You are here


In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Centrifuge crash report allegedly delayed until after financing deadline. SONG (the Southern Ohio Neighbors Group) disclosed on July 6 that a power outage and centrifuge crash happened at USEC's project site near Piketon, Ohio. As reported in that newsrelease, Osiris Siurano, the NRC project manager for USEC's centrifuge project license, told SONG in an interview on July 5 that USEC had notified NRC and DOE "within 24-hours as required." According to NRC's "Event Notification Report" of that day, July 5, however, NRC was not actually notified of the situation until July 1.

July 1 just happened to be one day after USEC's original financing deadline of June 30, by which time USEC needed to secure a "conditional commitment" for a loan guarantee from the Department of Energy. That is, there is now evidence that USEC waited nineteen days before reporting a serious safety incident to NRC, in hopes that DOE would provide the "conditional commitment" before the incident became known. Silence from USEC, from DOE, and from USEC's two financing agents in the United States Senate, as the June 30 deadline neared, is now explained. In nuclear industry lingo, Mr. Siurano's statement that the 24-hour notification requirement had been met could be characterized as having "suboptimal veracity."

There is no decision yet on the Department of Energy's US$2 billion loan guarantee for USEC Inc. to complete the American Centrifuge Project at Piketon. USEC says it is now “most likely” looking at further cutbacks and a reduction of future investment in its planned American Centrifuge Project at Piketon. “We are reaching a critical point regarding continued funding for the American Centrifuge Project. We need to obtain a conditional commitment for the loan guarantee from DOE,“ the company said already in May.
Portsmouth Daily Times, 1 & 13 July 2011 /, 8 July 2011

Germany’s phase-out by 2022 sealed (again). On July 8, Germany's upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat, passed the amendment to the atomic energy bill sealing Germany's exit from nuclear power by 2022. Ten days before, on June 30, the Bundestag, Germany's lower house of parliament, approved with an overwhelming majority plans to phase-out nuclear power by 2022. The nuclear phase-out bill cleared the lower house with only the far-left voting against, while the opposition Social-Democrats and Green party both supported the bill.
Germany's new energy strategy reverses the extension of nuclear run-times, which became law earlier this year. Seven reactors built before 1980 as well as the Kruemmel reactor, which has not been online since 2007, will remain shut permanently, according to the bill. The nine remaining  reactors will be gradually phased-out between 2015 and 2022.

Germany's E.ON feels no pressure to replace nuclear power plants with alternatives after the  policy shift. "There is no strategy to replace lost nuclear capacity one-to-one. As an entrepreneur I always ask myself is my investment profitable?," Chief Executive Johannes Teyssen said on June 30. It is one of the four utilities with German nuclear power plants.

E.ON, which in an outcry earlier in June had demanded damages from the government for the closures, was holding on to the legal pursuits but had in the meantime adopted a more conciliatory stance, Teyssen said. But the group will now respect the change in policy towards renewables.
Reuters, 30 June 2011 / Platts, 30 June and 8 July 2011

Finland: inviting bids for construction npp. Finnish company Fennovoima has invited Areva and Toshiba to bid for the construction of a new nuclear power plant, which will be built at one of its greenfield sites Pyhäjoki or Simo, in northern Finland. Bids will be for the delivery and construction of the reactor and turbine islands. Infrastructure work during the first phase of construction and preparatory work such as earthmoving and excavation are excluded from the bid.

Fennovoima has already selected three alternatives for the plant design: Areva’s 1700 MW EPR, its advanced boiling water reactor the 1250 MW Kerena and the 1600 MW ABWR by Toshiba Corporation. The plant supplier and the model of delivery is due to be decided in 2012-2013. Fennovoima is planning to select the site for its nuclear power plant in 2011 and preparatory work could start by the end of 2012.
Nuclear Engineering International, news 5 July 2011

Citygroup: nuclear “uninvestable for public equity markets”. According to Peter Atherton, Citygroup’s head of European utilities research, Britain's nuclear strategy is "uninvestable" for private clients, who are only likely to put money into new plants if the government shoulders more of the risks involved. He says the investment environment is "dire." "Investors are demanding more of their returns up front in cash rather than dividends, indicating they don't trust the capital growth of the sector. "As we stand today, is (new nuclear) an investable option for Centrica, RWE? Simply put, no. The cost of capital based on those risks would be way too high to give you an electricity price which is affordable. "You would be looking at a project cost of capital of at least 15 percent. That would require a power price of about 150-200 pounds per megawatt hour (based on 2017 money) to make that project work," Atherton said, which is three to four times as much as current UK spot power prices.

"If we want (plants) built, the state will have to take on the risks," he added, saying the government could do this through direct subsidies, taxes or building new plants itself. Shares in the European utility sector have fallen about 30 percent since February 2009, according to Citigroup, as EU utilities have been more exposed to commodity price rises than in Asia or the U.S., and, most recently, due to the impact Japan's nuclear crisis.
Reuters, 6 July 2011

U.S.: Reactor proponents are batting 0-6 in state legislatures in 2011. Deep-pocketed nuclear power lobbyists may pack a big punch in Washington, D.C., but they are getting knocked out altogether at the state legislative level. So far in 2011, the nuclear power industry has a record of zero wins and six losses in Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, and Wisconsin. The nuclear power industry’s dismal track record is in keeping with its history of state legislative failures in 2010 (when it went 0-8) and 2009 (0-6).

The nuclear power industry’s 2011 state legislative failures:
* Minnesota – A heavily lobbied bill to overturn the state’s moratorium on additional reactors died in conference committee.
* Wisconsin – A push to reintroduce a bill to overturn the Badger State’s moratorium on new reactors failed.
* Kentucky – A bill to overturn the state’s moratorium on new reactors died in the House.
* Missouri – Despite a major industry push, a bill to charge utility customers in advance to pay for an “Early Site Permit” for the proposed new Callaway reactor died.
* North Carolina – A “Super Construction Work in Progress (CWIP)” bill to eliminate prudence review of CWIP expenses was proposed but never introduced due to strong on-the-ground opposition.
* Iowa – A bill pushed by MidAmerican to charge utility customers in advance for “small modular reactors” as well as potentially larger reactors stalled in the state Senate and cannot be taken up again until 2012.

In 2010, nuclear power lobbyists failed in legislative pushes in Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Minnesota, Vermont and West Virginia and Wisconsin. In 2009, the industry enjoyed no success whatsoever in its lobbying efforts in Kentucky, Minnesota, Hawaii, Illinois, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Safe Energy Program at Physicians for Social Responsibility,, 6 July 2011

Khan: North Korea paid Pakistan for nuclear secrets. In a letter released by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the disgraced nuclear scientist and ‘godfather of Pakistan's atomic bomb’, the North Korean ruling party appears to confirm that it paid more than US$3.5m (2.5m euro) to the serving army chief and at least one other senior general for transferring nuclear weapons technology to North Korea. The 1998 letter, was released as part of an attempt by Khan to establish that he was not working on his own when nuclear secrets were passed on to Iran, North Korea and Libya before his fall from grace. The two generals named in the letter fiercely denied the allegation, and denounced the letter as a forgery.

But opinion is divided not just over the authenticity of the documents, but also whether they establish that Khan was not acting alone. The Washington Post quoted unnamed US officials as saying that the letter's contents were "consistent with our knowledge" of the events described. But David Albright, a nuclear proliferation expert with the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, disputes Khan's claims that top military officials were complicit. "[The letter] shows that Khan was a rogue agent and he colluded to provide centrifuge components to North Korea without Pakistani official approval," the AP quoted him as saying. More on Khan at
Independent (UK), 8 July 2011

U.S.: Washington continues to pretent nuclear emperor is wearing clothes

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Michael Marriott

The Fukushima accident has exposed a deep and growing gulf between the people of the United States and U.S. policymakers. How this plays out over the next couple of years likely will determine the future of nuclear power in the U.S.

On one hand, the public—after several years of at least lukewarm support for new nuclear reactors—has turned solidly against new reactor construction, against taxpayer support for the nuclear industry, and is increasingly skeptical about the operation of existing reactors.

According to an ABC News/Washington Post poll released April 20, for example, 64% oppose new reactors versus 33% supporting them. Strong opposition was even more striking: 47% strongly oppose new reactors, only 20% strongly support them. The opposition runs across party lines, with majorities of Democrats, Republicans and Independents all against new reactor construction.

Other recent polls show that about 75% of the public opposes taxpayer loan guarantees for new reactors. One might think this overwhelming public sentiment might cause a similar re-examination of the issue by policymakers. But in Washington, being tone-deaf to public opinion appears to be considered a virtue (consider, for example, Republican insistence on dismantling the Medicare program in the face of 70-80% opposition).

In official Washington, support for nuclear power remains strong. In mid-March, even while his Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman was recommending that U.S. citizens within 50 miles (80 kilometers) of Fukushima evacuate (an area five times larger than U.S. standards), President Obama reiterated his support for nuclear power as a “clean” energy source and repeated his call for US$36 billion more in taxpayer loan money for new reactors.

Congressional hearings have produced a parade of Congressmembers and witnesses asserting that “it can’t happen here, U.S. reactors are safe;” ignoring the fact that the Fukushima reactors were General Electric Mark I designs, 23 of which happen to be operating in the U.S. now and 22 of which already have been relicensed to operate another 20 years.

Just days after the accident began, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission—also apparently deciding there is nothing to learn from Fukushima--authorized a 20-year license renewal for the most controversial reactor in the U.S., Vermont Yankee, which the State of Vermont has vowed to close when its initial license expires next year. Vermont Yankee, of course, is a GE Mark I of the same vintage as the Fukushima reactors. Fortunately for the people of Vermont, the State is likely to prevail in legal battles to close the reactor.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a longtime nuclear critic, introduced a bill in Congress to improve nuclear safety by setting new requirements for backup power supplies, among other measures, but so far has been able to rustle up only a handful of co-sponsors. And with Republicans in charge of setting hearing schedules, it is highly unlikely hearings will be held on the issues or that the bill will go anywhere. Markey is also pressing hard to force implementation of a law that passed in 2002 requiring stockpiling of potassium iodide near reactors—and even that effort, to implement a law Congress passed and was signed by President Bush, is finding opposition.

On the Senate side, the first post-Fukushima nuclear legislation that will be considered is most likely to be a bill to encourage development of new “small modular reactors” in the U.S., with the government offering to pick up half the price tag for the design work. (see box)

And over at the Environmental Protection Agency, a program to provide enhanced radiation monitoring for Fukushima fallout reaching the U.S. has been ended—despite the fact that the accident hasn’t ended and, especially in Hawaii, radiation levels significantly above legal limits have been detected in milk. Move along, nothing to see here….

But even as official Washington continues to pretend the nuclear emperor is wearing clothes, the reality is that Fukushima is already having and will continue to have its inevitable impact.

NRG Energy already has backed out of its plans to build two new reactors at South Texas, which were to be financed by a combination of U.S. Department of Energy and Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) loans. One of NRG’s partners in the project was Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), which no longer has the financial means to participate, and Japan’s new stance on nuclear power makes the already questionable JBIC loans exceedingly unlikely. Another NRG partner, Toshiba, is officially attempting to continue the project, but can’t obtain a license or build them on its own.

In Maryland, UniStar Nuclear’s Calvert Cliffs-3 project is on the verge of final collapse. Onetime UniStar partner Constellation Energy dropped out of the project last fall and sold its share to Electricite de France (EdF), which now owns 100% of UniStar. In April, the NRC staff ruled that EdF cannot legally obtain a construction/operating license because of the Atomic Energy Act’s prohibition against foreign ownership, control or domination of a U.S. reactor project and the NRC’s licensing board in the case is now considering whether to deny a license and end the process.

The odds of UniStar finding a U.S. partner seem vanishingly small in the post-Fukushima climate, and grew even smaller when the largest U.S. nuclear utility, Exelon, announced a merger with Constellation Energy. Questioned about rejoining the Calvert Cliffs-3 project, Exelon CEO John Rowe emphatically said Exelon has no interest in that reactor.

Meanwhile, the NRC is in the midst of a 90-day review of U.S. reactors to determine whether there are regulatory changes that must be made immediately to incorporate lessons from Fukushima. Most observers believe this very limited review will result in modest changes at most. But a longer-term (6-month) review will follow closely, and is likely to include more public participation and have a much broader mandate than the initial review, which is both limited in scope and is being conducted entirely internally within the NRC. Some top NRC officials have privately speculated that this broader review may well lead to more significant regulatory changes, some delays in the reactor licensing processes and perhaps even some reactor closings.

And President Obama’s request for US$36 billion more in nuclear loan money? He made the same request last year, and didn’t get it. This year, both because of hesitance over Fukushima and because of opposition to basically any federal spending among many in Congress, Congressional approval appears even less likely.

Source and contact: Michael Mariotte at NIRS

No private money for Next Generation Nuclear Plant.

The United States' Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) project faces a number of challenges as the Department of Energy (DOE) struggles to find private investors to share the program’s cost. The Energy Policy Act of 2005, which initiated the NGNP program, specified that private companies have to share at least 50% of the cost of the NGNP, a gas-cooled design that would produce combined heat and power.

The NGNP Alliance said the September 2021 deadline to complete the demonstration plant as specified in the Energy Policy Act “is in jeopardy” due to delays and lack of funding. The NGNP Industry Alliance is an industry group aiming to facilitate the commercialization of a high-temperature reactor, consists of reactor developers, potential end users such as petrochemical companies and nuclear utility Entergy. DOE also believes the 2021 deadline is not feasible because “we haven’t got the level of funding we needed, or done the level of design and licensing reviews” necessary for the project to proceed on schedule, according to a spokesperson

Nucleonics Week, 28 April 2011



In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

US embassy cable on Belene.
A US diplomatic cable, originating from the WikiLeaks organisation and published in the Guardian newspaper just before Christmas, relates the serious misgivings of US Ambassador in Bulgaria, Nancy McEldowney, over the planned Belene nuclear power plant in Bulgaria. Commenting in 2009, McEldowney notes that the controversial nuke project, slated for construction in an earthquake zone, “is dogged by cost overruns, financing woes, construction delays, and now serious safety and quality assurance concerns. Belene may end up costing Bulgaria more than money in the long run.” 
The high-level revelations thus confirm the concerns consistently raised in recent years by campaign NGOs such as the BeleNE! Coalition, CEE Bankwatch Network, Greenpeace, Urgewald, BankTrack and many others in Bulgaria and across Europe. The project-related information described by the US Embassy in Sofia is derived from various sources, including project experts and Bulgarian governmental officials.
The cable also presents the problems experienced by RWE, the German energy utility giant that was involved in Belene as a strategic investor throughout 2007-2009. “RWE is clearly feeling 'buyer's remorse' about its participation in Belene. Belene experts said that RWE remains 'in the dark' on most on-site day-to-day and technical issues. During a late May 2009 Belene project meeting, RWE asked numerous basic questions, indicating that they have not seen any of the on-site safety and environmental reports.”
This confirmation about the project's serious shortcomings comes during a period of renewed pressure from the Russian government to speed up Belene's construction. Meanwhile, the British-based bank HSBC has been recently selected as the financial consultant to organise financing for the Bulgarian nuke. In 2009 French bank BNP Paribas pulled out of a similar role following its own fruitless attempts to convince private and public European investors to put up money for Belene.
In parallel, and following invitations from Bulgaria's prime minister Boyko Borisov to invest in Belene, none of the other countries in the region has as yet confirmed their participation. Croatia has already declared no interest, while Serbia and Macedonia await more documents before taking their decisions. The most damning – and credible – Belene documentation looks already to have been delivered.

Source: The Guardian (UK), 20 December 2010

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

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

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

Source: World Nuclear News, 12 January 2011

USA: another huge victory.
More than 15,000 letters were sent to Congress in December and many, many phone calls made to stop US$8 billion (6 billion euro) in taxpayer loans for new nuclear reactor construction. And the final government funding bill, signed by President Obama, contains not one dime for new nukes! The Senate was forced to pull the "Omnibus" funding bill it had proposed, which included the US$8 billion in taxpayer loans for the nuclear industry, and instead a "Continuing Resolution" was passed that funds the government through mid-March.

That makes at least seven major efforts over the past two years by nuclear industry backers to increase taxpayer loans for new reactors -and every one of those efforts has been blocked! Grassroots people power works! Michael Mariotte: "Take a moment to celebrate … and get ready to do it all over again early in the new year -because the nuclear industry will surely be back, hat-in-hand, looking for your money again. We will, of course, keep you informed."

NIRS,, 23 December 2010

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

Kyodo, 17 December 2010

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

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

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

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

UK: more no-subsidies.
The government's Green Investment Bank could fund the building of new nuclear reactors, it has emerged. It is the latest form of public financial support on offer to the industry from the government which continues to insist that the industry will not receive any more subsidies. The Conservatives' pre-election manifesto promised that the Green Investment Bank - which was also in the coalition agreement - would finance "new green technology start-ups". But documents issued before Christmas by Vince Cable's business department list new reactors, along with offshore wind farms and new electricity grids, as one of the three proposed "target sectors" on which the bank would initially focus.

Guardian (UK), 13 January 2011

Israel: Founders antinuclear information network died.
Shirley Rose Benyamin died late last year and Herschell Benyamin died early January in Jerusalem. After the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, Shirley Benyamin "decided to do something to stop Israel from going down the nuclear power pathway," as environmentalist Alon Tal recounted in his book Pollution in a Promised Land. In addition to her husband, she enlisted the late Dr. Dvora Ben-Shaul, a journalist and scientist. The group founded the Israel Agency for Nuclear Information, but in the post-Vanunu affair atmosphere, the Interior Ministry refused to register the non-profit. The group reconstituted itself with broader environmental goals as EcoNet and was approved. The establishment was suspicious of the couple, but Shirley was undeterred. Funds she raised made it possible to examine the state of health of employees of the Dimona reactor, for which EcoNet won the Israel Prize in 1994. Donations she solicited also helped provide seed money for the Israel Union for Environmental Defense, Green Action and others., 7 January 2011

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Italian activists continue the anti-nuclear struggle.
“Ready to win again against Nuclear!” With this slogan Italian anti-nuclear activists organized on October 31, a new demonstration in the village of Montalto di Castro against the government, that intends to build eight new reactors in the country. This in spite of the 1987 referendum that succeeded in closing all existing nuclear plants. “In the late 80s Montalto was one of the locations chosen for a nuclear plant” reminds Legambiente, the association that promoted the demonstration, “but thanks to the referendum victory environmentalists managed to stop any project”. Today this little village situated in between Rome and Florence is again under the threat of nuclear. Its name recently appeared together with other 9 sites in an informal list indicating the places suitable for the authorities to host nuclear plants.

Legambiente, 4 November 2009

U.K.: Waste to stay at Dounreay?
The Scottish Government is considering allowing foreign intermediate level reprocessing wastes to remain at Dounreay instead of being return to the overseas customers. Instead vitrified high-level waste from Sellafield, contained in glass blocks, would be returned to the Dounreay customers. Until now Dounreay has insisted the wastes, from reprocessing overseas highly-enriched uranium spent fuel, would be sent back to the country of origin. The wastes have been mixed with concrete, like other wastes at the site, and there are about 500 drums weighting around 625 tonnes. Documents released under Freedom of Information Act show the Scottish Government favours the 'waste substitution' proposals and a public consultation is expected before the end of the year. There has already been a consultation on a 'waste substitution' policy for Sellafield's wastes and this has been approved by the Westminster government. The Dounreay proposal has been criticised as turning Scotland into a "nuclear dumping ground", in the words of Green MSP Patrick Garvie. The future of the overseas low level reprocessing wastes is uncertain, although it will probably also remain at Dounreay. In the past spent fuel from Dounreay has been sent to Sellafield for reprocessing, so the site already holds some wastes from the Scottish plant.

N-Base Briefing 630, 27 October 2009

DPRK: more Pu-production for n-weapons.
On November 2, North Korea’s official news agency, K.C.N.A., announced that the country completed reprocessing the 8,000 fuel rods unloaded from its nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, two months ago and had made “significant achievements” in turning the plutonium into an atomic bomb. In early September, North Korea had told the United Nations Security Council that it was in the “final phase” of reprocessing the 8,000 rods and was “weaponizing” plutonium extracted from the rods. With this announcement North Korea put further pressure on the United States to start bilateral talks. “We have no option but to strengthen our self-defense nuclear deterrent in the face of increasing nuclear threats and military provocations from hostile forces,” the news agency said. North Korea conducted underground nuclear tests in October 2006 and in May this year. In April, it also test-fired a long-range rocket. North Korea has also said it was also enriching uranium. Highly-enriched uranium would give it another route to build nuclear bombs

The figure on this page shows background information on bare critical masses for some key fissile isotopes. A bare critical mass is the spherical mass of fissile metal barely large enough to sustain a fission chain reaction in the absence of any material around it. Uranium-235 and plutonium-239 are the key chain-reacting isotopes in highly enriched uranium and plutonium respectively. Uranium-233, neptunium-237 and americium-241 are, like plutonium-239, reactor-made fissile isotopes and could potentially be used to make nuclear weapons but have not, to our knowledge, been used to make other than experimental devices. (source: Global Fissile Material Report 2009, October 2009)

New York Times, 3 November 2009

U.K. Submarine radioactive wastes.
Up to five sites in Scotland have been considered by the Ministry of Defence for storing radioactive waste from decommissioned nuclear submarines - including Dounreay in Caithness, according to documents obtained by the Sunday Herald. In total 12 possible storage sites in the UK have been considered by the MoD.  There are already 15 decommissioning submarines lying at Rosyth or Devonport and a further 12 are due to leave active service by 2040. Rosyth and Devonport will be used to cut up and dismantle the submarines, but the MoD's problem is what to do with the waste, especially the large reactor compartments which are the most heavily contaminated. In Scotland the MoD is apparently considering Dounreay, Faslane, Coulport, Rosyth and Hunterston. Among possible sites in the England are Devonport, Aldermaston and Burghfield.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has warned that use of many of the sites would be "contentious". Highland Council, for example, is opposed to any non-Dounreay wastes being taken to the site and this is included in planning conditions for the new low level facility.

N-Base Briefing 631, 4 November 2009

Austrian courts cannot shut Temelin.
The Austrian region of Oberoesterreich, backed by a number of local landowners, is not entitled to sue for the closure of Czech Temelin nuclear power plant, the European Court of Justice, Europe's highest court, ruled on October 27. The case had been brought under an Austrian law that states a landowner can prohibit his neighbor from causing nuisance emanating from the latter's land if it exceeds normal local levels and significantly interferes with the usual use of the land. If the nuisance is caused by an officially authorized installation, the landowner is entitled to bring court proceedings for compensation.

 In a bid to close the Temelin plant, the Land Oberösterreich (Province of Upper Austria) made an application under this law to the Landesgericht Linz (Linz Regional Court), claiming that ionizing radiation and the risk of an accident was spoiling use of its agricultural land. Oberoesterreich owns an agricultural school.

However, the regional court has now been told it has no power over organizations operating in another EU member state, after it sought clarification from the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In a statement, the ECJ said: "Austria cannot justify the discrimination practiced in respect of the official authorization granted in the Czech Republic for the operation of the Temelin nuclear power plant on the ground that it is necessary for protecting life, public health, the environment or property rights."

Reuters, 27 October 2009 / World Nuclear news, 27 October 2009

Iraq Plans New Nuclear Reactor Program.
The Iraqi government has approached the French nuclear industry about rebuilding at least one of the reactors that was bombed at the start of the first Gulf war. The government has also contacted the International Atomic Energy Agency and United Nations to seek ways around resolutions that ban Iraq’s re-entry into the nuclear field.

Iraqi Science and Technology Minister Raid Fahmi has insisted that a new Iraqi nuclear program would be solely for peaceful applications, “including the health sector, agriculture...and water treatment.”

However, many people fear that a nuclear reactor would be a tempting target for those who wish to cause significant death and destruction. Additionally, after widespread looting during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, much nuclear material remains missing from the site of the Tuwaitha nuclear research center.

The Guardian (UK), 27 October 2009

Covert network UK's nuclear police.
The UK's nuclear police force carries out surveillance on anti-nuclear activity and also uses informers. Details of the work of the 750-strong Civil Nuclear constabulary (CNC) are revealed in documents seen by the Guardian and in reports from the official watchdog released under Freedom of Information. The role of the CNC is to protect the UK's civil nuclear sites and guard nuclear material when it is transported by ship, rail, sea or air - including shipments to Japan and Europe.

However, the CNC has the power to use informers or infiltrate organisations under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). Access to data such as phone numbers and email address is also available to the CNC. The watchdog for RIPA, Sir Christopher Rose, says the aims of the CNC ares to counter the threat from terrorism and "public disquiet over nuclear matters". He said the level of CNC surveillance was "relatively modest".

N-Base Briefing 630, 27 October 2009

EDF (not) out of U.S.A.?
There were some press-reports (rumours) coming out of France that said the new EDF CEO Henri Proglio wanted an out of the deal with Constellation Energy in Maryland that would solidify there commitment to build a new nuclear power plant in Maryland U.S.A. However, the reports turned out to be no more than rumours, because, the order on the deal was issued on Friday October 30 -approved with conditions- Constellation's board of directors promptly approved the deal and (state-owned) EDF's board followed suit. One of the terms is that EDF will establish a headquarters in Maryland. Looks like they are there to stay -at least for now. 

Ratings downgrades nearly pushed Constellation into bankruptcy last year, but the company agreed to merge with MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. Constellation later ended that agreement in favor of the EDF deal, which, many people say, does not represent the best interests of consumers.

Breakingviews, 2 November 2009 / Public Citizen Energy Program, Email 5 November 2009

Increase in cancer for males exposed to above ground N-Tests.
A new study by the Radiation and Public Health Project reveals a 50% increase in cancer rates for boys who were exposed to above ground nuclear tests during the 1950s and early 1960s.  More than 100 nuclear bombs were detonated in the atmosphere over the Nevada Test Site between 1951 and 1962, which emitted radioactive Iodine-131, Strontium-90 and other toxic materials.  The results are based on analyses for Strontium-90 in baby teeth that were stored for over three decades at the University of Washington in St. Louis.  The baby teeth were collected through a program where children were given a little button with a gap tooth smiling boy that said, "I gave my tooth to science", in exchange for their tooth. The Radiation and Public Health Project is a nonprofit educational and scientific organization, established by scientists and physicians dedicated to understanding the relationships between low-level radiation and public health.

The Project said that the study has groundbreaking potential; declaring little information  exists on harm from Nevada above-ground nuclear weapons testing.  In 1997 and 2003, the federal government produced reports downplaying the human health impacts from exposure to the fallout. In his new book, 'Radioactive Baby Teeth: The Cancer Link,' Mangano describes the journey and how exposure to Strontium-90 increases the risk of childhood cancer. The first chapter may be downloaded at

CCNS News Update, 23 October 2009

Restart go-ahead for refurbished Canadian units. Two reactors at Canada's Bruce A nuclear power plant that have been out of service for over a decade have been given regulatory approval for refuelling and restart.
Units 1 and 2 at the Bruce A plant have been undergoing a major refurbishment to replace their fuel channels and steam generators plus upgrade ancillary systems to current standards. The announcement by regulator CNSC that refuelling can go ahead means the project looks to be on line for the projected 2010 restarts.

Units 1 and 2 at the four-unit Bruce A plant started up in 1977, but unit 2 was shut down in 1995 because a steam generator suffered corrosion after a lead shielding blanket used during maintenance was mistakenly left inside. In the late 1990s then-owner Ontario Hydro decided to lay up all four units at the plant to concentrate resources on other reactors in its fleet, and unit 1 was taken out of service in December 1997 with units 3 and 4 in following in 1998. The four units at sister power station Bruce B continued to operate. Bruce Power took over the operations of both Bruce plants from Ontario Hydro in 2001 and restarted units 3 and 4 by early 2004. Bruce A units 3 and 4 are likely to undergo a similar refurbishment once units 1 and 2 are back in operation.

Bruce Power decided to withdraw its application for a third nuclear power station at Bruce in July, saying it would focus on the refurbishment of the existing Bruce plants rather than building Bruce C. It also announced it was scrapping plans for a second new nuclear plant at Nanticoke in Ontario. On June 29, the government in Ontario announced that it has suspended the procurement of two new reactors for the Darlington nuclear site: the bids were 'shockingly high' (see Nuclear Monitor, 691, 16 July 2009)

World Nuclear News, 3 November 2009

US nuclear industry calls for more federal support.
The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), which represents the nuclear industry in the US, is calling for a comprehensive package of federal policies, financing and tax incentives to support a major expansion. The NEI wants to see the creation of a Clean Energy Deployment Administration to act as a permanent financing mechanism for new plants. It is also calling for significant tax incentives to support industry development.

However, the Union of Concerned Scientists says the plans amount to a request for US$100 billion (Euro 67 bn) in new federal loan guarantees on top of the US$110 billion loan guarantees already agreed by Congress. “It is truly staggering that an industry this big and this mature can claim to need so much government help to survive and thrive in a world in which technologies that don’t emit global warming pollution will benefit,” says Ellen Vancko of the UCS. “If the nuclear industry gets its way, Christmas will come early this year – thanks to US taxpayers.”
Energy efficiency news, 2 November 2009

Alliance puts Missouri EPR on hold

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Mark Haim, Missourians for Safe Energy

On April 23 -the day after Earth Day- AmerenUE, Missouri's largest utility, announced that they were abandoning their pursuit of legislation to facilitate consumer financing of Callaway 2, a proposed 1,600 MW, Areva EPR. While they have not as yet withdrawn their application pending before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, their CEO, Thomas Voss, stated at a news conference: “AmerenUE is suspending its efforts to build a nuclear power plant in Missouri.” 

It wasn't supposed to turn out like this. Ameren had greased the skids with more than US$135,000 (Euro 100,000) in political contributions in the months leading up to the 2008 elections, and heavily lobbied the Republican-dominated legislature prior to the January introduction of their Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) bills (SB 228 & HB 554). CWIP—which requires consumers to underwrite new construction by paying carrying costs on plants being built—has been prohibited in Missouri since 1976. Voters that year outlawed CWIP in an initiative election by a nearly two-to-one margin. This was one of several factors that gave the legislature pause when asked to reverse the CWIP ban.

Ameren's bills contained more than a repeal of the No-CWIP statute. Described by one consumer advocate as “CWIP on steroids,” the bills represented a veritable utility wish-list, including the prohibition of judicial review, the locking in of utility expenditures through rushed prudence reviews, and the requirement that ratepayers pay 100 percent of funds expended in the event of a plant cancellation.

Ameren had applied to the NRC for a COL (Combined License, to Construct and Operate) for Callaway 2 in July of 2008. While they claimed they’d not yet made a firm decision to build the new reactor, by the beginning of 2009 they had already spent more than U$60 million (Euro 45 million) on the project, including ordering components and preparing their license application. They also geared up an ambitious PR effort, advertising Callaway 2 as the answer to Missouri’s economic woes, and billing it as “the largest construction project in Missouri’s history.”  Ameren promised thousands of good jobs and enlisted the support of the building trades unions for whom the new nuke represented the prospect of lots of jobs on one site.

Influential politicians in both parties also came out in favor of a Callaway 2. So, by the beginning of the session, many observers expected the CWIP bills to sail through both chambers. What they didn’t foresee was opposition coming from more than just the usual suspects.

The Opposition Organizes

Anti-nuclear and environmental groups, including Missouri Coalition for the Environment, Missouri Sierra Club, Missouri Votes Conservation and Missourians for Safe Energy came together as early as August 2008 to form a coalition with any other groups interested in opposing CWIP. Immediately jumping on board were consumer groups like AARP, the Consumers Council of Missouri and the Missouri Association for Social Welfare. Also lending significant support to the effort was the Office of Public Counsel, the state agency charged with representing consumer interests. Out of this initial coalition building came a loose-knit alliance, Missourians for Fair Electric Rates (MoFER), a website, and an activist listserv to exchange information.

Another key component of the anti-CWIP alliance was Ameren’s large industrial customers, including Noranda Aluminum and Missouri Industrial Energy Consumers, an association that includes Anheuser Busch, Boeing, Monsanto, Ford, GM, ConAgra and others. While these large corporations were not eager to enter a formal alliance with the environmental community, they maintained communications and worked in tandem with Missourians for Fair Electric Rates. As the session progressed, these companies created a new entity, the Fair Electricity Rate Action Fund (FERAF) (see:, and directed tens of thousands of dollars into a multimedia effort to defeat CWIP.  Their resources and political clout were a levelizer, making this less a David and Goliath struggle.

MoFER organized an early February CWIP Truth Tour, bringing former NRC Commissioner and former chair of two state public utility commissions, Peter Bradford, to Missouri to speak in St. Louis, Jefferson City, Columbia and Kansas City. Bradford met with editorial boards, legislators and key policy advisors to Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. MoFER also mobilized a grassroots lobby campaign, encouraged members to make calls, write their legislators and joined in a lobby day at the Capitol in late February.

Before the Committees

When the bills came before the committees in mid-February, there were lengthy, contentious hearings in both houses, with strong opposition especially in the Senate. While the committees debated, Gov. Jay Nixon, a newly inaugurated Democrat, came out in opposition to CWIP, at least as proposed. Nixon simultaneously claimed to be for the Callaway plant, but opposed to having ratepayers begin paying for it until two conditions were met, that Ameren commit to building Callaway 2, and that the NRC authorize construction. Nixon essentially kicked the ball down the field, saying in effect that CWIP today is premature.

Ameren’s allies got their bill voted out of the House Utilities Committee by a nearly unanimous vote. But it was clear by late February that getting this passed in the Senate was not going to be a cake walk.

A mid-March legislative recess provided further opportunities for lobbying members.

And then the industrial users really turned up the heat. During the last week of March they launched a TV advertising blitz across the state. The message from these ads, and from the robo-calls that targeted districts of key legislators, was “Ameren Customers Face a 40% Rate Hike.” The drama peaked on Saturday, March 28, when Ameren went into Federal court in an attempt to quash the ads. They asked for an emergency temporary restraining order to prevent the ads from airing that day on the Elite Eight NCAA basketball playoffs, in which Missouri was competing.  The court, however, rejected Ameren’s tenuous claim that the ads were confusing viewers who mistook them for Ameren’s ads.

Two days later, on March 30, FERAF announced the results of a statewide poll showing 82 percent of Missourians opposed to CWIP (62 percent strongly opposed). Meanwhile MoFER held a news conference the same day and made it clear that if the legislature overturned this voter-enacted law, opponents would petition to bring the issue back for another vote. The next day, a divided Senate Commerce Committee passed a substitute version of SB 228, including some marginal changes, but giving Ameren most everything they wanted.

Filibuster, Failure & Future

By this point, however, CWIP was the most controversial, and the most media-covered issue facing the legislature. And anti-CWIP momentum was growing. When the bill was brought before the full Senate on April 7, it faced a filibuster. Senate leaders broke off debate after midnight and called upon the parties to negotiate a compromise. Two weeks later, however, it was clear that no compromise was forthcoming and Ameren pulled the plug on the legislation.

While Ameren has announced that it is “suspending its efforts to build a nuclear power plant in Missouri,” this is not at all certain. As noted, they have not pulled their NRC application and in papers filed with the Commission on May 1 the company challenged a grassroots intervention brought against the reactor and argued that the NRC should proceed reviewing the application but should indefinitely delay financial qualifications issues raised by the interveners.

There is other evidence that Ameren is simply biding its time. Scott Bond, Ameren’s Manager for Nuclear Development, told USA Today (March 30, 2009), “Ameren wants to see if the first plants are successful. That's why the utility didn't want to be in that first wave of plants.’”

This directly contradicts Ameren’s position right up until their April 23 announcement. They’d always maintained that this legislation was needed this year to help Ameren compete for federal loan guarantees.

Clearly, Ameren has had to rethink its timeline for starting construction of Callaway 2, if for no other reason than the lack of load growth to justify adding a 1,600 MW plant. Ameren had previously maintained that they intended to complete the new EPR in the 2018-2020 timeframe, and that the plant was needed to meet their projected growth in demand.

More recently, however, they’ve indicated that their intent is to seek partnerships with other Missouri utilities. They apparently intend to use only 900 MW of the plant’s output and to sell the other 700 MW to other players. They have also indicated that their timeline has been pushed back such that construction would start no sooner than 2015 or 2016.

By mobilizing opposition to a clearly unfair rate mechanism, activists have built alliances and bought some time. While Callaway 2 is not moving forward at the moment, opponents are far from placing the final nails in its coffin.

To ensure that Callaway is actually canceled, sustainable energy advocates will need to push hard for serious commitments to energy efficiency and renewables. In the November 2008 election, Missouri adopted a renewable energy standard (RES) by a two-to-one margin. Missourians want clean energy. The utilities, however, are likely to drag their feet. An immediate task is to make sure that the RES is implemented.

Beyond this, Missouri, which is ranked 45th among the 50 states in energy efficiency, will need to take advantage of the enormous opportunities to save energy while creating jobs and economic development throughout the state. The defeat of CWIP has opened a window of opportunity. If the forces that defeated CWIP can now move Missouri to embrace a sustainable energy agenda, the nuclear revival will truly be eclipsed.

Source and contact: Mark Haim, Missourians for Safe Energy, Columbia, MO, U.S.A.

Minnesota House upholds moratorium on new build. A move to open the U.S. state of Minnesota to future nuclear power plants fell short on April 30, in the House of Representatives. The vote was 72-60 against undoing a 15-year-old moratorium on the construction of new nuclear facilities. A 1994 statute prevents the Public Utilities Commission from authorizing construction of new nuclear facilities. The state already has two nuclear plants, near Monticello and Red Wing. The action showed divisions within the DFL (Democratic Farmer-Labor-Party) majority, with Democrats voting on both sides of the issue and most Republicans supporting the change. It came just four weeks after an April 2, surprise Senate vote (42-24) to scrap the nuclear moratorium, a position shared by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

The House vote isn't the final word on the issue. It could still come up as a House-Senate conference committee works on a final energy policy bill, although the House vote shows it will be difficult to pass a change in the policy. Minnesota aims to get a quarter of its energy from renewable sources by 2025 or even sooner.

AP, 30 April 2009 /


WIPP requests stimulus funding for already funded work

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico, USA, celebrated the tenth anniversary of receiving its first shipment of transuranic waste by asking for US$170 million (128 million Euros) from the stimulus bill, called the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The stimulus bill aims to create jobs, restore economic growth and strengthen America's middle class. The funding is required to be used by September 30, 2011.

The WIPP Recovery Act Project proposes to accelerated the disposal of transuranic waste, as well as completing the certification requirements for a new, large shipping container, called a TRUPACT-III, and replace equipment, make renovations, conduct preventive maintenance, and make infrastructure improvements at the WIPP site. Such improvements include purchasing a crane, forklifts, vehicles, radiation contamination equipment and repaving the access road.

In 1979, Congress authorized the Department of Energy (DOE) to construct WIPP 26 miles east of Carlsbad, New Mexico. The radioactive and hazardous waste is buried 2,150 ft. beneath the surface in a salt formation. DOE claims that WIPP has been constructed to demonstrate the safe underground disposal of transuranic nuclear weapons waste presently stored at DOE facilities across the U.S.

Activists are concerned that WIPP is asking for stimulus funding for work it has either already been paid for or work that should be funded under its annual appropriations. Don Hancock, with Southwest Research and Information Center, has raised concerns for years about the additional funding WIPP receives each year from Congress above its budget request and the decreasing amount of waste disposed, compared with the planned performance. For example, last year WIPP received the least amount of waste for disposal in the last seven years, but received almost $235 million in funding, 107% of what was requested. Hancock said, “Because of a two-month shutdown, we already know that WIPP won’t meet its disposal goals this year, even though it is receiving $20 million more than it requested. Rather than getting more money, it should use its existing, more than adequate funding.”

On the other hand, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) has not asked for funding to address ground and surface water contamination that may impact Santa Fe’s drinking water supplies. Each year, LANL receives about $140 million for cleanup activities. LANL anticipates receiving an additional $200 million in stimulus funding. They have proposed to remove buildings and dig up old waste dumps at Technical Area 21, which is located on DP Road in downtown Los Alamos. These projects have been on the agenda for years, but have not received adequate funding.

CCNS remains concerned that stopping the transport of contamination through the canyons to the Rio Grande is not a LANL priority, nor is the investigation of the hexavalent chromium plume in the regional aquifer. Southwest Research and Information Center and CCNS urge DOE to shift the stimulus money that WIPP is requesting to focus on the water contamination problems at LANL.


Source: CCNS News Update, 27 March 2009
Contact: Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety, 107 Cienega Street, Santa Fe, NM 87501, USA.
Tel +1- 505 986-1973

AREVA on verge of bankruptcy: no use of public money to bail out nuclear industry

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Charlotte Mijeon

In the face of colossal losses on their EPR construction site in Finland, facing a two billion Euro invoice from the departure of Siemens from the project, some unwise investments in America, 60% fall in share prices over the last few months, Areva is staring down the barrel of business failure. The French nuclear industry is a disaster area, and public money should not be used to prop it up, but to develop renewable energies.

Nuclear company Areva is due to publish its 2008 end of year accounts any day. We already know though that this so-called “beacon” of French industry is on the verge of collapse and waiting once again for a hand-out from the French public to keep their failing nuclear industry alive. Areva is looking for a 3 billion Euro bail out just to balance its 2009 budget, and has already cancelled, on November 25, 2008, a planned uranium-mining project in Canada.

And another big setback for Areva, who were expecting such big things from this market: on December 5th South Africa cancelled its order for 12 nuclear power stations it had hoped to build.


While all this has been going on, the EPR site in Finland, started in February 2005, is rapidly turning into another catastrophe: already 38 months behind schedule, with the Finnish government invoicing Areva for 2.4 billion Euros in penalties for lateness. So, having been invoiced at 3 billion Euros, the real cost of the project is more like 5.4 billion Euros. Barring any other surcharges.

Add to that the departure of Siemens from the project, announced this January, which has hit the company with another bill for 2 billion Euros to buy out their former ally, plus acquire the work they’ve already carried out and are withholding against payment. The Elysée would be by now thinking about letting Middle-Eastern capital into Areva, but this remains very hazardous.

On the Paris Stock Exchange, Areva’s price has slipped from 820 Euros per share last June to 325 Euros by now - a loss of more than 60%!

Additionally, the various reactor construction projects announced over the last few months and representing at least some market optimism for Areva, turn out to be completely “virtual”: on his various foreign trips (Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Abu Dhabi, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, South Africa, Estonia, etc…), President Sarkozy has signed a series of simple “cooperation agreements”, and whilst these make frequent mention of an eventual desire to build EPR reactors, in fact absolutely nothing is definitely signed or sealed.

That led to the Elysée government “bluffing” everyone on February 4 and 24, with their announcements of 2 EPR reactors for India and 4 more for Italy: it’s easy enough to say, much more difficult to do – specially at this time of world economic crisis – to find the kind of money necessary to fund the actual construction.

The other possible market Areva had been eying up but which isn’t looking so good now: the USA. New President Obama’s first announcement committed zero dollars to the nuclear sector… where it had hoped for up to 50 billion. Most reactor projects have been put on hold, and the few that are actually showing signs of life are run by Areva’s big business rival, the American-Japanese consortium of Westinghouse/Toshiba, General Electric/Hitachi.

None of which has stopped Areva investing heavily in America to buy into the supposed nuclear “renaissance” that is looking less and less realistic: in May 2008 Areva announced it was buying into the site at Bonneville, Idaho, to produce nuclear fuel. And in October 2008, Areva announced a 360 million dollar investment in the State of Virginia to produce heavy tolls and machinery for the American nuclear sector.

Areva is also holder of promises of orders from EDF, which bought up British Energy at a top price, just before the economic crunch! But EDF is also heavily in debt and has lost almost 70% of its stock market value by mid-March… Seemingly incapable or recognizing a problem when she sees one, Madame Lauvergeon is sailing on full steam ahead with only one possible outcome, total financial disaster.

But, with Areva being supported by the state, it’s the people of France who’ll be picking up the bill when the time comes. There’s still time to stop the whole mad affair, to stop President Sarkozy from using public money to keep Areva afloat. He should follow the excellent example of President Obama in America, investing in energy economy and renewables.

Source and contact: Sortir du Nucleaire, French Network for Nuclear Phase out. Charlotte Mijeon, International Relations Representative.
Tel: +33 675 362 020

Areva: Siemens-Rosatom breach of non-compete clause. Areva has warned Siemens, that the latter’s' plan to create a nuclear joint venture with Russian Rosatom, are a breach of Siemens' contract with Areva. Siemens has a 34% share in Areva NP and under a shareholder agreement from January 2001 entered into obligations including a non-compete clause, Areva said in a statement on March 4, one day after Siemens announced a nuclear joint venture with Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation, or Rosatom. (See Nuclear Monitor 683: “Siemens leaving Areva; joining Rosatom?”)

Under the shareholders' agreement, Siemens is not allowed to compete in activities it brought to Areva NP for a period of eight years. That includes nuclear reactor design and engineering, turnkey nuclear power plant construction, fuel design and manufacture, services, and safety-related instrumentation and control systems. Siemens said it could, however, market turbines, generators and electrical systems for nuclear power plants since Areva NP does not produce those items.

Platts, 4 March 2009

Limitations to Rosatom-Siemens joint venture. A few days after Munich-based Siemens launched the joint venture with Rosatom, forecasting the construction of some 400 new nuclear power plants worldwide by 2030, German magazine Der Spiegel wrote Siemens has to limit its high expectations. Siemens-insiders claim there is a clause in the Rosatom-Siemens agreement that excludes political unstable regions (“politisch unsicheren Regionen”) from the Joint Venture. Siemens seems to be particular cautious not to get involved again in the Bushehr nuclear reactor in Iran. The German company started the construction of the reactor-project more than three decades ago.

Der Spiegel online, 6 March 2009


Canada: funding AECL triples under conservatives

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

Federal funding for Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. has tripled since the Conservative government of Stephen Harper came to power in 2006. Figures provided to The Canadian Press by Natural Resources Canada show that taxpayers will pour more than Can$1.2 billion into the Crown corporation during the fiscal year just ending and the one set to begin April 1. The total includes $658 million in 2008-09 and another Can$574 million for 2009-10.

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) is the federal crown corporation that designs and markets CANDU reactors. In 2002, on AECL’s 50th anniversary President Robert Van Adel ranted in the propaganda style of the 1950s about the “unending promise of nuclear power”. Fact is that AECL is a financial basket case that in 2002 had received Can$17.5 billion in subsidies already. (1 Can$ is 0.79 USD and 0.60 Euro).

Since the Conservatives came to power in January 2006, the annual government stipend for AECL has averaged out to Can$433 million a year. In the seven preceding years under former Liberal governments, taxpayer subsidies to AECL averaged Can$158 million a year. Adjusting for inflation, AECL subsidies are now back up to where they were when they last peaked in the mid 1980s.

Some of the funding increase relates to the production of medical isotopes and AECL's aging research reactor at Chalk River. Some is for decommissioning of the failed MAPLE reactors at Chalk River and still more is for environmental cleanup. Natural Resources Minister Lisa Raitt acknowledged that a significant part of the increased funding is targeted to help AECL develop its next-generation reactor, the ACR 1000. Ottawa provided more than Can$100 million last year and another Can$135 million for 2009-10 as AECL races to complete the design that it hopes to sell to the Ontario government. "It is the vehicle on which we're bidding in the Ontario procurement competition that's going on right now," said the minister. If Ontario should choose a rival reactor design, that taxpayer investment "would have been wasted," says Bryne Purchase, a former Ontario deputy energy minister.

But Ottawa appears to be betting the ACR 1000 can win the Ontario bid and then be sold to other provincial jurisdictions, including Alberta and Saskatchewan, and possibly abroad. In that case, the conservatives think, not only will AECL's market value have been enhanced but also the industrial spin-off benefits to Canada will be significant. "We've a very good history in Canada with respect to nuclear power," said Raitt. But skeptics point to AECL's recent fiasco over the MAPLE reactors and say increasing subsidies for another untried reactor are "ridiculous and outrageous."

The Conservative government is also sitting on a study it commissioned that reportedly recommends selling off a majority stake in AECL's commercial reactor and refurbishment business to the private sector. Critics say the Conservatives are spending good money after bad, considering AECL's uncertain future. "Life support can be expensive, but if you're about to put the bullet in the head of the organization you have to ask yourself: Why are we doing this?" said Shawn Patrick Stensil, energy campaigner for Greenpeace Canada. Stensil and others say Ottawa is pumping up the commercial value of AECL in order to sell off the profitable parts. "I don't know if I take it as a criticism," countered Raitt.

But some industry watchers believe AECL required a cash infusion, whatever its future: "It's necessary whether they privatize it or if they don't." But Greenpeace reacts: "There's more money down the black hole, when we could actually be building energy sources that could lower greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs in the here and now."

Sources: The Canadian Press, 10 March 2009 / "Canadian Nuclear Subsidies, Fifty Years of Futile Funding" by David Martin, Campaign for Nuclear Phase out, available at:

Campaign for Nuclear Phase out.
412-1 Nicholas Street Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 7B7.
Tel: +1  613-789-3634

The Maple-fiasco.
In May 2008, AECL suffered an embarrassing setback when it scrapped the development of two 10 MW Maple isotope-producing reactors after pouring hundreds of millions of dollars (about Can$ 600 million) into the project. The federal crown corporation conducted tests on the reactors during the spring of 2008 and could not find a solution to a design flaw that would make the reactors more prone to a meltdown. The Maple reactors (construction started in 1992) were meant to secure Canada's dominant position in the market for medical isotopes. In the three years before the decision alone, AECL spent more than Can$200-million as it sought an answer to a vexing problem known as a positive power coefficient of reactivity (PCR). The reactor is supposed to have a negative coefficient of reactivity, meaning the nuclear reaction would slow down if the power in the core increased. Instead, the nuclear reaction increased with additional power, heightening the chances of a meltdown.

Globe and Mail (Can.), 16 May 2008


Obama de-funds Yucca Mountain

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Michael Marriott

In the first step toward permanently ending the controversial proposed Yucca Mountain, Nevada high-level radioactive waste dump, President Barack Obama’s first budget ends nearly all funding for the project -- fulfilling an Obama campaign promise.

Yes, elections do matter.

The decision to end nearly all funding for Yucca Mountain was announced quietly, tucked away at the very end of Obama’s initial FY 2010 budget statement for the Department of Energy: “The Yucca Mountain program will be scaled back to those costs necessary to answer inquiries from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, while the Administration devises a new strategy toward nuclear waste disposal.”

Full budget documents have not yet been released, so how much those “costs necessary…” will amount to isn’t yet known. But administration officials, including Energy Secretary Steven Chu, have made it clear that the Yucca Mountain project is finished. Under intense questioning from pro-nuclear Senators, Secretary Chu told the Senate Budget Committee March 11 that the Energy Department will set up a high-level panel to review U.S. radioactive waste policy and submit recommendations by the end of the year.

Some of the senators, such as New Hampshire Republican Judd Gregg, were less upset about the end of the Yucca Mountain project than at the signal ending the project says about the future of nuclear power. They were also concerned that in his quasi-State of the Union speech in February, Obama listed several energy technologies his administration will support; nuclear power was not among them.

Chu told the senators that nuclear power is “an essential part of our energy mix” and promised to accelerate the existing $18.5 Billion (14 Billion Euro) loan guarantee program for new reactor construction. But Chu didn’t promise to seek or support more loan guarantees. And it’s unclear how the existing program could be accelerated in practical terms, since no new reactors are even close to obtaining licenses from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Yucca Mountain’s strongest opponent in Congress, introduced a bill on March 12 to establish an independent commission to re-evaluate U.S. radioactive waste policy. Reid’s bill, which at Monitor press time did not yet have a number, would set up a 9-person commission of which four members would be appointed by Democratic leadership, four by Republican leadership, with a chairman appointed jointly by Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). No member of the commission could currently work on the DOE’s high-level waste program, nor be employed by the government at any level —federal, state or local.

The commission would be required to issue a final report within 2 years on feasibility, cost, risks, legal, public health and environmental impacts of alternatives to Yucca Mountain and their impacts on local communities, including:

  • Transferring responsibility for managing nuclear waste to a government corporation
  • Cost sharing options between the Federal government and private industry for developing nuclear fuel management technologies
  • Centralized interim storage facilities in communities willing to host them
  • Research and development for advanced fuel cycle technologies
  • Federal government taking title to nuclear waste
  • Secure on-site storage of nuclear waste
  • Permanent deep geologic storage for civilian and defense wastes
  • Other management and technological approaches as the Commission may see fit

The idea for such a commission first surfaced in the early 1990s, by then-Senator Richard Bryan of Nevada and hundreds of environmental groups, which were already working to stop the Yucca Mountain project and expose its inability to meet waste disposal regulations.

Yucca Mountain was chosen as the only site being examined for a high-level waste dump by Congress in 1987. Even then, it was widely perceived as a political, rather than scientific decision. At the time, three sites were under consideration: Yucca, and sites in Texas and Washington state. But the huge Texas congressional delegation teamed up with the then-Speaker of the House, who was from Washington, and forced Yucca Mountain as the only possible site in what became known as the “screw Nevada” bill.

Twenty-two years and billions of dollars later, it appears as though Nevada may be getting the last laugh.

The largest concern for environmental groups now is who will make up the composition of the DOE panel and the independent commission —should Reid’s legislation be enacted— and what future radioactive waste policy for the U.S. may look like. A focus on reprocessing, for example, would be certain to arouse strong opposition from the environmental community, but it is increasingly common to hear nuclear industry spokespeople support reprocessing as their preferred option.

Source and contact: Michael Mariotte at Nuclear Information & Recourse Service (NIRS)
6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 340,
Takoma Park, MD 20912. USA