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Greenpeace tells BNP-Paribas 'stop dangerous radioactive investments'

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

On February 8, South African Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan has announced that the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) consortium will be no longer funded from 2013. In a phone call with Bloomberg she said the project has not attracted a long-term investor or customers and South Africa can no longer fund the PBMR. A decision on the future of the technology will be made in August, she said in a statement.

Laka Foundation - It is not yet clear what this budgetary falloff precisely means for the future of the PBMR in South Africa. However, it will be clear that there is not much left of the original ambitious nuclear energy program of South Africa to expand its nuclear production capacity from 1,800 megawatts now to 20,000 MW by 2025. This plan was considered as one of the strategically most important battlefields of the nuclear industries - one of the leading developing countries that many others should follow. The major blow to this plan came when the government declared that it was canceling its plans to build new generation pressurized water reactors (PWR) in December 2008, due to the escalating financial crisis starting from September 2008.

Thwarting the public funding to the PBMR has been welcomed by environmental groups. The South African director of the WWF climate change program said that for a long time the nuclear industry has received more state support than the renewable energy industry. He hopes that this cut in funding signals a policy commitment to investing in renewables.

The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) is a small type of a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor. It was expected in 1998 that work on construction of a PBMR Demonstration Power Plant at Koeberg would begin in 1999 and be complete before 2003 to allow commercial orders soon after. Eskom projected that the market could be about 30 units per year, about 20 of which would be exported. When the project was started in 1999 by the state-run power utility Eskom Holdings Ltd. and South Africa’s Industrial Development Corp. - owning together 85% of the PBMR (Pty) Ltd. - it was intended to build 24 PBMRs, each generating 110 MW(e). In March 2007, a PBMR (Pty) Ltd spokesman admitted that construction on the demonstration plant could not start before late 2008 or early 2009. And this turns out to be a highly optimistic estimate, again. In September 2009 experts expected that canceling the PWR program will delay the planned commercialization of the PBMR by up to four years to 2020. In the same month, on September 11 (2009), addressing the World Nuclear Association Annual Symposium in London, UK, Jaco Kriek, CEO of the PBMR company, said that South Africa’s PBMR Demonstration Power Plant (DPP) project has been indefinitely postponed due to financing constraints. He said the PBMR company has had to adopt a new business model “to reduce the funding obligations on the South African government.” Now, the company says it will reorganize and fire as many as 75 percent of its 800-strong workforce.

According to Uranium Intelligence Weekly (quoted in Nuclear Monitor 681) the projected costs of the 165MW(e) PBMR Demonstration Power Plant and the building of the pilot fuel plant at Pelindaba has recently doubled to some US$3 billion. These figures include the building of the fuel plant to manufacture the pebbles, as well as the building of demonstration plant, but do not cover the reactor's operations, decommissioning, waste disposal or insurance costs. Other sources (Bloomberg) mention that South Africa has spent US$970m. on the PBMR over the past eleven years. According to the anti-nuclear Pelindaba Working Group, the PBMR has already cost taxpayers over R16 bn (US$1.5 bn).

For the upcoming fiscal period, some US$470,000 (R3.6m.) has been set aside by the South African government, followed by US$490,000 (R3.8m.) for fiscal year 2011/12 and US$520,000 (R4.0m.) for 2012/13.

Earlier, on February 9, the PBMR company announced that Algeria had shown “a keen interest” in South Africa's pebble bed technology, and that a “high-level delegation” from Algeria had visited the country to “pursue the involvement in the field of nuclear, including showing a keen interest in the country's PBMR technology”. According to CEO Jaco Kriek, Algeria’s interest in PBMR technology “opens a real opportunity for two African countries to co-operate on nuclear.” South Africa has a long relationship with Algeria on co-operation in the field of nuclear energy and research. Kriek said that he would therefore very much welcome Algerian Atomic Energy Commission’s involvement in the PBMR Company.

So, despite the very precarious position of his company the CEO keeps on dreaming in finding partners to complete (or at least continue)  the PBMR project..

Sources: Bloomberg, 18 February 2010: “S. Africa Halts Funding to Pebble Bed Nuclear Project”/ Engineering News (S-Africa), 17 February 2010: “State scales back PBMR spending, to end allocations by 2013” / Nuclear Monitor 681, 18 December 2008: “ESKOM cancels PWRs: Major blow to nuclear expansion” / Business News, 9 February 2010: “Algeria eyes pebble-bed” / Independent Online, 18 February 2010: “PBMR company 'running out of money' “

Contact: Pelindaba Working Group, pelindabanonukes@gmailcom

Earthlife Africa


Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Channeling George W. Bush, President Obama called in his January 27 State of the Union speech for development of “safe, clean” nuclear power in the U.S. Obama quickly followed that up with a surprising request in the FY 2011 Department of Energy budget for a near-tripling of the loan guarantee program for new reactor construction and then upped the ante on February 17 with a personal announcement of an US$8.3 billion (6.1 bn Euro) taxpayer loan to build two new reactors at the Vogtle site in Georgia.

NIRS - Meanwhile, Energy Secretary Steven Chu unveiled the names of his commission to re-evaluate radioactive waste policy in the wake of the Administration’s decision to withdraw the application to build the proposed Yucca Mountain, Nevada, repository. While ending Yucca Mountain was a long-sought and widely-applauded goal of environmentalists, the composition of the commission caused substantial concern since no nuclear opponents or even critics of nuclear power were named, but it does include industry representatives like Exelon CEO James Rowe and radical nuclear ideologue Pete Domenici, former chairman of the Senate Energy Committee.

The reaction to these moves was swift. More than 4,000 people sent letters in protest to the White House in the first three days after the speech and thousands more have begun bombarding Congress with letters demanding that the tripling of the loan program be rejected. The issue suddenly began receiving long-overdue attention in the nation’s media, with much of the reporting focusing on the reality that the administration’s position is controversial. And several groups released statements of concern about the waste commission. NIRS, for example, said Secretary Chu had squandered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attempt to achieve a consensus policy for radioactive waste.

NIRS pointed out that the DOE’s program has moved beyond simple loan guarantees: the government is providing the actual loans for new reactors, through a little-known agency called the Federal Financing Bank. This is ushering in a new kind of nuclear socialism, where taxpayers fund reactor construction, but utilities take all the profits if the project succeeds. And if the project fails -and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has predicted 50% or more of the projects will fail- then taxpayers will be left holding the bag. Distressingly, at a press conference discussing the Georgia loans, Secretary Chu admitted he was unaware of the CBO report. NIRS also brought new attention to a YouTube video of candidate Obama in December 2007 expressing opposition to subsidies for nuclear power, contrasting his positions then and now.

Given that the Obama administration had at least tacitly opposed proposed increases in the loan guarantee program during 2009, and that nuclear power is neither cleaner nor safer than it was two years ago, what happened? Do these moves indicate a real change in the administration’s positions, a confirmation that the administration always has been pro-nuclear but is only now beginning to focus on the issue, or something else?

A definitive answer will probably require the perspective of history. In the interim, it is clear that there has been and still is a division within the administration on nuclear power. The Office of Management and Budget, for example, has been skeptical of spending money on the nuclear industry (it argued unsuccessfully against federal funding of reprocessing this year, for example); some in the White House are skeptical of the industry itself. On the other hand, Secretary Chu and many at the DOE are nuclear supporters. At the moment, it appears they have the upper hand.

But the new overt nuclear support likely is due primarily for political, not ideological reasons. Passing a climate bill remains a key goal of the administration -although as a goal, it has slipped in priority over the past year. Nevertheless, it is clear that there are not currently 60 votes in the U.S. Senate for a climate bill -there are too many well-financed climate deniers in the Senate. And the Senate has hamstrung itself by relying on an archaic filibuster rule that requires 60 votes, rather than a simple majority of 51, to pass anything beyond the most innocuous of legislation.

So Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), a lead sponsor of climate legislation, has been attempting to gather 60 votes by working with Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), both of whom want far more attention paid to nuclear power. Graham also wants offshore oil drilling, while some other coal-state Senators will vote against a bill unless it includes money for “clean” coal development. Kerry has been willing to accept far more nuclear (and oil and coal) in a bill than makes many Democrats comfortable, in an effort to attract a few more Republican votes for a bill. And Kerry has spoken directly with Obama several times over the past few months about progress and prospects for the bill. From the outside, at least, it appears that Obama has agreed with Kerry’s approach, and offered up nuclear as a prize the Republicans can claim if they’ll go along with a climate bill.

One problem is that the approach isn’t working. Even Sen. Graham has released a proposal calling for nuclear to be declared a renewable resource and adding an undetermined amount of money to cover construction of 60 new reactors -at most, Obama’s proposal would cover about 10-12 new reactors. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who just a few years ago supported and even sponsored climate change legislation, says he won’t support a bill, and that US$54 billion (39.7 bn Euro) in loan guarantees isn’t enough for the industry anyway. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), sponsor of a bill calling for 100 new reactors by 2030 (which even the nuclear industry admits isn’t feasible), also said Obama’s new willingness to support nuclear is welcome, but isn’t strong enough to get his vote. Other Republicans made similar statements, although most continue to defy science and reality by simply denying the existence of climate change.

As has been the case with health care legislation, last year’s economic stimulus bill, and just about every major piece of legislation the Obama administration has attempted, it appears that the Republican side has no interest in passing anything. But they have become very good at gaining concessions from the administration and the Democrats (some of whom are as pro-nuclear as the majority of Republicans), and that seems to be the case here.  They’ll get as much support for the nuclear industry as they can, and will then try to stop a climate bill anyway. Until the Senate changes the filibuster procedure, or calls the minority’s bluff and allows them to go ahead and filibuster (which requires the opponents of a bill to talk, without stop, as long as they can; filibusters cause delay in the Senate but in the end are usually broken because no one can talk forever, and no one wants to listen to them forever  either….at some point they become counterproductive), and then vote on a bill that requires only a simple majority -50 votes plus Vice-President Joe Biden as the tie-breaker- there is unlikely to be a climate bill.

But will there still be such massive federal subsidies for new reactors if there is no climate bill? Will the administration fight for full implementation of its US$36 billion in additional loan guarantees, especially against opposition among some of the leadership in the U.S. House, plus stepped-up grassroots pressure? Will the candidate who opposed nuclear subsidies battle his own party leaders and a significant part of his party’s base (the environmental/clean energy movements) to obtain increased nuclear subsidies? That is where the true test of Obama’s position will be shown.

Source and contact: NIRS


Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


FPL billion dollar rate hike denied

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

FPL billion+ dollar rate hike denied.

On January 13, the Florida Public Service Commission (PUC) denied Florida Power and Light (FPL) Company's US$ 1.27 billion rate-hike request, granting instead a minuscule US$ 75.5 million in a decision that could be the death knell for not only two proposed nuclear reactors in Florida, but several elsewhere in the U.S. "FPL's outrageous attempts to jam  their $10 billion square nuclear peg down the round hole of  fiscal responsibility,  environmental protection, and  public health concerns was judged by the Florida PUC for what it truly was -- a greedy, irresponsible  energy boondoggle," asserts David Kraft, Director of Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) of Chicago, an Illinois safe-energy advocacy and nuclear power watchdog group.

The Florida PUC awarded a mere US$ 75.5 million to FPL, only 6% of  the $1.27 billion requested.  As a result FPL announced it would halt work on over $10 billion in projects, including two nuclear reactors it had proposed building at the current Turkey Point nuclear power station. While the economic downturn certainly played a role in lowering demand for the additional power in Florida, many of FPL's demands for advance payments, higher guaranteed profit margin, and less public scrutiny in constructing nuclear plants were beyond the level of outrageous even the Florida PUC would tolerate. 

"The reality is that FPL is going to have to make due in these difficult economic times," stated Public Utility Commissioner Nathan Skop.  Just like the rest of Florida residents have to, and would have had to do moreso had FPL gotten the larger rate hike request.

Source: NEIS (Nuclear Energy Information Service) Press release, 14 January 2010

Turkey Point 3Turkey Point 4


Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

The U.S. Department of Energy missed its self-imposed end-of-2009 deadline to hand out its first taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for new reactor construction. One new reactor project has been put on hold for the lack of loan guarantees and another project is embroiled in lawsuits and controversy. And two operating reactors are experiencing new problems that could lead to permanent shutdown.

NIRS - Washington, DC. Even before the Department of Energy (DOE) missed its own deadline for providing the first “conditional” loan guarantees for new reactor construction, UniStar Nuclear announced in December that it is placing its proposed Nine Mile Point-3 EPR project in upstate New York on indefinite hold. UniStar, which consists of Maryland-based Constellation Energy and dominant partner Electricite de France, said the lack of taxpayer loan guarantees was the reason for its decision. UniStar’s business model relies on loan guarantees: neither Constellation nor EdF have the US$10 billion (6.9 bn Euro) or so in cash it would take to build a new EPR, and even if they did, they sure wouldn’t risk their own money on a U.S. reactor project. After all, historically the average cost overrun for U.S. reactor projects stands above 200%.

Nine Mile Point-3 didn’t make the DOE’s “shortlist” of four potential loan guarantee recipients (UniStar’s Calvert Cliffs-3 is on the list, and the company will be concentrating on that one), and thus must wait and hope that more loan guarantee funds are forthcoming from Congress.

But even the four “shortlisters” are far from certain to be able to receive sufficient loan guarantees to actually continue their projects. The DOE has US$18.5 billion to provide, which is now generally agreed will cover at best 2 or 3 reactors. The four shortlist projects (Calvert Cliffs, MD; Vogtle, GA; Summer, SC, and South Texas) encompass seven proposed reactors.

The delay in issuing the loan guarantees is apparently due to a dispute between DOE and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on how much subsidy cost utilities will have to pay to obtain the guarantees. The industry and DOE have been pushing for a low subsidy cost -perhaps 1% of the guarantee total- while OMB, more attuned to the financial risk involved, apparently wants a higher cost. The subsidy cost is paid by the utilities to the government and is supposed to reflect the risk of a project using taxpayer funds, and protect the government in the event of default. Given the Congressional Budget Office projection of a 50% default rate, a high subsidy cost would seem applicable -although no one expects a subsidy cost that even remotely reflects the real risk involved.

Beyond that, there are also serious problems with some of the shortlist projects themselves. South Texas’ main players are NRG Energy and CPS Energy -a utility owned by the city of San Antonio, Texas. In the Fall, the city council of San Antonio was stunned to learn that the two proposed GE ABWR reactors would cost US$4 billion more -from US$13 to 17 billion- than they previously had been led to believe by NRG and CPS. The city responded with a management shake-up of CPS, followed by CPS filing suit against NRG and its partner Toshiba, for an astonishing US$32 billion. Negotiations over settling the suit have gone poorly, with CPS’s acting general manager walking out of a meeting on January 11 2010 because top NRG officials weren’t there to participate.

While CPS hasn’t yet formally withdrawn from the project, it seems unlikely that it will continue -certainly the elected officials of San Antonio, which already has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the project, would face a substantial public outcry if they risked billions more on this increasingly controversial project, especially given new projections that San Antonio won’t need new power for many years. And, it seems equally unlikely that a project whose ownership is unclear could qualify for even a conditional federal loan guarantee.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu confirmed in a December 22, 2009 letter to Rep. Ed Markey that any loan guarantees issued at this point would be conditional, and no actual guarantees can be granted until a reactor design is certified by the NRC and a utility has received a Construction/Operating license from the NRC.

Meanwhile, two operating reactors have encountered serious new problems that could lead to their early shutdown. In a remarkable case of poor timing, a leak of radioactive tritium was found outside the Vermont Yankee reactor in early January. The Vermont legislature will soon be voting on whether to allow the reactor to receive a 20-year license extension, which is shaping up as the most controversial vote of the year there. Vermont is the only state that has the authority to determine a license extension.

And, in New Jersey, the State Department of Environmental Protection issued a draft order on January 7, requiring that cooling towers be built for the 40-year old Oyster Creek reactor, following a concerted campaign by environmentalists in the state. The reactor has been blamed for major fish kills and general spoilage of the environmentally fragile Barnegat Bay. The reactor’s owner, Exelon, said it would shut down rather than build the expensive towers. However, the draft order apparently gives Exelon seven years to complete the project, meaning that an early shutdown does not appear likely.

Source and contact: Michael Marriott at Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), 6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 340, Takoma Park, MD 20912, U.S.A., Email:, Web:


Daniel L. Roderick, senior vice president for nuclear plant projects at GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy, said that a year and a half ago, there were expectations that more than 20 units would be under construction by now in the United States. “That number is currently zero,” he said.
(New York Times, 23 December 2009)


In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Uranium important for Australia?

Do you think uranium is an important factor for the economy of Australia? Well, in the ocean of Australia's mineral exports, uranium makes up little more than a drop. The minerals industry shipped about A$ 160 billion (US$150 bn, Euro 98 bn) in commodities last financial year, and less than 1 per cent of that was uranium. But the story of uranium has never been just about the money. A result of the country's long political unease with the uranium sector is the unique patchwork of regulations in different states. The federal Labor Party shed its 1984 ''three mines'' policy in 2007; this July, the former anti-nuclear campaigner and present Environment Minister, Peter Garrett, approved the country's fourth mine, FourMile, in South Australia. The policies of the states and territories, however, remain more ambivalent. South Australia permits both uranium mining and exploration, as does the Northern Territory. The Territory's resources minister, Kon Vatskalis, made much last week of his dedicated Chinese and Japanese investment strategy. ''We are expecting a number of significant announcements over the coming months,'' Vatskalis said, citing prospective investment deals across a number of commodities including iron ore, copper, lead, zinc, nickel, and uranium. In Western Australia, the state's Coalition Government has rescinded the ban on uranium mining. The Labor Opposition is committed to reinstating the ban. And in Queensland, the Labor Government permits exploration but not mining.

Sydney Morning Herald, 1 November 2009

Wanna have a laugh?

South Africa, plagued by chronic power shortages, plans to have 20,000 megawatts new nuclear capacity up and running by 2020, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters told a nuclear conference on November 20. "It's a huge project, and in any project situation you plan with the end in sight, so we are looking at 2020," she said.

Last year, state-owned power utility Eskom, which operates Africa's sole nuclear power plant with a total capacity of 1,800 MW, reported record losses and has no money for its aggressive expansion program that also included at least two 1,200 MW light water reactors (LWR). Eskom postponed a contract award for the LWR units last December.

Besides that, the development of the High Temperature PBMR reactor was plagued by setbacks, and Speaking at the World Nuclear Association (WNA) on September 11, PBMR CEO Jaco Kriek said construction of a prototype plant has been "indefinitely postponed" due to financial constraints. According to the Energy Minister, the South African government has since taken the lead in developing the next power station, saying it wants to develop a local nuclear industry in partnership with a technology firm rather than adopt a commercial bidding process used by Eskom.

Laughed enough? Oke, one more…

The Energy, 12 September 2009 / Reuters, 20 November 2009

Petten: flashlight missing results in near-meltdown.

No, not a joke, or plot of the latest John Grisham book; it really happened at the research reactor in Petten, The Netherlands. It goes like this:

"On a winter night in December 2001 there was a power failure in North Holland, where Petten is located. The nuclear reactor is a research reactor, not a power reactor; it needs electricity to operate, for instance to pump cooling water. The reactor has a back-up cooling system to prevent meltdown of the core in case of a power failure. But this evening the back-up cooling system failed to come into action and the operators did not know what to do. There is an extra safety system by convection cooling for which the operators had to open a valve, but the control room was dark. When they reached for a torch that should have been there, it had been taken away by a colleague to work under his car. Trying their luck the operators put the valve of the convection cooling in what they thought was the `open  position. But then the lights came back on and the operators discovered they had actually closed the back-up convection cooling system. Had the power failure lasted longer it would have meant meltdown and a major disaster. When I learned about this some months later - they thought they could keep it secret - I did not think I could take responsibility any longer and I resigned from the ECN."

This is one paragraph in a more philosophical book ('Darwin meets Einstein') which was published on November 23. Especially this section got some attention (although not as much as expected), also because the nuclear regulator (Kernfysiche Dienst) did mention it on a list of accidents in 2001 (in December 2002), but was clearly not informed about the seriousness and possible consequences of the accident stating that "there has not been an unsafe situation".

Laughed enough now? Then back to work!

Laka Foundation, 24 November 2009

Economics don't add up.

Building new reactors in the UK doesn't make financial sense for companies according to a new study by leading investment analysts Citigroup. Developers face five major risks according to the report - planning issues, construction, the price of power, operational risks and decommissioning, adding that the Government has only taken action on planning which is the least important. The Citigroup analysts says the risks are unacceptable to the private sector.

Three of the risks, construction, power price and operational, "are so large and variable that individually they could each bring even the largest utility company to its knees financially, This makes new nuclear a unique investment proposition for utility companies."

The UK Government's stated policy is that the private sector must accept full exposure to these three risks, but the reports says "nowhere in the world have nuclear power stations been built on this basis." The Citigroup report says the Government will have to change its position to see new reactors being built. Developers are likely to want financial guarantees, minimum power prices and other measures.

Read the full report at

Nuclear madness reaches Finland.

The cargo ship Happy Ranger made port in Finland on November 18, carrying its cargo of steam generators from France, intended for a nuclear reactor under construction at Olkiluoto. In addition, it is also carrying a protest camp, complete with eight Greenpeace activists from Finland, France, Germany and Sweden. Greenpeace is calling for  the plant's construction to be halted. "Areva said if we wanted to inspect the cargo we could have just asked," said Lauri Myllivirta, Energy Campaigner for Greenpeace Nordic, on board the Happy Ranger. "This isn t about inspections. The official inspector has already found over 3,000 technical and safety deficiencies during the construction of this plant. Minister Mauri Pekkarinen, who is responsible for nuclear power, must end the construction work immediately. These  generators should be sent back to France." Six activists boarded the Happy Ranger on November 16, to highlight how the decision to opt for dangerous nuclear reactors undermines effective climate protection. One day later, on Noember 17, they were joined by a second team. Relations with the captain and crew have been positive.

Greenpeace press release, 18 November 2009

Australia: “No Uranium for India”.

Autralian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd doesn't consider lifting a ban on uranium sales to  India. India remains eager to buy Australian uranium but the Rudd Government overturned a previous Coalition government decision to let sales go ahead even though New Delhi hadn't signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. The issue was expected to be canvassed again during Rudd's visit to India, but Mr Rudd indicated Australia had no intention of budging from its position. "Our policy remains governed by the provisions of the non-proliferation treaty. That has been the case in the past," he said in New Delhi on November 11. "The non-proliferation treaty, and our policy in relation to it as underpinning our attitude to uranium sales, is not targeted (at) any individual country." However, Australia, through its membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, was instrumental in getting international support for the deal struck between India and the U.S.

The Herald Sun (Australia), 13 November 2009

The economics of nuclear reactors: renaissance or relapse?

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Dr. Mark Cooper

On June 29, the Government of Ontario (Canada) announced that it has suspended the competitive bidding process to procure two replacement nuclear reactors planned for a Darlington, Ontario site. On June 30, Exelon cited “economic woes” as a major factor in postponing for up to 20 years plans to build two nuclear reactors in Texas, USA. And on June 23, Moody’s Investor Services issued a report titled “New Nuclear Generation: Ratings Pressure Increasing.” The summary to the report included the following: “Moody's is considering “taking a more negative view for those issuers seeking to build new nuclear power plants … Rationale is premised on a material increase in business and operating risk … most utilities now seeking to build nuclear generation do not appear to be adjusting their financial policies, a credit negative.”

These three major developments in the nuclear power industry in late June underscore the key findings of the study “The Economics of Nuclear Reactors, Renaissance or Relapse?”, released on June 18 by economist Dr. Mark Cooper, a senior fellow for economic analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School. The analysis of over three dozen cost estimates for proposed new nuclear reactors shows that the projected price tags for the plants have quadrupled since the start of the industry’s so-called “nuclear renaissance” at the beginning of this decade – a striking parallel to the eventually seven-fold increase in reactor costs estimates that doomed the “Great Bandwagon Market” of the 1960s and 1970s, when in the U.S.A. half of planned nuclear reactors had to be abandoned or cancelled due to massive cost overruns.

Key Findings
Within the past year, estimates of the cost of nuclear power from a new generation of reactors have ranged from a low of 8.4 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to a high of 30 cents. The paper tackles the debate over the cost of building new nuclear reactors, with the key findings as follows:

  • The initial cost projections put out early in today’s so-called “nuclear renaissance” were about one-third of what one would have expected, based on the nuclear reactors completed in the 1990s.
  • The most recent cost projections for new nuclear reactors are, on average, over four times as high as the initial “nuclear renaissance” projections
  • There are numerous options available to meet the need for electricity in a carbon-constrained environment that are superior to building nuclear reactors. Indeed, nuclear reactors are the worst option from the point of view of the consumer and society.
  • The low carbon sources that are less costly than nuclear include efficiency, cogeneration, biomass, geothermal, wind, solar thermal and natural gas. Solar photovoltaics that are presently more costly than nuclear reactors are projected to decline dramatically in price in the next decade. Fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage, which are not presently available, are projected to be somewhat more costly than nuclear reactors.
  • Numerous studies by Wall Street and independent energy analysts estimate efficiency and renewable costs at an average of 6 cents per kilowatt hour, while the cost of electricity from nuclear reactors is estimated in the range of 12 to 20 cents per kWh.
  • The additional cost of building 100 new nuclear reactors, instead of pursuing a least cost efficiency-renewable strategy, would be in the range of $1.9-$4.4 trillion over the life the reactors.

Whether the burden falls on ratepayers (in electricity bills) or taxpayers (in large subsidies), incurring excess costs of that magnitude would be a substantial burden on the national economy and add immensely to the cost of electricity and the cost of reducing carbon emissions.

This paper arrives at these conclusions by viewing the cost of nuclear reactors through four analytic lenses.

  • First, in an effort to pin down the likely cost of new nuclear reactors, the paper dissects three dozen recent cost projections.
  • Second, it places those projections in the context of the history of the nuclear industry with a database of the costs of 100 reactors built in the U.S. between 1971 and 1996.
  • Third, it examines those costs in comparison to the cost of alternatives available today to meet the need for electricity.
  • Fourth, it considers a range of qualitative factors including environmental concerns, risks and subsidies that affect decisions about which technologies to utilize in an environment in which public policy requires constraints on carbon emissions.

The stakes for consumers and the nation are huge. While some have called for the construction of 200 to 300 new nuclear reactors over the next 40 years, the much more modest task of building 100 reactors, which has been proposed by some policymakers as a goal, is used to put the stakes in perspective. Over the expected forty-year life of a nuclear reactor, the excess cost compared to least-cost efficiency and renewables would range from $19 billion to $44 billion per plant, with the total for 100 reactors reaching the range of $1.9 trillion to $4.4 trillion over the life the reactors.

Hope and Hype vs. Reality in reactor costs
From the first fixed price turnkey reactors in the 1960s to the May 2009 cost projection of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the claim that nuclear power is or could be cost competitive with alternative technologies for generating electricity has been based on hope and hype. In the 1960s and 1970s, the hope and hype analyses prepared by reactor vendors and parroted by government officials helped to create what came to be known as the “great bandwagon market.” In about a decade utilities ordered over 200 nuclear reactors of increasing size.

Unfortunately, reality did not deliver on the hope and the hype. Half of the reactors ordered in the 1960s and 1970s were cancelled, with abandoned costs in the tens of billions of dollars. Those reactors that were completed suffered dramatic cost overruns. On average, the final cohort of great bandwagon market reactors cost seven times as much as the cost projection for the first reactor of the great bandwagon market. The great bandwagon market ended in fierce debates in the press and regulatory proceedings throughout the 1980s and 1990s over how such a huge mistake could have been made and who should pay for it.

In an eerie parallel to the great bandwagon market, a series of startlingly low-cost estimates prepared between 2001 and 2004 by vendors and academics and supported by government officials helped to create what has come to be known as the “nuclear renaissance.” However, reflecting the poor track record of the nuclear industry in the U.S., the debate over the economics of the nuclear renaissance is being carried out before substantial sums of money are spent. Unlike the 1960s and 1970s, when the utility industry, reactor vendors and government officials monopolized the preparation of cost analyses, today Wall Street and independent energy analysts have come forward with much higher estimates of the cost of nuclear reactors

The most recent cost projections are, on average, over four times as high as the initial nuclear renaissance projections.

Even though the early estimates have been subsequently revised upward in the past year and utilities offered some estimates in regulatory proceedings that were twice as high as the initial projections, these estimates remain well below the projections from Wall Street and independent analysts. Moreover, in an ominous repeat of history, utilities are insisting on cost-plus treatment of their reactor projects and have steadfastly refused to shoulder the responsibility for cost overruns.

One thing that utilities and Wall Street analysts agree on is that nuclear reactors will not be built without massive direct subsidies either from the federal government or ratepayers, or from both.

In this sense, nuclear reactors remain as uneconomic today as they were in the 1980s when so many were cancelled or abandoned.

The economic costs of low carbon alternatives
There is a second major difference between the debate today and the debate in the 1970s and 1980s. In the earlier debate, the competition was almost entirely between coal and nuclear power generation. Today, because the debate is being carried out in the context of policies to address climate change, a much wider array of alternatives is on the table. While future fossil fuel (coal and natural gas) plants with additional carbon capture and storage technologies that are not yet available are projected to be somewhat more costly than nuclear reactors (see Figure ES-2), efficiency and renewables are also primary competitors and their costs are projected to be much lower than nuclear reactors.

Figure ES-2 presents the results of half a dozen recent studies of the cost of alternatives, including two by government entities, three by Wall Street analysts and one by an independent analyst. Figure ES-2 expresses the cost estimated by each study for each technology as a percentage of the study’s nuclear cost estimate. Every author identifies a number of alternatives that are less costly than nuclear reactors.

One of the central concerns about reliance on efficiency and renewables to meet future electricity needs is that they may not be available in sufficient supply. However, analysis of the technical potential to deliver economically practicable options for low-cost, low-carbon approaches indicates that the supply is ample to meet both electricity needs and carbon reduction targets for three decades or more based on efficiency, renewables and natural gas.

Analyses of the potential contribution and cost of efficiency and renewables, (by the Rand Corporation, McKinsey and Company, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Union of Concerned Scientists and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy), clearly shows there is huge potential for low carbon approaches to meet electricity needs. To put this potential into perspective, long-term targets call for emissions reductions below 2005 levels of slightly more than 40 percent by 2030 and 80 percent by 2050. Even assuming that all existing low carbon sources (about 30 percent of the current mix) have to be replaced by 2030, there is more than ample potential in the efficiency and renewables.

Sources: Lazard, Levelized Cost of Energy Analysis - Version 2.0, June 2008, p. 2; CRS; Congressional Budget Office, Nuclear Power’s Role in Generating Electricity, May 2008;  CEC: California Energy Commission, N.D. Cost of Generation Model: User’s Guide, Version 1, N.D.;  Moody’s, New Nuclear Generating Capacity: Potential Credit Implications for U.S. Investor Owned Utilities, May 2008, p. 15.; Standard and Poors, The Race for the Green: How Renewable Portfolio Standards Could Affect U.S. Utility Credit Quality, March 10, 2008, p. 11.; Lovins Amory, and Imran Shiekh, and Alex Markevich, Nuclear Power: Climate Fix of Folly?, December 31, 2008.

With continuing demand growth, it would still not be until 2040 that costly or as yet nonexistent technologies would be needed. Thus, pursuing these low cost options first meets the need for electricity and emissions reductions, while allowing time for technologies to be developed, such as electricity storage or carbon capture, that could meet electricity needs after 2040. The contending technologies that would have to be included in the long term are all shown with equal costs, above the technologies that have lower costs because it is difficult to project costs that far out in future and there will likely be a great deal of technological change before those technologies must be tapped to add substantial incremental supplies.

Meeting electricity needs

In addition to their cost, nuclear reactors possess two other characteristics that make them an inferior choice among the options available.

  • The high capital costs and long construction lead times associated with nuclear reactors make them a risky source of electricity, vulnerable to market, financial, and technological change that strengthen the economic case against them.
  • While nuclear power is a low carbon source of electricity, it is not an environmentally benign source. The uranium fuel cycle has significant safety, security, and waste issues that are far more damaging than the environmental impact of efficiency and renewables.

Figure ES-4 depicts three critical characteristics of the alternatives available for meeting electricity needs in a carbon-constrained environment. The horizontal axis represents the economic cost. The vertical axis represents the societal cost (with societal cost including environmental, safety, and security concerns). The size of the circles represents the risk. Public policy should exploit the options closest to the origin, as these are the least-cost alternatives. Where the alternatives are equal on economic cost and societal impact, the less risky should be pursued.

Nuclear reactors are shown straddling the positive/negative line on societal impact. If the uranium production cycle – mining, processing, use and waste disposal – were deemed to have a major societal impact, nuclear reactors would be moved much higher on the societal impact dimension. If one believes that nuclear reactors have a minor impact, reactors would be moved down on the societal impact dimension. In either case, there are numerous options that should be pursued first. Thus, viewed from a multidimensional perspective, including economic, environmental, and risk factors, there are numerous preferable alternatives.

Source: Calculated by author.

The impact of subsidies
As noted, nuclear reactors are very unlikely to be built without ratepayer and taxpayer subsidies. Many of the hope and hype analyses advance scenarios in which carbon is priced and nuclear reactors are the beneficiaries of large subsidies. Under those sets of extreme assumptions, nuclear reactors become less costly than fossil fuels with carbon capture and storage costs. However, they do not become less costly than efficiency and renewables. High carbon costs make efficiency and renewables more attractive.

Moreover, public policy has not tended to be quite so biased, although the supporters of nuclear power would like it to be. Imposing a price on carbon makes all low carbon options, including efficiency and renewables, more attractive as options. Subsidy programs tend to be applied to all low carbon technologies. As a result, although the carbon pricing and subsidy programs implemented and contemplated in recent years tend to impose cost on consumers or shift them from ratepayers to taxpayers; they do not change the order in which options enter the mix. In other words, given pricing and subsidies that simply values carbon emission or its abatement, the economic costs as estimated above dictate the order in which options are implemented. Nuclear reactors remain the worst option. It is possible to bias policies so severely that the order of priority changes, but that simply imposes unnecessary costs on consumers, taxpayers, and society.

The highly touted renaissance of nuclear power is based on fiction, not fact. It got a significant part of its momentum in the early 2000s with a series of cost projections that vastly understated the direct costs of nuclear reactors. As those early cost estimates fell by the wayside and the extremely high direct costs of nuclear reactors became apparent, advocates for nuclear power turned to climate change as the rationale to offset the high cost. But introducing environmental externalities does not resuscitate the nuclear option for two reasons. First, consideration of externalities improves the prospects of non-fossil, non-nuclear options to respond to climate change. Second, introducing externalities so prominently into the analysis highlights nuclear power’s own environmental problems. Even with climate change policy looming, nuclear power cannot stand on its own two feet in the marketplace, so its advocates are forced to seek to prop it up by shifting costs and risks to ratepayers and taxpayers.

The aspiration of the nuclear enthusiasts, embodied in early reports from academic institutions, like MIT, has become desperation, in the updated MIT report, precisely because their reactor cost numbers do not comport with reality. Notwithstanding their hope and hype, nuclear reactors are not economically competitive and would require massive subsidies to force them into the supply mix. It was only by ignoring the full range of alternatives -- above all efficiency and renewables -- that the MIT studies could pretend to see an economic future for nuclear reactors, but the analytic environment has changed from the early days of the great bandwagon market, so that it is much more difficult to get away with passing off hope and hype as reality.

The massive shift of costs necessary to render nuclear barely competitive with the most expensive alternatives and the huge amount of leverage (figurative and literal) that is necessary to make nuclear power palatable to Wall Street and less onerous on ratepayers is simply not worth it because the burden falls on taxpayers. Policymakers, regulators, and the public should turn their attention to and put their resources behind the lower-cost, more environmentally benign alternatives that are available. If nuclear power’s time ever comes, it will be far in the future, after the potential of the superior alternatives available today has been exhausted.

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

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

Deutsche Welle, 16 January 2009

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

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

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

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

World Nuclear News, 14 January 2009

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

N-base Briefing 596, 7 January 2009

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

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

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

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

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

World Nuclear news, 20 January 2009

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

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

Business Spectator, 16 January 2009

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

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

Press release Ecodefense, 23 December 2008