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Funding

WISE has a yearly turnover of between € 175.000 and € 250.000, depending on the amount of campaigns and funded projects. Gifts to WISE are tax-deductable under Dutch law. In 2015 we worked with a budget of around € 175.000. About € 6000 goes to office rent, we have about € 10.000 on organizational costs and the rest is completely spent on activities (projects, campaigns, support for grassroots organizations, local activities, publications) contributing to our mission; a world without nuclear energy.

Swedish n-waste fund grossly underfinanced

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#751
4252
15/06/2012
Article

The Swedish Nuclear Waste Fund is showing a deficit of at least 30 thousand-million SEK (€ 3.4 bn), perhaps more. The deficit was turned up by a study group under the auspices of the Swedish Nuclear Safety Authority (SSM). It was to report its findings to date to the Government 31 May, but has now asked for a  one-year extension. The group strongly recommends tripling the fees producers of nuclear energy pay into the fund, from 0.02 SEK/kWh to 0.06.

The study, carried out in collaboration between SSM, the Nuclear Waste Fund and the National Debt Office, was commissioned in October 2011. The actual purpose of the study was to evaluate the need to revise the laws pertaining to the financing of Swedish nuclear waste management, but in the process the deficit and its implications became a major concern. The purpose of the extension is to allow time for a more global evaluation of the deficit and possible need to revise the law. The issues are intertwined. It would be wrong, they argue, to treat the issues separately. The new deadline is 31 May 2013.

In Sweden, all aspects of nuclear waste management – interim and final storage of nuclear fuel waste, the costs of decommissioning and demolition of nuclear reactors, the costs of regulatory authorities pertaining to nuclear waste management, and the entire EIA process surrounding plans for the final repository – are paid for through drafts on the Nuclear Waste Fund.

The balance of the Fund – 48 thousand-million SEK at present – is made up of the sums paid in by the nuclear power companies, based on a fee of 0.02 SEK/kWh. The fee is calculated on the basis of an expected reactor life-time of 40 years. The 0.02 SEK fee – raised by the Government from 0.01 SEK/kWh as recently as December 2011– is only half the rise recommended by the regulator in October of that year.

Management of the fund is closely regulated; investments are limited to government bonds, which currently offer very low interest rates. Low interest rates are one of two major factors behind the critical deficit. But essentially, the simple fact is that too little money is being paid in. There is no buffer, and Daniel Barr, vice-chair of the Nuclear Waste Fund and head of department at the Debt Office, doubts that the specified guarantors will be able to fill the gap in any meaningful way.

Legislative background
The Swedish approach to financing follows the ‘polluter pays principle’; each company pays into the Fund according to the amount of waste its operations give rise to.  A memorandum issued by the SSM in 16 May, recalls two key passages in the documents surrounding the two laws in focus here:

“The aim of the financing system shall be, to the extent possible, to minimize the risk that the government will have to assume the financial responsibilities that the law assigns to the concession holders [owners of nuclear reactors]” (Government Bill 2005/06:183 p 21); and

“The fundamental principle for financing of nuclear waste management is that the nuclear industry – not the tax-payers – shall cover the costs” (SOU 2004:125 p 9).

The memorandum also points out that the financial responsibility extends up to and through the final closure of the repository, whether or not nuclear energy is still being produced in Sweden. Finally, Swedish law authorizes the government to require the companies to specify guarantors that will step in, should the companies be unable to meet their financial responsibilities.

Controversial
Sveriges Radio reports that the nuclear industry – where government-owned Vattenfall is a key player – reacted strongly to the recommendation of a 0.06 SEK/kWh fee, which would cut deeply into the companies’ profit margin and thus make them less attractive to investors.

The Government’s reception of news of the deficit has been cool. Questions have been raised as to whether the mandate of the study group actually extends to the issue of the Fund’s balance. Minister for the Environment Lena Ek told news reporters at Sveriges Radio that she would prefer not to raise the fee until 2014, the next regularly scheduled opportunity to adjust the fee. (The Government can, however, adjust the fee whenever it deems necessary.)

The day after the SSM requested the one-year extension, Daniel Barr, warned: “Unless the nuclear operators’ fees are raised, Swedish taxpayers will have to foot the bill for managing nuclear fuel waste.” Which would amount to substantial subsidization of nuclear energy on the part of present and future generations.

Sources: SSM  Request for postponement, 10 May 2012 (SSM 2011-4690-3) (in Swedish only),
MKG  Regeringen höjde inte kärnavfallsavgifterna lika mycket som SSM ville. www.mkg.se. News release posted 22 December 2011, SSM  Memorandum 16 May 2012: Nuclear waste fee for reactor owners (SSM2011-153-25) (in Swedish only), Sveriges Radio, Ekot 31 maj 2012 (morning radio news), Sveriges Radio, Ekot 1 juni 2012 (morning radio news
Contact: WISE Sweden, Charly Hultén
Email: inotherwords[at]telia.com

About: 
WISE Sweden

Financing reactors and the Fukushima disaster

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#751
4248
14/06/2012
Greenpeace International & Banktrack
Article

Investors in nuclear power are being sold precarious and potentially damaging investments because the industry's risks are regularly being overlooked or underestimated. Using the enormous economic losses surrounding the triple meltdown at Tepco’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant as an example, a new Greenpeace/BankTrack report shows how financial valuations and investment decisions had not taken well-known and systemic problems into account.

The report ‘Toxic Assets: nuclear reactors in the 21st century’, looks at the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster from an investors’ point of view. It identifies the long-known technological, management, governance and other institutional deficiencies that were instrumental in turning a predicted natural misfortune into a nuclear nightmare. The owner of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), lost 90% of its market capitalization, had its bonds rated as junk and is currently in the process of being at least partly nationalized. Investors and financiers of nuclear utilities all over the world saw their investments eroded.

Had analysts and credit-rating agencies looked beyond short-term cash flows and paid attention to the many early warnings, they would have been able to save investors from major losses. These red flags included warnings about:

* Crucial vulnerabilities in the Fukushima reactor design;
* Substantial governance issues and weak management characterized by major frauds and cover-ups;
* Collusion and loose regulatory supervision; and
* Well-understood and ignored earthquake and tsunami warnings.

All of these warnings had been publically highlighted years, often decades, before the nuclear disaster, and should have been taken seriously not only by nuclear authorities but by analysts and investors as well. Still, Tepco continued to benefit from high credit ratings, supportive analyst recommendations and cheap financing right until the Fukushima nuclear accident. Like Japanese nuclear authorities, financial ʻauthoritiesʼ also missed the many opportunities to force changes on the company. It seems regular dividends were enough to relax the vigilance of analysts who simply ignored major ʻfundamentalʼ risks and their fiduciary duty towards their investor clients.

Investors and financiers kept throwing good money after Tepco. Dozens of banks provided Tepco with at least €54bn of low-cost capital through bond issues, corporate loans and a share issuance between 2000 and 2011. The potential for similar catastrophic nuclear disasters and disastrous investment decisions is not limited to Tepco or Japan. Existing and planned new reactors all over the world are inherently at risk from any combination of:

* Similar mistakes in technology design that proved devastating at Fukushima;
* Substantial governance and management issues, and human error;
* The lack of effective independent supervision; and
* The threat of earthquakes, tsunami, floods and other natural disaster risks.

Nuclear power plants are potentially toxic assets for their investors and financiers. Quite uniquely, they can give rise to liabilities that can exceed their ownerʼs equity a hundred-fold or more. The probability of a devastating accident is around one major disaster in a decade based on the five core meltdowns since the 1950s, and this number does not even take into consideration the growing risks of ageing reactors.

Nuclear assets are also dangerous for investors even in the absence of a nuclear disaster. New reactor builds have been a clear investor ʻno-goʼ for at least a decade. Recently, even existing plants have come under increasing pressure from phase-out decisions, early retirements, large-scale regulatory and liability changes, and shrinking taxpayer and government support. The future of nuclear energy will be highly influenced by three tectonic changes:

* Post-Fukushima regulations that will require additional safety investments, shorter lifespans, higher operating and decommissioning costs, and stricter liability systems;
* Renewable energy, with falling costs and more installed capacity than nuclear plants1, is pushing nuclear out from the merit order and leading to lower plant utilization; and
* A strong reduction in subsidies, credit guarantees and other state supports to nuclear of earlier generous, but now highly indebted governments.

The report ‘Toxic Assets: nuclear reactors in the 21st century’ is written by Gyorgy Dallos & Lauri Myllyvirta and available at: www.greenpeace.org/international/toxicassets

Contact: Greg McNevin, Greenpeace International Communications,
Tel: +81 80 5416 6507
Email: greg.mcnevin[at]greenpeace.org,

UK: no nuclear subsidies means what the goverment chooses it to mean

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#750
4242
01/06/2012
Pete Roche
Article

The UK Government has finally published its Draft Energy Bill which includes proposals for so-called Electricity Market Reform as promised in the Queen’s Speech on 9th May. Energy Minister, Ed Davey insists the proposals will provide a market structure to help keep the lights on, but without any subsidy for new nuclear reactors.(*1) Almost everyone else agrees this Bill is about exactly that - setting up a complicated series of support mechanisms behind the veil of market reform – in order to subsidies nuclear.

The right of center Telegraph newspaper describes the proposals as “the biggest shake-up of the industry since privatization”, intended to secure £110bn of investment in power generation.(*2) The Bill is supposed to keep expected increases in energy bills down, reduce carbon emissions and secure electricity supplies. But Bridget Woodman, of the energy policy group at the University of Exeter, said: "Rarely can an energy measure have attracted such universal condemnation. The key players – renewable generators, most energy companies, consumer groups and commentators – all recognize that [it] won't deliver a sustainable energy future ... The government is in a hole and needs to stop digging before it's too late to put the UK on a path to a sustainable energy future."(*3)

Keith MacLean, head of policy at one of the UK’s Big Six utilities, Scottish and Southern Energy, says it’s a complex system “designed to mask what is effectively a subsidy for new nuclear power, which could derail investment in renewables”. Another of the Big Six RWE, which together with EON recently pulled out of plans to build new reactors at Oldbury in Gloucestershire and Wylfa on Anglesey, says the Energy Bill could add billions of pounds in unnecessary costs for the industry.(*2)

Energy Secretary Ed Davey was pressed on BBC Radio 4 on whether the changes amounted to a subsidy for new nuclear. But rather than admitting, as almost every commentator says, that new reactors are too expensive to be built without some form of subsidy he continued to cling to the illusion that "There is going to be no public subsidy for new nuclear".(*4) (The predicted cost of building two new EPR reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset has increased from £9 billion to £14 billion).(*5)

Davey says the idea of the “Contract for Difference” or Feed-in Tariff proposed in the Energy Bill is that by giving investors more certainty, the cost of borrowing will come down. "What we want is a market structure that makes sure we keep the lights on.”

The interviewer was having none of it. He said the Coalition Agreement and the European Commission prohibit subsidies to new reactors and so you are trying to get around that by calling it something else, and offering long-term contracts to would-be nuclear-builders.

Davey calls the proposals in the Energy Bill the most affordable way to get low carbon energy in a secure way. Yet many in the industry have poured scorn on the idea that the proposed reforms offer the cheapest route to securing investment.(*2)

Davey is trying to make his reforms sound like a simple tweaking of the free market - despite the fact that they will virtually dispense with the free market and replace it with fixed long-term contracts. He says “there will be no blank cheque for nuclear. Unless nuclear can be price competitive - as the industry says it can be - these nuclear projects won't proceed".(*4)

In actual fact the Draft Energy Bill doesn’t tell us much more than we already knew. It looks to be largely in line with the expectations established in last year's electricity market reform (EMR) proposals. There is confirmation of the four-pronged regime based around contracts for difference (CfDs), a new capacity mechanism to support back-up power plants, a carbon floor price to provide stability for investors, and an emissions performance standard to ban coal-fired power plants. But we didn’t get any of the answers needed to calculate the viability of future renewable energy schemes, particularly offshore wind farms, or nuclear reactors. We will have to wait for the crucial numbers that will determine which “low carbon” projects proceed. The simple fact is that new investment in nuclear and offshore wind will not really begin to flow until the government confirms the “strike price” at which CfDs will be offered for different technologies. If the market price for electricity falls below this guaranteed “strike price” the nuclear or renewable energy operator would be paid the difference.(*6)

But all the signs are that Davey is being disingenuous, and that the Government is determined to make sure new reactors are built whatever the cost. His Liberal Democrat Party, which is a junior member of the Coalition Government is still, in theory, opposed to new reactor construction, and only agreed to allow the Government to pursue a pro-nuclear policy on the basis that there would be no public subsidies. Only a couple of weeks ago the Party’s Deputy Leader, Simon Hughes MP, told the House of Commons that the policy of not subsidizing new reactors meant “it will not happen because it has always needed to be subsidized”.

But not everyone in the Department of Energy and Climate Change seems to agree with Davey’s idea that new reactors will only be built if they are cheap enough. A spokesperson told The Guardian that “New nuclear is where the future lies for long-term energy security. This is why it is so important we begin the transition on market reform today."

Davey has confirmed talks have begun between his Department, EDF Energy and Centrica- the companies planning to make a final investment decision before the end of 2012 on whether to build two EPR reactors at Hinkley Point C. The talks will provide with EDF and Centrica with some firmer guarantees in order to make sure plans for Hinkley Point C go ahead.(*7) With RWE and EON having recently dropped their UK nuclear plans, EDF has the Government over a barrel, and will no doubt be telling the Energy Department what strike price they want before they agree to go-ahead – in effect writing their own subsidy cheque from the electricity consumer. The strike price rates will not be finalised until 2013 - and not available to generators until 2014 – but under the terms of the draft Energy Bill, the government can issue a likely strike price in advance of formalising the rate and introducing CfD in 2014.

Confirming this nuclear enthusiasm, Conservative Junior Energy Minister Charles Hendry says the Government has done everything possible to ensure that EDF and Centrica go ahead and build another two EPRs at Sizewell in Suffolk. “We have worked closely with EDF and we are confident the outcome will be positive.”(*8)

The Green Party’s only UK MP sums up the view of environmentalists in Britain when she says: “the Electricity Market Reform proposals expose a clear bias towards nuclear and gas. We know that subsidising new nuclear would fly in face of the Coalition’s promise not to use taxpayer’s money for nuclear, yet no matter how much Ministers deny it, EMR will gift EDF and other potential nuclear operators with billions of pounds in subsidies over the lifetime of a power station."

Rather like Humpty Dumpty when it comes to nuclear subsidies the word means just what the Government chooses it to mean — neither more nor less. As Friends of the Earth point out: the Energy Bill is a desperate attempt to prop up the dying nuclear industry and a way of letting in dirty gas by the back door, even though soaring gas prices have led to rocketing bills. More gas and new nukes will only add to bill payers' pain.


Start of earthwork preparation of Hinkley site put back. Meanwhile, mid-May, EDF decided to delay the start of massive earthworks needed to prepare the ground for a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point, dealing a further blow to the government's energy plans. Reports of rising reactor costs and the election of François Hollande as French president, with promises to cut back on nuclear power, have dented confidence. Work to move millions of cubic meters of soil and rock at the Hinkley site was due to begin in August, according to West Somerset council's planning department. But EDF staff has been told the work will now start in 2013.

Guardian, 14 May 2012


Sources:
*1- DECC, 2 May 2012: http://www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/news/wms_energybill/wms_energybill...
*2- Telegraph, 21 May 2012: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/9280967/Energy-re...
*3- Guardian, 22 May 2012: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/may/22/government-announces-e...
*4- BBC Radio 4 Today Program, 22 May 2012 http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9722000/9722693.stm
*5- Sunday Times, 20 May 2012: http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/news/uk_news/Environment/article1042...
*6- Business Green, 22 May 2012 http://www.businessgreen.com/blog/james-blog
*7- Construction News, 22 May 2012 http://www.cnplus.co.uk/news/government-starts-edf-talks-to-ensure-hinkl...
*8- East Anglian Daily Times, 23 May 2012: http://www.eadt.co.uk/news/sizewell_new_power_station_set_to_get_go_ahea...

Contact: Pete Roche
Mail: rochepete8[at]aol.com
Web: www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk

Pressure on UK government increases: companies want more subsidies

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#749
4231
11/05/2012
Pete Roche
Article

More and more companies are unsure about investing in new nuclear power plants in the UK. The latest companies that threaten to pull out and putting more pressure on the government to subsidize nuclear power through all kind of mechanisms, are GDF Suez and Centrica.

Centrica, the only British company in the running to build a new generation of nuclear power plants in the UK, has threatened to pull out. Executives at Centrica have warned the government that the plan hangs by a thread and could be scrapped if the company does not receive assurances about the future price of nuclear-generated electricity. Some of the government’s reforms, will be set out in the Queen’s Speech, which will set out the government's legislative plans for the next year. One element is long-term contracts that would guarantee a steady rate of return over the lifetime of a new plant – so-called “contracts for difference”. (The Queen's Speech is on May 9, unfortunately right after the deadline for this issue of the Nuclear Monitor.)

Contracts for Difference are effectively a long-term contract to buy nuclear power at a guaranteed price. If the market price is below the fixed price the Government would pay the reactor operator the difference. If the market price was above the contract price the operator would have to pay the  government.

The government has tried to help investors by proposing sweeping reforms of Britain’s electricity market, designed to attract investment in low-carbon electricity generation. As part of that, new nuclear plants will receive a guaranteed price for electricity. But the actual level of support has yet to be determined. A person close to Centrica said. “If we don’t get the right answers, we won’t proceed.” Centrica is planning to build a new nuclear power plant at Hinkley Point in a joint venture with EDF Energy. Late March two German firms, E.On and RWE, pulled out of the Horizon Nuclear Power joint venture, planning to develop up to 6.6 GW new nuclear capacity.

Only a few days earlier in April, another company, GDF Suez, is threatening to abandon the plan to build a new reactor at Sellafield. Gérard Mestrallet, chairman and chief executive of GDF, said what was on offer – a fixed carbon price and a "contract for difference"  - was "not enough and something is missing". He wanted talks with the government about the right fixed or minimum price for producing nuclear energy.

The Guardian newspaper wrote that a document (leaked to the paper) clearly lays out plans to use "contracts for difference" to allow nuclear operators to reap higher prices for their energy than fossil fuel plants. Fiona Hall, leader of the Liberal Democrats group in the European parliament said she now had no doubt that the contract for difference was a subsidy. "Industry on all sides believe this is a subsidy." She wants the UK court of auditors as well as the European commission to give a legal ruling on the issue and believes any subsidy runs against the coalition agreement.

The plans will further inflame rows over energy policy for the Liberal Democrats –who form the government with the Conservatives, and fought the general election firmly opposing an expansion of nuclear power.

A report from the Times newspaper on May 7, said French nuclear company EDF had raised the cost of building a nuclear power plant to 7 billion pounds (US$11.3bn, 8.7bn euro) from 4.5 billion pounds last year. "If the latest cost figures are true, new nuclear power plants in the UK are not commercially viable," Citi analyst Peter Atherton told Reuters. Based on the new figures, nuclear would be the most expensive form of electricity generation, exceeding even offshore wind, he said.

Sources: Guardian, 16 & 20 April 2012 / Financial Times, 20 April 2012 / Reuters, 8 May 2012
Contact: Pete Roche
Email: rochepete8[at]aol.com
Web: www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/

About: 
WISE

Ukraine safety upgrade program: precondition for lifetime extension

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#745
04/04/2012
Antonia Wenisch & Patricia Lorenz
Article

In November 2010 the EBRD and the European Union's Euratom announced plans to finance what is called by Ukraine a safety upgrade project, but what is in fact a precondition for the lifetime extension of the reactors. European public money would therefore be used to expand the lifetime of Soviet-era nuclear reactors instead of investing in safe closure and decommissioning - costs which haven't been accounted for yet in Ukraine's plans.

An expert review of Ukraine's Nuclear Power Plant Safety Upgrade Program, that is to be financed by Euratom and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), shows that some of the measures included in the SUP are necessary for the lifetime expansion of the plants and not for their regular functioning until the initially planned term.

According to the ecological assessment (EA) report released in October 2011, the safety upgrade project (SUP) program costs around 1.34 billion euro, though EBRD estimates are upwards of 1.45 billion. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development intends to grant up to 300 million euro (US$ 400m) for the project, and 500 million euro (US$ 665m) is to be provided by the Euratom loan facility. Currently both institutions are preparing loans and the EBRD’s Board of Directors is scheduled to decide on this loan on 18 September, 2012 and Euratom in May 2012.

The EBRD and EC have requested a strategic environmental assessment (SEA) for the SUP. However as early as the project’s scoping stage, the public was informed that EBRD staff and Energoatom agreed only to an ecological assessment (EA) for the project in line with procedures outlined in European SEA Directive 2001/42/EC regarding public participation.

SUP includes measures for the safe modernisation of all of Ukraine’s 15 operating nuclear reactors and should be implemented by 2017. Twelve of these reactors were designed to finish operations before 2020, and two units were supposed to be taken off the grid in 2010 and 2011 but received licenses to operate for additional 20 years. The SUP is therefore designed for nuclear reactors that face the end of their designed lifetime.

In 2005 Ukrainian nuclear power plants provided about 50 percent of the electricity produced in the country. According to Ukrainian energy strategy, this proportion of nuclear power should remain until 2030. This decision is justified by the presence of domestic uranium deposits, the stable operation of existing nuclear power plants and the high costs of constructing new nuclear power plants.

According to the Energy Strategy, by 2030 seven units will have received a license for a lifetime extension of 15 years, including Zaporizhia 3-6, Rivne 3, Khmelnitsky 1, South Ukrainian 3 and two units that started operation in 2004: the Khmelnitsky 2 and Rivne 4. In 2004 the Ukrainian Cabinet of Ministers approved the “nuclear reactors lifetime extension plan”, which foresees extending the lifetime of all operating nuclear reactors by an additional 15 years.

Prolonging the operation of the nuclear power plants from 30 to 45 years requires a huge effort in terms of modernisation and safety improvements in order to reach internationally-acceptable status. The EA SUP however concerns only the safety improvements, and this is only one side of the development. The other side is the material degradation of reactor components of which the most important is the reactor pressure vessel (RPV). The RPV is the only component which cannot be replaced. Due to harsh conditions in the primary system (high temperature and pressure and high neutron flux), embrittlement, corrosion, cracks and abrasion weaken the primary cooling system material. A failure of primary system components could lead to a loss of coolant accident.

To prevent the development of a severe nuclear accident, so-called accident management measures are implemented. The SUP mentions such measures as guidelines for organisational activities and emergency measures.

Another important influence is from the European Union nuclear power plants “stress test” that Ukraine has agreed to participate. In its report the Ukrainian nuclear authority has already defined some measures that are to be completely implemented at the nuclear reactors, if the operators wish to apply for lifetime extension. The peer-reviewed results will not be known until May 2012 and may offer new insights and subsequently new safety measures to be required at the Ukrainian nuclear power plants.

In fact, Euratom and the EBRD have been asked to finance a program labelled only as ‘safety upgrades’, though it is impossible to argue this both technically and economically.

SUP precondition for lifetime extension
Proponent of the SUP, the Ukrainian state nuclear operator NEC Energoatom claims that SUP measures will address only safety measures and are not a precondition for the lifetime extension of reactors. However a new report shows this claim is misleading: SUP measures will be used to provide a sufficient safety level to extend operations and are not necessary for safely shutting down the reactors.

While the Ecological Assessment (EA) for the safety upgrade project claims that the planned safety upgrade measures are not part of extending reactor lifetime beyond their designed 30-year lifetime, this study shows that the safety measures for 15 reactors are in fact connected to the lifetime extension program. SUP measures like those related to component integrity are conditions for extending the lifetime of reactors. The reasons for this are as follows:

  • Measures to address only safety issues and not lifetime extension simply do not exist. The EA SUP explains that “security systems and other essential safety equipment are kept operating until the final stop and first phase of the decommissioning, i.e. until the unloading of the spent nuclear fuel.” The dates on which Ukraine’s reactors reach the end of their design lifetime are indicative of the need of reactor’s life-time extension one unit in 2012, two in 2014, two in 2015, two in 2016, two in 2017 and two in 2019.
  • Economic viability - both loans need to be repaid, and Euratom cannot grant loans without a statement from the European Investment Bank (EIB) showing that the loans can be repaid, likely to be based on the future operation of those nuclear power plants.

Officially these European institutions have been asked to finance the programs labelled as safety upgrades, though it is impossible to argue this technically or economically. This claim seems to have been chosen because:

  1. EBRD and Euratom financing conditions allow only for safety upgrade financing so the lifetime extension needs to be concealed;
  2. this avoid a discussion about ageing problems of Soviet-era nuclear power plants once the lifetime extension plans for all 15 reactors by 15 years would become known
  3. this avoids conducting an strategic environmental assessment (SEA); the SUP is not only called a safety upgrade program but also substitute sectoral policy by intending to modernise and prolong a whole nuclear power-producing sector; even pilot projects were run. A full SEA would require assessment of alternatives to reactors life-extension and transboundary involvement.

This report finds that no information about the SUP was provided outside of Ukraine, and it is probable that neighbouring states would demand full transboundary SEA and EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) for such a sensitive topic.

Instead only the EA designed solely for the SUP was conducted in Ukraine without any transboundary assessment. The report shows that this approach is far from best practice in the nuclear field and does not comply with international conventions like the ESPOO convention on transboundary impact assessments or the Aarhus Convention on access to environmental information, nor does it even come close to fulfilling EU legislation. The EU’s SEA directive would have to be applied to assess alternatives to safety upgrades and lifetime extension; instead the EA concludes that there are no alternatives to safety upgrades and claims those measures are needed even for safe closure.

We expect Euratom, the European Commission and EBRD to follow their guidelines and to enforce good governance, public participation and information disclosure and good practice with respect to international conventions like the strategic environmental assessment protocol, Espoo and Aarhus.

More broadly nuclear energy today is causing even more concern than before the nuclear accident at Fukushima. European institutions should encourage project applicants to inform the public about their projects in line with all available tools like Espoo contact points. It is unacceptable that a major, high-risk project is being considered for financing from European institutions without the public in EU member states being informed.

One year after the Fukushima accident, the European public would welcome information about the lifetime extension of nuclear power plants that are already three decades old.

The SUP was prepared prior to the nuclear disaster at Fukushima, and it is not acceptable that decisions on the program are taken before the stress tests are completed and the EU draws its first conclusions about reactor safety. We believe that these institutions will not finance Ukrainian reactor safety measures before the peer review of Ukraine’s stress test report has been prepared.

The EBRD and Euratom want to hide the fact that they are contributing both financially and politically to at least another 15 years of nuclear risk. The argument that Ukraine would go ahead and operate the reactors even without EBRD and EURATOM funding is troubling and implicitly alleges that the Ukrainian operator and regulator would act irresponsibly.

The Ukrainian authorities already licensed lifetime extensions at Rivne reactors 1 and 2 without first applying the Espoo Convention. The Espoo implementation committee is now inquiring about violations in this case. We expect both Euratom and the EBRD to withhold a decision about SUP pending a resolution to the Rivne 1 and 2 lifetime extension decision.

Some modernisation measures are “significant changes” e.g. the planned nuclear fuel exchange and call for EIA implementation. One of the first SUP objectives is the introduction of second generation fuel with improved cycles in order to reduce neutron fluence on the reactor vessel to mitigate embrittlement effects. The switch to longer fuel cycles is not mentioned in the SUP but is an objective of the energy strategy. High fuel burn-up increases the risk of accidents, because it accelerates the accident progression.

The reliability of the Ukrainian nuclear safety programs are cause for concern. A 2006 EBRD press statement says “…a modernisation programme for all nuclear power plants in Ukraine currently being implemented will upgrade all 13 nuclear reactors to internationally recognised nuclear safety level by 2010.“ Thus the question of why are new programs, including the SUP within the „Comprehensive Safety Upgrade Program,” necessary? This study provides an overview of the very non-transparent management of safety improvement programs in Ukraine. It seems that all safety measures not implemented by 2010 were merely incorporated into the SUP for the period 2010 to 2017.

Source: 'Critical Review of the “Ukraine NPP Safety Upgrade Program” - Why the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and EURATOM should not finance the lifetime extension program of Ukrainian nuclear power plants'; March 2012 by Antonia Wenisch & Patricia Lorenz; Commissioned by CEE Bankwatch Network. Available at: http://bankwatch.org/sites/default/files/Ukraine-SUP-review.pdf
Contact: David Hoffman, Na Rozcesti 1434/6, 190 00 Praha 9 – Liben, Czech Republic
Tel: +420 274 822 150
Email: david.hoffman[at]bankwatch.org
Web: http://bankwatch.org

Mochove: further delays and Bank Austria withdraws

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#745
4249
04/04/2012
Yann Louvel
Article

Bank Austria, the Austrian subsidiary of the Italian UniCredit banking group, has confirmed that by mutual agreement it will terminate a financial facility granted to Slovenske Elektrarne (SE). SE will be the operator of the Mochovce nuclear reactors 3 & 4, currently under construction.

The confirmation of the Bank Austria withdrawal came after enquiries by Global 2000 (Friends of the Earth Austria) and Greenpeace Austria."Slovenske Elektrarne has boasted in public presentations that the credit provided by private banks for its ongoing operations were in fact indirectly used to build the scrap nuclear reactors at Mochovce," said Patricia Lorenz, nuclear campaigner for Global 2000. "This is in direct contradiction with assurances made by Bank Austria earlier on the use of their credit."

In a related development Mochovce NPP operator ENEL/SE also announced early March that the two nuclear units 3 and 4 will be completed one year later than previously planned. The construction of block 3 will now be completed by the end of 2013, and unit 4 not before the middle of 2014.

"We have warned the management of Bank Austria against this risky business for months and are pleased that our negotiations have now led to some results with the bank. The completion of Mochovce 3 and 4 is again pushed a bit further away," said Niklas Schinerl, nuclear expert for Greenpeace Austria.

The reactors planned for Mochovce 3 & 4 are Soviet-type VVER 440 2nd generation reactors, which are designed without a full containment building and cannot be upgraded. As such there is a higher probability of severe accidents and the release of radioactivity.

The building of Slovakia's Mochovce 3 and 4 nuclear reactors is the longest running nuclear construction project anywhere in Europe. The reactors were designed by the Soviet Union back in the 1970s. Construction began back in 1987 but in 1992, soon after the collapse of the communist regime, it was suspended. Economic studies in 2000 showed the project to be a financial disaster.

Although operating since the mid 1980s in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, four of the same model of reactor as Mochovce 3 and 4 under construction in East Germany, were cancelled in 1990 after the German re-unification because the reactors did not meet basic safety standards.

Russia is the only supplier of nuclear fuel for this type of reactor which makes a mockery of the idea that nuclear power provides energy security. An estimated 22 tonnes of spent nuclear fuel is generated by each reactor every year.

The investment required to build Mochovce 3 and 4 is expected to reach 2.775 billion euros. This will devour a massive 77% of SE's investment for new electricity generation 2007 to 2013. Due to the high financial risks for investors, the Slovak government provides generous state aid that is very likely illegal under EU legislation.

"The credit freeze and construction delay are new hurdles for SE and signal a victory in the fight against the building of these reactors" said Yann Louvel, climate and energy campaign coordinator for BankTrack. "As all banks financing SE know, money is fungible. They should do the same as Bank Austria and close down their credit lines with Slovenske Elektrarne to prevent the completion of Mochovce 3 and 4". BankTrack is the global network of civil society organisations targeting the operations and investments of large, international operating  commercial banks.

Source: BankTrack, Press release 15 March 2012
Contact: Yann Louvel at BankTrack,Vismarkt 15, 6511 VJ, Nijmegen, The Netherlands.
Tel: +33 (0) 688 907 868
Email: yann[at]banktrack.org
Web: www.banktrack.org

About: 
Global 2000Mochovce-3Mochovce-4

EU assistance for decommissioning nuclear plants Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#742
6230
17/02/2012
WISE Amsterdam
Article

In the frame of their European Union accession nego­tiations and in view of increasing nuclear safety, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia committed themselves to the early clo­sure and subsequent decommissioning of eight 'non-upgradeable' nuclear reactors. The European Court of Auditors found that progress has been slow, no comprehensive assessment of future needs exists, and available funding is plainly insufficient. The Court recommended making conditional any further support upon an evaluation of the EU added value.

The special report “EU Financial assistance for the decommissioning of nuclear plants in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia: Achievements and Future Challenges” by the European Court of Auditors, deals with the implementation of the decommissioning programmes from 1999 up to the end of 2010. The main objective of the Court’s audit was to "assess the effectiveness of the EU funded programs (1999–2010) in con­tributing towards the decommissioning of the nuclear reactors and addressing the consequences of their early closure." The EU provided financial assistance to the three country-programs: 2 850 million euro overall for the 1999-2013 period. The main vehicles for EU funding for decommissioning of the 8 reactors were the TACIS (providing technical assistance to the partner States in eastern Europe and central Asia) and the PHARE programs (supporting financial and technical cooperation with the candidate central and eastern European countries).

Meanwhile, Bulgaria (Kozloduy 1-4), Lithuania (Ignalina 1-2) and Slovakia (Bohunice V1 1-2) have closed the reactors between 2002 and 2008 in line with their commitment, the main process is still ahead and its finalisation faces a significant funding shortfall.

The conclusions are devastating:

(a) As a result of a relatively loose policy framework, the programmes do not benefit from a comprehensive needs assessment, prioritisation, the setting of specific objectives and results to be achieved. Responsibilities are diffused, in particular with regard to monitoring and the achievement of programme ob­jectives as a whole. The Commission’s supervision focuses on the budgetary execution and project implementation.

(b) There is no comprehensive assessment concerning the progress of the decom­missioning and mitigation process. De­lays and cost overruns were noted for key infrastructure projects.

(c) Although the reactors were shut-down between 2002 and 2009, the pro­grammes have not yet triggered the required organisational changes to al­low the operators to turn into effective decommissioning organisations.

(d) Currently available financial resources (including an EU contribution until 2013 worth 2,85 billion euro) will be insuf­ficient and the funding shortfall is sig­nificant (around 2,5 billion euro)!

The Court recommends that:

(a) The Commission should put in place the conditions for an effective, effi­cient and economical use of EU funds. It should establish a detailed needs as­sessment showing the progress of the programmes so far, the activities still to be performed and an overall financing plan identifying the funding sources. Before further spending takes place, the Commission should analyse the resourc­es available and the expected benefits. This should lead in turn to objectives being aligned with the budget made available and to the establishment of meaningful performance indicators which can subsequently be monitored and reported on as necessary.

(b) Should the EU decide, as proposed by the Commission, to provide further fi­nancial assistance in the next multi-annual financial framework, this sup­port should be made conditional upon an ex ante evaluation of the EU added value of such intervention, identifying the specific activities to be financed through the EU budget and taking ac­count of other funding facilities such as Structural Funds.


Delays and Cost-overruns
As at 31 December 2010, the programs had launched 101 projects which contributed towards the decommissioning of the eight reactors. The total value of these projects, which were almost exclusively funded by the EU, was 1 125 million euro.

An analysis of the infrastructure projects shows delays and cost overruns. In particular, key projects within the critical path of the decommissioning process are delayed, for example facilities for spent fuel and radioactive waste management (i.e spent fuel storage facili­ties and facilities for radioactive waste treatment, storage and final disposal).

In March 2011 the recipient Member States updated their de­commissioning cost estimates, to reach 5,3 billion euro. A comparison with the decommissioning funding currently avail­able at national and programme level suggests a shortfall of around 2,5 billion euro.

Slovakia has committed itself to topping up the funding need­ed for decommissioning and has created a specific funding mechanism (a tax on electricity transmission) to contribute towards reducing the funding shortfall. Lithuania and Bulgaria have not put in place any equivalent mechanism. The absence of sufficient funding arrangements puts the completion of the decommissioning processes at risk.


Sources: European Court of Auditors Special Report No 16/2011 “EU Financial assistance for the decommissioning of nuclear plants in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia: Achievements and Future Challenges”. Available at: http://eca.europa.eu/portal/pls/portal/docs/1/12036727.PDF

About: 
WISE

Legal bid to halt nuclear construction

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#741
6218
03/02/2012
Energy Fair
Article

A formal complaint about subsidies for nuclear power has been sent to the European Commission (DG Competition). If it is upheld, it unlikely that any new nuclear power stations will be built in the UK or elsewhere in the EU. The complaint may be followed by legal action in the courts or actions by politicians to reduce or remove subsidies for nuclear power.

The complaint to the European Commission about subsidies for nuclear power has been prepared by lawyers for the Energy Fair group, with several other environmental groups and environmentalists.

Research by the Energy Fair group has identified 7 existing subsidies for nuclear power and at least 2 potential subsidies. They are summarised in “Forms of support for nuclear power”(*1). One of the largest subsidies in the complaint is the low cap on liabilities for nuclear accidents. “Like car drivers, the operators of nuclear plants should be properly insured” says Energy Fair. A report by the Insurance Forum, Leipzig (“Calculating a risk-appropriate insurance premium to cover third-party liability risks that result from operation of nuclear power plants”)(*2), a company that specializes in actuarial calculations, shows that full insurance against nuclear disasters would increase the price of nuclear electricity by a range of values -- Euro 0.14 per kWh up to Euro 2.36 per kWh -- depending on assumptions made. Even with the minimum increase, nuclear electricity would become quite uncompetitive. Without the other subsidies for nuclear power, it would be even more expensive. Counting only the Three Mile Island disaster in 1979, Chernobyl in 1986 and Fukushima in 2011 -- and excluding the near-disasters at the Narora nuclear plant in India in 1993, the Davis-Besse plant in Ohio in 2002, and the Forsmark plant in Sweden in 2006 -- we are averaging one nuclear disaster every 11 years

In summary, the “grounds of complaint” are:

* That the so-called “carbon price floor”, introduced in the Finance Act 2011, is a de facto tax on fuels used for the generation of electricity and that the exemption of uranium from that tax is incompatible with EU state aid rules, Articles 107 and 108 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

* That the cap on liabilities for nuclear accidents of the Paris/Brussels Conventions constitutes state aid in the sense of Article 107 of the TFEU. Since Article 351 of the TFEU requires EU Member States to adapt and align their pre-existing Treaty obligations to be compliant with EU law, since relevant UK laws have not been amended in the light of that requirement, and since the cap on liabilities has not been notified to the European Commission, it is, technically, illegal under EU law.

* That the proposed cap on liabilities of nuclear operators for the disposal of nuclear waste falls under the definition of state aid in Article 107(1) of the TFEU; that, unless or until it is notified to the Commission, it is illegal under EU law; and that, since the measure cannot be justified (Article 107(3) of the TFEU), it should not be approved by the Commission and should not enter into force.

* That the proposed “feed-in tariff with contracts for difference”, as applied to nuclear power, is, under Article 34 of the TFEU, a measure having an effect that is equivalent to “quantitative restrictions on imports” and is thus contrary to EU law.

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavilion and leader of the Green party of England and Wales, said: “The Government’s planned Electricity Market Reform is set to rig the energy market in favor of nuclear -- with the introduction of a carbon price floor likely to result in huge windfall handouts of around £50m (US$ 78,5 mln or 60 mln euro) a year to existing nuclear generators. Despite persistent denials by Ministers, it’s clear that this is a subsidy by another name, which makes a mockery of the Coalition pledge not to gift public money to this already established industry. If these subsidies are found to be unlawful, I trust the European Commission will take action and prevent the UK’s nuclear plans from seriously undermining the shift towards new green energy.”

Dr Dörte Fouquet, the lawyer who has been leading the preparation of the complaint, said: “The European Union has opted for opening up the energy market and is vigilant about creating a level playing field. In this regard, the Commission over the last years repeatedly underlined that distortion of the market is to a large extent caused by subsidies to the incumbents in the energy sector. This complaint aims to shed some light on the recent shift in the energy policy of the United Kingdom where strong signals point to yet another set of subsidies to the nuclear power plant operators.”

“There is no justification of any kind for subsidising nuclear power” says Dr Gerry Wolff of Energy Fair. “It is a mature technology that should be commercially viable without support. Renewables have clear advantages in cost, speed of construction, security of energy supplies, and effectiveness in cutting emissions of CO2. There are more than enough to meet our needs now and for the foreseeable future, they provide diversity in energy supplies, and they have none of the headaches of nuclear power.”

*1: The Energy Fair group report “Forms of support for nuclear power” is available at: www.mng.org.uk/ns
*2: The report by the Insurance Forum, Leipzig is available at: www.mng.org.uk/gh/private/20111006_NPP_Insurance_Study_Versicherungsfore....

Source: Energy Fair, News release, 19 January 2012
Contact: Energy Fair, Dr Gerry Wolff PhD, 18 Penlon, Menai Bridge, Anglesey, LL59 5LR, UK.
Tel: +44 1248 712962
Email: gerrywolff65[at]gmail.com
Web: www.energyfair.org.uk

Another blow for nuclear: AREVA's financial woes

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#739
23/12/2011
WISE Amsterdam
Article

In 2009, multinational financial services corporation Citigroup called nuclear power – with its skyrocketing costs, disastrous economics and dependence on public bailouts – a "corporate killer". Now, in 2011, are we witnessing the slow death of one of the world’s largest nuclear companies? French nuclear giant Areva (the French state owns 87 per cent of the company), which designs, builds and exports nuclear reactors is in big financial trouble.

On December 13, Areva announced that operating losses for this year could reach 1.6 billion euro (US$ 2.1 bn), primarily as a result of the Fukushima disaster on the value of its uranium mining operations, and that it is sacking up to 1,500 workers in Germany, reducing jobs through attrition in France, freezing wages, and selling some assets while reducing the value of others. Areva will also cut its dividends to investors and its global investment for the next four years by a third. Not only that, the company is suspending planned "capacity extensions" at four nuclear sites in France and scale back planned investment at uranium mines in Africa. Central to Areva’s financial woes is a provision for an asset write-down of US$1,97 billion for property and equipment at its UraMin operations, which include Trekoppje in Namibia, as well as Bakouma in the Central African Republic and Ryst Kuil in South Africa. In addition, Areva slashed its uranium resource estimates at Trekkopje by nearly 42 per cent, the Trekkopje deposit is now estimated to carry only 26 000 tons of uranium – down from 45 200 tons previously. Trekkopje was expected to reach full capacity next year, producing 3 000 tons of uranium a year. In February this year, however, Areva said full production would be delayed until 2013, because of the “complexity” of the project.

Eagle Rock
Areva chief executive Luc Oursel also announced to halt work at its Eagle Rock enrichment plant near Idaho Falls in the US. Oursel's move to stop work at the Eagle Rock plant abandons an effort which includes an NRC license granted in October to build and operate the plant and a conditional commitment by the U.S. Department of Energy for a US$2 billion loan guarantee. The total cost of the plant is estimated to be between US$2.5 and US$3 billion. The federal loan guarantee covers US$2 billion of the costs. Oursel says that if the project is economically viable, investors will be found for the remaining US$1 billion. In October Areva postponed ground breaking to spring 2012. Its U.S. office assured the media that it planned to move ahead with the project saying that it was too late in the year to mobilize a contractor in the face of the oncoming harsh Idaho winter. Economic development leaders in Idaho Falls were skeptical having long experience with that environment. However, they had little choice but to accept the firm's explanation. And the combination of the NRC license and loan guarantee made the plant look like a sure thing from a financial perspective.

UraMin
Besides the shut down of Trekkopje, (an announcement every informed mining analyst was expecting for some months) Areva also announced the shut down of their South American, West African and South African operations. In a comprehensive statement,  Areva says it will reconsider its entire uranium operation conducted under Uramin. While the statement is full of legalese and mineralogical terminology, the message it conveys is that Areva has lost money by the billions and is forced to reconsider and reconsolidate its financial position before re-opening any of their uranium operations. The overall tone is negative.

The company paid 1.8bn Euro for UraMin, a Canada-based company with assets in Namibia, the Central African Republic and South Africa, when uranium was about US$138 a pound. Today the commodity used to power atomic reactors is trading at about US$50 after demand slumped following this year's nuclear disaster in Japan.

Hubris vs. Nemesis
So, what is happening to Areva? Simply put, with the likes of Germany, Belgium, Italy and Switzerland turning their backs on nuclear power, and public opinion hardening against nuclear power in the aftermath of Fukushima (not least in Areva's native France), the company is facing a fast dwindling number of countries willing to buy its massively expensive and incredibly complex nuclear reactors. It’s currently building four of its next generation EPRs (European –often mentioned Evolutionary- Pressurised Reactors) in Finland, France and China. The Finnish and French reactors are years behind schedule and billions of euros over budget. Meanwhile, the two EPRs being built in China are suffering the same construction defects and safety concerns. (see Nuclear Monitor 735, October 21 2011)

It’s a classic case of hubris meeting nemesis. Areva bet the farm by hoping it would sell 50 new nuclear reactors this decade. It hasn’t received a single order for a reactor since 2007. Apart from the UK, whose own nuclear reactors are increasingly delayed, nobody in Europe wants to buy Areva reactors. Areva hopes to sell the EPR to India but the country’s nuclear power ambitions are currently strongly opposed by the public and liability in case of nuclear accidents. Add to that the global financial situation (there has yet to be a nuclear reactor anywhere in the world built without public cash which is in short supply right now) and it doesn’t add up to a recipe for nuclear success.

Investments
The company plans to cut new capital investment to 7.7bn euro between 2012 and 2016, a reduction of around a third on investment over the previous five years. This could represent a blow to the UK's plans for a new fleet of nuclear reactors, given that Areva was one of the main firms expected to support new projects.

Areva's new chief executive Luc Oursel was appointed in June after the Fukushima accident forced Areva to drop its financial targets and as its long-serving CEO Anne Lauvergeon was battling with project delays and cost overruns, and a public spat with nuclear giant EDF. Oursel said on December 13, he expected Areva to win 10 new orders for the EPR between 2012 and 2016.

Source: Financial Times (UK), 13 December 2011 / Reuters, 13 December 2011 / / Idaho Samizdat: Nuke Notes, blog, 13 December 2011 / www.Businessgreen.com, 13 December 2011 / The Namibian, 14 December 2011 / Nuclear reaction, Greenpeace blog, 16 December  2011 / Namibia Economist, 16 December 2011
Contact: Reseau Sortir du nucleaire, 9 rue Dumenge, 69317 Lyon cedex 04, France.
Email: contact[at]sortirdunucleaire.fr
Web: www.sortirdunucleaire.fr

About: 
WISESortir du Nucleaire

Lawyers say nuclear subsidies may be unlawful

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#737
28/11/2011
Energy Fair
Article

Lawyers working with the campaigning group Energy Fair say that some existing and proposed new subsidies for nuclear power in the UK may be unlawful under EU laws designed to promote fair competition between businesses. A formal complaint about those subsidies is now being prepared for submission to the European Commission.

The law firm BBH is working with Energy Fair in preparing the formal complaint to the European Commission. The legal team is led by Dr Dörte Fouquet. She is a senior partner in the firm and is also Director of the European Renewable Energies Federation.

The planned action by Energy Fair, to make a formal complaint to the European Commission about subsidies for nuclear power, is endorsed by the following people and organizations: Tom Burke CBE, Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Eurosolar, Jean Lambert MEP, Caroline Lucas MP, Nuclear Free Local Authorities, Michael Meacher MP, People Against Wylfa B (PAWB), Jonathon Porritt CBE, Dr Jeremy Leggett and Solarcentury, Sortir du Nucléaire, Keith Taylor MEP, and Urgewald.

“Our research is in line with what others have been saying” says Dr Gerry Wolff, Coordinator of the Energy Fair group. “MPs have already raised concerns about provisions in the recent Finance Act that will produce windfall profits for the nuclear industry. The Government itself says that the industry will benefit by £50 million per year, and calculations by WWF and Greenpeace show that the subsidy could be as much as £3.43 billion between 2013 and 2026”.

Forms of support for nuclear power
Research by the Energy Fair group has identified 9 existing or proposed subsidies for nuclear power and 2 potential subsidies. Withdrawal of any one of them, via legal or political action, is likely to make new nuclear power plants uncompetitive.

They are described in the reports “Nuclear Subsidies” and “Subsidies for nuclear power in the UK government’s proposals for electricity market reform” and they are summarised here:

Limitations on liabilities: The operators of nuclear plants pay much less than the full cost of insuring against a Chernobyl-style accident or worse.
Underwriting of commercial risks: The Government necessarily underwrites the commercial risks of nuclear power because, for political reasons, the operators of nuclear plants cannot be allowed to fail.
Subsidies in protection against terrorist attacks: Because protection against terrorist attacks can only ever be partial, the Government and the public are exposed to risk and corresponding costs.
Subsidies for the short-to-medium-term cost of disposing of nuclear waste: In UK government proposals, the Government is likely to bear much the risk of cost overruns in the disposal of nuclear waste.
Subsidies for the long-term cost of disposing of nuclear waste: With categories of nuclear waste that will remain dangerous for thousands of years, there will be costs arising from the dangers of the waste and the need to manage it. These costs will be borne by future generations, but they will receive no compensating benefit.
Underwriting the cost of decommissioning nuclear plants: In UK government proposals, the Government is likely to bear much the risk of cost overruns in decommissioning nuclear plants.
Institutional support for nuclear power: the UK government is providing various forms of institutional support for the nuclear industry.
Exemption from tax. Uranium is exempted from the tax on fuels used for the generation of electricity.
Feed-in tariffs with contracts for difference. Although it is a mature technology that should not need subsidies, nuclear power would be eligible for the same system of subsidies as is proposed for renewable sources of power.
Capacity mechanism. The UK government’s proposals for a ‘capacity mechanism’ as a backstop for the power supply system are not yet finalised. However, there is potential for the proposed mechanism to be used to provide unjustified support for nuclear power.
Emissions Performance Standard. Although nuclear power emits between 9 and 25 times more fossil carbon than wind power, it appears that the effect of the proposed new standard would, for the foreseeable future, be to lump them together as if they were equivalent in their carbon emissions.

The nuclear subsidies are described in the reports “Nuclear Subsidies” and “Subsidies for nuclear power in the UK government’s proposals for electricity market reform” available at:

www.mng.org.uk/nsubsidies and www.mng.org.uk/emrdoc

Source: Pressrelease Energy Fair, 7 November 2011
Contact: Dr Gerry Wolff PhD CEng, Coordinator, Energy Fair, 18 Penlon, Menai Bridge, Anglesey, LL59 5LR, UK.
Email: nuclearsubsidies[at]gmail.com
Web: www.energyfair.org.uk

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#734
07/10/2011
Shorts

Oppose Nigeria's nuclear plans.
On September 15, President Goodluck Jonathan formally inaugurated Nigeria's Atomic Energy Commission and urged its members headed by Erepamo Osaisai to quickly evolve implementable plans and timelines for the delivery of atomic energy for peaceful purposes in the country. We recall that the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission was established in 1976 to investigate the development of nuclear energy but little progress was made. It was reactivated in 2006 and President Jonathan appointed a new team this year.

Nigeria has the world's seventh-largest natural gas reserves, yet the nation is blighted by persistent electricity outages which force businesses and individuals who can afford them to rely on generators. Much of this vast gas reserves sit untouched under the ground or are flared into the sky. Despite being Africa's biggest crude oil exporter, decades of corruption and mismanagement mean Nigeria has never built the infrastructure to farm its huge oil and gas resources for much-needed domestic use.

Deficits in our existing institutions remain a defining albatross on the path to meaningful development. Cut to the bone, this scenario suggests that Nigeria currently lacks the indigenous capacity, supporting infrastructure, discipline and security wherewithal to build and manage an atomic power plant. It simply is another way of courting disaster - one we cannot manage.

Let us explore and exploit other safer, rational options. These include solar, gas, hydro, wind and coal options. Nigeria has these resources in stupendous quantities. A presidential directive requesting timelines for the generation of electricity through these options is far better than the timelines he recently demanded from the newly-inaugurated Atomic Energy Commission. Our scientist-president should think again.
Editorial Leadership newspaper (Nigeria), AllAfrica.com, 3 October, 2011


Belene construction agreement extended.
Russia's AtomStroyExport (ASE) and Bulgaria's National Electricity Company (NEK) have signed a supplement to their agreement on the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant, extending it until the end of March 2012. Under an earlier extension, the agreement - originally signed in 2006 - was extended until 30 September. According to ASE, the extension 'confirms the parties' interest in the continuation of the project.' NEK said that during the next six months, the two companies will continue their activities related to completing a market study, clarifying the financial model and studying the project finance proposal submitted by financial advisor HSBC. It added that the extra time will allow Bulgaria to conduct an analysis of the results and recommendations of stress tests being performed at nuclear power plants across the European Union. ASE said that work on the foundation pit for the first reactor at Belene has now been completed. It said that a concrete plant at the site has already been put into operation and that water treatment plants have been built.
World Nuclear News, 03 October 2011


UAE: Construction first unit will start mid-2012.
According to the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec), a government establishment created last year to oversee the ambitious nuclear construction project, said it would launch construction work for the infrastructure of four planned nuclear power plants in Barrakah in the western region in mid 2012 to pave the way for their operation in 2017. The UAE will award a contract in early 2012 for the supply of nuclear fuel to run its four nuclear reactors which the country is planning to construct as part of an ambitious nuclear power program.

Under the agreement to built 4 nuclear reactors, inked on December 27, the state-owned Korea Electric Power Corp (Kepco) and is partners in the consortium will design, build and run the reactors that will produce 5,600 MW of electricity. The contract to build the reactors is worth about US$20 billion (15bn euro).

The UAE has said the project is intended to diversify its energy supply sources and meet its rapid growing electricity demand, which is projected to surge to around 40,000 MW in 2020 from nearly 15,000 MW in 2009. The nuclear project will provide nearly 25 per cent of the UAE’s total energy needs of nearly 40,000 MW in 2020. Around seven per cent will be generated through renewable energy and the rest through conventional means.
Emirates 24/7, 25 September 2011


Pyhäjoki location for Finland's sixth reactor.
Fennovoima has chosen Pyhäjoki as the site for its nuclear power plant. Pyhäjoki municipality is located in North Ostrobothnia and the nuclear power plant will be constructed on Hanhikivi peninsula on the coast of Bothnian Bay. For the basis of the site selection, assessments were carried out during some four years. In the beginning of Fennovoima project in summer 2007, the company had almost 40 alternative sites. The number of alternatives was decreased gradually based on assessments and in December 2009 Fennovoima ended up having two alternatives, both located in Northern Finland: Pyhäjoki and Simo municipalities. In the final site decision, safety, technical feasibility, environmental matters, construction costs and schedule were the main factors examined as well as the ability of the site region to support a project that will bring thousands of people to work and use services there.

Fennovoima continues now the planning work together with the municipality, authorities and the plant suppliers and prepares applying for various licences and permits. For example, more detailed bedrock, environmental and water studies will be carried out on the Hanhikivi peninsula. Simultaneously, other preparations for the future phases of the project are carried out together with Pyhäjoki and Raahe region. First preparatory works on Hanhikivi will be started in the end of 2012 at earliest. The construction schedule will be elaborated after the plant supplier has been selected. Fennovoima sent bid invitations for Areva and Toshiba in July 2011 and the plant supplier will be chosen in 2012-2013.

Fennovoima has two owners: Voimaosakeyhtiö SF and E.ON Kärnkraft Finland. Voimaosakeyhtiö SF owns 66 percent of Fennovoima and nuclear expert E.ON Kärnkraft Finland 34 percent. Altogether Fennovoima has 70 shareholders. Voimaosakeyhtiö SF is owned by 69 finnish regional and local energy companies as well as companies in trade and industry.

Finland has 4 reactors in operation (two at Lovisa and two at Olkiluoto). The fifth (Olkiluoto-3) in under construction; over budget and over time.
Press release Fennovoima, 5 October 2011 / IAEA Reactor database.


Health effects radiation suppressed by tobacco companies.
Tobacco companies knew that cigarette smoke contained radioactive alpha particles for more than four decades and developed "deep and intimate" knowledge of these particles' cancer-causing potential; however, they deliberately kept their findings from the public. The study, published online in Nicotine & Tobacco Research, the peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, adds to a growing body of research detailing the industry's knowledge of cigarette smoke radioactivity and its efforts to suppress that information. The UCLA researchers analysed  dozens of previously unexamined internal tobacco industry documents, made available in 1998 as the result of a legal settlement.

“The documents show that the industry was well aware of the presence of a radioactive substance in tobacco as early as 1959; furthermore, the industry was not only cognizant of the potential 'cancerous growth' in the lungs of regular smokers but also did quantitative radiobiological calculations to estimate the long-term lung radiation absorption dose of ionizing alpha particles emitted from cigarette smoke." The study’s first author, Hrayr S. Karagueuzian, a professor of cardiology who conducts research at UCLA's Cardiovascular Research Laboratory, said: ‘We show here that the industry used misleading statements to obfuscate the hazard of ionizing alpha particles to the lungs of smokers and, more importantly, banned any and all publication on tobacco smoke radioactivity.” 

The radioactive substance, which the UCLA study shows was first brought to the attention of the tobacco industry in 1959, was identified in 1964 as the isotope polonium-210, which emits carcinogenic alpha radiation. Polonium-210 can be found in all commercially available domestic and foreign cigarette brands, Karagueuzian said, and is absorbed by tobacco leaves through naturally occurring radon gas in the atmosphere and through high-phosphate chemical fertilizers used by tobacco growers. The substance is eventually inhaled by smokers into the lungs.
LA Examiner, 28 September 2011


Dounreay: Belgium waste to be returned.
Dounreay has announced the return of reprocessing wastes from the BR2 research reactor in Belgium. The BR2 reactor in Mol was a good customer for Dounreay over the years, receiving new enriched uranium fuel from the reprocessed spent fuel. It planned to send considerably more spent fuel to Dounreay but the reprocessing plant was closed by a leak and never reopened. Wastes have already been returned to France and Spain. One Dounreay reprocessing customer has requested the substitution of vitrified high-level wastes for the intermediate level wastes at Dounreay (a consultation on this was held in 2010). However, Belgium wants to take back the intermediate level waste, as required by the original contract with Dounreay. Dounreay also had contracts with Australia, Germany and for Italian-owned fuel from Denmark.

There are 153 tons of BR2 reprocessing wastes cemented into 500-liter drums and this will involve an estimated 21 shipments over four years, starting this autumn. The shipments will be from Scrabster and will probably involve the former roll-on/roll-off ferry, the Atlantic Osprey.
N-Base Briefing 689, October 2011


IAEA Inspector exposed to radiation.
On October 5, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that one of its nuclear inspectors had been exposed to radiation during a 4 October inspection of the Belgoprocess nuclear waste facility in Dessel, Belgium. The inspector, along with an inspector from Euratom and a Belgoprocess employee, apparently received a dose of radiation after a vial or flask of plutonium accidentally fell on the floor, according to releases from the company and the Belgian Federal Nuclear Control Agency (AFCN). Plutonium is dangerous if ingested, but the amount received by the inspectors was less than the legal limit, the AFCN says. No radiation has been released beyond the site.
Nature.com, 5 October 2011


Atucha II, Argentina's third nuclear power plant.
President Cristina Kirchner inaugurated Atucha II, Argentina's third nuclear power plant on September 28. The German-designed reactor is expected to be fully operational in six to eight months after engineers run a series of tests. Construction of the plant began in July 1981, but work soon stopped and did not resume until 2006, when then-president Nestor Kirchner (2003-2007), the current leader's late husband, ordered the plant to be completed.

Argentina's other nuclear plants are Atucha I (335 megawatts) and the Embalse plant (600 megawatts). Once Atucha II is online 10 percent of Argentina's electricity will be produced by nuclear power. Plans are on the drawing board for Atucha III plant as well as an overhaul of the Embalse plant to add 30 years to its operational life, said Planning Minister Julio de Vido. Embalse was connected to the grid in 1983. Atucha II is located on the banks of the Parana river in the town of Zarate, some 100 kilometers north of the capital Buenos Aires. It was built at a cost of more than 2.4 billion dollars.
AFP, 29 September 2011


Another USEC deadline for DOE loan guarantee.
On September 30, USEC, announced morning it will reduce its spending on the American Centrifuge Project (ACP) in Piketon by 30 percent over the next month. It will also send out notices to its 450 employees Ohio, Tennessee and Maryland that layoffs are possible if the company doesn’t receive a loan guarantee before October 31. USEC has invested approximately US$2 billion in the ACP but needs significant additional financing to complete the plant. In 2008, USEC applied for a US$2 billion loan guarantee from Department of Energy for construction of the ACP. USEC significantly demobilized construction and machine manufacturing activities in 2009 due to delays in obtaining financing through DOE’s Loan Guarantee Program. Since then, many 'final' deadlines were set by USEC (three in the past half year: June 30, Sept. 30 and now Oct, 31) to obtain the loan guarantee.

In a call with investors, USEC President and CEO John Welch said the company must see a loan guarantee during the next month or risk the end of the project. USEC expects October “to be a month of intense interaction with the DOE,” in hopes of securing the loan guarantee.

The company had faced a September 30 deadline with two investors — Toshiba America Nuclear Energy Corporation and Babcock & Wilcox Investment Company — to receive a US$2 billion loan guarantee. They agreed September 30 to extend that deadline to October 31. If USEC receives the loan guarantee, the companies have promised US$50 million to support the project.

In a statement, DOE Spokesman Damien LaVera said, “The Department of Energy has been working closely with USEC as the company has continued to test and validate its innovative technology, obtain private financing and meet other benchmarks that would be required for a successful loan guarantee application. We are strongly committed to developing effective, domestic nuclear enrichment capabilities and are looking at all options on a path forward.”

The ACP will utilize USEC’s AC100 centrifuge machine, which has been developed, engineered and assembled in the US. The AC100 design is a disciplined evolution of classified U.S. centrifuge technology originally developed by DOE. DOE invested already US$3 billion over 10 years to develop the centrifuge technology.
Dayton Daily News, 1 October 2011 /  ACP website: www.americancentrifuge.com


Taiwan: nuclear accident compensation increased.
On September 30, the Taiwanese Cabinet approved an amendment to the Nuclear Damage Compensation Act that imposes heavier compensation liability on nuclear power operators in the event of natural disasters such as an earthquake or a typhoon. Under the amendment, the maximum amount of compensation for losses caused by a nuclear accident was increased from NT$4.2 billion (US$138 million or 103 million euro) to NT$15 billion (US$5 mln or 3.7 mln euro) and the allowed period for compensation claims was extended from 10 to 30 years.

The amendment came after the Atomic Energy Council reviewed the act, which had not been amended since it was first enacted in 1997, in the wake of the nuclear accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin said the amendment fell short of her expectations as she had suggested further lifting the ceiling on compensation liability.
Tapei Times, 30 September 2011


36 year old construction permit extended. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has extended the construction permit for the unfinished Bellefonte unit 1 in Alabama.
The construction permit was originally granted in 1974. It was suspended in 1988, when Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) decided to halt work on the project, but the NRC agreed in 2009 to reinstate the permit. With the reinstated permit due to expire on 1 October 2011, TVA lodged an application for an extension in October 2010. The NRC has now agreed to that extension, meaning that the construction permit will remain valid until 1 October 2020. (see more in Nuclear Monitor 732, 9 September 2011)
World Nuclear News, 03 October 2011


Swiss parliament, no new reactors.
On September 28, the Council of States has followed the government’s lead by voting not to replace the country’s five nuclear power stations  and boost renewable energy resources. Switzerland currently has five nuclear power plants that will gradually come off the power grid at the end of their 50 year (!) lifespan: the first one in 2019 and the last one in 2034. The Senate followed the House of Representatives in calling on the government to ban new nuclear plants but keep parliament "informed about innovations in the field."

The clear result of the September 28 vote - with a three to one majority - came after a parliamentary committee prepared a compromise formula, promoted by the centre-right Christian Democratic Party, which will give parliament another chance to have a say at a later stage. “Even if we were to ban nuclear power plants now our successors in parliament could still one day decide on building on new reactors,” a Christian Democratic Senator, Filippo Lombardi from Ticino, said on behalf of the committee. Discussions on nuclear power are due to continue in the new parliament which is due to convene for the first time in December following general elections next month.

The Social Democrats, the Greens as well as the Christian Democratic Party hailed the Senate decision as an important step towards a new energy policy amid calls for further measures to switch to more renewable energy sources.

The government called for a withdrawal from nuclear energy in May – a proposal backed by the House of Representatives a month later.
Swissinfo.ch 28 September 2011


Hinkley Blockaded: No New Nuclear Power!
More than 300 people (even up to 400, according to a BBC-report), successfully sealed off the main entrance to Hinkley Point nuclear power station in Somerset for nine hours on 3 October in opposition to EDF Energy's plans to build two new mega-reactors on the site. EDF said of 500 employees at the plant, only essential staff had been called in and had arrived by bus at dawn.

Blockaders were joined by a theatrical troupe who enacted a nuclear disaster scenario, while Seize the Day provided a musical backdrop to the event. 206 helium balloons were released to represent the number of days since the Fukushima meltdown. The balloons will be tracked, to show which areas of the West Country would be worst affected by a nuclear disaster at Hinkley.
Indymedia.uk; www.stopnewnuclear.org.uk; BBC, 3 October 2011

IAEA seeks budget for nuclear safety

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#734
6172
07/10/2011
WISE Amsterdam
Article

On 22 September 2011, the IAEA 55thGeneral Conference unanimously endorsed the Action Plan on Nuclear Safety that Ministers in their Declaration at the IAEA's June Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety requested. The plan, criticized by many for not going far enough towards more mandatory measures, outlines a series of voluntary steps aimed at improving reactor safety and emergency preparedness.

IAEA Director General Amano made clear the agency needed more money to turn the plan into reality, but did not give details. "Meeting new and expanding demands for assistance from member states in nuclear safety, as well as in other areas, will require an increase in the agency's resources," he said.

Even before Fukushima added to its workload, experts warned that budget austerity in member states may block funding required by the IAEA to deal with growing demand for atomic energy and the attendant risk of weapons proliferation. The bulk of money for the IAEA, which has more than 2 300 staff, comes from Western member states on a voluntary basis.

The IAEA 'Program and Budget for 2012-2013' was adopted by the General Conference in September. The total proposed budget for 2012 is 341.4 million euro (US$ 451 million) which represents a 2.1% increase, plus a 1.1% price adjustment. This differs from the Director-General’s original proposal to the Board of Gov­ernors of a 2.8% increase. Of this regular budget, 39% is allocated to nuclear verification. In addition, voluntary contributions can be made by member states to specific funds such as the Technical Cooperation and Nuclear Se­curity Funds.

The recently-published ‘Programme and budget for 2012-2013’ warns that ‘demands for the Agency’s services are growing at a rate beyond what can realistically be funded through the regular budget’. Therefore, some of the money will need to be delivered to the Agency on an extrabudgetary basis, and in support for specific projects. This is not without risk. The program and budget notes that these ‘are unpredictable, often tied to restrictive conditions and thus involve some risk for the program’.

Reasons mentioned by the IAEA for expanding the budget are:
• An increasing number of States are contemplating the establishment or enhancement of safe nuclear power programmes and look to the Agency for advice and assistance.
• Basic human needs in developing countries regarding health, water and food — areas where nuclear techniques are of proven benefit — increasingly call for Agency support.
• The Agency’s nuclear security activities remain extensively reliant on uncertain extrabudgetary contributions.
• With increases in the number of facilities and nuclear material the Agency’s verification responsibilities continue to grow.
• The interrelationship between complex global issues and the development needs of Member States, to be addressed by the Agency in a coordinated manner, is increasing.
• The Agency’s considerable infrastructure requirements have begun to be addressed, but much remains underfunded. Despite the establishment of a Major Capital Investment mechanism, there is a lack of funding to it that prevents fund accumulation. Meeting capital needs is therefore contingent upon the Agency’s receiving adequate extrabudgetary contributions.

As said, the General Conference of the IAEA agreed on a budgetary increase of no more than 2.1 per cent (plus a 1.1 per cent inflation increase) but the IAEA Secretariat will still have to try to deliver more services—which means that the IAEA has to deal with the challenges of both effective­ness and efficiency.

At a time of economic problems squeezing government finances, some European states have resisted budget hikes for the agency.

Sources: Trust & Verify, July-September 2011 / IAEA 'Programme and budget 2012-2013', at: www.iaea.org/About/Policy/GC/GC55/GC55Documents/English/gc55-5_en.pdf

About: 
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In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#732
09/09/2011
Shorts

French Nuclear Authority points to "weaknesses" of the EPR.
The construction of the EPR nuclear reactor being built in Flamanville, has many "weaknesses" that put the "final quality" into doubt. This is the conclusion drawn after a  thorough inspection conducted on site in May by the Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN). The report of this "inspection review", highlighted by Le Canard Enchaine on August 24, is posted on the site of the ASN (www.asn.fr). It is a 20 page letter sent by the ASN on June 24 to EDF, the prime contractor for the 1600 megawatt reactor designed by Areva. The inspection has was  carried out by fifteen experts, including an observer from the British regulator. The team found deviations from the construction requirements on essential parts of the reactor: the feed of the steam generators, water injection filters, the RIS batteries of the cooling system. "EDF has to make great efforts to show the final quality of the construction of Flamanville 3", judges the ASN, which points out: "inconsistencies between the requirements specified in sub-contracting and the demands mentioned in the preliminary safety report" - that is to say a non-compliance with initial prescriptions. Concerning an essential feature of the steam generators, experts estimate that "the quality of materials taking into account their importance for safety has not been demonstrated and their use in FLA3 is not possible". In two cases, they demand from EDF to "not engage in actions that are difficult to reverse before demonstrating" compliance.
Le Monde (Fr.) 24 August 2011 (translation Jan Haverkamp)


Town produces 321% more energy than it uses.
A small Bavarian town in Germany called Wildpoldsried produces 321% more energy than it uses, from renewable and natural sources. By selling the excess energy, Wildpoldsried has eliminated all the towns debt and generates 4.0 million Euro (US$5.7 million) in annual income. The point they are at now in terms of energy production and independence was reached by starting a plan about fourteen years ago to develop more clean energy sources and green building projects. The town with a population of about 2,500 started work on a huge community initiative involving the construction of nine new buildings and energy sources. The new buildings included a school, community hall and gym, and they employ solar panels, as do 190 private households. Five biogas digesters, nine windmills, three hydroelectric projects,  ecological flood control and a natural waste water treatment system were part of the plan for energy independence. It all has worked well, and the town is debt-free. They actually formed several local companies to construct, install and manage their wind turbines, with local residents as investors.
www.care2.com, 24 August 2011


Bushehr online after 36 years of construction.
Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant has been connected to the national grid. It began supplying around 60 MW of its 1000 MW capacity on Saturday 3 September at 11:29pm, the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said. Construction on Bushehr by German company Siemens KWU started in 1975, but the work was stopped in 1979. Iran signed a deal with Russia in 1995, under which the plant was originally due to be finished in 1999, but the completion of the project was repeatedly delayed. The most recent delay, in February 2011, was caused by the discovery of damaged internals of a coolant pump supplied in the 1970s. To avoid potential consequences of metal debris getting on the fuel assemblies, they were unloaded and washed, while the reactor pressure vessel was cleaned. The fuel was reloaded in April and the plant achieved criticality in May 2011. In August 2011, the Government of Iran invited an International Atomic Energy Agency delegation to visit the country’s nuclear facilities, including nuclear power plant that has been built by Russia’s Atomstroyexport. According to Iran's nuclear officials, Bushehr power plant will reach 40% capacity during a ceremony that will be held on 12 September 2011. It is expected to reach full capacity in November or December 2011.
Nuclear Engineering International, 5 September 2011


North Anna shut down after earthquake.
The largest earthquake to hit the eastern US in 67 years has raised concerns about the safety of the country's nuclear power plants. The 5.8 magnitude quake's epicenter in Virginia on August 23, was close to the North Anna plant, 130 kilometers southwest of Washington. The plant lost power and automatically halted operations after the quake. While the operator reported no 'major' damage to the facility, three diesel generators were required to kick in and keep the reactors' radioactive cores cool. A fourth diesel unit failed. While nuclear power plants can operate safely on back-up power, failure of generators was a key reason for the disaster at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant

A spokesman for the operator said the plant was designed to withstand an earthquake of up to 6.2 in magnitude. But some groups have expressed concern about the narrow margin between the design metrics and the quake's size. 'It was uncomfortably close to design basis,' said Edwin Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists, which has pushed for stronger nuclear regulations. 'If Fukushima wasn't a wake-up call, this really needs to be to get the NRC and industry moving to do seismic reviews of all the nuclear power plants in the country.' An article in the Washington Post reports that the earthquake moved dry casks (huge concrete containers holding spent nuclear fuel), weighing between 100 to 115 tons, by as much as four inches (10 centimeters).

Twelve other nuclear plants along the Eastern Seaboard declared an "unusual event" following the quake, the lowest of the NRC's emergency classification ratings. North Anna's "alert" status is one step further up on a four-step U.S. emergency scale.

North Anna's reactors are among 27 east of the Rockies that the NRC highlighted during a seismic review last year as presenting a potential hazard, due to the amount of ground-shaking they were designed to withstand. Many nuclear experts say plants in the United States were designed with big margins of error  built in, but last year's NRC survey found that the risks posed by earthquakes were higher than  previously thought.
RTE (Ireland), 24 August 2011 / Reuters, 24 August 2011 / Washington Post, 1 September 2011


Germany: no need for nuclear reserve capacity.
Germany's grid regulator Bundesnetzagentur (BNetzA) said August 31 that it has decided against keeping one idled nuclear reactor on standby as reserve capacity for the coming two winter seasons to ensure power grid stability after the government permanently closed eight older reactors in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in March. "Our investigations have shown that even in exceptional contingencies the transmission system will remain operational without the dispatch of a reserve nuclear power plant," BNetzA President Matthias Kurth said in a statement.

The government has asked the grid regulator to investigate the need for a nuclear reserve capacity during the winter after transmission system operators in May warned of possible blackouts during extreme winter weather should the eight older reactors remain shut permanently, removing at least 5,000 MW of nuclear capacity from the market.
Platts, 31 August 2011


International blockade Olkiluoto, Finland.
On August 20, 2011 a blockade of the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant under construction took place for the second time gathering people from several regions of Finland and from other European countries on the streets. One year ago, on August 28, 2010, it was the very first public street blockade of an atomic facility in Finland ever. It had been started with the support of a number of European and Finnish environmental and anti-nuclear groups. The gathering of the Nuclear Heritage Network, an international network of anti-nuclear activists, taking part in March 2010 in Helsinki had initiated the idea of the blockade and developed it together with the variety of Finnish NGOs and groups. The goal was to question the international reputation of Finland as the country of the so-called "renaissance of nuclear power", and to show that even in this country being under strong pressure of the nuclear lobby atomic power has noch support of the citizens.

For Finnish anti-nuclear activists the Olkiluoto Blockade was also an important occassion for meeting each other and exchanging as so far there doesn't exist any other nationwide organizing structures for a common anti-nuclear strategy. In the south as well as in the north strong networks of local initiatives and organizations exist and in some cases they successfully opposed to projects of uranium mining and new nuclear reactors constructions. However, cross connections between those groups and networks are created so far only in mutual big actions like the Olkiluoto Blockade or the anti-nuclear infotour around the Baltic Sea that also took place in 2010.

This year a blockade of about 100 activists from Finland, Sweden, Germany, Russia, France, United Kingdom and Belarus several times stopped the traffic on the access roads to the disputed Olkiluoto nuclear power plant in Finland. Police had announced to prevent the blockade of roads that were supposed to take place for the second time. They forced protesters from the streets again and again towards a bus stop nearby. Nevertheless, the activists succeeded several times to blockade the main access road to the nuclear power plant for some minutes, while an additional access street had been closed for some two hours by a wooden tripod construction with an activist on the top.
www.greenkids.de


Donors agree to fund new Chernobyl shelter.
There appears to be enough money (at last after almost 15 years) for a new sarcophagus at the Chernobyl reactor in Ukraine. The Nuclear Safety Account and the Chernobyl Shelter Fund donors agreed to provide the necessary financial resources for the implementation of the Chernobyl projects. The decision was made at the Assembly of Contributors to the Chernobyl Shelter Fund meeting on July 7, 2011, in London. The new construction will help "neutralize any possible future threats to the environment from the Chernobyl nuclear plant in Ukraine".

The needed amount of financial resources for the Shelter Implementation Plan (SIP) funding is EUR 740 mln. On the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl tragedy on April 26, 2011, a fundraiser was held resulting in donors' obligations of EUR 550 mln. The new decision of the world donors allows for the immediate start of the SIP execution and its completion by 2015. The SIP involves stabilization of the existing sarcophagus and the construction of a New Safe Confinement (NSC) for the damaged nuclear reactor.

In 1988 local scientists announced that the life time of the sarcophagus was 20 to 30 years. The Chernobyl Shelter Fund (CSF) was established nearly a decade later in December of 1997 to collect funds for the NSC project. Currently, the European Union, the United States, and Ukraine cooperate to help meet the CSF's objective while the EBRD is entrusted to manage the CSF and provide oversight of the funds disbursement.

The construction of the original Chernobyl sarcophagus began on May 20, 1986 - three weeks after the accident, and lasted for 206 days.
PRNewswire, 14 July 2011


PSC shifts risks costs overruns to public.
US: Georgia utility regulators agreed on August 2, to scrap a proposal that would have eaten into Georgia Power’s profits should the costs for its nuclear expansion project exceed US$300 million. The Georgia Public Service Commission unanimously approved the plan after making sure the commissioners could review previously approved project costs if there is a budget increase. Customers would pay for cost overruns in their monthly bills unless the PSC determines the overruns are Georgia Power's fault.
Georgia Power is part of a group of utilities building two nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle. The utility is responsible for US$6.1 billion of the estimated US$14 billion project. The company has been at odds with the PSC’s advocacy staff over how to handle potential cost overruns for the project. The advocacy staff wanted to cut into the utility’s profits if the costs exceeded US$300 million over budget. The advocacy staff agreed to drop its plan if Georgia Power allowed regulators to re-examine previously approved parts of the project if there is a budget increase. If regulators determine that Georgia Power's mistake led to the cost overruns, consumers would not have to pay the additional costs.
Consumer advocates have criticized the PSC's move as shifting all of the burden of the project's cost onto Georgia Power customers, who already are paying for the plant's financing costs.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 2 August 2011


Walk away from uranium mining.
Footprints for Peace, an international grassroots group that organizes walks, bike rides and runs around the world, invites families and people of all ages, background and cultures to come and support traditional owners in their opposition to uranium mining in Western Australia by taking part in the “Walk away from uranium mining” that began in Wiluna on August 19 and will finish in Perth on October 28. "We will demonstrate that we have the choice to walk away from this costly, toxic industry — which produces radioactive waste and weapons usable material — in favour of renewable energy options." Footprints for Peace are working together with the Western Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (WANFA) to organise this grassroots awareness-raising and action-based campaign. Everyone is welcome to join the walk for a few hours, a day, a few weeks or the whole way. Even if you cannot walk we still require financial assistance, drivers, kitchen crew members, media liaison volunteers, video operators and photographers, musicians, artists, singers and general support for daily events, such as camp set up and pack up, food shopping and water collection. The walkers will cover a distance of 20 to 25 kilometres a day, with a rest day every five days……… The walk’s conclusion in Perth will coincide with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. There we will deliver our well-supported and strong message that it is time to shut down the nuclear industry’s plans to expand in Western Australia and the rest of Australia.

For more information please visit: http://nuclearfreefuture.com/
GreenLeft (Aus.) 23 July 2011


Sellafield: No prosecutions for organ harvesting.
Recent correspondence has revealed that no one will be prosecuted over the body hacking scandal carried out by the nuclear industry for over 40 years in collusion with government, hospitals, coroners and doctors.

From 1960 to 1991, body parts were taken without consent from 64 former Sellafield workers and 12 workers from nuclear sites in Springfields, Capenhurst, Dounreay and Aldermaston. The liver was removed in all cases and one or both lungs in all but one incident. Vertebrae, sternum, ribs, lymph nodes, spleen, kidneys and fermur were also stripped in the majority of cases. Brains, tongues, hearts and testes were also taken on the advice of the medical officer at Sellafield.

Correspondence from Cumbria Constabulary has been seen which says that despite the findings of the Redfern Inquiry (into the scandal; see Nuclear Monitor 721, 17 December 2010)  that the relationship between the nuclear industry and fellow bodysnatching conspirators was "too close" no one will be prosecuted as it is not "in the public interest".

Extract from a letter sent by ‘Special Operations’ - Cumbria Constabulary: "the issues you raise which I have listed below;
1. That specific people and institutions have breached the Human Tissue Act and that this should be investigated.
2. That an investigation into whether there was any unlawful corruption of the coronial processes had taken place
3. The stipends made to mortuary attendants are also of particular concern.
This was a Government led review which involved both the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the Ministry of Justice. As such any requirement on the police to investigate identified breaches as outlined above would be made by the Government. No such request has been made". (end quotation Cumbria Constabulary correspondence)
Well, surprise, surprise: No such request is likely to be made.
http://101-uses-for-a-nuclear-power-station.blogspot.com/2011/07/dodgy-hacking.html


Floating Nuke Plant Seized in Bankruptcy
A St. Petersburg court seized the 70MW floating nuclear power station under construction at the Baltiisky Zavod shipyards after Rosenergoatom, the division of the Rosatom nuclear monopoly that commissioned it, demanded recognition of its right of ownership to the unfinished vessel. The July 26 court order gave the go-ahead for the seizure on the basis of "significant risk" that Rosenergoatom could lose its investment in the 9.8 billion ruble ($334 million) vessel if another claimant seized Baltiisky Zavod's assets during bankruptcy proceedings.

The ship yard, which is 88.3 percent owned by former Tuva governor Segei Pugachev's United Industrial Corporation is facing litigation from numerous disgruntled creditors. International Industrial Bank, also known as Mezhprombank, had its operating license revoked when it declared itself bankrupt in November. In January prosecutors launched a criminal case against the bank for intentional bankruptcy.

The dispute is not the first to hit Rosatom's ambitious plans to build a generation of floating nuclear power stations to serve remote coastal communities in Russia's north and Far East. Interfax on Thursday quoted an unidentified source at Rosatom saying the contract could be reassigned to another shipbuilder. If true, it would be the second time a contractor has lost the order from Rosatom, which originally commissioned the Sevmash shipyard to build the controversial floating nuclear plants in 2006. Rosenergoatom tore up that agreement in 2008 and signed a new deal with Baltiisky Zavod in 2009. Baltiisky Zavod is scheduled to finish the first station in 2012, according to the contract. The 70-megawatt plant is destined for Kamchatka.
Moscow Times, 15 August 2011

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#731
29/07/2011
Article

Philippines may rechannel its nuclear budget.
The Philippines government is considering rechannelling the US$100 million budget allotted to its nuclear energy development programme in the light of the Fukushima disaster. "Since the budget has been approved, the Department of Energy is currently studying what to do next. Whether we push through or delay or use the budget for more urgent matters. We are in discussion internally," Energy undersecretary Jay Layug has been quoted as saying. He noted that at this stage the country doesn't have any plans for nuclear other than to study it as an option. At the moment, he said, the DoE would be focusing on renewable energy development. "Renewable energy is the priority right now and not nuclear, we're looking at additional capacities through coal and natural gas plants," he said.

Nuclear Engineering International, News 22 July 2011


Chinese experimental fast reactor connected to grid.
On July 21, exactly one year after achieving first criticality, the head of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), declared that the Chinese Experimental Fast Reactor's (CEFR's) had successfully achieved grid connection. The sodium-cooled, pool-type fast reactor has been constructed with some Russian assistance at the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIEA), near Beijing, which undertakes fundamental research on nuclear science and technology. The reactor has a thermal capacity of 65 MW and can produce 20 MW in electrical power. The CEFR was built by Russia's OKBM Afrikantov in collaboration with OKB Gidropress, NIKIET and Kurchatov Institute. The unit was connected to the grid at 40% capacity.

Beyond the pilot plant, China once planned a 600 MWe commercial scale version by 2020 and a 1500 MWe version in 2030 but these ambitious ideas have been overtaken by the import of ready-developed Russian designs. In October 2009, an agreement was signed by CIAE and China Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation (CNEIC) with AtomStroyExport to start pre-project and design works for a commercial nuclear power plant with two BN-800 reactors with construction to start in August 2011, probably at a coastal site (well, if they don't know that by now, the chance of starting constructing next month –August- is not that high).

In April 2010, a joint venture company was established for the construction of China's first commercial-scale fast neutron reactor, near the inland city of Sanming in Fujian province. The joint venture - Sanming Nuclear Power Co Ltd - was established by CNNC, Fujian Investment and Development Corp and the municipal government of Sanming city. CNNC holds a majority stake in the venture.

World Nuclear News, 21 July 2011


U.S.–India: quarrel on liability law.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recommended that India "engage" with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure the nation's civilian atomic liability law "fully conforms" with international accords, The Hindu newspaper reported July 19. Indian government sources said they would reject any hint that the domestic rule must be modified on the recommendation of the IAEA. The Vienna, Austria-based organization does not have the authority to make such recommendations, they said. India holds that its nuclear liability regulations are in compliance with the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, though the United States contends the law allows a scope of actions that the convention does not.

New Delhi's law limits nuclear reactor operator financial culpability following an atomic accident to roughly US$320 million and allows lawsuits against suppliers of nuclear materials, technology and services. Officials in New Delhi insist the international convention cannot prohibit Indian courts from permitting private lawsuits to be filed by individuals injured in a nuclear incident.

The liability law has led a number of U.S. nuclear firms to reconsider their initial enthusiasm for engaging in atomic commerce with energy-hungry India following the signing of a 2008 agreement between Washington and New Delhi. The Indian government wants to see its liability law enacted before the end of 2011.
Global Security Newswire, 20 July 2011


Canada, Saskatchewan: 820 km walk to ban nuclear waste storage.
Native / First Nations people in the province of Saskatchewan, Canada, one of the big uranium mining areas of the world, are organizing a 820-km-march from the small Northern community of Pinehouse to the capital of the province, Regina, beginning on July 27, 2011.

They are, besides raising awareness about the issue of nuclear waste and its dangers, collecting signatures for a petition to the Provincial Government to ban nuclear waste and its transportation in the province. This petition can only be signed by Saskatchewan residents (thus, it is not attached).

The First Nations and Metis / Native People are working together with environmentalist groups etc. from Southern Saskatchewan, i.e. Coalition for a Clean Green Saskatchewan; there, you can find all details and documents re: the March, the petition etc.:  www.cleangreensask.ca

Contact: Committee for Future Generations, P.O. Box 155, Beauval, Saskatchewan, S0M 0G0 Canada
Email: committeeforfuturegenerations@gmail.com


Walk away from uranium mining. Footprints for Peace, an international grassroots group that organises walks, bike rides and runs around the world, invites families and people of all ages, background and cultures to come and support traditional owners in their opposition to uranium mining in Western Australia by taking part in the “Walk away from uranium mining” that begins in Wiluna on August 19 and finishes in Perth on October 28. "We will demonstrate that we have the choice to walk away from this costly, toxic industry — which produces radioactive waste and weapons usable material — in favour of renewable energy options." Footprints for Peace are working together with the Western Australian Nuclear Free Alliance (WANFA) to organise this grassroots awareness-raising and action-based campaign. Everyone is welcome to join the walk for a few hours, a day, a few weeks or the whole way. Even if you cannot walk we still require financial assistance, drivers, kitchen crew members, media liaison volunteers, video operators and photographers, musicians, artists, singers and general support for daily events, such as camp set up and pack up, food shopping and water collection. The walkers will cover a distance of 20 to 25 kilometres a day, with a rest day every five days……… The walk’s conclusion in Perth will coincide with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. There we will deliver our well-supported and strong message that it is time to shut down the nuclear industry’s plans to expand in Western Australia and the rest of Australia.

For more information please visit: http://nuclearfreefuture.com/
GreenLeft (Aus.) 23 July 2011


New EU rules for nuclear waste open the door to dumping in Russia.
On July 19, European countries agreed to develop plans to address the ever-growing problem of nuclear waste. However, the EU also agreed to continue the dangerous practice of transporting radioactive material across great distances to storage plants outside EU borders.

EU ministers rubber stamped new rules obliging governments to publish plans by 2015 detailing their preferred options to store or reprocess radioactive waste from nuclear reactors. Some countries that generate nuclear waste, such as Bulgaria, Slovakia and Spain, had so far been reluctant to put together comprehensive plans.

Despite pressure from the European Commission to block exports, the new rules will allow Hungary and Bulgaria, countries that currently have agreements for the export of nuclear waste to Russia, to continue transferring radioactive material.

Greenpeace EU nuclear policy adviser Jan Haverkamp said: “European governments have adopted an out of sight, out of mind approach to radioactive waste, but all they are doing is dumping the long-term problem on someone else and putting Europeans at risk by allowing dangerous waste convoys. Only countries that face the unsolvable problem of radioactive waste head-on by ending their reliance on nuclear power can stop the vicious circle of waste that shifts responsibility to the next generations.”
Greenpeace press release, 19 July 2011


Sellafield: No prosecutions for organ harvesting.
Recent correspondence has revealed that no one will be prosecuted over the body hacking scandal carried out by the nuclear industry for over 40 years in collusion with government, hospitals, coroners and doctors.

From 1960 to 1991, body parts were taken without consent from 64 former Sellafield workers and 12 workers from nuclear sites in Springfields, Capenhurst, Dounreay and Aldermaston. The liver was removed in all cases and one or both lungs in all but one incident. Vertebrae, sternum, ribs, lymph nodes, spleen, kidneys and fermur were also stripped in the majority of cases. Brains, tongues, hearts and testes were also taken on the advice of the medical officer at Sellafield.

Correspondence from Cumbria Constabulary has been seen which says that despite the findings of the Redfern Inquiry (into the scandal; see Nuclear Monitor 721, 17 December 2010)  that the relationship between the nuclear industry and fellow bodysnatching conspirators was "too close" no one will be prosecuted as it is not "in the public interest".

Extract from a letter sent by ‘Special Operations’ - Cumbria Constabulary: "the issues you raise which I have listed below;
1. That specific people and institutions have breached the Human Tissue Act and that this should be investigated.
2. That an investigation into whether there was any unlawful corruption of the coronial processes had taken place
3. The stipends made to mortuary attendants are also of particular concern.
This was a Government led review which involved both the Department for Energy and Climate Change and the Ministry of Justice. As such any requirement on the police to investigate identified breaches as outlined above would be made by the Government. No such request has been made". (end quotation Cumbria Constabulary correspondence)
Well, surprise, surprise: No such request is likely to be made.
http://101-uses-for-a-nuclear-power-station.blogspot.com/2011/07/dodgy-h...

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