent. The Mkuju River Uranium Project is planned by Russian ARMZ, a subsidiary of Rosatom and Canada-based UraniumOne. A decision on whether to change the boundary of the World Heritage site Selous Game Reserve and thus 'pave the way' for uranium mining - or not, will be made by the World Heritage Committee at its June 2012 session in St. Peterburg, Russia.

According to deputy minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, any move by the committee to halt uranium extraction would be a big blow to Tanzania which has been insisting that its extraction is critical to funding the country’s development programs and driving its economy. Some international as well as local environmentalists and politicians, including a handful of MPs, have strongly opposed the mining plans. They have maintained that the mining project would have a devastating impact on the economic and social fronts, and would deal a major blow to the ecology of the region. However, Tanzania went ahead and applied to the Unesco World Heritage Committee for permission to mine uranium at the 5-million hectare game reserve in the south of Tanzania.
The Citizen (Tanzania), 18 May 2012

Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#746, 747, 748


Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 




The National Nuclear Energy Commission (Comissão Nacional de Energia Nuclear, CNEN) is responsible for management and disposal of radioactive wastes. Legislation in 2001 provides for repository site selection, construction and operation for low- and intermediate-level wastes. A long-term solution for these is to be in place before Angra 3 is commissioned. Low and intermediate level waste is stored on site of Angra nuclear complex and on other sites where it is produced.(*01)

A location for a national waste repository for llw and ilw waste is due to be chosen in 2011 (but delayed again) (*02) and planned to start operation in 2018. Two options are being considered: the construction of a repository exclusively for waste from Angra or a facility that would accept material from all nuclear and radioactive installations in Brazil. (*03)  Used fuel is stored at Angra pending formulation of policy on reprocessing or direct disposal. (*04)

HLW disposal: when, where and how unknown
Currently, there is no decision about the way of final storage of the waste. Brazil has not defined a technical solution for spent fuel or high-level waste disposal. Spent fuel is not considered radioactive waste. Therefore, the policy adopted with regards to spent fuel is to keep the fuel in safe storage until an international consensus and a national decision is reached about reprocessing and recycling the fuel, or disposing of it as such.(*05)

High-level wastes, after been stored on site would then be moved to an interim storage location for 500 years. This interim site is expected to begin operation in 2026; a proposed plan was due to be finished by 2009, and a prototype validated by 2013, according to Eletronuclear.(*06) For final disposal a deep geological facility has been foreseen, but a timeframe has not been developed.(*07)

Opposition to nuclear power and waste storage is strong in Brazil. Even CNEN admits that "political and psycho social aspects related to the subject of radioactive waste disposal (“Not in my backyard syndrome”) contribute enormously to the difficulties faced by the Brazilian Government in the establishment of a national waste management policy." (*08)


Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 




The State Enterprise Radioactive Wastes (SE-RAW) is responsible for much of the waste management. On October 25 2011, a contract was signed drafting technical aspects and safety analysis for a low- and intermediate level waste interim storage facility near Kozloduy. A tender is expected mid 2012 and the facility is planned to go into operation in 2015. (*01) In 2009, a search for a location of a near-surface repository for low and intermediate level waste has been started. Four locations are taken into account.(*02)

Keep options open
In 1988, spent fuel from VVER-440 units (Kozloduy 1-4) was returned for the last time to Russia under the old contract conditions (free of charge), since then it is transferred to the wet spent fuel storage facility (WSFSF) for temporary storage, awaiting transfer to Russia or interim storage. WSFSF is in operation since 1990 on site at Kozloduy to take fuel from all the units. It is a standalone facility and is used as interim storage. Currently spent fuel is regularly transported to Russia under contracts signed in 1998 and 2002.(*03)

Under a 2002 agreement, Bulgaria has been paying Russia US$ 620,000 per ton used fuel for reprocessing in the Mayak plant at Ozersk, though some has also been sent to the Zheleznogorsk plant at Krasnoyarsk.(*04)

In March 2011 a dry spent fuel storage facility (DSFSF) construction was finished. At the DSFSF the fuel from the closed units 1-4 (VVER-440) should be stored for a period of 50 years. In July 2011 an application for commissioning was submitted and is currently under review. (*05)

The dry spent fuel depot will allow the country to store spent nuclear fuel for the long term in case it is unable to ship it abroad, its radioactive waste strategy said. Bulgaria is to decide by 2013 whether to build a deep-burying waste dump.(*06)

The principles of radioactive waste and spent fuel management were declared in the national Strategy for Spent Nuclear Fuel and Radioactive Waste Management, 2004, later confirmed and developed further in the Strategy for Spent Fuel and Radioactive Waste Management until 2030, adopted by the Council of Ministers in January 2011. It states that, accounting for the global and general European consensus for deep geological repository, this is presumably the most suitable option.

The SE-RAW implements activities related to the preliminary study of the possibilities for construction of deep geological repository. As a result from these activities a preliminary zoning of the country is made and three regions of interest are identified. In those regions 5 potential areas are localized and for every of the perspective areas an analysis of the geology-tectonic, geo-morphologic, neo tectonic, seismic, hydro-geological and engineer-geological and sociological economical characteristics is performed. On this base 6 potential geological blocks are localised, that can be additionally investigated. The potential host media are thick clay mergels and granites. (*07)


Nr. of reactors

first grid connection

% of total electricity 




The plans for storage of nuclear waste has not yet led to a choice for a location. In 2009, a new dialogue process began with the population. It is anticipated that an underground disposal facility will not be in operation before 2035. Meanwhile, all spent fuel is stored at reactor site in pools and dry storage.

Public debate
In Canada the search for a repository for nuclear waste has taken place since at least 1977.(*01) It is standing policy that the local population should accept the storage. In 1992, the government proposed that in addition to technical issues, also ethical and societal issues must be recognized in the debate on nuclear waste storage.(*02) As departure points for a siting process it was further accepted that the population has to think the chosen procedure is honest, it should have access to all information and the population should have the opportunity to really influence the choice of location.(*03) This discussion model had the consent of both "proponents" and "opponents" of storage and should make a meaningful discussion about the pros and cons of  disposal of nuclear waste possible.(*04)

Low-level radioactive waste
The public debate about low-level radioactive waste started in 1988.(*05) 850 town councils were asked whether they would be interested, of which 21 responded positively. In these 21 towns a referendum was held, and only three voted in favor of it.(*06) But in 1994, Deep River in Ontario was the only municipality to respond to the government's program to find a community willing to accept the low-level waste. At a referendum in September 1995 a large majority of the population voted in favor of storage of low-level radioactive waste, if the government would give job guarantees for 2,300 people at the local Chalk River nuclear research center for 15 years. (*07)

However, funding negotiations for job guarantees broke down in January 1997 (*08) and in early 1998, the Canadian government announced it had no success completing the deal. As a result, the option of storage of low-level radioactive waste at Deep River is off. (*09)

High-level radioactive waste
With the disposal of spent fuel elements from nuclear power plants the Canadian government has also not made any progress.(*10) Awaiting final disposal of high level waste, all spent fuel is stored at reactor site in pools and dry storage.(*11)

In August 1977, the Federal Department of Energy, Mines and Resources released a report which became known as the Hare report, after its Chairman F. K. Hare. It recommended burying the spent fuel at depths of 800 to 1000 meters in the Canadian Shield, a large area of ancient igneous rock in eastern and central Canada and called for an “effective interchange of information and ideas” among the public, industry, and government.(*12) Ten years later, in 1988, the concept of a storage mine, which had become known as the AECL-concept, was referred for a full–scale environmental review. Estimated costs in 1991 was between 8.7 and 13.3 billion in 1991 Canadian dollars.(*13)

The Environmental Assessment Panel held hearings in the 1990s and in March 1998 it's  report was published. The main conclusion was that there is no public support and that many ethical questions are still open: Broad public support is necessary to ensure the acceptability of a concept for managing nuclear fuel wastes; Safety is a key part, but only one part, of acceptability. Safety must be viewed from two complementary perspectives: technical and social; From a technical perspective, the safety of the AECL concept had been on balance adequately demonstrated for a conceptual stage of development, but from a social perspective, it had not; the concept for deep geological disposal did not have the required level of acceptability.(*14) The committee recommended to work on the social and ethical issues first, and, for the time being, not to search for a concrete repository.(*15) In a March 13,1998, statement the Canadian government announced  that, while "the safety of the concept has been adequately demonstrated (…) it does not have broad public support, nor the required level of acceptability to be adopted" and that it will not proceed with siting efforts for a deep geological disposal. (*16)

Four years later, in 2002, the Canadian government created a new organization for the storage of nuclear waste: the Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO). This organization is paid for by the operators of the 22 nuclear power plants in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick. Instead of an organization independent from the operators of nuclear plants, now operators will have the say. Therefore  Greenpeace Canada, for instance, wondered to what extent the NWMO will really involve the population in decision making.
The NWMO has held hearings from 2002 to 2005. In May 2009, it initiated a nation-wide dialogue with interested organizations and individuals to establish a procedure for selecting a site.(*17) The dialogue lasted until early 2010, after which the NWMO began with the search for a final repository on 4 June 2010. According to the NWMO it is about an underground disposal facility at 500 meters depth in a rock formation, located in an informed and willing community, securing economic benefits for the residents and to "build confidence that the program is being carried out fairly and the end result will be safe."(*18) According to a November 13, 2009 NWMO-document, the geological facility for disposal of spent fuel will not come into operation before 2035, at the earliest.(*19)

Sofar (January 2012) nine communities, scattered across Saskatchewan and Ontario, have volunteered to host the country's spent fuel. The towns are a combination of native reserves, old mining and lumber towns and cottage enclaves. Many have spent the past decade watching their populations shrink and economies crater, and are desperate for an economic boost - even if it is deep geological disposal of nuclear waste for eternity.(*20)


*01- IAEA, Brazil country report: 2006
*02- we can find no information that suggests a location has been chosen –March 2012
*03- Nuclear Engineering International: Nuclear power in Brazil, 1 June 2010
*04- World Nuclear Association, Nuclear Power in Brazil, November 2011
*05- CNEN: National report of Brazil 2011, for the fourth review meeting of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, October 2011
*06- Nuclear Engineering International
*07- CNEN, 2011
*08- CNEN, National report of Brazil 2008, for the third review meeting of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, October 2008

*01- Sofia Echo: Bulgaria selects consultant for radioactive waste depot, 26 October 2011
*02- Wolfgang Neumann: Nuclear Waste Management in the EU, October 2010, p 35
*03- Republic of Bulgaria: Fourth national report on fulfillment of the obligations on the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and on the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, October 2011, p.8-9
*04- World Nuclear Association: Nuclear Power in Bulgaria, March 2012
*05- Republic of Bulgaria, October 2011, p.49
*06- Reuters: Bulgaria opens dry spent nuclear fuel depot, 12 May 2011
*05- Republic of Bulgaria, October 2011, p.52, 75

*01- M.A. Greber, E.R. Frech and J.A. Hillier: The Disposal of Canada's Nuclear Fuel Waste: Public Involvement and Social Aspects, AECL Research, Whiteshell Laboratories, Pinawa, Manitoba, July 1994 (AECL-10712 COG-93-2); this report of 260 pages contains a detailed description of the debate in Canada until mid-1994
*02- C.J. Allan and M.A. Greber: Social and Ethical Issues Surrounding the Disposal of Nuclear Fuel Waste - A Canadian Perspective, AECL Research, Whiteshell Laboratories, Pinawa, Manitoba, 1995 (Technical Record TR-705 COG-95-405)
*03- Fred Roots: Radioactive Waste Disposal - Ethical and Environmental Considerations - A Canadian Perspective, in: Nuclear Energy Agency: Environmental and ethical aspects of long-lived radioactive waste disposal, Proceedings of an International Workshop organized by the Nuclear Energy Agency in co-operation with the Environment Directorate, Paris, 1-2 September 1994, p 71-93
*04- Kevin R. Ballard and Richard G. Kuhn: Developing and Testing a Facility Location Model for Canadian Nuclear Fuel Waste, in: Risk Analysis, Vol. 16, No. 6, 1996, p 821-832
*05- Robert Morrison and Peter Brown: Radioactive Waste Manage­ ment in Canada, Proceeding of the Uranium Institute Annual Symposium 1991,  September 1991, London, 1992
*06-  PJ Richardson: A Review of Benefits Offered to Volunteer Communities for Siting Nuclear Waste Facilities, prepared for Dr. Olof Soderberg, Swedish National Co-ordinator for Nuclear Waste Disposal, March 1998, p 4
*07- Nucleonics Week, 28 September 1995, p 3 en 4
*08- Nucleonics Week, 9 January 1997, p 4 en 5
*09- Nucleonics Week, 22 January 1998, p 9
*10- Darrin Durant: Radwaste in Canada: a political economy of uncertainty, In: Journal of Risk Research, Volume 12, Issue 7 & 8, December 2009, p. 897 – 919.
*11- International Panel on Fissile Materials: Managing Spent Fuel From Nuclear Power Reactors, September 2011
*12- A. M. Aikin, J. M. Harrison, and F. K. Hare, The Management of Canada’s Nuclear Wastes, Report of a Study Prepared under Contract for the Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources Canada, Federal Department of Energy, Mines and Resources, Government of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, 1977.
*13- Nucleonics Week, 19 March 1998, p 8
*14- Report of the Nuclear Fuel Waste Management and Disposal Concept Environmental Assessment Panel: Nuclear Fuel Waste Management and Disposal Concept, Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada, February 1998; published on 13 March 1998.
*15- Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, Press release: Government Releases Report of Panel Studying the Disposal of Nuclear Fuel Waste, Ottawa, 13 March 1998.
*16- Nucleonics Week, 19 March 1998, p 8 en 9.
*17- NWMO: NWMO ‘Learn More’ Program, 13 November 2009.
*18- World Nuclear News: Search for Canadian Nuclear Waste Site, 4 June 2010
*19- NWMO: NWMO ‘Learn More’ Program - The Long-Term Management of Used Nuclear Fuel in Canada, 13 November 2009
*20- The Globe and Mail: Towns vie to be nuclear waste burial sites, 14 January 2012

Winners at international uranium film festival

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Urânio em Movi(e)mento

The First International Uranium Film Festival of Rio de Janeiro which ended 28 May 2011, in the historical Manson "Laurinda Santos Lobo". From 34 international productions surrounding the nuclear fuel chain and radioactive risks four winners were selected.

The best short film of this first International Uranium Film Festival - selected by the Jury - was a Costa Rican production of director Pablo Ortega of the University of Costa Rica: Uranio 238: La Bomba Sucia del Pentágono, Uranium 238: The Pentagon's Dirty Pool. Isabel McDonald from the San José Quaker Peace Centre of Costa Rica: "Winning this award will help the efforts towards an international treaty banning DU weapons world-wide."

The best feature film - selected by the jury - was a new production by Director Michael Madsen from Denmark "Into Eternity". An impressive film which deals with the philosophical questions of the issues concerning the permanent storage of high-level nuclear waste. The film brings the audience down thousands of meters into a rock formation in the countryside of Finland where the construction of the first high-level nuclear waste storage facility is been built.

The audience award for the best short film were given to:  "Césio 137. O brilho da morte", directed by Luiz Eduardo Jorge of Brazil. His documentary shows the events that transpired in a real live tragedy about the release of  Caesium-137 into a populated area 1987 in the city of Goiânia, Brazil. This was the worst radioactive accident in Latin America, which cost the lives of many people and the health of hundreds or possibly thousands of survivors.

"Césio 137. O brilho da morte" was produced by Laura Pires as well as the winner of the audience award for the best movie:  "Césio 137. O pesadelo de Goiânia". Director Roberto Pires contracted famous Brazilian actors for this important and first ever made film of this nuclear accident in central Brazil. The script of "Césio 137. O pesadelo de Goiânia" is based on statements by the victims and medical personal attending the victims, taken by Roberto Pires at the time of the accident, who himself some years later died from radiation exposure.

A big surprise for the invited guests was the appearance of three representatives of the indigenous peoples of Brazil who gave a musical performance and a prayer to the Uranium Film Festival and its guests. Chief Alfonso Apurina from the Amazon state Acre and his two companions from other indigenous peoples were invited by the festival organizers in respect of their traditional land rights to Brazil and in respect to their struggle to preserve the Old Indigenous Museum of Rio de Janeiro, that is in danger because of construction of projects to accommodate the Olympic Games.

Indigenous people from all over Brazil have been occupying the abandoned first "Museo do Indio" of Brazil beside the famous Maracanã Football stadium since 2005, with the intention of creating their own cultural centre for all the indigenous peoples of Latin America. This "Museo do Indio" was deeded to the indigenous people of Brazil by its creator Darcy Ribeiro in 1954, but left abandoned since 1972. Since 2010, these indigenous people have been at risk of being expelled from the building and the land it stands on that rightfully belongs to them. And they have no intentions of giving this stronghold to make way for a shopping center as part of the Olympic Games project.

The First International Uranium Film Festival and its Award Ceremony ended with another, a real "bombastic" surprise, "Atomic Bombs on the Planet Earth", the newest production of the famous film director Peter Greenaway was shown to the selected audience. "We received that fantastic short film of Greenaway today", said Festival director Norbert G. Suchanek. "We have decided that Atomic Bombs on Planet Earth will be the Opening Film of the 2nd International Uranium Film Festival May 2012 in Rio de Janeiro!"

Source and contact: Marcia Gomes de Oliveira, Urânio em Movi(e)mento
Rua Monte Alegre 356/301, Santa Teresa - Rio de Janeiro/RJ, CEP 20.240-190, Brazil.

Movimento Urânio em Nisa Não

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Criticism South Korean UAE contract
A news program has belatedly exposed the fact that the South Korean government agreed to provide a loan covering approximately half the construction costs for the exportation of a nuclear power plant to the United Arab Emirates. While the government explained that this was part of ordinary power plant export financing, controversy has been flaring up as this revelation couples with previous controversies over inflation of the order amount and the deployment of troops to the UAE as a condition for receiving the order. A Jan. 30 episode of the MBC program 'News Magazine 2580' revealed that in the process of signing a contract with the UAE for the power plant export in December 2009, the South Korean government agreed to provide a loan for approximately US$10 billion (7.25 billion euro) of the total order amount of US$18.6 billion through Korea Eximbank. In addition, the program reported that the repayment period was set at 28 years, and that the transaction generates a loss due to the fact that South Korea, which has a lower credit rating than the UAE, has to borrow the money at high interest rates and lend it at low interest rates. The program also reported that the construction has encountered setbacks, including a delay in the groundbreaking ceremony from its originally scheduled date in late 2010, as the Korean government has encountered difficulties coming up with the promised US$10 billion loan.

Hankyoreh, South Korea, 1 February 2011

the 1st International Uranium Film Festival is Latin America´s first film festival to highlight nuclear and radioactive issues. It is an annual event with 2 international competitions.

The Uranium Film Festival wants to inform especially the Brazilian and Latin American societies and stimulate the production of independent documentaries and movies about the whole nuclear fuel cycle, about the dangers of radioactivity and especially about the environmental and health risks of uranium exploration, mining and processing. The Uranium Film Festival will be held from May 21th to 28th 2011 in the city of Rio de Janeiro and from June 2nd to 9th in the city of São Paulo

The first 18 films have been selected: look for the list at:

Germany: Complaints against runtime extensions to Constitutional Court.

In cooperation with citizens living close to Germany's seven oldest nuclear powerplants, Greenpeace has submitted a complaint to Germany's Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht). While Greenpeace Germany generally argues that the runtime extensions endanger each citizen's right of being protected against bodily harm, the new constitutional complaint is specifically directed at the latest Nuclear Energy Law's paragraph 7d. The new §7d tells reactor operators, in rather poetic language, to reduce risks threatening "the population". This is, according to Greenpeace's law experts, a significant point. It means that individual citizens who have lately filed complaints (with support from Greenpeace) against the extension of the licenses for reactors in their neighborhood will be denied the right of action. In other words, the old Nuclear Law was designed to protect citizens and gave them the right to complain in local courts against the risks caused by the local polluter, and the new law withdraws this right.

Parallel to Greenpeace's action, two other complaints against the new Nuclear Law

will be filed at the Constitutional Court later this year. One is by a number of states of the German federation and the other is by groups of members of the federal parliament.

Greenpeace press release (in German), 3 February 2011

Norway: severe consequences of Sellafield accident.
An accident at the high-activity liquor storage at Sellafield would have severe consequences for Norway's wildlife, agricultural industry and environment. The Norwegian Radiological Protection Authority has published a second report on the consequences of a accident that releases just one per cent of the high-level liquid waste at Sellafield. This report looks at the consequences to the environment and animals, while the first report considered the fallout likely from a similar accident. The report use the typical weather experienced in October 2008 and only considers the release of caesium-137. An actual accident would release other radionuclides, particularly strontium.

It is estimated the amount of caesium-137 deposited on Norway would be about seven times that from Chernobyl. Direct costs from Chernobyl on agriculture and reindeer in Norway have been over 665 million kroner (US$118 million; 86 million euro) and there are still annual costs of 15 million kroner. Up to 80 per cent of all lambs in Norway would be expected to have excess radiation levels and restrictions apply for decades. The report is available at

N-Base Briefing 681, 25 January 2011

Canada: White Elephant 'Pointless Lepreau' reappears in New Brunswick.
The Point Lepreau nuclear generating station provides the quintessential definition of a white elephant. The aging nuclear plant opened its doors three times over budget in 1983. The Energy and Utilities Board refused to support spending on refurbishing it beyond its expected lifetime, but politicians went ahead anyway. Today, costs for the touch-and-go overhaul are already over Cdn$1.4 billion (1.4 bn US$, 1 bn Euro). The latest guess at a completion date is May 2012, a delay of almost three years. Damage to public and worker health and the environment have yet to be calculated and the final costs for taxpayers may not end for generations.

An alliance of public interest groups in New Brunswick, known as the Point Lepreau Decommissioning Caucus, is spreading a simple, but powerful message: Point Lepreau is a white elephant, we don't need it. Pointless Lepreau is old, sickly and on its last legs: Do Not Resuscitate. To underline the foolishness of refurbishing Lepreau, the groups are holding surprise events featuring their newest member, an actual white elephant costume aptly named Pointless Lepreau.

Press release, 19 January 2011

When the dust settles.
The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) and IKV Pax Christi have been working on a joint project to create an animated short film on the hazards of depleted uranium and the international campaign against its use and are happy to announce that the English language version has now been completed. We have sought to render down a complex issue into six and a half minutes and at present the animation is available in English and Dutch, we hope that additional languages will be available in future.

Both versions are available from our Youtube channels at the links below. ICBUW can also provide copies for use at events and to help support your national campaigns.

English version:

UK Gov't sending papers down the memory-hole. The UK government and its agencies like the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA; successor to Nirex) are trying to airbrush out the history of the attempt to find a nuclear waste repository in West Cumbria. Documents and scientific papers which were formerly available on their websites have been removed; the Nirex documents have been transferred to the safe keeping of the British Geological Survey, where they may be 'consulted' at Keyworth, Nottinghamshire. But nothing remains online, not even an index of the documents and reports. Now, David Smythe has re-scanned much of the material and collected links of other parts.

Sellafield (West-Cumbria) was disqualified for several reasons, but now NDA and government is looking again at that region for final disposal.

Papers are available at:

Monju: accident delays startup with 3 more years. The task of removing a device that accidentally fell into the prototype fast-breeder reactor Monju in August will delay its full startup about a year to 2014 or later.
The Japan Atomic Energy Agency, the operator of the 280 MW Monju reactor in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, is expected to remove the device next summer or later and then conduct checkups, delaying the test operation initially scheduled to start next spring and subsequent full-fledged run. Removing the 3.3-ton device, which was used for fuel exchange before it fell into the reactor vessel in the Aug. 26 accident, requires special equipment, approval from the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and a followup inspection.
Monju resumed operations with limited power output in May 2010 after 14 years and five months(!) of suspension due to a sodium coolant leak and a resultant fire and coverup attempt in 1995.
Kyodo, 17 December 2010

Extended operation for Paducah enrichment plant? US uranium enrichment company USEC said that it is working to extend the operation of its Paducah plant in Kentucky beyond May 2012, when the old and inefficient gaseous diffusion plant had been expected to shut down. The company said that it will "base its decision to extend operations upon economic considerations and the ability of the plant to operate profitably." The Paducah plant – currently the only operating uranium enrichment facility in the USA - is set to be replaced by USEC's planned American Centrifuge Plant (ACP) project in Piketon, Ohio.

The full ACP plant was originally expected to commence commercial operation in early 2010 and achieve full annual capacity at the end of 2012. However, early in 2009 the whole project was slowed pending funding through the Department of Energy (DoE) loan guarantee program, and in July 2009 it was suspended due to the DoE refusing to award a US$2 billion (1.5 billion euro) loan guarantee, and asking USEC to withdraw its application. USEC refused to do this, and in July 2010, it submitted an updated loan guarantee application to the DoE. In October 2010, DoE informed USEC that it has largely completed its initial technical review of USEC's application and is proceeding to the next stage of the loan guarantee process.

Although USEC earlier secured investment of U$200 million from Toshiba and Babcock & Wilcox to support the ACP, the company maintains that additional financing is needed to complete plant construction.

World Nuclear News, 12 January 2011

Italy: referendum on relaunching nuclear power.
Italy's constitutional court ruled on January 12, a national referendum could be held against the construction of nuclear power plants, dealing a potential blow to government plans to relaunch the sector. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi wants nuclear plants to generate a quarter of the country's electricity in the future. The court allowed a request by opposition politician Antonio Di Pietro for a referendum, which will take place between on a Sunday between April 15 and June 15.

Antonio Di Pietro is leader of Italia dei Valori (Italy of Values) a centrist political party and an outspoken opponent of nuclear power. An April 2010 petition by the party successfully gathered the 500,000 signatures of Italian voters needed for the referendum to proceed through the Italian legislative system. This was presented to the Constitutional Court for it's final ruling on the admissibility of the proposed referendum.

Public opinion in Italy has been generally hostile to nuclear energy, and a 1987 referendum following the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine in 1986 closed all plants and phased out production.

Reuters, 12 January 2011, Rete Nazionale Antinucleare (RNA) International, 13 January 2011

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Argentina reactivates enrichment plant.
Argentina has formally reactivated its gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment plant at Pilcaniyeu over two decades after production there halted. The plant is expected to become operational in September 2011. Plans to recommission the Pilcanyeu plant, which operated from 1983 to 1989, were announced in 2006 and form part of Argentina's ambition to build a self-sufficient nuclear fuel cycle. Work has been underway to refurbish and upgrade the plant, which uses gaseous diffusion, using Argentina's own technology. The first stage of the refurbishment has involved the construction of an advanced prototype of 20 diffusers, and the plant is expected to be able to produce its first enriched uranium for nuclear fuel use by September 2011 according to the CNEA. President Fernandez said that in reactivating the plant, Argentina was recovering lost time. She described uranium enrichment as "a right that we should never have resigned." The project was "a source of great pride" for the country, she said. The original Pilcaniyeu plant had a modest enrichment capacity of 20,000 SWU per year, although plans call for the upgraded plant ultimately to reach a capacity of some 3 million SWU.
Source: World Nuclear News, 26 October 2010

INES 20 years old.
Jointly developed by the IAEA and the Nuclear Energy Agency (of the OECD) in 1990, in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident, the International Nuclear and radiological Event Scale (INES) helps nuclear and radiation safety authorities and the nuclear industry worldwide to rate nuclear and radiological events and to communicate their safety significance to the general public, the media and the technical community. INES was initially used to classify events at nuclear power plants only, but since 2008, INES has been extended to any event associated with the transport, storage and use of radioactive material and radiation sources, from those occurring at nuclear facilities to those associated with industrial use. INES has mainly become a crucial nuclear communications tool. Over the years, national nuclear safety authorities have made growing use of INES, while the public and the media have become "more familiar with the scale and its significance". According to the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency "this is where the true success of INES stands, having helped to foster transparency and to provide a better understanding of nuclear-related events and activities".
Source: Nuclear Engineering International, 22 October 2010

International Uranium Film Festival 2011 in Brazil.
For the first time in history Brazilians will be able to see international independent Nuclear-Energy and Uranium-Documentaries in cinema. The film and video festival Uranio em Movi(e)mento - 1st International Uranium Film Festival 2011 will help to bring the Uranium- and Nuclear question into the national and international public. The deadline  for entries is January 20, 2011. The Uranium Film Festival wants to inform especially the Brazilian and Latin American societies and stimulate the production of independent documentaries and movies about the whole nuclear fuel cycle, about the dangers of radioactivity and especially about the environmental and health risks of uranium exploration, mining and processing. The Uranium Film Festival will be held from May 21 to 28, 2011 in the city of Rio de Janeiro and from June 2 to 9 in the city of Sao Paulo.

Until today most of the documentaries about uranium and the nuclear risks are mainly in English, German or French - but not in Portuguese. So the second advantage of our Uranium Film Festival is to subtitle the films to create the so called Yellow Archives. Yellow is the color of Uranium and for that a symbol for the whole nuclear industry.

The Yellow Archives will be the first-ever film library in Brazil and Latin America dedicated to films about the whole nuclear fuel chain organized by the Uranio em Movi(e)mento Festival. Believing that awareness is the first step in making positive changes to better our environment, the Yellow Archives hopes to increase public awareness especially in Brazil and in other Portuguese speaking countries like Portugal or Angola and Mozambique. The DVDs will be used for non-profit, educational and research purposes. Especially schools, universities, environmental groups and other grass root movements will have access to the Yellow Archives.
Contact  and source: / Website:

India: antinuclear activists arrested.
On October 6, eleven activists of "Paramanu Bidyut Birodhi Prachar Andolan" (Campaign against Nuclear Power) were forcefully seized by the local police while distributing leaflets opposing the proposed Haripur nuclear power plant, in the vicinity of Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kolkata, where Dr. Srikumar Banerjee, the Atomic Energy Commission Chairman, had arrived to preach the merits of setting up of a 'nuclear park' at Haripur. The handful of activists present had not even entered the institute campus and were distributing leaflets on the road outside. First one activist was forced into a police jeep and hauled away to the local police station. The rest were pushed away from the immediate vicinity of the Saha Institute. But when the activists continued distributing their leaflets, a police van was brought in, the police suddenly pounced, herded the activists into a police-van and taken to the local station. The activists were held for over 6 hours in the name of interrogation. However, no actual interrogation was conducted. For the real reason for detention, which the officers divulged off-the-record, was to keep the activists away from the site (where the vast benefits of nuclearisation was being preached). That, in their minds, was the ideal way of handling critics and criticism.
Source:, 7 October 2010

Vermont Yankee tritium leaks into aquifer.
The leaking radioactive tritium from Vermont Yankee has now leaked into the aquifer that drinking water is pulled from in and around the town of Vernon, Vermont. Entergy Louisiana, the corporate owners of Vermont Yankee, could do more to contain the contamination but are refusing. The Vermont Department of Health and the Agency of Natural Resources are doing nothing to require Entergy to increase the cleanup effort. More is needed to pressure the state agencies into action. When the Oyster Creek Nuclear Reactor in New Jersey contaminated the ground water with radioactive tritium the NJ Department of Environmental Protection took enforcement action. When the Braidwood Station Nuclear reactor in Illinois contaminated the ground water and then the drinking water aquifer of the local community the Illinois EPA took enforcement action. Entergy Vermont Yankee, likely leaked radioactive materials into our state's ground water for two or three years and now it is clear that at least some of that contamination has also gotten into the local drinking water aquifer. Continued pumping, at deeper depths, should be able to keep hundreds of thousands if not millions of gallons of contaminated water from migrating further into the aquifer and yet there has been no talk from your agencies about requiring even this simple step.  Instead Entergy Vermont Yankee is planning on ending all of their pumping in December. Ultimately, the contaminated soil needs to be removed and that can't happen until the plant is retired and cleaned up.

Vermont Yankee is scheduled to close in March of 2012. It is one of the oldest reactors in the country but its owners, Entergy Corporation, want to run it for 20 years past its expiration date. Poor management and old age have lead to a string of accidents and safety concerns.
Entergy has refused to add money to the reactor's clean-up fund, potentially leaving Vermonters with most of a $1 billion dollar clean-up bill in addition to the nuclear waste that is being stored on the banks of the Connecticut River.
On February 23, 2010, and by a margin of 26 to 4 the Senate voted to retire the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant as scheduled. This historic vote marks the first time a state legislature has been able to deny a nuclear plant a 20-year life extension. In March, fifteen towns voted on town meeting to close Vermont Yankee as scheduled. That combined with the 36 towns that voted in 2009, a total of 51 towns, have spoken -- they want Vermont Yankee to close as scheduled.

The public sentiment expressed by the town meeting votes this year and last show overwhelming opposition to continued operation of Vermont Yankee after 2012 and very strong support for requiring Entergy to fully fund the cleanup and for safe, clean and renewable sources of electricity.

The resolution calls for the plant's closure in 2012 and for Entergy-- the owner of Vermont Yankee-- pay for the full cost of decommissioning the plant. A vast majority of Vermonters know Entergy cannot be trusted.

U.S.A.: Hanford cleanup; new deadlines.
Washington state and federal officials have agreed on a new schedule for the cleanup of the Hanford nuclear reservation. The good news is that the federal government could no longer ignore cleanup deadlines with impunity. The bad news is that the agreement would push the deadlines forward by more than two decades. Under the new cleanup schedule, 53 millions gallons of radioactive waste stored in 177 underground tanks near the Columbia River would not have to be emptied until 2052. That's a 24-year delay from the existing timetable. (see more on the Hanford tanks, Nuclear Monitor 696, October 23, 2009). Thirty-five of those tanks are double-walled and considered 'reliably safe'.  All of the 142 single-walled tanks would have to be emptied by 2047 under this new schedule. And the tanks of most concern — the 67 single-walled tanks known to be leaking — would be emptied by 2014. It's estimated that more than 1 million gallons (1 US gallon is 3.787 liter) of radioactive waste already have leaked. Some of that waste has made it into the groundwater and is slowly moving toward the nearby Columbia River.

The state has long sought to make Hanford cleanup deadlines enforceable in court. Until now, the federal government has steadfastly refused to do so and now the government finally agreed to the court-enforceable deadlines. This accountability has become critical. Without it, there can be little confidence that the government would adhere to any cleanup schedule. The federal government has failed to meet numerous deadlines established in the 1989 Tri-Party Agreement signed by the Energy Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Washington. It's not as though the state has refused to be flexible. Washington has agreed to more than 400 changes in the Tri-Party Agreement. Yet as recently as last year, the government missed 23 project deadlines.
Source: The Daily News Online (, 19 October 2010

South Africa: six reactors up and running in 2023.
On October 7, The department of Energy of South Africa published an ambitious plan to reduce SA reliance on coal by almost half by 2030 and to more than double the use of nuclear energy The proposals, which are part of the department's draft integrated electricity resource plan (IRP), show the government's preferred energy mix for the next 20 years. They provide prospective investors with an indication of the shape of South African future energy industry. The integrated resource plan is a 20-year electricity capacity plan that gives an outcome of projected future electricity demand, how the demand would be met and at what cost.

In the draft IRP, the department is proposing that coal contribute 48% to the energy mix by 2030, followed by renewable energy (16%), nuclear (14%), peaking open cycle gas turbine (9%), peaking pump storage (6%), mid-merit gas (5%) and baseload import hydro (2%).  Coal currently accounts for over 90% of electricity generation. Eskom's two nuclear reactors at the Koeberg power station supply 1800MW or 6% of SA's electricity needs. The renewable energy industry is yet to take off in SA. The draft plan envisages average gross domestic growth of 4,6% on over the next 20 years, which would require 52 248 MW of new power generation capacity to be brought on line. The government plans to build six new nuclear power stations which are expected to be up and running by 2023. Only  a few months ago, the government stopped the PBMR-nuclear project after it poured billions in it over the last decades.
Source: Eastcoast radio, 8 October 2010 / Engineering News (SA), 8 October 2010

CEZ delays Temelin reactors.
CEZ AS, the Czech Republic's largest power producer, will delay the construction of two  additional reactors at its Temelin nuclear power plant, Hospodarske Noviny reports, citing Industry and Trade Minister Martin Kocourek. The construction could be delayed by as much as several years, the newspaper said,citing an unidentified person from the company. The main reason is uncertain demand for electricity after 2020, according to the report. CEZ selected Westinghouse Electric Co., Areva SA and a Russian-Czech consortium led by ZAO Atomstroyexport as the three bidders for the contract.

This is good news for the whole CEE region. Until recently, CEZ has been agresivelly pushing construction of 5 new reactors in the region (2 in Czech Republic, 1 in Slovakia,  other 2 to be determined). But now the plans are put to ice, citing less demand and lower  prices on electricity markets, as well as less optimistic rating outlook of the utility. But there are more interesting details in original Hospodarske Noviny article: Quoting for example an internal CEZ document: "The expansion plans were based on increasing of our [CEZ] debt. But we are not anymore sweetheart of the markets, we are not considered as a stable and growing corporation, we are getting first signals from rating agencies..."

Similarly to EdF, CEZ already had to reduce its investment program by 2015 from 425 to 333 billion CZK [ca 13 billion EUR], and this is not enough - it admits the cuts will have to be deeper.
Source: Email: Greenpeace International, 13 October 2010

New press for reactor pressure vessels.
A major new facility has been commissioned in Germany for the production of large reactor components. The 12,000 ton press installed at Völklingen by Saarschmiede GmbH Freiformschmiede can handle ingots of up to 370 tons - enough to make all but the largest reactor pressure vessels. The time for construction was only two years. Due to its geometrical dimensions," the company said, the press is "able to deal with all parts of the AP1000." It estimated that some four to six sets of heavy forgings for AP1000s could be made annually at the facility, given certain other expansions. Westinghouse has sourced forgings from South Korea's Doosan Heavy Industries for the four AP1000s under construction in China as well as the four forthcoming units at Vogtle and Summer in the USA.
Source: World Nuclear News, 14 October 2010

Chernobyl 1986-2011
Next year April marks the 25th anniversary of the disaster in the Chernobyl nuclear power station, in the Ukraine. For sure there will be many commemorative activities taking place all over the globe. WISE will, starting next issue, try to cover relevant developments and news on Chernobyl in the Nuclear Monitor, and we would like to start listing as much as possible activities, publications, actions, official reports, meetings and conferences on this issue.

With several other NGO’s in different parts of the world we are preparing a joint call for action. You will hear from us soon, we hope to hear from you aswell; please send in anything you have heard about activities on the coming Chernobyl Day. In the meantime; join the Virtual March on Washinton, for April 26, as part of an International Radioactive Waste Action Day. Go to

Greenpeace tells BNP-Paribas 'stop dangerous radioactive investments'

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

On October 21, Greenpeace activists in a number of European countries (Russia, Luxemburg, Turkey and France) called on the international bank BNP Paribas to “stop radioactive investments”, including its plans to fund an obsolete, dangerous nuclear reactor in Brazil. 

In Paris, Greenpeace activists used a BNP decorated armoured truck to deliver millions of fake ‘radioactive BNP-Paribas notes’ to AREVA’s, headquarters, the company that is building Angra 3, exposing the nuclear link between the two.  The banking group, which provides more finance to nuclear industry than any other bank in the world: BNP invested €13.5 billion (US$ 18.7 billion) in nuclear energy projects from 2000-2009. Profundo, independent investments consultancy research. Summary of the findings, as well as full report, available at  BNP is planning to provide crucial financing for the construction of the nuclear reactor Angra 3, just 150 kilomet-rers from Rio de Janeiro, as part of a French banking consortium. The total amount that is reported to be negotiated is €1.1billion.  

"Angra 3 must be cancelled. It uses technology that pre-dates the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and that would not be permitted for use in the countries that are financing it. There has been no proper safety analysis and the legality of the project is in doubt. It will not benefit the people of Brazil,” said Jan Beránek Greenpeace International nuclear campaigner. 

“BNP’s customers have the right to know that their bank is misusing their money. Brazil does not need more nuclear electricity, it has abundant wind, hydro and biomass resources for energy – all of which provide cheaper options without creating environmental and health hazards,” he continued. 

The construction of Angra 3 started in 1984 and stopped in 1986 following the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, when banks withdrew their funding. Most of the equipment that will be used to build the reactor pre-dates Chernobyl and has been left on the site for the last 25 years. It is now dangerously obsolete. 

Angra 3 falls far behind current generation of reactor technologies, which themselves suffer safety problems, construction delays and skyrocketing costs. Any large-scale upgrades and adaptations required to integrate new safety requirements will lead not only to higher construction costs, but also increase the risk of unplanned outages during its operation. There are additional safety concerns, such as, in its planning, there was no risk-analysis carried out, in clear violation of international standards: International Atomic Energy Agency Safety Requirements stipulate that the probabilistic safety assessment is performed and evaluated prior to construction. This has not been done for Angra 3 as is pointed out in both the official license from Brazil’s nuclear regulator CNEN (Comissão Nacional de Energia Nuclear)as well as from ISTEC German report. Angra 3 is accessible only via one road, which frequently is blocked due landslides. As is the reality for all nuclear reactors, there is still no permanent or safe solution for storing hazardous nuclear waste, which remains lethal for millennia.  

"The financial players have been telling us for too long they are not responsible for the direction of energy, it is a political problem. In reality, it is they as well as manufacturers who allow these dangerous nuclear projects to see the light of day,"said Sophia Majnoni d’Intignano, Greenpeace France nuclear campaigner.  

"It is high time that the banks fulfil their responsibilities. Greenpeace calls on BNP Paribas to announce its immediate withdrawal from Angra 3 and allow full transparency on its radioactive investments.”  

Greenpeace launched this campaign on 16 October, when volunteers began putting posters up around BNP branches and stickers on its ATM machines asking the public: "Do you know what your bank does with your money? " 

For more information check:    
Source: Greenpeace Press release, 21 October 2010



Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

The new conservative-liberal government in Germany so far has been hesitant to go full speed in their support for nuclear energy. So far they still stick to the nuclear phase out and pretend to be tough towards the energy utilities, which want to operate their nuclear power plants longer.

Urgewald - This hesitant behaviour is due to the elections taking place in the federal state of North Rhine-Westphalia in May where the same coalition of Christian Democrats and Liberals ruling the country has been working in a coalition over the past years and fears for its majority.

However, there are areas where the pro-nuclear take of the government becomes crystal clear. On Wednesday, 27 January, the budget committee of the parliament was informed about a huge guarantee for Areva NP (34% Siemens) for the Brazilian nuclear power plant Angra 3. This was the last step in getting rid of the exclusion criterion for guarantees for nuclear exports, which had been in place since 2001. It prevented export credit guarantees to be granted to Areva/Siemens for Olkiluoto 3 and an earlier attempt for Angra 3.

Yet the coalition treaty mentioned that the government wanted to get rid of the Hermes guidelines containing the exclusion criterion. Shortly after the elections Areva/Siemens handed in an application for guarantees over 2,5 billion Euro (US$ 3.5 billion) for Angra 3.

Although Siemens is in the process of ending its 34 % stake in Areva NP German law makers nor the majority of parliamentarians seem to be aware of the possibility of ending up financing a French state-company.

As the contracts for Angra 2 (ready built) and Angra 3 were set up in the 70's and plans were made at that time, Angra 3 is old technology before the building even starts, the plant being a second generation design. Further problems are that the plans for storage of radioactive waste are poor, provisional and not very advanced, that the Brazilian nuclear regulator is not an independent body, but has direct commercial interests in the Angra 3 project: the group providing the fuel to power Angra’s reactors is part of the regulatory body, according to Greenpeace in its "Financing Brazilian nuclear programme: a risky investment“ (November 2009). The emergency management has been strongly criticised and the environmental minister gave the license only with over 40 additional requirements, experts doubt whether the energy utility Electronuclear will be able to fulfil these requirements. One might wonder, too, whether it is the wisest decision to build a nuclear power plant in the only earthquake prone area in Brazil.

Despite parliamentarians brought up these critical questions in the budget committee discussion, the ruling majority accepted the assurance of the economics ministry that all was fine and in order and nothing to worry about with the project. This means back to square one on the German nuclear export promotion and if Angra goes through smoothly one can only wonder what else will follow.

Source and contact: Regine Richter, Urgewald. Im Grünen Haus, Prenzlauer Allee 230, 10405 Berlin, Germany. Email:, Web:


In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Sellafield HLW returns to customers.
For over 30 years, overseas used nuclear fuel has been reprocessed in the UK, under contract at Sellafield. Since 1976 all UK reprocessing contracts have contained an option for this radioactive waste to be returned to its country of origin. The contracts to return the high level waste to Japanese and European customers now sit with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The program of work to transport canisters of vitrified (solid glass) waste to customers is known in the UK as the Vitrified Residue Returns (VRR) programme. 'Vitrified ' - refers to HLW in the form of a Glass block -

as compared to the original waste fuel rod, liquid nitric acid stock - which are the initial product of the plutonium separation. The NDA has "received advice from Sellafield Ltd and the NDA's commercial and transport subsidiary, International Nuclear Services that the infrastructure is in place and plans are sufficiently advanced" to return the waste to the countries of origine in the current financial year (2009/10).

Overall the UK phase of the program will return approximately 1,850 containers of vitrified waste to overseas customers and will include a number of containers being returned in accordance with the Government policy on waste substitution. The VRR program, which will substantially reduce the amount of highly active waste currently stored in the UK at Sellafield, is planned to take around 10 years. The NDA's commercial transport subsidiary, International Nuclear Services, will be responsible for transporting the vitrified waste to destinations in Japan, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

NDA press release, 28 September 2009, WNN, 29 September 2009

Sizewell 5 anti-nuclear blockaders found not guilty. On September 29, two days into their four-day trial, the Sizewell five have been found not guilty of aggravated trespass after a blockade in 2008 of the Sizewell nuclear power station in Suffolk, UK. The Sizewell Five have been acquitted by the Lowestoft Magistrates' Court in Suffolk, after the prosecution failed to provide evidence that the defendants were on private land, meaning that they were all acquitted on this legal technicality. The trial related to a physical blockade of the sole access road to the Sizewell nuclear power plant last year. The defendants had held up a banner reading "Nuclear Power is Not a Solution to Climate Chaos" as they physically blocked the road with their bodies and arm tubes. The defendants had planned to use the defence that they were acting to prevent breaches of health and safety legislation resulting from the continued operation of the nuclear power plant in Suffolk. They had planned to call at least one expert witness, an independent nuclear consultant, but the judge had refused to allow this on the first day of trial, despite earlier pre-trial reviews. 
Direct action groups are meeting in London in November to discuss strategies to fight the plans to build nuclear power plans in the U.K. The weekend will be a space for grassroots campaigners to network, share ideas and information and make plans to win. “By developing skills and confidence in creating and implementing campaign and action plans we can identify when and where our interventions can be most successful”. 

More information: Nuclear People Power network 

113,488 say ‘no’ to uranium mining in Slovakia.
Late September, Greenpeace delivered a petition with 113,488 signatures calling for the Slovak parliament to change laws regarding uranium mining in the country. Under the Slovakian constitution, any petition having more than 100,000 signatories must be discussed by the country’s parliament. The petition is seeking a change in the law allowing municipalities to have a say on uranium mining in their areas. As all the towns and cities near potential mining sites are against the idea, this could mean very little or no uranium mining being done in Slovakia.

The campaign was launched three years ago, in order to stop a project aggressively pushed by the Canadian-based company Tournigan. It planned to open two uranium mines: one located just six kilometres upstream from Košice, the second largest city in Slovakia with a population of 250,000 people; the other at the border of the stunning UNESCO national park, ’Slovak Paradise‘. A coalition of groups lead by Greenpeace mobilized dozens of towns and local councils, regional governments, and over 100,000 citizens to express their refusal to turn Slovak Paradise into a contaminated and devastated landscape.

The authorities are now counting the signatures.

Nuclear Reaction, 25 September 2009

Nuclear fuel wins carbon exemption - for now.
Processing of nuclear fuel (uranium conversion and enrichment) has been granted an exemption from European Union (EU) plans to auction carbon dioxide emissions allowances from 2013, although the exemption list will be reviewed before 2010.

Currently, participants in the EU Emissions Trading Scheme receive emissions allowances for free to cover the majority of their expected carbon dioxide emissions based on their past emissions under a scheme known as 'grandfathering'. Participants then buy and sell allowances depending on what their actual emissions are. However, from 2013 the scheme will progressively reduce the free allocation and companies will be required to buy allowances in an auction. Brussels unveiled on 18 September a draft list of industrial and business sectors it fears could relocate outside Europe to jurisdictions with weaker climate change rules in future. Among these was the 'processing of nuclear fuel', which will be given carbon emission allowances under the EU's emissions trading scheme from 2013 to 2020.

World Nuclear news, 24 September 2009 

Four Arizona tribes ban uranium on their lands.
In the United States of America, the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe, the Havasupai Tribe and the Hualapai Tribe have all banned uranium on their lands. The tribes are worried about damage to the environment. "Contamination emanates from mining, does not know any boundaries, and it could easily cross community after community without them ever knowing," said Robert Tohe, a member of the Navajo Nation, told the Associated Press. "I think that's the real danger, and that's why tribes have become unified."

The Interior Department recently barred new mining claims near the Grand Canyon. All

four tribes have land in the area. The tribal ban adds to a temporary mining ban on nearly 1 million federally owned acres around the Grand Canyon. The combined actions mean uranium-bearing lands in northern Arizona open to companies hungry to resume mining are growing scarce.

AP, 17 September 2009

Uranium royalty laws favour miners, exploit aborigines.
Anti-nuclear activists in Alice Springs say changes to uranium royalties in the Northern Territory will make way for the exploitation of Aboriginal communities. The bill extends the royalty system so miners pay a fixed rate only if they are making profits, rather than basing the rate on production. The bill was passed in the federal Senate early September.

Jimmy Cocking from the Arid Lands Environment Centre says the Federal Government has bowed to industry pressure and Aboriginal people will suffer. “It’s going to be easier for companies to get it up so you might find that companies who are more marginal – not the big producers but the more marginal companies – will start digging and then find out that they can’t even pay for the rehabilitation costs,” he said.

ABC News, 11 September 2009

Saving the climate would bring more jobs in the power industry.
A strong shift toward renewable energies could create 2.7 million more jobs in power generation worldwide by 2030 than staying with dependence on fossil fuels would. The study, by environmental group Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council (EREC), urged governments to agree a strong new United Nations pact to combat climate change in December in Copenhagen, partly to safeguard employment. “A switch from coal to renewable electricity generation will not just avoid 10 billion tons of carbon dioxide emissions, but will create 2.7 million more jobs by 2030 than if we continue business as usual,” the report said. Under a scenario of business as usual, the number of jobs in power generation would fall by about half a million to 8.6 million by 2030, hit by mainly by a decline in the coal sector due to wider mechanization.

The report said that, for the first time in 2008, both the United States and the European Union added more capacity from renewable energies than from conventional sources including gas, coal oil and nuclear power. The report suggested the wind sector alone, for instance, could employ 2.03 million people in generating power in 2030 against about 0.5 million in 2010.

The report can be found at:

U.K.: Keeping the nuclear fire burning.
A stinging attack on the nuclear policy of the United Kingdom's Government and the role played by civil servants has been made by Jonathan Porritt. Retiring as chairman of the Government's Sustainable Development Commission he spoke of wasted years and opportunities in pursuing the revival of the nuclear industry. In 2003 the commission had worked with the Department of Trade and Industry minister Patricia Hewitt on a new White Paper which concluded that "nuclear power is not necessary for a secure low-carbon efficient UK economy". However, instead of implementing the plans, civil servants "kept the nuclear flame burning" until a new minister was appointed. "The civil servants won that battle at a great cost to energy policy in the UK. We have had years of delay on critical things that could have been done on renewable energy and energy efficiency. We had six to eight years of prevarication when we could have been getting on with it."

N-Base Briefing 622, 19 August 2009

U.S.A.: Grandmothers against nuclear power!
From inside the security gate at Entergy's Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, four Massachusetts women opposed to nuclear power looked out at VY security personnel, state and town police officers, and representatives of the media. The plant's security gate rumbled to a close too slowly to bar the four, including three grandmothers. Within half an hour, the four were arrested by state troopers and Vernon Police Chief, who arrived at the scene within minutes of the security breach. Charged with trespassing and ordered to appear December 15 in Windham County District Court are Ellen Graves, 69; Frances Crowe, 90; Paki Wieland, 66; and Hattie Nestel, 70.

Acting on behalf of the Shut It Down affinity group, the four women wanted to demonstrate that inadequate safety at Vermont Yankee is not limited to radiation leaks and collapsing cooling towers, according to Nestel. Women from Shut It Down have been arrested seven times previously at the Vernon plant or at headquarters in Brattleboro. Each time, they have pointed to the unsafe, inefficient, and unreliable characteristics of nuclear power, Nestel said. The women carried signs calling for the closure of the nuclear plant. Mary-Ann DeVita Palmieri, 71, chauffeured the four to the main Entergy VY gate with Marcia Gagliardi, 62, who got out of the car with those eventually arrested. "We hope we demonstrated that there is no way to make Vermont Yankee secure," said Nestel. "It is time to shut it down."

Press release, Shut It Down!, 28 september 2009

UK: LibDems cave in to nuclear power lobby.
Tom Burke, the veteran director of the Green Alliance, was invited to the Liberal Democrats Conference to debate nuclear power. However, shortly before the conference, he was informed that he was dis-invited. It seems that EDF, the nuclear power company, was experiencing sphincter problems at the prospect of debating with Burke, so they leaned on the LiberalDems, who collapsed like a tower of toilet paper in a thunderstorm.
Tom Burke writes: "I thought you would all like to know that I was originally invited by Dod’s to speak at the three low carbon fringe meetings at the party conferences. I accepted the invitation and received a confirmation of my participation sometime early in the summer. Three weeks ago I was notified by e-mail that I had been disinvited at the request of EDF who were sponsoring the meetings. This dis-invitation arrived too late to change the programme for the event at the Lib-Dem Conference where I was listed as a speaker. Given that EDF have now owned up to the fact that they cannot do new build nuclear without subsidies I am not totally surprised that they no longer wish to debate the issue in public."

Australia: radioactivity in dust storms?
Environmentalists have raised concerns that another giant dust storm blowing its way across eastern Australia may contain radioactive particles. It is argued that sediment whipped up from Australia’s centre may be laced with material from the Olympic Dam uranium mine. Scientists have played down concerns, saying there is little to worry about. On September 23, Sydney and Brisbane bore witness to their biggest dust storm in 70 years. Both were shrouded in red dust. The dust storm is believed to have originated around Woomera in outback South Australia near the massive Olympic Dam uranium mine, prompting fears it was radioactive and dangerous…………

The massive clouds of dust that choked heavily populated parts of Australia have caused problems for people with asthma, as well as those with heart and lung conditions.

But some environmental campaigners believe that the dry, metallic-tasting sediment could threaten the health of millions of other Australians. David Bradbury, a renowned filmmaker and activist, claims the haze that engulfed some of the country’s biggest cities contains radioactive tailings –carried on gale force winds from a mine in the South Australian desert.

“Given the dust storms… which [the] news said originated from Woomera, and which is right next door to the Olympic Dam mine at Roxby Downs, these [storms] could blow those tailings across the face of Australia,” he said.

BBC News, 28 September 2009

Brazil and nuclear wepaons.
Brazil’s Vice-President Jose Alencar has said possession of nuclear weapons would enable his country to deter potential aggressors and give the South American nation greater ‘respectability’ on the world stage, according to a media report from Sao Paulo. “Nuclear weapons as an instrument of deterrence are of great importance for a country that has 15,000 km of border”, O Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper quoted Alencar as saying while referring to the security of the country's offshore oil deposits. Besides deterrence, nuclear weapons “give more respectability”, citing the example of Pakistan, a poor nation that “has a seat in various international entities, precisely for having an atomic bomb”.

Brazil's military regime (1964-1985) had a covert nuclear-weapons program that was shut down after the restoration of democratic rule.

MercoPress, 28 September 2009

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

German Nuclear Waste Site in Danger of collapsing.
The Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) had learned late last year that pieces of the ceiling of the 750-meter deep chamber were unstable and could collapse on top of the 6,000 radioactive waste drums below. The information about the Asse nuclear waste site  (an old salt mine) was posted discreetly on the radiation office's Web site late Wednesday, January 14. The BfS said it could not rule out damage to the waste containers should the Asse site ceiling collapse, but gave its reassurances that it would reinforce the seals of the chamber with concrete to stop any radioactive dust or air escaping. The office said the measures were only a precaution and that there was no immediate danger posed by the site. It said the waste inside the chamber contained only low-levels of radioactivity. The site has not been used for fresh radioactive storage since 1978, with environmental groups regularly calling for waste there to be removed and stored in a safer location.

Deutsche Welle, 16 January 2009

Brazil to start enriching uranium at Resende. Industriás Nucleares do Brasil (INB) has been issued a temporary licence by the Brazilian Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN) to start enriching uranium on an industrial scale at its Resende plant.

INB has held an environmental licence to enrich uranium since November 2006, but the plant's operating permit, which is valid for one year, has been now been amended by the CNEN. Production of enriched uranium is expected to begin in February, with some 12 tons of enriched uranium expected to be produced by the end of 2009. The ultra-centrifugation enrichment technology used at the plant was developed by the Naval Technology Centre in Sao Paulo (CTMSP) and the Institute of Energy and Nuclear Research (IPEN). However, the technology is similar to Urenco's technology.

The Resende plant currently has two cascades of centrifuges. The first cascade commenced operation in 2006 and the second was expected to do so in 2008. Stage 1 - eventually to be four modules totalling 115,000 SWU per year and costing US$170 million - was officially opened in 2006. Each module consists of four or five cascades of 5000-6000 SWU per year. It is planned that a further eight cascades are installed by 2012, which will take the capacity to 200,000 SWU. By that time, INB is expected to be able to produce all the enriched uranium used in the Angra 1 reactor and 20% of that used in Angra 2. Those are the country's only operating power units at the moment, although plans to complete Angra 3 are advancing and many more reactors are expected in time.

Up until now, uranium used to fuel Brazil's nuclear power reactors has been sent as uranium concentrate to Cameco in Canada to be converted into uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas, which has then been sent to Urenco's enrichment plants in Europe. After enrichment, the gas has been returned to Brazil for INB to reconvert the UF6 gas to powder, which is then used to produce nuclear fuel pellets.

World Nuclear News, 14 January 2009

Australia/UK: Plutonium secretly dumped at sea?
Declassified UK Government files show that 500g of plutonium and about 20 kg of radioactive wastes were secretly removed from the 1950s bomb test site at Maralinga in Australia. The UK Government removed the wastes in 1978 and although there is no official record of what happened to it the suggestion in the files is that it was secretly dumped at sea.

N-base Briefing 596, 7 January 2009

Sellafield privatisation: Rushed liabilities deal
Commercial insurance companies refused to consider any policy regarding liabilities for an accident at Sellafield which might be bought in courts outside the UK which were not party to existing liability conventions. Energy minister Mike O'Brien told the House of Commons the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority approached the nuclear insurance market in 2007 when it was preparing the contract for a private company to run Sellafield. The Government and NDA eventually indemnified the private companies chosen to run Sellafield and the Drigg waste facility against any costs arising from an accident - even if it was shown to be the fault of the commercial company.

Meanwhile, documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show the lengths ministers and civil servants took to prevent MPs from having the opportunity to discuss the decision to make the contract for running Sellafield more financially attractive to private companies. The Government agreed to take over responsibility for the costs of any accidents at Sellafield after the preferred bidders, Nuclear Management Partners, said it would not sign the contract unless it was indemnified against all costs. Ministers abandoned normal procedures to ensure that by the time MPs learned of the arrangements it would be too late to make any changes.

N-base Briefing 596 & 597, 7 & 14 January 2009

Turkey: AtomStroyExport revises bid.
A consortium led by Russia's AtomStroyExport submitted a revised bid for the tender to build Turkey's first nuclear power plant minutes after the contents of its initial bid were announced. At 21.16 cents per kWh, the initial bid submitted by the consortium is nearly triple the current Turkish average wholesale electricity price of 7.9 cents per kWh. Turkish energy minister Hilmi Guller told a press conference that AtomStroyExport had submitted a revised price "linked to world economic developments". Although it would be unorthodox for a bid to be revised once submitted in the tender process, AtomStroyExport's is the only bid on the table and Guller suggested that there would be room for bargaining. The revised bid would be opened and assessed by Turkish state electricity company TETAS who would assess it before passing it on to the country's cabinet for approval. No details of the revised bid have been released.

Turkish plans call for the country's first nuclear power plant to be operational by 2014, with proposals for 10-12 reactors by 2020 but would-be reactor builders appear to be treading carefully. Although six parties participated in the tendering process for the country's first nuclear reactor, AtomStroyExport's consortium was the only one actually to submit a bid.

World Nuclear news, 20 January 2009

Australia : no nukes to cut carbon emissions.
The Australian government  will not choose for nuclear power to help tackle climate change. The Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering - representing engineers and scientists – urged to do so in a report, calling the government to spend A$6 billion on researching ways to slash the carbon emissions from electricity generation. The academy's report says no single technology will solve climate change, and takes a look at everything from nuclear power to clean coal and renewable energy.
Federal Energy Minister Martin Ferguson responded by saying the government was committed to meeting its greenhouse gas reduction targets without turning to nuclear power. "It is the government's view that nuclear power is not needed as part of Australia's energy mix given our country's abundance and diversity of low-cost renewable energy sources," he said. "The government has a clear policy of prohibiting the development of an Australian nuclear power industry." The report's author Dr John Burgess said he was not disappointed by the minister's comments on nuclear power. "I guess what we're slightly concerned about is that without nuclear energy the other technologies have to work," Dr Burgess said.

The statement is important as the world is starting to prepare for the crucial Climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark, December this year. If nuclear power will not get the support of major players (ie. financial state aid, subsidies via post-Kyoto flexible mechanisms as CDM and the Carbon Trade schemes) it will be considered and received as a major knock-out to the nuclear industry.

Business Spectator, 16 January 2009

Russian economic crisis decreases nuclear safety.
The nuclear industry in Russia is being negatively affected by the countries economic crisis; and the situation is expected to worsen in 2009. This is according to a recently released annual report by the states nuclear regulatory body. Ongoing job cuts at nuclear facilities include the personnel directly responsible for safety control. Activists call on the Russian government to quickly adopt a plan to insure public safety and nuclear security. The deteriorating social and economic situation in Russia is likely to result in significant drop of nuclear safety' level at many nuclear facilities. Some nuclear facilities have already seen jobs cut because of reduced national income due to declining oil prices and the global recession.  It is possible that further cut jobs in Russians and may bring back the nuclear proliferation problems related to illegal trade of radioactive materials. These radioactive materials can be used for building a "dirty bomb". According to governmental report, obtained by Ecodefense, staff cuts have been underway since 2007.

According to the recently released annual report written by the Russian nuclear regulator, Rostekhnadzor,  there have been "job cuts at facilities responsible for nuclear-fuel cycle of personnel responsible for safety control and maintenance". The report also criticises nuclear facilities management for "not paying enough attention to ensuring nuclear safety". In a disturbing criticism of iteself, Rostekhnadzor reports that it doesn't have enough safety inspectors to do it's own job properly.

Press release Ecodefense, 23 December 2008