The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) will be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015. But that’s not the only thing happening in Paris in those two weeks. Following the attacks in Paris of November 13th, the French government has prohibited mass mobilisation. It is terrible what has happened, but this is not the time to silence the voice of the people. We will be present.
Below a list of the activities the Don’t Nuke the Climate campaign will be offering.
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The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 21) will be held in Paris from 30 November to 11 December 2015. But that’s not the only thing happening in Paris in those two weeks. Following the attacks in Paris of November 13th, the French government has prohibited mass mobilisation. It is terrible what has happened, but this is not the time to silence the voice of the people. We will be present.
Killing the competition: US nuclear front groups exposed
A new report released by the Nuclear Information & Resource Service details US industry plans to subvert clean energy programs, rig energy markets and climate regulations to subsidize aging nuclear reactors.
A coalition of five organizations was joined by renowned energy economist Dr Mark Cooper to release the report, titled 'Killing the Competition: The Nuclear Power Agenda to Block Climate Action, Stop Renewable Energy, and Subsidize Old Reactors'.
The report details the industry's attacks on clean energy and climate solutions and the key battlegrounds in this new fight over the US's energy future. With large political war chests and armies of lobbyists, the power companies have opened up aggressive fights across the country this year:
* Blocking tax breaks for renewable energy in Congress.
* Killing renewable energy legislation in Illinois by threatening to close nuclear plants.
* Passing a resolution calling for nuclear subsidies and emissions-trading schemes in Illinois.
* Suspending renewable energy and efficiency standards in Ohio for two years.
* Ending energy efficiency programs in Indiana.
* Demanding above-market contracts for nuclear and coal plants in Ohio and New York.
Last year, the closure of several reactors highlighted the worsening economics of nuclear energy. Five reactor shutdowns were announced, and eight new reactors cancelled. The industry's rising costs − with new plants too expensive to build and old plants more and more costly to maintain − came head to head with a brewing energy revolution: low natural gas prices, rising energy efficiency, and affordable wind and solar power. As a result, Wall Street firms reassessed the industry, discovering an industry at risk and predicting more shuttered reactors in the coming years.
Energy economist Dr. Mark Cooper, of Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the Environment, published a paper outlining the factors contributing to nuclear energy's poor prospects and highlighting the vulnerability of dozens of reactors. Dr Cooper said: "Nuclear power simply cannot compete with efficiency and renewable resources and it does not fit in the emerging electricity system that uses intelligent management of supply and demand response to meet the need for electricity. Doubling down on nuclear power as the solution to climate change, as proposed by nuclear advocates, is a bad bet since nuclear power is one of the most expensive ways available to cut carbon emissions in the electricity sector. The nuclear war against clean energy is a last ditch effort to stop the transformation of the electricity sector and prevent nuclear power from becoming obsolete."
NIRS, 2014, "Killing the Competition: The Nuclear Power Agenda to Block Climate Action , Stop Renewable Energy, and Subsidize Old Reactors", www.nirs.org/neconomics/killingthecompetition914.pdf
Oldest Indian reactor will not restart
After 10 years in long-term outage, it was reported on September 6 that there will be no restart for the first unit of Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS-1), located at Rawatbata, 64 km southwest of Kota in the north-western Indian state of Rajasthan. The 100 MW Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor, which was supplied to India under a 1963 agreement with Canada, operated from 1972 to 2004, though with multiple extended shutdowns. Cooperation with Canada was suspended following India's 1974 nuclear weapons test; however design details for the reactor had already been transferred to India.
Czech Republic: March against uranium in Brzkov
A march against planned uranium mining on September 7 was attended by approximately 200 people. The march was organised by the association 'Our Future Without Uranium', which expresses the disapproval of the Brzkov population with the government's intention to resume uranium mining. During the day citizens signed the petition by the civic association called "NO to Uranium Mining in the Highlands".
What went wrong with small modular reactors?
Thomas W. Overton, associate editor of POWER magazine, writes: "At the graveyard wherein resides the "nuclear renaissance" of the 2000s, a new occupant appears to be moving in: the small modular reactor (SMR). ... Over the past year, the SMR industry has been bumping up against an uncomfortable and not-entirely-unpredictable problem: It appears that no one actually wants to buy one."
Overton notes that in 2013, MidAmerican Energy scuttled plans to build an SMR-based plant in Iowa. This year, Babcock & Wilcox scaled back much of its SMR program and sacked 100 workers in its SMR division. Westinghouse has abandoned its SMR program.
Overton explains: "The problem has really been lurking in the idea behind SMRs all along. The reason conventional nuclear plants are built so large is the economies of scale: Big plants can produce power less expensively per kilowatt-hour than smaller ones. The SMR concept disdains those economies of scale in favor of others: large-scale standardized manufacturing that will churn out dozens, if not hundreds, of identical plants, each of which would ultimately produce cheaper kilowatt-hours than large one-off designs. It's an attractive idea. But it's also one that depends on someone building that massive supply chain, since none of it currently exists. ... That money would presumably come from customer orders − if there were any. Unfortunately, the SMR "market" doesn't exist in a vacuum. SMRs must compete with cheap natural gas, renewables that continue to decline in cost, and storage options that are rapidly becoming competitive. Worse, those options are available for delivery now, not at the end of a long, uncertain process that still lacks NRC approval."
India's new uranium enrichment plant in Karnataka
David Albright and Serena Kelleher-Vergantini write in an Institute for Science and International Security report: "India is in the early stages of building a large uranium enrichment centrifuge complex, the Special Material Enrichment Facility (SMEF), in Karnataka. This new facility will significantly increase India's ability to produce enriched uranium for both civil and military purposes, including nuclear weapons. India should announce that the SMEF will be subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, committed only to peaceful uses, and built only after ensuring it is in compliance with environmental laws in a process that fully incorporates stakeholders. Other governments and suppliers of nuclear and nuclear-related dual use goods throughout the world must be vigilant to prevent efforts by Indian trading and manufacturing companies to acquire such goods for this new enrichment facility as well as for India's operational gas centrifuge plant, the Rare Materials Plant, near Mysore."
Iran planning two more power reactors
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) plans to build two new nuclear power reactors, Bushehr Governor General Mostafa Salari announced on September 7. The previous week, AEOI chief Ali Akbar Salehi said that Tehran would sign a contract with Russia in the near future to build the two reactors in Bushehr. The AEOI states that the agreement with Russia will also include the construction of two desalination units.1
One Russian-supplied power reactor is already operating at Bushehr. Fuel is supplied by Russia until 2021 and perhaps beyond. Plans for new reactors may be used by Tehran to justify its enrichment program.
Meanwhile, construction licenses have been issued for the next two nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates by the country's Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation. Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation plans to begin construction of Barakah 3 and 4 in 2014 and 2015 respectively with all four of the site's reactors becoming operational by 2020.2
2. World Nuclear News, 15 Sept 2014
Depleted uranium as a carcinogen and genotoxin
The International Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons has produced a new report outlining the growing weight of evidence relating to how depleted uranium (DU) can damage DNA, interfere with cellular processes and contribute to the development of cancer.1 The report uses peer-reviewed studies, many of which have been published during the last decade and, wherever possible, has sought to simplify the scientific language to make it accessible to the lay reader.
The report concludes: "The users of DU have shown themselves unwilling to be bound by the consequences of their actions. The failure to disclose targeting data or follow their own targeting guidelines has placed civilians at unacceptable risk. The recommendations of international and expert agencies have been adopted selectively or ignored. At times, users have actively opposed or blocked efforts to evaluate the risks associated with contamination. History suggests it is unlikely that DU use will be stopped voluntarily: an international agreement banning the use of uranium in conventional weapons is therefore required."
A report released by Dutch peace organisation PAX in June found that the lack of obligations on Coalition Forces to help clean-up after using DU weapons in Iraq in 1991 and 2003 has resulted in civilians and workers continuing to be exposed to the radioactive and toxic heavy metal years after the war.2 The health risk posed by the inadequate management of Iraq's DU contamination is unclear − neither Coalition Forces nor the Iraqi government have supported health research into civilian DU exposure. High risk groups include people living near, or working on, the dozens of scrap metal sites where the thousands of military vehicles destroyed in 1991 and 2003 are stored or processed. Waste sites often lack official oversight and in places it has taken more than a decade to clean-up heavily contaminated military wreckage from residential neighbourhoods. Hundreds of locations targeted by the weapons, many of which are in populated areas, remain undocumented and concern among Iraqi civilians over the potential health effects from exposure is widespread.
The Iraqi government has recently prepared a five year environment plan together with the World Health Organisation and UN Environment Programme but the PAX report finds that it is unclear how this will be accomplished without international assistance.
Clean-up of former Saskatchewan uranium mill
More than 50 years after the closure of the Lorado uranium mill in Saskatchewan, workers are cleaning up a massive pile of radioactive, acidic tailings that has poisoned a lake and threatened the health of wildlife and hunters for decades. The mill is near Uranium City, where uranium mining once supported a community of up to 5,000 people. Lorado only operated from 1957 to 1961, but during that time it produced about 227,000 cubic metres of tailings that were dumped beside Nero Lake. Windblown dust from the top of the tailings presents a gamma radiation and radon concern. Workers will cover the tailings with a layer of specially engineered sand to prevent water from running over them and into the lake. In addition, a lime mixture is to be added to the lake to counteract the acidity.
In 1982, the last of the mines near Uranium City closed, but tailings from the Lorado site and the Gunnar mine were left untouched. Uranium City has about 100 residents now.
Clean-up work also includes sealing off and cleaning up 35 mine exploration sites. Later, the Saskatchewan Research Council is to begin a cleanup of the Gunnar mine. That project is in the environmental assessment stage. Four million tonnes of tailings were produced at Gunnar during its operation from 1955 to 1963.
The clean-up project is controversial. The Prince Albert Grand Council, which represents a dozen First Nations in central and northern Saskatchewan, said in a written submission for the Lorado and Gunnar projects that many residents favour removal of the tailings rather than covering them up. The Saskatchewan Environmental Society says more investigation should have been done on the feasibility of removing the tailings. It questions how the covering will stand up as climate change delivers more severe weather, and whether government will continue to monitor the sites.
France: Greenpeace activists given suspended sentences
A French court has issued two-month suspended prison sentences to 55 Greenpeace activists involved in a break-in at France's Fessenheim nuclear power plant in March. Fessenheim is France's oldest nuclear plant. About 20 Greenpeace activists managed to climb on top of the dome of a reactor in Fessenheim. The activists, mostly from Germany but also from Italy, France, Turkey, Austria, Hungary, Australia and Israel, were all convicted of trespassing and causing wilful damage.
Greenpeace has identified Fessenheim's reactors as two of the most dangerous in Europe and argues that they should be shut down immediately. The area around the plant is vulnerable to earthquakes and flooding. Fessenheim lies in the heart of Europe, between France, Germany and Switzerland, with seven million people living with 100 kms of the reactors.
USA: Missouri fire may be moving closer to radioactive waste
A new report suggests an underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill may be moving closer to radioactive waste buried nearby. The information comes just days after it was announced construction of a barrier between the fire and the waste will be delayed 18 months. The South Quarry of the Bridgeton Landfill has been smouldering underground for three years. A number of gas interceptor wells are designed to keep the fire from moving north and reaching the radioactive waste buried at the West Lake Landfill. However the wells may have failed according to landfill consultant Todd Thalhamer, who is calling for more tests to determine exactly how far the fire is from the radioactive material.
Britain's nuclear clean-up cost explosion
The cost of cleaning up Britain's toxic nuclear sites has shot up by £6bn (US$9.7b, €7.5b), with the government and regulators accused of "incompetence" in their efforts to manage the country's legacy of radioactive waste. The estimated cost for decommissioning over the next century went up from a £63.8bn estimate in 2011−12 to £69.8bn in 2012−13, with more increases expected in the coming years. This increase is nearly all due to the troubled clean-up of the Sellafield nuclear facility in Cumbria.
On May 29, Greenpeace Africa activists dressed in nuclear emergency suits dumped marked nuclear waste bags and placed look-a-like nuclear barrels at the entrance of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) building. Greenpeace demanded a halt to discussions aimed at expanding nuclear power generation not only in South Africa but also the rest of the African continent.
In the early morning protest, Greenpeace Africa activists blockaded the premises of the IDC where the conference on ‘Nuclear power's future for Africa’ was taking place. The conference was to be opened by South Africa's Energy Minister Dipuo Peters and attracted high-ranking delegates from across Africa. Shortly after chaining themselves to the gates, aggressive security guards beat the locks to break them and forcefully dragged activists off into their security office. Meanwhile as different activists offloaded nuclear bags to further block the entrance, security guards began flinging bags around, and started using them for a pillow fight with journalists and photographers. Shortly after it was announced inside the conference venue that the Minister of Energy would no longer be attending the conference, and her speech was read by a representative.
"Minister Peters' support to expand nuclear power in Africa is extremely irresponsible given the socio-economic challenges prevalent on the continent" said Greenpeace Africa climate and energy campaigner Ferrial Adam. "As a continent we should be learning from what history has shown about nuclear power: It is a dirty and dangerous source of energy, and one that will always be vulnerable to the deadly combination of human errors, design failures, and natural disasters," added Adam. “In South Africa, the nuclear process has been marked by secrecy and non-transparency. Key questions around the design, cost and safety are unanswered. The government's dream of becoming a nuclear power will end up as a nuclear nightmare and should stop now before it is too late."
At the conference, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe stressed the necessity of replacing coal with other energy sources, particularly nuclear energy. With that in mind, the country would build a large nuclear plant, Motlanthe said in a video message to the conference. He highlighted the need to produce electricity in other parts of the country to spread the electricity production points around the national grid. "This is a strategically sensible approach, which requires us to use other energy sources in addition to coal. Nuclear power is ideal in this sense, because we can build large nuclear power plants at points around our southern coastline, and potentially elsewhere in the future," he noted, ignoring the fact that it is obvious large nuclear power plants are not the best way to decentralize electricity production. (Developing the smaller high temperature reactors –PBMR- in South Africa failed miserably.)
In its integrated resource plan, the South African government aims to increase the nuclear output to 9.6 GW by 2029. South Africa has the African continent's only nuclear power station at Koeberg, with two reactors (total 1.8 GW).
Sources: iafrica, 29 May 2012 / Xinhua, 29 May 2012 / IAEA, PRIS Country details South Africa
Contact: Greenpeace Africa, PostNet Suite 125, Private Bag X09, Melville, ohannesburg, 2109, South Africa.
Tel: +27 11 482 4696
On March 10, antinuclear groups staged a rally in the capital of South Korea, Seoul, to voice opposition to nuclear power on the eve of the first anniversary of Fukushima. Over 5,000 people, including many young people and families with children, took part in the rally. The turnout was one of the biggest in recent memory for an antinuclear demonstration. The rally adopted a declaration demanding that the government abandon its policy to promote nuclear power.
South Korea operates 21 reactors and plans to build 13 more ― seven of them under construction and six others planned ― by 2024 to increase the nuclear share of the country’s electricity production to 48.5 percent from 31.2 percent last year. But the scheme may face a strong headwind as surveys have shown a rising antinuclear tide among the public in the wake of the Fukushima accident. In South Korea, before the Fukushima accident, a small number of environmental groups raised voices for abandoning nuclear power, but June last year the Joint Action for Nuclear-free Society, a coalition of about 40 civic organizations was formed. A growing number of civic activists, lawyers, professors and religious leaders have participated in the movement to seek alternatives to the government’s plan to expand the nuclear capacity to meet an ever-increasing demand for electricity.
In a poll taken by the Korea Energy Economics Institute in 2009, about 42 percent of Koreans favored nuclear power and 38.8 percent remained neutral. But the corresponding figures fell to 16.9 percent and 23.8 percent in a survey conducted last August. The proportion of respondents who opposed it jumped to 59.3 percent from 19.2 percent over the cited period.
Less than half felt nuclear power was dangerous in 2009 but the figure climbed to 75.6 percent in 2011 after Fukushima. Confidence in the safety of local nuclear power stations weakened from 70.5 percent to 52.6 percent.
More than 70 percent were in favor of building more reactors in 2009 but the proportion shrank to 38 percent last year. Nearly 55 percent said they found no problem with a nuclear plant being built in the area near where they lived in 2009, but only 29.5 percent replied so in 2011.
Public sentiment against nuclear power was exacerbated particularly in the provinces of North Gyeongsang, South Gyeongsang and South Jeolla and the southeastern city of Busan, where most of the reactors in operation or planned are located.
Little swayed by the surge in the antinuclear tide, President Lee Myung-bak committed himself to carrying out the nuclear expansion plan in a recent news conference. Lee argued that for Korea, which “does not produce a drop of oil,” there is no other option but nuclear power to meet the growing demand for electricity. He said abandoning nuclear energy would cause electricity rates to rise by as much as 40 percent.
Lee, who played a decisive role in gaining a US$40 billion deal with the United Arab Emirates in 2009 to construct and operate four reactors, reiterated his pledge to make Korea one of the five major players in the global nuclear industry. Two years ago, his administration announced a plan to export 80 reactors by 2030 to take a 20 percent share of the world market. Lee also said it would take at least three to four decades before renewable energy becomes economically viable.
His advocacy of nuclear power has drawn criticism from antinuclear activists. “He is leading the nation in the wrong direction to make us rely on nuclear power and thus burdened with its dangers forever,” Kim Hye-jeong, an activist who works for the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement said: “Lee’s nuclear policy is just anachronistic and turns a blind eye to the dominant public opinion.”
The Joint Action for Nuclear-free Society also issued a statement asserting Lee was either misinformed or distorted the facts to make his case for nuclear expansion. The group said Germany has not seen higher utility bills and has continued to export electricity even after shutting down eight reactors in 2011 as part of a plan to decommission all 17 reactors by 2022.
In support of the antinuclear campaign, Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon and heads of 45 small cities, counties and wards gathered in February to adopt a declaration pledging to go nuclear-free and turn to renewable energy. Park has pushed an initiative to cut energy consumption in the capital over the coming three years by the same amount that would make it possible to do away with a nuclear reactor.
The 'no to nuclear power' movement has recently taken on an increasing political implication as liberal and progressive opposition parties are trying to publicize their stances in the run-up to the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit slated for March 26-27. Dozens of former and incumbent lawmakers from the main opposition Democratic United Party launched a group in February to push for the country’s abolition of nuclear power and transformation toward renewable energy. The DUP leaders, who have opposed Seoul’s hosting of the second nuclear summit initiated by U.S. President Barack Obama, are expected to include the group’s demands in the list of the party’s pledges for the April 11, parliamentary elections.
Sources: The Korea Herald, 6 March 2012 / Mainichi Daily News, 11 March 2012
Thousands of people demonstrated in Japanese cities on February 11 (some 12,000 in Tokyo alone), to commemorate Fukushima and demand the end of nuclear power. The main anti-nuclear rallies were held on February 11, because on March 11, Japan will commemorate the earthquake and tsunami, resulting in 20,000 deaths.
Elsewhere, many antinuclear events will take place in the weekend of on March 11. There is much more but here a first overview of actions and activities. If you have additions; let us know!
Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) is making an overview of actions in the US. There are actions listed in New Jersey, New York, Texas, Vermont. Please visit their website at http://www.nirs.org/action.htm.
The French umbrella Reseau Sortir du Nucleaire organizes a very ambitious action on March 11; a Human Chain, between Lyon and Avignon. That means 230 kilometer of people…... More than 50.000 people are needed. In April France will elect a new president. This is very important for the future debate on nuclear power. For more information, also in English, see: http://chainehumaine.org/
153 local actions all over the country… with 5 major demonstrations at Brokdorf, Neckarwestheim, Gundremmingen (nuclear reactors) Schacht Konrad (radwaste) and Gronau (Uranium enrichment). Best overview available via http://www.ausgestrahlt.de/mitmachen/fukushima-jahrestag/mahnwachen-112.html
The conference 'Nuclear Power For Africa?' will take place in Cape Town on March 8 – 9. The South African government has stated it is planning to order 6 more nuclear reactors in early 2012. On the African continent today, South Africa is the only country to possess a nuclear reactor, and its developments in this field will undoubtedly influence other African countries. More information via: http://koebergalert.org/npfree/
Conference ‘Uranium, Health and Environment, March 16-18, organized by the IPPNW and the Association of Inhabitants and Friends of the Municipality of Falea, the region which is being threatened by uranium mining plans. More information: http://www.falea21.org/
March 10, manifestation in Middelburg, capital of the province where new-build was planned and with the last Dutch commercial nuclear power station in operation.
More information (only in Dutch): www.stopkernenergie.nl
Nationwide demonstration in the capital, Brussels. Main aim is to put pressure on the new government to stand with the policy to phase-out nuclear power gradually over the coming decade. More information: the national platform “Stop and Go’ (referring to a ‘stop’ on nuclear and a ‘go’ for renewables) http://www.stop-and-go.be/ (only in Dutch and French)
The No Nukes Asia Forum takes place in Korea, this year from March 19 to 24. Not only will there be a conference with the international participants but also tours and actions at Busan (nuclear power station Kori 1), against the export of reactors to the UAE and visits to the proposed site for new nuclear power plants (Samcheok & Yeongdeok) to support local resistance. The NNAF is being held just a week before the “Seoul Nuclear Security Summit 2012” takes place. The second Nuclear security summit (the first was held in Washington in 2010) was meant to focus on proliferation and nuclear terrorism issues. But it looks like it is taking a more overt pro-nuclear position. From its website: “The summit has been involved in cooperative measures to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism, protection of nuclear materials and related facilities, and prevention of illicit trafficking of nuclear materials. With new agendas like Fukushima nuclear disaster and regional cooperation for peaceful use of nuclear power proposed, however, the scope is expected to be expanded from nuclear security to nuclear safety”. It should be particularly noted that South Korean government, the host country, and Korean nuclear industry regard the summit as an opportunity to promote nuclear power plant export. (the Third nuclear security summit will be held in the Netherlands in 2014.
More information about the NNAF: http://nnafkr.blogspot.com/2012/02/history.html
Surround and blockade Hinkley Point, Somerset. Hinkley Point is the first of eight proposed sites for nuclear new build to go ahead. We stopped them here before in 1987, and we can do it again in 2012. If they fail at Hinkley, it is unlikely the “nuclear renaissance” will have the momentum to continue. On the 10th -11th March 2012, we will return to Hinkley to form a human chain around the station to show our determined opposition to new nuclear. In 2010, dozens of us blockaded the gates at Hinkley. In 2011 hundreds of us blockaded the entrance again. In 2012, thousands of us will surround the power station to say No to new nuclear! Not here, not anywhere!
More information at: http://stopnewnuclear.org.uk/
Egypt remains poised to build its first nuclear power plant, originally approved under the leadership of ousted strongman Hosni Mubarak. Egypt's electricity minister said in March 2011, that the country would go ahead with the tender for the plant's construction after the popular uprising that ousted President Hosni Mubarak. But local opposition remains fierce, with demonstrations, clashes with military police and a site occupation.
Egypt has an ambitious nuclear power program already for decades. In November 1975, a year after a nuclear agreement between Egypt and Soviet Union, the U.S. Ford administration promised to construct two reactors. Discussions on the deal were started when president Nixon visited the country in 1974. But due to growing opposition in Congress in the following years especially regarding safeguards and the position of Israel, the deal never materialised.
On July 8, 1978, then–president Anwar Sadat proudly announced a deal with Austria to store nuclear it's waste in Egypt, but Austria decided shortly after to never commission their Zwentendorf nuclear power plant after a referendum. On February 16, 1981, Egypt ratified the Nonproliferation Treaty and in the same week France made a bid for the construction of two pressurised water reactors, including the supply of fuel and French technical assistance. Feasibility studies were conducted for the El Dabaa site by the French company Sofratom.
But the program was frozen after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Ukraine.
Now, after years of stop-start efforts, Egypt’s nuclear-energy ambitions are once again in flux. Deposed Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak had pushed hard in recent years to reinvigorate the country’s nuclear-power ambitions,
On August 25, 2010, Mubarak made a final decision on the selection of Dabaa (nearly 350km north of Cairo on the Mediterranean coast) as the site of Egypt's first nuclear reactor. The Supreme Council of Nuclear Energy has been restructured in order for Mubarak to head it. The Dabaa plant will be followed by three other reactors, tentatively scheduled to start production in 2025. The first plant was scheduled to start producing electricity in 2017, but the new government has not made any statements about its plans for the plant since construction was suspended.
Protests at El Dabaa
On January 13, about 500 residents rallied, demanding that construction on the plant be halted. They stormed the Dabaa proposed nuclear site, destroying many buildings and staging a sit-in. The protestors, who, according to some reports, exchanged gunfire with soldiers, claim that the plant development project has usurped their land. The clashes left 41 people injured, including 29 soldiers, according to state-run newspaper Al-Ahram. Employees have refused to return to the plant until security is re-established.
According to Egypt’s Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper the meteorological station, ground water station and many of the offices had been attacked and it says looters made off with computers, monitoring devices for earthquakes, transformers, cables and furniture. Engineers from the country’s Atomic Energy Authority subsequently began to dismantle and remove the remaining equipment, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.
On Saturday, January 14, following the clashes with military police on Friday, residents of Dabaa staged an occupation, called a 'sit-in', of the site. In the days following the occupation the northern command military leadership met with officials from the Dabaa nuclear site. The Nuclear Stations Authority has been blamed for failing to secure the site and for not dismantling radioactive equipment after the site was stormed, putting inhabitants of the surrounding area at risk. Mohi al-Essawy of the National Center for Nuclear Safety explained that it is the responsibility of the Nuclear Stations Authority and not the Nuclear Safety Authority to secure the site.
On January 19, protesters said they would continue their sit-in and asserted that the government would not be able to force them out. They have already built 50 houses on the site, changed its name to New Dabaa and decided to move the cattle market there. They also said they would give 1,000 square meters for free to young people who cannot afford a place to live. They rejected the option of negotiations to bring an end to their sit-in.
Taha Mohamed Al-Sayed, governor of Matrouh, had held an urgent meeting with protestors' representatives, calling on them to exercise self-restraint. The governor was quoted as telling the protestors that the army will not attack them. Al-Sayed ordered police to secure the plant's gates.
On the first days of the January protests, while hundreds of protestors surrounded El Dabaa, someone managed to sneak in and steal some of its radioactive material. One safe containing radioactive material was seized while another was broken open and some of its contents removed, according to Khaleej Times and confirmed by the IAEA. The government has alerted security officials to the theft and a search party is underway.
Sources: Financial Times, 4 August 1976 / Vrij Nederland, 5 August 1978 / Egypt's nuclear program, Center for Development Policy, March 1982 / Al-Masry Al-Youm, 17 January / Nature, 20 January 2012 / Egypt Independent, 14, 17, 20 & 22 January 2012
An estimated sixty thousand people took to the streets in Tokyo on September 19 to say Goodbye to nuclear power. It was the largest anti-nuclear demonstration ever in Japan. On September 11, exactly six months after the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdowns, already many thousands had demonstrated all over Japan to vent their anger at the government's handling of the nuclear crisis. Three young men and a woman started a 10 day hunger strike in front of the Ministry of Economy Industry and Trade, the planner and sponsor of nuclear power.
In one of the largest protests on September 11, an estimated 2,500 people marched past the headquarters of the plant's operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company, and created a "human chain" around the building of the Trade Ministry that oversees the power industry. Protesters called for a complete shutdown of nuclear power plants across Japan and demanded a shift in government policy toward alternative sources of energy.
Japan can switch off all nuclear plants permanently by 2012 and still achieve both economic recovery and its CO2 reduction goals, according to a new Greenpeace report. Released on September 11, the Advanced Energy [R]evolution report for Japan, shows how energy efficiency and rapid deployment of renewable technology can provide all the power Japan needs.
The report - with calculations by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP) - shows that Japan's wind and solar generation capacity can be ramped up from the existing 3,500 MW to 47,200 MW by 2015. This represents around 1000 new wind turbines deployed per year, and an increase in the current annual solar PV market by a factor of five, supplying electricity for around 20 million households. At the same time, load reduction strategies would cut Japan's energy demand by 11,000 MW, equal to the capacity of 10 to 12 nuclear reactors.
Japan Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's effort to win public support for restarting nuclear reactors faces a setback after his minister in charge of the industry was forced to resign just nine days into the job. Yoshio Hachiro stepped down as head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry on Sept. 10, under fire for using 'towns of death' to describe the evacuation zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant and joking about radiation.
The full Greenpeace Advanced Energy [R]evolution Report for Japan can be found at: www.greenpeace.org/japan/Global/japan/pdf/er_report.pdf
Sources: Bloomberg, 11 September 2011 / Reuters, 11 September 2011
Contact: Citizens' Nuclear Information Center (CNIC). Akebonobashi Co-op 2F-B, 8-5 Sumiyoshi-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 162-0065, Japan
Fukushima has had a big impact in Spain, mainly in Catalonia, as this country is one of the most nuclearized countries of the world. In 2010, almost 50% of all the generated electricity in Catalonia was nuclear. The main issue is the extension of operational licenses of several reactors.
Despite the lack of serious information about the Fukushima nuclear accident in the main media, a coalition of antinuclear Catalan groups just after the Fukushima accident called for a sit-in in front of the Catalan government and City Council main buildings (17 March 2011). Also they succeed in organizing a big march (supported by more than 100 environmental, political, social and solidarity organisations), on Sunday 5 June 2011, the World Environment Day, from the Spanish Government Delegation building in Barcelona to the Endesa main office in the city. The Spanish Socialist Party won the elections with the commitment to establish a timetable to shutdown the nuclear reactors, but at present nothing has been decided and the only nuclear decision has been to extend the life of the oldest nuclear reactor operating in Spain (Santa María de Garoña, GE BWR, similar to Fukushima number 1 unit).
Endesa was the former public utility that was privatized by the conservative government in 1998 and is now owned by Enel. Endesa, as public utility, played a main role in late seventies and early eighties buying shares of many Spanish private utilities engaged in building nuclear power plants that experienced big financial problems. And now Endesa owns 45.3% of all the nuclear power capacity in Spain (Iberdrola 44,9%, GasNatural Fenosa 7.5% and HC 2.1%). The antinuclear Barcelona march was attended by many thousands of people from all ages, showing a 250 square meter banner (15x15m) with a gigantic Smiling Sun logo.
The antinuclear march was a big success because since November 1989, just after the serious accident that Vandellos I reactor experienced on October of that year, not one antinuclear demonstration had been organized any place in Spain. Only the Barcelona based Group of Scientists and Technicians for a Non Nuclear Future (founded in Barcelona at the end of 1980 and registered as NGO just after the Chernobyl accident) was able to organize an annual event called the Catalan Conference for a Future Without Nuclear Power (since 1992 it was renamed as Catalan Conference for a Sustainable Energy Future Without Nuclear Power). During the last edition of the conference (the 25th) two main energy studies were presented: the SolarCat and the SosTec, the first showing two scenarios on how Catalonia could have a 100% renewable electricity system between 2030 and 2045 and the second exploring how to shutdown the three remaining nuclear reactors operating in Catalonia before 2020. As invited guests, Walt Patterson (author of many books on energy) and Javier García Breva (former IDAE director and now chairman of Renewables Foundation) were able to give lectures.
To understand the success of the present antinuclear events it is necessary to remember that on occasion of the 20th anniversary of Chernobyl accident (2006) in Barcelona a big antinuclear music festival around Earth Day was organized. In Barcelona, Catalonia Earth Day is organizing since 1996, an annual Earth Fair and the last editions of the Earth Fair were attended by 100.000 people). Also, in 2010, at the same event, a successful demonstration was organized to show the rejection of the proposal of the Spanish Government plans to build a Nuclear Waste Centralised Storage facility. Many thousands of people with antinuclear face-masks, showed the opposition to the project. And a few weeks before the June 5 march, another massive antinuclear event during the Earth Fair was organized and attended by many thousands of people.
After the Fukushima nuclear disaster other antinuclear demonstrations were organised in Madrid (8 May, supported by 27 political, social and environmental organisations) and Bilbao (Basque Country, 23 June, supported by 20 social and environmental organisations).
On July 26, 2010 the Spanish government renewed the operational license of Vandellòs 2 nuclear reactor until 2020. On March 10, 2011 (one day before Fukushima) it did the same with Cofrentes nuclear reactor, renewing the operational license until 2021. Next October 1, 2011 the operational license of Ascó nuclear plant (with two reactors, Ascó 1 and Ascó 2) will end. Now there is a strong campaign to ask the Spanish government not to renew the Ascó operational license because it is the nuclear plant experiencing almost 50% of all the nuclear irregular events in Spain. Last July 22, 2011 the Catalan Parliament rejected a proposal introduced by ‘Solidaritat Catalana per a la Independència’ (a coalition of 5 political parties, including the Catalan green party ‘Els Verds – Alternativa Verda’), supported by the Socialist Party (PSC), the Republican Party (ERC) and the leftist party (ICV-EUA) asking the Catalan government to address a petition to the Spanish Government in order not to renew the operational license of Ascó, until the nuclear power plant will succeed with the stress tests adopted after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. The majority of votes from the Catalan center-rigth party CiU (ruling at present the Catalan government) with the support of the Spanish rightist party PP rejected the proposal, showing clearly their support for the nuclear industry.
Source and contact: Group of Scientists and Technicians for a Non Nuclear Future, Tanquem les Nuclears, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
Since the Fukushima disaster, NGOs hosted two major demonstrations, on March 20 and April 30, as well as many ongoing nationwide activities. Two days after the Fukushima disaster, Deputy Chair of the Atomic Energy Council, Taiwan’s regulatory body, assured the Legislators that Taiwan’s six operating nuclear reactors are as safe as “Buddha sitting comfortably on her lotus platform“.
NGOs and some Legislators called for abolishing the construction of the 4th nuclear power plant, and immediate stopping the 6 operating reactors for thorough safety check-ups. Taiwan has three operating nuclear power plants: Chinshan, Kuosheng, and Maanshan, with two reactors each. The fourth plant, Lungmen, two 1300MW ABWR, is under construction.
On March 15, President Ma, of the pronuclear KMT party, said there is no need to change the current nuclear policy. “The existing 6 reactors will keep running till serious incidences emerge. Since no signs of emergency occurs, no need to stop these reactors.” “Once real serious incidences occur, reactors will be abandoned immediately to protect the public”. President Ma’s announcements were criticized as “nonsense and stupidity” by non-governmental organizations. In addition, AEC officials said that radioactivity from Fukushima reaching Taiwan is impossible. Only a few days later they were forced to admit that vegetables in northern Taiwan were found to be contaminated.
One survey conducted by the opposition Democratic Progressive Party, DPP, on March 16, shows 50.6% of the Taiwanese population has little confidence in nuclear plant operation; 61.1% has little confidence in government’s ability of handling the crisis and 76.5% agrees that the construction of the 4th nuclear power plant should temporarily be stopped till reactor safety are warrant. Another survey conducted by the Taiwan Thinktank, on March 17th shows 58% agrees that construction of 4th nuclear power plant should be stopped and should be re-evaluated; 65% worries about nuclear safety; 79% does not know how to evacuate and how to cope with a nuclear accident if it occurs in Taiwan; 56% suspect that radioactive nuclei from Fukushima can travel to Taiwan; and finally 74.6% of people in Taiwan do not accept AEC’s analogy that Taiwan’s nuclear plants are as safe as Buddha on her lotus seat.
On May 30, maybe concerned about possible influences of the nuclear issue on the Presidential and parliamentary elections next January, the Ministry of Economic Affairs announced “no lifetime extensions (after 40 years’ operation) for current reactors” and “no 4th nuclear power plant operation unless safety is guaranteed”. Before the Fukushima incident, the Ministry of Economic Affairs sent its energy policy to the Environmental Protection Agency for policy Environmental Impact Assessment. That particular energy policy was formed August 2010, with expansion of nuclear and coal at its core. One week before the May 30 announcement, the Ministry quietly retracted its energy policy from EPA.
As reported in the Nuclear Monitor 688, May 7, 2009, the Atomic Energy Council revealed that between January and November 2007, state-owned Taipower changed the 4th nuclear plant design in 395 places without applying permission from the Atomic Energy Council, as law requires. Taipower was fined 4 million NT dollars for misconduct (US$ 139,000 or 100,000 euro). However, additional more than 700 safety related design changes without approval were discovered in January 2011. On March 8, three days before the Fukushima disaster, AEC fined Taipower 15 million NT dollars, and sent the case to the prosecutor for violating ”Nuclear Reactor Facilities Regulatory Acts”. This is a bold and unprecedented act from the rather weak AEC. At the deadline of this article, July 25, one cannot be sure whether AEC will act as strong in the future, and eventually shut the 4th nuclear power plant, or if AEC is just a dummy testing political winds.
Source and contact: Gloria Hsu, Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, TEPU.
2nd Fl., No. 107, Section 3, Ting Chou Road, Taipei, Taiwan.
Iran: Busher reaches first criticality.
According to Russian builder AtomStroyExport (ASE), Iran's first nuclear power reactor Bushehr achieved criticality on 8 May 2011 and is now functioning at the minimum controlled power level. Final commissioning tests will now be carried out prior to start of commercial operation. According to Iranian news agency Fars, the plant is expected to be connected to the national grid within the next two months.
Construction work began on two German-designed pressurised water reactors (PWRs) at the Persian Gulf site in the mid-1970s but was abandoned in 1979 following the Islamic revolution when unit 1 was substantially complete. In 1994, Russia's Minatom agreed to complete unit 1 as a VVER-1000 making use of the infrastructure already in place. However, this necessitated major changes, including fabrication of all the main reactor components in Russia under a construction contract with AtomStroyExport. The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said in 2008 that it was no longer planning to complete Bushehr unit 2. Further delays ensued for negotiations over fuel supply for the plant, but two agreements were signed early in 2005 covering the supply of fresh fuel for the reactor and its return to Russia after use, securing the plant's fuel supply needs for the foreseeable future.
In February 2011, only weeks before operation was expected to start, the discovery of debris from damaged coolant pumps meant that all the fresh reactor fuel had to be unloaded, checked and cleaned, and the reactor internals and main circulation pipeline flushed through. Bushehr will produce about 1000 MWe for the Iranian grid; about 3% of the country's power supply.
The following table shows which countries produced nuclear energy for the first time after the 1970’s. Currently, only 10 countries did so (of which 3 weren't independent countries at that time), and if we look at countries who started construction of their first nuclear power station, we find that only China and Romania did so after the 1970’s (as said, Iran started in the 1970's)
Country start of construction first power of
of first n-power plant first n-reactor
Slovenia 3-1975 10-1981
Brazil 5-1971 4-1982
Hungary 8-1974 12-1982
Lithuania 5-1977 12-1983
South Africa 7-1976 4-1984
Czech Republic 1-1979 2-1985
Mexico 10-1976 4-1989
China 3-1985 12-1991
Romania 7-1982 7-1996
Iran -1975 -2011
So which country will be next? According to the World Nuclear Association nuclear power is under serious consideration in over 45 countries which do not currently have it. However, that is in most cases more whish than reality. It is difficult to predict which country will start with the construction of its first nuclear reactor next: will it be Poland, Belarus, Lithuania, Turkey, Jordan or after all the United Arab Emirates?
World Nuclear news, 10 May 2011 / Nuclear Monitor, 21 June 2007 / World Nuclear Association, Emerging nuclear energy countries (visited 25 May 2011)
Big antinuclear demonstration Switzerland. An estimated 20.000 people have held a massive demonstration in northern Switzerland against a possible decision by the government to rely on nuclear energy. The demonstration, staged near the Beznau nuclear power plant, was also attended by people from Germany, Austria and France. According to Maude Poirier, spokeswoman for Sortons du nucleaire, the rally was the biggest protest at nuclear power in Switzerland in 25 years.
Over a thousand high school students went on strike and marched to the centre of Bern on May 24Tuesday, to protest against Switzerland's nuclear energy policy, even though local police had not granted permission for the demonstration.
A day later, on May 25, the Swiss cabinet has called for the phasing out of the country’s five nuclear power reactors and for new energy sources to replace them. The recommendation will be debated in parliament, which is expected to make a final decision in June. If approved, the reactors would be decommissioned between 2019 and 2034 after they have reached their average lifespan of 50 years.
But the delay will anger the antinuclear movement, Greens and the Social Democrats (SP) who had called for nuclear reactors to be closed earlier. And indeed, it looks less like a phase-out scenario and more like an attempt to 'save' nuclear power.
The decision is likely to please business groups who had warned that "a premature shut down of Switzerland's nuclear reactors could lead to higher electricity costs and negatively impact the country's energy-hungry manufacturing sector."
Swiss utility companies Axpo, Alpiq and BKW had expressed an interest in building new nuclear plants and decisions on sites had been expected in mid-2012. (more on Switzerland: Nuclear Monitor 726; 13 May 2011)
Financial Times, 26 May 2011 / Reuters, 25 May 2011 / The Local (Sw.), 24 may 2011
Six potential locations for Danish LLW & ILW repository.
A major step towards a repository for Denmark's low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste has been made with the submission of three pre-feasibility studies to the Danish interior and health ministry. The first study, prepared by national decommissioning body Dansk Dekommissionering (DD), looks at different disposal concepts in terms of types of repository, waste conditioning, safety analyses, costs and long-term impact assessments. Overall, the studies conclude that a moderately deep repository would be the most appropriate from a security point of view, although this would be more expensive than a near-surface repository. From 22 areas suggested in preliminary studies, the reports recommend that six potential sites are taken forward for further study. The six identified locations will now be narrowed down to a shortlist of two or three by an inter-ministerial working group in a process that will include the affected municipalities and regions.
Denmark never implemented a commercial nuclear power program but operated a total of three scientific research reactors over the period from the late-1950s up to 2000, as well as associated fuel fabrication facilities. All three reactors – DR-1, DR-2 and DR-3 – were located at the Risø National Laboratory north of Roskilde on the island of Zeeland. Most of the used fuel from the reactors has been returned to the USA, but the country still has a sizeable amount of low and intermediate level radioactive waste which is being stored at Risø pending the selection and construction of a final repository.
World Nuclear News, 5 May 2011
SKB Turns in application for permit to build a final repository.
On March 16, the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Company, SKB, applied for a permit to build a final repository for spent nuclear fuel and a facility where the fuel will be encapsulated before being transported to the final repository. SKB's application will now be reviewed by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority and the Environmental Court. The application will subsequently be presented for political decision in the relevant municipalities and by the government. SKB wants to use the so-called KBS-3 method for the repository, in which spent fuel would be placed in copper and steel canisters before being placed in granite bedrock 500 meters below the surface. Bentonite clay would be put around the canisters as a barrier to radioactive leakage. Critics of the plan have repeatedly questioned the choice of copper and its potential for corrosion, among others issues.
The Swedish NGO Office for Nuclear Waste Review, or MKG, an organization that opposes the KBS-3 method, said that SKB has “shown arrogance in the face of criticism” about the method. The group called on Swedish politicians to “take responsibility” and require alternative methods to be further reviewed. MKG favors a so-called deep-borehole repository, which would be deeper underground than the repository planned by SKB.
SKB is applying for permission to build an encapsulation facility in Oskarshamn Municipality and a final repository for spent nuclear fuel at Forsmark in Östhammar Municipality. (see more on the SKB plans in: Nuclear Monitor 706, 26 March 2010: “Nuclear fuel waste storage: end of the road for the Swedish solution”).
In December 2009 SKB, the industry's jointly owned company for nuclear waste solutions, published a "preliminary" environmental impact statement (EIS) on the KBS-3 scheme. The report failed to meet even rudimentary requirements of an EIS. In January 2010 the SKB unilaterally declared the termination of public consultations on the project (consultations mandated by the Swedish Environmental Code, 1998). SKB makes no apologies, but simply notes that long-awaited updates will be filed together with the formal application.
SKB, 16 March 2011 / Nuclear Fuel, 21 February 2011 / Nuclear Fuel, 21 March 2011 / Nuclear Monitor 706, 26 March, 2010
The 'greying' of the nuclear industry.
Almost a third of Britain's nuclear inspectors are eligible to retire within three years, leaving a potential 'knowledge gap' within the regulator. The Office for Nuclear Regulation has hired 93 new inspectors since 2008. But of the 217 inspectors, 30 per cent are over the age of 57, 11 per cent are over 60 and 70 could retire by 2015. The regulator said that new recruits were needed soon so that the older generation could pass on their expertise and bridge the knowledge gap. Is that what they mean by saying that the nuclear industry has matured?
The Times (UK), 19 May 2011
On July 5, a group of seasoned anti-nuclear activists supported by an intergenerational community “crossed the line” in Oak Ridge in protest of the ramping up of nuclear weapons production the US. The 60th Anniversary year of the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is also the 30th anniversary of the Ploughshares 8 where faith activists walked into a General Electric facility and used hammers to literally “beat the swords” – the nose cone of a nuclear weapon – to ploughshares. Some three dozen peace activists were arrested at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant
The group of activists was celebrated at a weekend gathering in Tennessee along with two US based antinuclear support groups – Nukewatch based in Wisconsin and the publication The Nuclear Resister based in Arizona – both founded in 1980 and celebrating their 30 year mark as well. “Resistance for a Nuclear Free Future” drew more than 200 participants and as is typical for US anti-nuclear gatherings today was dominated by the over-60 crowd with a handful in the 40 – 60 range, joyfully laced with a contingent of youth, primarily from the growing “Think Outside the Bomb” network (see: http://www.thinkoutsidethebomb.org/ ).
While there was new information shared, the primary focus of the event was celebration of the long history of nuclear resistance activism in the US and in particular the staff of Nukewatch, The Nuclear Resister and the ongoing work of the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA) focused on Y-12, the one site of continuous industrial-scale nuclear weapons production in the US, in Oak Ridge.
One month before, another strategic gathering of activists met in Chicago: the National Grassroots Summit on Radioactive Waste Policy. A section of the event, devoted to education was entitled “A People’s History of Radioactive Waste” the balance of the Summit was peer-to-peer working groups with either a geographic or issue focus with a total of 26 peer-to-peer sessions held over three days. More than 90 people participated from 26 states resulting in seven regional working groups.
The purpose of the Summit was to initiate national-scope networking, coordination and collaboration within the US anti-nuclear and nuclear-focused communities in the wake of “destabilization” of national nuclear waste policy thanks to President Obama’s intent to cancel the Yucca dump.
Since the panel appointed by Energy Secretary Chu to formulate “post-Yucca” waste policy – (a still hoped for outcome as the question of whether Obama and the Department of Energy have the authority to cancel Yucca Mountain; a question likely to go all the way to the US Supreme Court -see box) does not have a single grassroots advocate or even nuclear critic, the Summit was called in part to form a national platform to watch-dog this group. The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (official name!) is almost exclusively nuclear industry operatives – including John Rowe, head of Exelon the largest US nuclear utility and former Senate Energy Committee Chair, Pete Domenici (R-NM retired), and the head of the trade union that would get many construction jobs.
A key function of the Summit was to reaffirm that commitment that we are one community – that we share one “backyard” and that we will stand together rather than allowing the nuclear industry to “play” us against each other. One outcome of the Summit is renewed commitment to regional collaboration and networking for community-based education, engagement and action to stop any of the pro-industry proposals that the BRC is likely to endorse. Topping the list of these bad options is reprocessing which would be a reversal of nearly 40 years of prohibition of commercial plutonium separation in the US.
Reprocessing and “centralized interim storage” of irradiated fuel (currently nearly all of this most radioactive waste is stored on the reactor site where it was generated) are somewhat interchangeable. A reprocessing site would offer a centralized location where waste would likely be stored prior to processing – and likewise, a centralized storage site might “invite” a reprocessing plant at a later date. Thus one of the strongest outcomes of the Summit was an affirmation towards the implementation of the Principles for Safeguarding Radioactive Waste at Reactors(*1). The core of this plan is to ensure that over-full fuel pools are emptied (except the hottest waste) and that dry containers are made more secure by being spread out, surrounded by earth barriers to reduce likelihood of attack, and fitted with real-time monitors. The Principles explicitly oppose making more radioactive waste and also oppose reprocessing the existing waste. This statement is the strongest consensus in the US anti-nuclear energy activist community and is supported by 283 organizations across 50 states. Two days of education and coordinated action to elevate the Principles are being planned. Hopefully international in scope, likely dates are September 29, anniversary of the terrible radioactive waste storage tank explosion in 1957 at Kyshtim and again in April on the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl devastation.
The Summit was cosponsored by Beyond Nuclear, Clean, Guacamole Fund, Loyola Student Environmental Alliance (the event was located at Loyola University), Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force Nuclear Energy Information Service, and Nuclear Information and Resource Service.
(*1) The Principles for Safeguarding Radioactive Waste at Reactors can be found at http://brc.gov/pdfFiles/May2010_Meeting/Attachment%203_HOSS%20PRINCIPLES...
Fight over Yucca Mountain continues. The Obama Administration announced last year it would pursue other alternatives to the Yucca Mountain repository for the countries' high level waste. In March of this year, the Department of Energy (DOE) formally moved to withdraw its application to construct the facility by filing the request with the atomic licensing board. The three-member Atomic Safety and Licensing Board ruled on June 29 that the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 does not give the Energy secretary the discretion to substitute his policy for the one established by Congress in the act. “Unless Congress directs otherwise, DOE may not single-handedly derail the legislated decision-making process by withdrawing the Application,” said the board. The act requires a decision by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on the merits of the construction permit, added the board.
A DOE spokesperson said in a statement, “The Department remains confident that we have the legal authority to withdraw the application for the Yucca Mountain repository. We believe the administrative board’s decision is wrong and anticipate that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will reverse that decision.”
www.legaltimes.com, 2 July 2010
Source and contact: Mary Olson at NIRS
Russia to invest heavily in Namibia.
Russia is ready to invest US$1-billion in uranium exploration in Namibia. "We're ready to start investing already this year," the head of state corporation Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, told journalists. Rosatom seeks to compete for projects with global miner Rio Tinto in the African country. Earlier in May, Russia and Turkey signed a US$20-billion project for Moscow to build and own a controlling stake in Turkey's first nuclear power plant.
Namibia, the world's fourth-largest uranium producer, is home to the Rossing mine operated by Rio Tinto, which together with Paladin Energy's Langer Heinrich mine accounts for about 10% of global output. Other firms have been joining the exploration drive, with several new mines due to come on stream in the next five years.
Although Russia plans to spent a lot of money on foreign nuclear projects, it is clear that there is not enough money to realize its domestic nuclear program. As described in Nuclear Monitor 707 the number of reactors planned to be built by 2015 will be cut by 60%. And even that number will be hard to build.
Reuters, 20 May 2010
UK: Decommissioning black hole.
The new U.K. Government will have to find an extra £4 billion for decommissioning and waste management at the UK civil nuclear. Energy minister Chris Huhne said: "as you can imagine, this is a fairly existential problem. The costs are such that my department is not so much the department of energy and climate change, as the department of nuclear legacy and bits of other things." He added that there were "genuine safety issues" so the costs could not be avoided. As a result, the Government is considering extending the life of some of the UK's oldest reactors as a way of raising extra income for decommissioning. Extending the life of the reactors owned by the NDA would raise extra income. The Wylfa reactor on Anglesey, for example, is due to close at the end of the year, but extending its operating life for another two years would mean £ 500 million (US$ 736 million or 598 million euro) in new revenue. The NDA is also considering extending the life of the Oldbury reactor, first opened in 1968. Any application to extend the life of reactors would have to be approved by safety regulators.
N-Base Briefing, 9 and 16 June 2010
France: Subcontractors not in epidemiological surveys.
French antinuclear network 'Sortir du nucléaire' supports nuclear industry subcontractor and whistleblower Philippe Billard. As a spokesperson of the organisation 'Santé / Sous-traitance' (“Health and Subcontracting”), he has undergone some retaliation measures after having denounced workers exposure to radiation. As a whistleblower, he’s now treated as persona non grata in nuclear power plants. His employer refuses to re-instate him at his previous job, in contradiction with the Labour Inspectorate’s recommendations.
The French antinuclear network “Sortir du nucléaire”, considers Philippe Billard’s ousting as a means to put pressure on whistleblower workers. “Sortir du nucléaire” decided to bring its support to the workers who, just like Philippe Billard, suffer from the unbearable working conditions imposed by the nuclear industry and undergo irradiation without even receiving appropriate health care.
To protect its corporate image, EDF chose to give subcontractors the most dangerous tasks. These people working in the shadows have insecure jobs and are mostly temporary and/or nomad workers. Every year, 25,000 to 30,000 of them are made to carry out tasks where they are exposed to radiations. This system allows EDF to cover up a huge health scandal, since these subcontractors, who get 80% of the annual collective dose from the whole French nuclear park, are not taken into account in epidemiological surveys! (See: Annie Thébaud-Mony, « L’industrie nucléaire organise le non-suivi médical des travailleurs les plus exposés », Imagine, May-June 2007)
EDF is shamelessly multiplying talks on transparency while hushing up workers whistle blowing about the imminent catastrophe. In the ageing French nuclear park, the accident risk is increasing, all the more since maintenance periods are shortened in order to save time and money. However, the official motto remains “Nothing to report” and short-term profits are more important than common safety and security.
Press release 'Sortir du nucleaire', 31 May 2010
Switzerland: Thousands march against nuclear power.
More than 5,000 people gathered in Goesgen, canton Solothurn, in northern Switzerland on May 24, for a peaceful protest against the continuing development of nuclear energy in the country. The protest had participants from 83 groups in Switzerland, France, Germany and Austria. One of their key points was that Switzerland’s nuclear power plans are preventing the rapid development of alternative energy programs. The demonstration was one of the largest in last years.
Another subsidy for Areva in the U.S.
"As part of a broad effort to expand the use of nuclear power in the United States and reduce carbon pollution," the U.S. Department of Energy has approved a US$2 billion loan guarantee for French nuclear power developer Areva S.A. (owned for about 93 percent by the French State). The loan guarantee will support Areva's Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility near Idaho Falls, Idaho, which will supply uranium enrichment services for the U.S. nuclear power industry. Areva's US$3.3 billion nuclear enrichment facility will use centrifuge technology instead of gaseous diffusion technology that is more common in the U.S. but uses more energy. Areva had filed its application for the guarantee with the Department of Energy in September 2008.
The group can tap the guarantee once its Idaho Falls project has received full approval by the authorities. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is expected to decide sometime next year on a licence for the facility. Areva plans to have the plant in operation in 2014.
The United Stated Enrichment Corporation (USEC) is also seeking a loan guarantee for its American Centrifuge Project under development at Piketon, Ohio. Following DOE's announcement the consensus would seem to be that 'd be bad news for USEC. But according to USEC spokesman Paul Jacobson that is not the case. Jacobson said USEC was encouraged that DOE recognizes the need for more enrichment services to supply the nuclear needs of the future. He also noted that DOE, as noted in the federal agency's press release, still has another US$2 billion in loan authority available. At one time, USEC was going head to head with Areva for the loan guarantees, and USEC played up the foreign-owned company versus domestic company, etc., but now the company -- on the public front at least -- seems to be focused on the nuclear renaissance and the idea that there's enough demand in the U.S. and abroad to support multiple new ventures in the enrichment arena.
U.S. DOE, 20 May 2010 / Reuters, 20 May 2010 / Atomic City Underground, 21 May 2010
EC: investigation non-compete clauses Areva, Siemens.
The European Commission has opened an antitrust case to determine whether non-compete clauses in civil nuclear technology arrangements between Areva of France and Germany's Siemens violate EU competition rules. The opening of antitrust proceedings on June 2, means that the EC thinks the case merits investigation. EC competition spokeswoman Amelia Torres said an investigation was triggered by a complaint from Siemens after Areva took full control last year of reactor construction and services company Areva NP, a joint venture originally set up by Framatome (which later became Areva) and Siemens in 2001. But non-compete clauses between the two companies remain, even though Siemens sold its 34% stake to Areva last year.
The shareholders' pact between Areva and Siemens for Areva NP is not public, but a French official familiar with it confirmed that it forbids either party from competing with the other in businesses covered by Areva NP for eight years after a potential divorce.
Siemens said in January 2009 that it intended to exercise its option, to sell its 34% stake in Areva NP to Areva and leave the joint venture. A few weeks later, Siemens said it had signed a memorandum of understanding on a nuclear power business partnership with Rosatom, a Russian state-owned nuclear conglomerate. After bilateral discussions failed to produce an agreement on the price at which Areva would buy the 34% stake in Areva NP, the erstwhile partners last year asked an arbitration court to decide the matter.
EC competition spokeswoman Amelia Torres said the investigation would be carried out by the EC at EU-level, rather than by national governments. There is no timescale for the investigation as this depends on the complexity of the case and the extent to which the parties cooperate. Torres said she was not able to prejudge whether a fine would be imposed if the arrangement were found to be in breach of competition rules.
Platts, 2 June 2010
U.K.: Waste costs 'not acceptable' for industry.
The nuclear industry has been heavily lobbying to change proposed charges for managing wastes from nuclear reactors. Papers released under Freedom of Information show how the French company EDF pressed the previous government to change the proposed 'high fixed cost' for managing wastes and the timetable for handing the management of wastes to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The previous government made significant changes to the way it proposed changing companies for managing their wastes. It also agreed that responsibility for wastes should pass to the NDA after 60 years instead of the original 110 years. This would reduce the financial liabilities and costs for companies.
EDF told the government the original proposals were "non-acceptable" and made it uneconomic to develop new reactors.
N-Base Briefing 665, 9 June 2010
Chubu delays Hamaoka-5 restart after earthquake.
Japan: The Chubu Electric Power Company has extended the closure of its 1,380-megawatt Hamaoka No.5 reactor by a further two months to the end of July. Chubu Electric said the decision had been taken because the company is still analyzing why the impact of the August 11, 2009 earthquake on the reactor was greater than for other nuclear units. The company explained that, based on this measure of earthquake ground motion, the impact of the tremor was significantly higher than for other reactors. Chubu Electric will report its findings to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. It hopes to restart the reactor after METI and other government agencies have agreed the report and local communities have consented to the restart of the reactor. The restart of the No. 5 reactor was originally planned for the end of December 2009, but pushed back several times.
Power in Asia 555, 27 May 2010
Bangladesh: cooperation agreement with Russia.
The government of Bagladesh has increased momentum for the installation of the country’s first nuclear power plant. The US$1.5-billion project will be built at Rooppur, about 300 kilometers from the capital Dhaka. A committee headed by the state minister for science and information and communication technology, Yafes Osman, has been constituted to implement the project. The 22-member committee, which has the chairman of the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission as its member secretary, will examine funding issues and assess the risks associated with the fiscal arrangements. It will also study nuclear waste management issues. Bangladesh plans to install the 2,000-megawatt plant (for US$1.5billion?) at Rooppur from 2017. It signed a five-year framework cooperation agreement with the Russian atomic energy company Rosatom in May, with the final agreement due to be signed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Moscow later in 2010.
Power in Asia 555, 10 June 2010
Go-ahead for Urenco's Eunice plant.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has authorized the operation of the first cascade at Urenco's Louisiana Energy Services (LES) gas centrifuge enrichment plant at Eunice, New Mexico. LES is a wholly owned subsidiary of URENCO Ltd. Urenco said the process to bring the plant from construction status to fully operational will begin later in June. The Urenco USA plant (formerly the National Enrichment Facility) will be the first commercial centrifuge enrichment plant to become operational in the USA. Urenco formally inaugurated the plant in early June. "At full capacity, the facility will produce sufficient enriched uranium for nuclear fuel to supply approximately 10% of the electricity needs for the US", according to the Urenco press release.
Urenco Press release, 11 June 2010
(May 7, 2004) What happened 25 years ago? We go back to news from our 1979 WISE Bulletin, comparing anti-nuclear news "then" and "now".
In WISE Bulletin 5 we reported on a demonstration against uranium mining in Australia: "On April 6th and 7th, major rallies took place in all major Australian cities. […] Organisers say this is the largest ever anti-nuclear demonstration in Sydney." (WISE Bulletin 5, May/June 1979)
Uranium ore was discovered in Australia in the 1890s and was initially mined as a source of radium. Primarily intended for the U.S. and U.K. weapons programs, mining for the element uranium began in the 1950s and was followed in the 1960s with mining for civil nuclear energy. Australia's uranium is exported to the U.S., Canada, Japan, South Korea and the European Union countries. (Uranium Information Center Issues Briefing, February 2004)
Uranium mining is polluting, costly and negatively affects aboriginal landowners whose local environment is threatened by high levels of radioactivity contained in uranium tailings. Leaks have resulted in the contamination of the areas surrounding the mines. Mining is capital-intensive, which means low employability per invested dollar, and in the 1990s uranium prices dramatically fell below actual production costs. Sacred sites of cultural and spiritual significance to aboriginal landowners are regularly destroyed. (Uranium Mining in Australia, Movement against Uranium Mining, July 1991)
Studies have shown that the living conditions of aborigines have not been improved by mining activities as was claimed by the industry. Employment levels for aboriginals are extremely low as are their social circumstances. According to the 1976 Aboriginal Land Rights act, the traditional owners have the right to veto commercial activities on their territories. But in 1978 the federal government made an exception for uranium mining. (Vergeten Volken [NL], June 1999)
In 1983 the Labour Party won government elections and introduced the "Three Named Uranium Mines" policy. This policy limited mining to the Ranger, Nabarlek (now closed) and Olympic Dam (Roxby Downs) mines with the intention of eventually phasing out uranium mining in the long term. In 1996, however, a Liberal-National coalition came to power and abandoned the three mines policy.
The liberal government also allowed the operation of three new mines: Beverly, Honeymoon and Jabiluka. Suggestions for more new mines have been made at six other locations. (Sustainable Energy and Anti-Uranium Service Inc., 4 January 2004)
Beverly began operation in late 2000 but following a trial operation, the Honeymoon mine lies idle as financing remains unclear. (Sustainable Energy and Anti-Uranium Service Inc., 4 January 2004; WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor 600, 19 December 2003)
In 1998, the federal government approved mining at Jabiluka, known for being one of the world's biggest uranium reserves. The mine is located near a unique nature park (Kakadu National Park) and the proposal raised strong protest from the traditional landowners. Following much protest, the traditional owners finally won. Although exploitation had begun on a small scale, the uranium ore was returned to the mine and the mine was cleaned up in 2003. In April 2004 the Northern Land Council, acting on behalf of traditional owners, adopted an agreement with owner ERA that gave them the right to veto future development of the mine. (Vergeten Volken [NL], June 1999; The Age, 22 April 2004)