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Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Radiation can pose bigger cancer risk for children − UN study
Infants and children are at greater risk than adults of developing some cancers when exposed to radiation, according to a report released in October by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) and presented to the UN General Assembly.

Children were found to be more sensitive than adults for the development of 25% of tumour types including leukaemia and thyroid, brain and breast cancers. "The risk can be significantly higher, depending on circumstances," UNSCEAR said.

"Because of their anatomical and physiological differences, radiation exposure has a different impact on children compared with adults," said Fred Mettler, chair of an UNSCEAR expert group on the issue.

USA: Bad record keeping hindering clean-up of nuclear sites
The US government's decades-long effort to rehabilitate hundreds of sites around the country where nuclear weapons development and production has taken plan has been hampered by sloppy record-keeping. Documentation has been so uneven that the Energy Department says it lacks adequate records on several dozen facilities to be able to determine whether they merit clean-up. Additionally, in excess of 20 sites that were cleaned up and announced to be safe ended up needing more rehabilitation after lingering traces of nuclear contamination were found. The final price-tag of the clean-up effort is estimated to cost US$350 billion.[1]

Meanwhile, who − and what pot of money − would drive clean-up after a nuclear power plant incident is a question still left unanswered by the federal government, New York state officials said in a recent legal filing with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Under the Price-Anderson Act, the nuclear power industry's liability in the event of a catastrophe is limited, and in any case NRC officials said in 2009 that Price-Anderson money likely would not be available to pay for offsite clean-up − a revelation made public a year later when internal EPA documents were released under the Freedom of Information Act. Another three years have gone by and the federal government has yet to provide a clear answer, the New York Attorney General's office says. In 2012, NRC Commissioner William Magwood acknowledged that there "is no regulatory framework for environmental restoration following a major radiological release."[2]

[1] NTI Global Security Newswire, 30 Oct 2013, 'Bad Record Keeping Hindering Cleanup of Ex-Nuclear Sites: Report',
[2] Douglas P. Guarino, 25 Sept 2013, 'New York Wonders Where Nuclear Cleanup Funds Would Come From',

Areva signs uranium deal with Mongolian state
French utility Areva has signed a deal with Mongolia's state-owned Mon-Atom to develop two uranium mines in the Gobi desert. A company will be created, 66% owned by Areva, 34% Mon-Atom, and Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation will take an equity interest. Areva said exploration had discovered two uranium deposits with estimated reserves of 60,000 tonnes.

Mongolian protesters had warned before the signing that a deal could lead to the contamination of water resources in the area. Selenge Lkhagvajav, a protest leader, said: "We are not against cooperation with France. But we just say 'no uranium exploration in Mongolia', as not having it is the best way to prevent radioactive pollution and contamination."

Scotland: Dundrennan depleted uranium protest
Campaigners held a walk-on at the Dundrennan range in protest at the test firing of depleted uranium (DU) weapons into the Solway Firth. It was part of an international day of action and followed concerns about serious health issues resulting from the use of such weapons in war zones. The last DU tests at the south of Scotland range were in 2008. DU Day of Action events were also held in Finland, Japan, Norway, Costa Rica and elsewhere.

UK: Inadequate nuclear regulation
The UK government's nuclear safety watchdog has named the five UK sites that need the most regulation because of the safety problems they pose. They are the reprocessing complex at Sellafield in Cumbria, the nuclear bomb factories at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire, the nuclear submarine base at Devonport in Plymouth and the former fast breeder centre at Dounreay in Caithness.[1]

These sites have been highlighted by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) in its 2013 annual report as requiring an "enhanced level of regulatory attention" because of the radioactive hazards on the sites, the risk of radioactive leaks contaminating the environment around the sites and ONR's view of operators' safety performances.[1]

Sellafield was rated unacceptable in one inspection because a back-up gas turbine to provide power to the site in emergencies was "at imminent risk of failure to operate" because of severe corrosion. "Failure would reduce the availability of nuclear safety significant equipment, and also potentially injure or harm the workforce," says ONR.[1]

At Aldermaston, corrosion in a structural steelwork was discovered in 2012, resulting in the closure of the A45 building which makes enriched uranium components for nuclear warheads and fuel for nuclear submarines.[1]

In May, AWE admitted one count of breaching the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 in relation to an August 2010 accident and fire at Aldermaston. A worker was injured when the mixing chemicals in a bucket caused an explosion and a fire which led to the evacuation of staff and nearby residents. Bernard Thorogood, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, said an investigation into the fire revealed a "constellation of failures" relating to health and safety regulations which put employees at risk.[2]

[1] Rob Edwards, 5 Nov 2013,
[2] Basingstoke Gazette, 23 May 2013,

Italy: radioactive waste dumped illegally by Mafia blamed for cancer increase
The Italian Senate is investigating a possible link between buried radioactive waste and a rise of almost 50% in tumours found in the inhabitants of several towns around Naples. The illegal trafficking of hazardous waste came to light in 1997. A Mafia clan had run a profitable operation dumping millions of tonnes of waste on farmland, in caves, in quarries, on the edge of towns, in Lake Lucrino and along the coast.

Radioactive sludge, brought in on trucks from plants in Germany, was dumped in landfills, said Carmine Schiavone, who was involved in the illegal activities before becoming a whistle-blower. "I know that some is on land where buffalo live today, and on which no grass grows," he said.

Hannah Roberts, 1 Nov 2013, 'Toxic nuclear waste dumped illegally by the Mafia is blamed for surge in cancers in southern Italy',

UK: Dungeness power lines damaged by storms
EDF's Dungeness nuclear power station has been reconnected to the National Grid after power lines were damaged when storms battered southern Britain. The Kent power plant's two reactors were automatically shut down when electricity to the site was cut off on 28 October.[1] More than 60,000 homes and businesses were left without power.[2]

The Dungeness plant was in the media earlier this year when Freedom of Information documents revealed that ministers rejected advice from the Office for Nuclear Regulation to restrict development near nuclear plants. That advice was overridden when the government approved the expansion of Lydd airport, a few miles from the Dungeness plant. Dungeness was also in the news earlier this year when it was revealed that tritium leaks beyond the statutory limit had occurred.[3]

[1] BBC, 6 Nov 2013,
[2] Utility Week, 29 Oct 2013,
[3] 'Dungeness Airport Threat & Tritium', May 2013,

Multinational approaches

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#746, 747, 748
Waste special

Siting radioactive waste repositories is considered as one of the most difficult to solve problems in waste management, so one could think it would make sense for produces of radioactive waste and waste management organizations to limit the number of repositories. For politicians and waste management authorities, the idea of a shared repository is, at least intuitively, connected more to export than to import of waste. However, it could well be that international (sometimes referred to as 'regional') repositories, could increase the siting problem, in stead of easing it. The few initiatives so far all have had to cope with fierce local opposition, putting an end to those attempts.

Past initiatives

International repositories have been discussed at least since the early 1970s,(*01) but in the 1990 a number of initiatives made the headlines. In June 1997, in the openings speech of a IAEA symposium, Director General Blix said that international repositories should be 'examined'.(*02)

In 1995, the President of the Marshall Islands proposed hosting a storage and disposal facility, but the idea ran into strong opposition from other Pacific states and the United States. There was also fierce local opposition.(*03) The idea was dropped when the government changed.(*04)

Also in the mid 1990s, a U.S. based group, U.S. Fuel and Security, with support from the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy, initiated a scheme involving fuel storage on a Pacific Island — initially Wake Island and then later Palmyra Island.(*05) The scheme was met with strong opposition and was not pursued further. The Pacific Islands Forum, formerly the South Pacific Forum, a political grouping of sixteen independent and self-governing states in the Pacific, condemned the idea of using Palmyra as a “dumping ground for nuclear waste.”(*06)

A third project was initiated by organizations in several countries, including Pangea Resources, a British-based company. In November 1998 an anti-nuclear activist was given a video that promoted Australia as a site for an international nuclear waste dump. The video was produced by the US company Pangea Resources. It had been leaked to Friends of the Earth in the UK, and they had passed it on for release in Australia. The video extolled the virtues of a privately run, long term, high-level nuclear waste dump for outback South or Western Australia. The 15-minute video built an argument that nuclear waste is a problem that will not go away, that the best way of dealing with it is putting it somewhere in stable rocks, that these rocks must be away from population centers, in a country with strong democratic institutions, and that there are only a few places in the world where these conditions apply, and ... Australia seemed to be the best choice! Although the proposal had been on the table for several years, discussions had been behind closed doors. Until the "unauthorised" release of the video, Pangea’s operations had been "private business."

Political opposition in Australia stopped further progress on the scheme.

In 2002, Pangea Resources rebranded itself as ARIUS − the Association for Regional and International Underground Storage − and it is still scheming to build an international high-level nuclear waste dump.(*07)

Shortly after the Fukushima accident it became public that Japan and the United States had discussions with Mongolian officials, just before the March 21 accident, to jointly build a spent nuclear fuel storage facility in Mongolia to "serve customers of their nuclear plant exporters".(*08) This led the Mongolian authorities to issue a statement denying plans to bring nuclear waste to the country and pointing out that “Article 4.1 of  Mongolia’s law on exporting and banning import and trans-border shipments of dangerous waste unequivocally bans import of dangerous waste for the purpose of exploiting, storing, or depositing.”(*09)

On September 13 Mongolian President Elbegdorj, in response to reports of ongoing secret talks with both Japan and the U.S., issued a presidential order banning negotiations and abandoning the plans. On September 21, President Elbegdorj once again affirmed in the United Nations General Assembly that "Construction plans in Mongolia will absolutely not be accepted."(*10)

European Union
For all countries, building a national repository is a major challenge and extremely expensive. Some countries are not even in the process of developing a national repository and are looking for ways to work together to address the common challenges. In Western Europe, one of the first initiatives to explore 'shares solutions' was formed in 1992.(*11) Lately, a number of countries in the European Union consider the option of shared repositories following the experience of the SAPIERR project (Strategic Action Plan for Implementation of European Regional Repositories). Since 2003 the EC has funded SAPIERR I and II.(*12) Based on the SAPIERR findings, a Working Group has been created in early 2009 to enable the establishment of a European Repository Development Organisation (ERDO), which would contribute to develop the concept of a shared repository as a complement to the national facilities being developed. Currently, Austria, The Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Italy, Lithuania and Slovenia participate in this Working Group. The ERDO-WG is a project managed by the national waste agency of the Netherlands, Covra, and the Arius Association on behalf of its Members.(*13) Arius, as noted above, was called Pangea until 2002.

In July 2011, the European Commission adopted a directive for disposing of spent fuel, including radioactive wastes from nuclear power plants and from medical and research facilities. It sets compulsory and legally enforceable standards for all European Union member states. It does not specify specific disposal strategies, but it does permit two or more member states to share a disposal facility and also allows exports of spent fuel and radioactive waste — but not to African, Caribbean, or Pacific countries.(*14)

ERDO model for Gulf states and SE Asia?
Arius has received grants from two charitable foundations in the USA to enable the Association to extend the concept of regional, multinational cooperation to other parts of the world. Arius has explored the feasibility of adapting and applying the ERDO model to other global regions and concluded that, of various possible areas worldwide, the regions that may show the most immediate promise and potential interest are the Arabian Gulf region and South-East Asia.(*15)

Dumping waste on the poor
As long as initiatives for regional repositories exist, opponents point out that it can turn out to be an ethically risky idea. Countries that up until now have indicated some potential interest in being a host, have always been weak states that are in urgent need for money and / or do not have a developed civil society. A connection between poverty and accepting foreign waste is an ethical concern and should not be allowed: the shift from commercial to voluntary cooperation could partly answer this concern, but the debate on compensation needs carefully guarded.

Multination approaches

*01- Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists: Putting Radioactive Waste on Ice: A Proposal for an International Radionuclide Depository in Antarctica,  January 1973
*02- Nuclear Fuel: Examine international repositories, Blix urges fuel cycle symposium, 16 June 1997, p.15-16
*03- Pacific News Bulletin: Marshall Islands: Nuke waste dump concerns, June 1997
*04- Giff Johnson: Marshalls put a freeze on N-waste plans, Marshall Islands Journal, June 1997
*05- Der Spiegel: Ab auf die Insel (Away, on the island), 15 July 1996
*06- Ken Silverstein: Nuclear Burial in the Pacific, The Progressive, Vol. 61, No. 11, November 1997, pp. 32-34.
*07- More information, and the video, is available at:
*08- Reuters: Japan, U.S. plan nuclear waste storage in Mongolia –paper, 8 May 2011
*09- Embassy of Mongolia in Vienna, Press release, 10 May 2011,
*10- News Watch 145: Mongolian government drops nuclear disposal site plans, CNIC, Nov/Dec 2011
*11- Nuclear Fuel: Groups in western-Europe looking at idea of regional waste solutions, 28 September 1992, p.3-4
*12- Ewoud Verhoef, Charles McCombie, Neil Chapman: Shared, regional repositories: developing a practical implementation strategy, 2009
*13- ERDO Website:
*14- European Council: Council Directive 2011/70/Euratom establishing a Community framework for the responsible and safe management of spent fuel and radioactive waste, Brussels, 19 July 2011
*15- Arius website:

No international spent fuel storage in Mongolia!

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

The Mongolian government told Japan government officials and others concerned in late September that it had decided to abandon its plans to cooperate with Japan and the US and build facilities to store and dispose of spent fuel, it was learned on October 14. Mongolia appears to have judged the plan unfeasible because of opposition movements in the country.

Negotiations on the Mongolian nuclear projects started when US Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel B. Poneman visited Mongolia in September, 2010. Officials of Japan, the United States and Mongolia held their first round of talks on the projects in Washington in February this year. Then, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which wants to procure nuclear fuel from Mongolia, joined in the negotiations. In early July, Poneman sent a draft of an intergovernmental memorandum of understanding (MOU) to then-Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Banri Kaieda in an effort to secure a deal by the end of this year.

The Japanese daily Mainichi reported on the secret talks between the three countries in May, but the Mongolian government has officially denied the existence of such negotiations. After the Mainichi's report, Mongolian citizens harshly reacted to the envisioned projects and demanded the government withdraw the plans and disclose information.

Following such developments, Mongolian President Tsakhia Elbegdorj issued a presidential order on September 13 banning negotiating with foreign governments or international organizations such as the IAEA on nuclear waste storage plans in Mongolia and fired  government officials who had attended trilateral talks with the United States and Japan in Washington from February 3 to 4 as representatives of Mongolia.

It seems that the Mongolian government was considering processing uranium into nuclear fuel and exporting it in an attempt to make "good use" of the uranium resources. For this purpose, Mongolia was exploring the idea of introducing "nuclear fuel lease contracts" in which Mongolia would receive spent nuclear fuel from countries that buy uranium nuclear fuel from Mongolia. The US Department of Energy took the idea and came up with a proposal that Mongolia collect, store and dispose of spent nuclear fuel from other countries. Since then, the United States and Japan had been negotiating with Mongolia on the project. Public opposition against the international waste storage plans was large. When US vice-president Joe Biden, visited Ulaanbataar in August this year, several demonstrations organised by many groups like the Green Coalition and the Khmalag Mongol Movement took place.

When in the mid 1980's China developed plans to store spent fuel from abroad in the Gobi desert, Mongolia protested sharply, citing serious risks of contamination of Mongolian as well as Chinese territory, through seepage of radioactive material in the groundwater. In 1990 public opposition and grassroots activism was aimed at the Russian uranium mine Mardai in northeast Mongolia, near the Siberian border. The Russian mine was seen by many as the symbol of 60 years of Soviet neo-colonialism.

Sources: Mainichi (Japan), 15 October 2011 / Mongolia-web, 20 August 2011 / Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden), 28 March 1990 / Nature, 14 June 1984 
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