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Jordan selects Russian nuclear power supplier

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Russia's Rosatom has been selected as the preferred bidder to supply Jordan with its first nuclear power plant. The first 1000 MW reactor of the two-unit plant is expected to start operating in 2020 − though there isn't the "slightest chance" of that deadline being met according to Prof. Steve Thomas from the University of Greenwich in London.[1]

Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom will build the AES-92 model VVER-1000 reactors, Rosatom's reactor export subsidiary AtomStroyExport will be the supplier of nuclear technology, and Rusatom Overseas will be strategic partner and operator of the plant. Russia will contribute 49% of the cost of the project, reportedly to be US$10 billion, with the Jordanian government providing the remaining 51%. However, financing has yet to be finalised and Russia could supply the plant on a build-own-operate basis.[2]

Siting remains unclear. Khaled Toukan, chair of the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), said the nuclear power plant is to be built in Jordan's Amra region, 60 kms east of the city of Zarqa. But Rosatom says the plant is to be sited near the city of Irbid, 70 kms north of Amman.[2]

In August, Jordan gave the go-ahead for a 5 MW(th) nuclear research reactor at the Jordan University for Sciences and Technology near the northern city of Irbid. Jordan's atomic agency chief Majad Hawwari said: "The reactor will help the commission build expertise and capabilities to prepare for constructing nuclear power plants in the future."[3]

In May 2012, Jordan's parliament voted to suspend the country's nuclear and uranium exploration programs, thus endorsing the recommendations of a parliamentary energy committee which accused the JAEC of "hiding facts" related to the cost of the projected nuclear reactor and deliberately omitting the cost of works other than construction.[4,5] According to Haaretz, the vote reflected "financial worries and amid rising anti-nuclear movement in the Jordan."[6] King Abdullah's government was legally obliged to adhere to the parliamentary vote − but ignored it anyway.

There are concerns that the pursuit of nuclear power is coming at the expense of expanding Jordan's renewable energy sector. Safa Al Jayoussi and Basel Burgan from Jordanian Friends of the Environment say that Jordan has 330 days of sunshine a year and is the perfect candidate for solar. "The European Union is hiring out land in North Africa for solar projects," Burgan said. "So why are we turning to nuclear without exploring the possibilities of using solar?"[7]

Jordanian environmental writer Batir Wardam argues that renewable energy "potential is in danger of being wasted due to the strong influence of the nuclear energy lobby in Jordan, which has managed to position their project as a top priority and marginalized the renewable energy sector."[8]

Ali Kassay, a member of the Coalition for Nuclear Free Jordan, told AFP: "We are very afraid of this project because it's dangerous to the entire country, people, the environment, and economy. We do not see a need for it. It's illogical to build a nuclear plant in a country known historically for earthquakes, as well as lack of capabilities, funds, human resources and water. ... There are cheaper, better and safer alternatives."[13]

Other risks with the nuclear program include sabotage and terrorism. The Arab Gas Pipeline, which transports natural gas from Egypt to Jordan, has been attacked numerous times in recent years.[9]

Environmentalist Rauf Dabbas expressed concern at the lack of community consultation, the inadequate institutional capacity to closely monitor a nuclear power program, and the marginalisation of the ministries of health and the environment in the nuclear project. "There are also security concerns," Dabbas said. "The plant's site is located near main roads linking Jordan to Iraq and Saudi Arabia."[13]

Jordan has signed nuclear cooperation agreements with France, Canada, UK, Russia, China, South Korea, Japan, Spain, Italy, Romania, Turkey and Argentina.[10] A nuclear cooperation agreement with US is under negotiation, though the US wants Jordan to emulate the United Arab Emirates and rule out 'sensitive nuclear technologies' (SNT) − uranium enrichment and reprocessing. Jordan is reportedly unwilling to agree to an SNT ban [11] though there were hints in early 2012 that perhaps Jordan would agree to a ban.[12]

One possible outcome is a non-legally-binding 'commitment' from Jordan that it will not develop sensitive nuclear technologies. JAEC vice-chair Kamal Araj said on November 11 that Jordan's desire to retain the right to enrich uranium had impeded the completion of an agreement with the US. Araj said: "We signed it a long time ago, but till now we have not finalised [it]. There was the issue of this gold standard and enrichment processing and I think we will find a solution for that. We wanted to retain the right for enrichment, although we are not going to exercise it in the future." He said Jordan wanted to be able to establish nuclear fuel fabrication facilities in the future when it becomes economical to do so.[17]

Jordan is sometimes mentioned in discussions about proliferation in the Middle East, as one of the countries that may be developing a nuclear program as a hedge against Iran.

Water worries

The two power reactors may be used for desalination as well as electricity generation.[2] However cooling water supply is a problem. An OilPrice articles notes that "what may ultimately doom Jordan's nuclear ambitions, however, is a resource even more scarce in the Kingdom than uranium – water." Jordan's water minister Hazem Nasser has noted that Jordan is "at the edge of moving from a chronic water problem into a water crisis."[9] For a two-unit plant, daily consumption (net loss) of water would be between 73 million litres and 131 million litres.[14]

According to the World Nuclear Association, site options with seawater cooling are limited to 30 kms of Red Sea coast near Aqaba. Sites with access to Red Sea cooling water were considered but in 2010 the proposed location for the first power reactor became Al Amra, about 40 kms north of Amman, due to better seismic characteristics. Cooling water will come from the municipal Khirbet Al Samra Wastewater Treatment Plant, with the cooling system modeled on that at Palo Verde in Arizona, USA, which also uses wastewater for cooling.[10]

Safa Al Jayoussi from Greenpeace Jordan says Jordan is one of the five driest countries in the world and asks how reactor cooling can be maintained in the "likely" event of shortages from the waste water plant.[1]

In the Middle East, Jordan, UAE and Saudi Arabia are pursuing nuclear power programs, while plans to introduce nuclear power to Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain have been abandoned.[15] World Nuclear News lists a swag of Middle Eastern and North African countries that "began to develop nuclear plans but have put these on the back-burner", including Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Libya.[16] Iran is the only country in the region with an operating power reactor.

[1] 'Jordanians protest plans to go nuclear', 14 June 2013,
[2] WNN, 29 Oct 2013, 'Jordan selects its nuclear technology',
[3] Energy Business Review, 22 Aug 2013,
[4] Raed Omari, 30 May 2012, 'Deputies vote to suspend nuclear project',
[5] Hanan Al Kiswany, 11 July 2012, 'Jordan's nuclear programme comes under fire',
[6] Haaretz, 30 May 2012, 'Jordanian parliament votes to suspend nuclear power program',
[7] 'Jordanians protest plans to go nuclear', 14 June 2013,
[8] Batir Wardam, 2013, 'Jordan seeks a "solar-torch" from Germany',
[9] John Daly, 17 June 2013, 'Water Shortages May End Jordan's Nuclear Power Hopes',
[10] WNA, 'Nuclear Power in Jordan', accessed October 2013,
[13] 5 Nov 2013, 'Jordanians fret over 'dangerous' nuclear plan',
[14] 'How much water does a nuclear power plant consume?', Nuclear Monitor #770, 24 Oct 2013,
[15] Andrew Roscoe, 7 Nov 2013, 'Reviving the nuclear debate in Jordan'
[16] WNN, 18 Sept 2013,
[17] Dania Saadi, 12 Nov 2013, 'Jordan wants to retain uranium enrichment right, official says',

Turkish nuclear power project agreement

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

On October 29 the Turkish government signed an agreement with a consortium led by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to build four nuclear power reactors in the Black Sea city of Sinop at an estimated cost of more than US$22 billion.

The agreement marks Japan's first nuclear plant export since the 2011 Fukushima disaster. The Japanese government hopes that the contract with Turkey will improve Japan's chances in winning competition for nuclear power projects in Vietnam, India and Russia, among other countries. Tokyo's Abe administration has signed nuclear energy agreements with Turkey and the United Arab Emirates, and has agreed to start discussing a nuclear energy agreement with Saudi Arabia as well as resuming talks with India, which were suspended in the aftermath of Fukushima.[1]

Some disaster victims are unhappy with Abe's push for nuclear plant exports while problems continue to mount in Japan. Soichi Saito, a 63-year-old who evacuated from Futaba and heads an association of temporary housing residents in Iwaki, told Asahi Shimbun: "How dare he sell nuclear power plants abroad when he has not been able to bring an accident under control? What does he think of victims of the nuclear disaster?"[1] Even the wife of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has repeatedly urged her husband to stop exporting nuclear technology since the government is struggling to contain the situation at Fukushima.[11]

The Mainichi Shimbun reported on October 14 that about 40% of Japanese nuclear plant equipment exported over the past decade failed to go through national government safety inspections. Inspections of equipment to be exported are only carried out if manufacturers receive loans from the government-affiliated Japan Bank for International Cooperation or take out insurance policies from Nippon Export and Investment Insurance. The Mainichi Shimbun states that this "is in sharp contrast to the requirement that all devices for domestic nuclear power stations be subject to strict government safety inspections."[2]

Among the items exported without inspection are key components such as nuclear reactor pressure vessels, their lids and control rod driving systems. Keio University professor Masaru Kaneko said: "Prime Minister Shinzo Abe claimed in a speech overseas that Japan can provide the world's safest atomic power technology, but how can Japan guarantee the safety of nuclear plant equipment Japanese firms export without a proper system to examine it?"[2]

Opposition to the Japan-Turkey Nuclear Agreement

Japanese NGOs, including the Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society and Friends of the Earth Japan, are promoting petitions calling on the Japan's National Diet not to ratify the Japan-Turkey Nuclear Agreement.

Issues raised by the groups include:

  • Turkey is one of the most earthquake-prone countries in the world.
  • The Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC) is conducting a geological survey in Sinop, Turkey, but it is the JAPC arguing that fault lines under the Tsuruga nuclear plant in Japan are inactive even though the Nuclear Regulation Authority has determined otherwise.
  • Turkey does not have an independent nuclear regulator, and the Atomic Energy Authority functions both as promoter and regulator.
  • Turkey does not have plans for disposing of radioactive waste.
  • The mayor of Sinop was elected in 2009 on the anti-nuclear platform that rejected the construction of nuclear reactors in terms of their negative effects on the city's tourism industry. Since then, he has continued to express his opposition. Sinop residents have also organised numerous demonstrations against the construction of nuclear reactors.

To sign the petition and for more information visit:

It seems unlikely that the Japanese parliament will consider the Nuclear Agreement before the current session ends on December 6.[10]

Failed nuclear projects in Turkey

World Nuclear News outlines a long history of failed nuclear power projects in Turkey: "Several nuclear power projects have been proposed over the years in Turkey: In 1970 a feasibility study concerned a 300 MWe plant; in 1973 the electricity authority decided to build a 80 MWe demonstration plant but didn't; in 1976 the Akkuyu site on the Mediterranean coast near the port of Mersin was licensed for a nuclear plant. In 1980 an attempt to build several plants failed for lack of government financial guarantee. In 1993 a nuclear plant was included in the country's investment program following a request for preliminary proposals in 1992 but revised tender specifications were not released until December 1996. Bids for a 2000 MWe plant at Akkuyu were received from Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, Westinghouse & Mitsubishi as well as Framatome & Siemens. Following the final bid deadline in October 1997, the government delayed its decision no less than eight times between June 1998 and April 2000, when plans were abandoned due to economic circumstances."[3]

The pattern persisted in the 2000s. A tender for the construction and operation of a new nuclear power plant ended in September 2008 with only one bid − an expensive Russian offer for four VVER reactors put forward by AtomStroyExport in conjunction with Inter Rao and Park Teknik of Turkey. In late 2009, authorities cancelled the tender process [3] following a successful court challenge against the project launched by the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects.[4]

Akkuya nuclear project

Despite the cancellation of the tender process in 2009, plans for four Russian-built, Russian-financed VVER-1200 reactors are still being pursued, and site preparation has begun at Akkuya. Project partners hope to secure a reactor construction licence in 2014.[5] It is said to be the world's first nuclear power project based on BOO (build-own-operate) principles − under the long-term contract, the Russian company Akkuyu NPP JSC, a subsidiary of Rosatom, will design, construct, operate and decommission the plant, take a 51% stake in the project, and benefit from a guaranteed price for the electricity generated. As at Sinop, there is significant opposition to the Akkuya nuclear project.[6,7,8,9]

In June 2012, energy minister Taner Yildiz said Turkey is "determined to have nuclear power plants" and wants to build "at least 23 nuclear units by the year 2023".[9]

[1] 31 Oct 2013,
[2] 14 Oct 2013, '40% of Japan nuclear tech exported over past decade failed to go through safety check',
[3] WNN, 9 Dec 2009, 'Turkey abandons nuclear bid',
[4] Ozgur Gurbuz, 20 Nov 2009, 'Another setback on Turkey's nuclear dream',
[5] WNN, 3 May 2013, 'First selection of Atmea1 nuclear reactor',
[8] Elisabeth Jeffries, 20 Nov 2013, 'BOO: exploring the model for emerging markets',
[9] John Daly, 21 Nov 2013, 'Foreign Investment Sought for Turkey's First Nuclear Power Plant',
[11] 13 Nov 2013, 'Wife tells Japan Prime Minister to stop exporting nuclear plants',

More information:

Rosatom BOO boys in Bangladesh

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

The foundation stone has been laid at the Rooppur nuclear power site after Russia and Bangladesh signed an agreement on the construction of the country's first nuclear power plant. The agreement covers the design stage of the project, which is expected to take about two years to complete and will form the basis for obtaining further licences and starting construction of the plant.[1,2]

Two 1,000 MWe reactors are planned for Rooppur, based on a modified version of the NPP-2006 VVER pressurised water reactor. The site is on the eastern bank of the river Ganges (in Bangladesh it is called the Padma River), 160 kms from Dhaka. Site preparation is expected to begin in early 2014, with construction beginning in 2015. The project is expected to take around five years, with the first unit beginning operation in 2020 and the second in 2022.[1,2]

The project follows Russia's BOO model − build, own and operate.[3] Under the terms of the construction deal, Russia's state-run Rosatom nuclear energy corporation will build, operate and provide fuel for the plant in addition to taking back the spent fuel for long-term management and permanent disposal in Russia. Russia will also train workers to operate the plant.[2,4]

Abdul Matin, a former chief engineer with the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission and author of the book 'Rooppur & the Power Crisis', warns about conflicts of interest: "An ideal feasibility study is usually prepared by an independent consultant in order to correctly assess the technical and economic viability of a project without any bias or prejudice so as to help all the stakeholders in the process of decision making. ... NIAEP-ASE, being a subsidiary of ROSATOM, the likely supplier and builder of the proposed nuclear power plant at Rooppur, cannot by any definition be classified as an independent consultant. Under such circumstances, the credibility of the feasibility study and EIA prepared by them may be questioned."[5]

Abdul Matin also discusses conflicts of interest regarding financing: "The economic feasibility will prepare a reasonable estimate of the capital cost of the nuclear plant which will form the basis of negotiations between the BAEC as the owner and ROSATOM as the supplier and builder. The conflict of interest is obvious in this case. While estimating the capital cost of the nuclear plant, will NIAEP-ASE try to keep it as low as possible in the interest of its employer BAEC or will it inflate it to maximize the profits of its parent company? Will it be possible for NIAEP-ASE to impartially evaluate the safety aspects of a nuclear power plant designed, supplied and built by its parent company [Rosatom]? Under such circumstance, is there any guarantee that the conflict of interest will not lead to a compromise on the safety aspects of the nuclear plant at Rooppur?"[5]

Russia has agreed to provide US$500 million to finance preparatory work and to provide future loans to finance construction of the reactors.[1] According to the World Nuclear Association, "a future loan of about $1.5 billion is expected for the nuclear build proper" or, more cryptically, "a second loan of over $1.5 billion for 90% of the first unit's construction".[6]

Implausible capital costs of US$2 billion per reactor have been cited. Quamrul Haider, a physics professor at Fordham University, New York, notes that "it would be foolish to expect a good and a safe reactor at such a bargain price."[7] Dr A. Rahman, a nuclear safety specialist with over 32 years of experience in the British civil and military nuclear establishments, notes that the capital cost for VVER-1000 reactors in China is US$4.5 billion with cheap Chinese labour and locally available technology. Dr Rahman opines: "It seems the Bangladesh Government is either deliberately misleading the public, or indulging on wishful thinking or just hallucinating!"[8]

Quamrul Haider notes that the estimated construction time of 4−5 years is "far-fetched" [7] while Abdul Matin notes the first reactor is "most unlikely to be in operation before 2023" − three years later than the planned 2020 start-up date.[9]

Claims that the reactors will operate for 60 years with options to extend by another 20 years [4] are also far-fetched.

Dr Rahman warns about water supply for reactor cooling. He notes that India built the Farakka Barrage just 40 kms upstream on the Padma River, resulting in lean summer months from January to June, insufficient for even normal riverine trade and transport. "The remaining water available during the summer months is totally inadequate to supply cooling water for even one 1000 MWe plant, let alone two plants," Dr Rahman says.[8]

Dozens of scientists, engineers, academics, doctors and other professionals have signed a statement expressing concern about the safety and economic viability of the proposed nuclear power plant at Rooppur. They express concern at:

  • "woefully inadequate" water supply for reactor cooling;
  • "outdated, unsafe and discarded" VVER reactor technology;
  • implausible claims from a government minister and the Chair of the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission that capital costs will amount to just US$2 billion per reactor;
  • the lack of technical expertise or skilled manpower in Bangladesh to undertake such a complex project, and the lack of industrial infrastructure;
  • the lack of an institutional and regulatory framework to undertake such a complex project and the consequent safety implications, and Rosatom's insistence that responsibility for ensuring safety lies with the licensee, the Bangladesh government; and
  • the lack of consideration of technical issues associated with the storage, transportation and disposal of radioactive materials and waste.[10]


The professionals state: "Given these shortcomings and insurmountable impediments, the Bangladesh government should seriously consider abandoning this project. ... When advanced countries like Germany, Italy, Switzerland have all given up nuclear power plants and with Japan is tapering down nuclear power production after the Fukushima disaster, Bangladesh seems to be charging ahead recklessly."[10]

The pro-nuclear NEI Nuclear Notes blog has a much more optimistic take on the mismatch between a dangerous, complex technology and the lack of technical and industrial infrastructure in Bangladesh: "One benefit of nuclear energy that does not get much play is the way its deployment can lead to rapid industrialization in developing nations – maybe a better way to put this is, it can help bring about an industrial revolution."[11]

Many previous plans for nuclear power in Bangladesh have been abandoned. The first such proposals date back to 1961. A 70 MWe nuclear power plant proposal was approved in 1963; 140 MW in 1966; 200 MW in 1969; and 125 MW in 1980, with proposals and offers from the US, Belgium, Sweden, USSR and France. Plans for a 300 MW reactor were developed in 1980/81. Feasibility studies were carried out in 1987 and 1988. By the 1990s, proposals for a 300−500 MW reactor were under consideration.[12]

In 1999 the then government expressed its firm commitment to build a nuclear plant at Rooppur, and in 2005 it signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with China. In 2007 the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission proposed two 500 MW nuclear reactors for Rooppur by 2015. In April 2008 the government reiterated its intention to work with China in building the Rooppur plant and China offered funding for the project. In May 2009 a bilateral nuclear cooperation agreement was signed between Bangladesh and Russia − the genesis of the current project.[6]

[1] WNN, 3 Oct 2013, 'Celebrations herald Bangladesh nuclear plant'
[2] WNN, 2 Nov 2011, 'Russia agrees to build Bangladeshi nuclear',
[3] Geert De Clercq, 14 May 2013, 'Rosatom offers emerging nations nuclear package: paper',
[4] BBC, 2 Oct 2013, 'Bangladesh nuclear power plant work begins',
[5] Abdul Matin, 1 July 2013, 'Feasibility study on Rooppur NPP and conflict of interest',
[6] World Nuclear Association, accessed Oct 2013, 'Nuclear Power in Bangladesh',
[7] Quamrul Haider, 26 Oct 2013, 'Capital cost of a nuclear power plant',
[8] A. Rahman, 19 July 2013, 'Nuclear fascination and misinformation',
[9] Abdul Matin, 23 Oct 2013, 'How to repay Russian credit for Rooppur?',
[10] 30 June 2013, 'Concerns over the Safety and Economic Viability of the Proposed Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (RNPP)',
[11] NEI Nuclear Notes, 2 Oct 2013, 'How Bangladesh Is Moving Forward',
[12] Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, accessed 6 Nov 2013,

(Written by Nuclear Monitor editor Jim Green.)

Nuclear News

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Switzerland − Mühleberg NPP will be shut down early
Operator BKW FMB Energy will permanently shut down Switzerland's Mühleberg nuclear power plant in 2019 − three years ahead of the planned 2022 shut down. BKW chair Urs Gasche said the main factors behind the decision were "the current market conditions as well as the uncertainty surrounding political and regulatory trends." BKW said it will invest US$223 million to enable continued operation until 2019. The Swiss canton of Bern is the majority shareholder in BKW.[1]

The single 372 MWe boiling water reactor began operating in 1972. In 2009, the Swiss environment ministry issued an unlimited-duration operating licence to the Mühleberg plant. This decision was overturned in March 2012 by the country's Federal Administrative Court (FAC), which said the plant could only operate until June 2013. BKW subsequently lodged an appeal with the Federal Court against the FAC's ruling, winning the case this March and securing an unlimited-duration operating licence.[1]

In the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, the Swiss government adopted a nuclear power phase-out policy, with no new reactors to be built and all existing reactors to be permanently shut down by 2034, along with a ban on nuclear reprocessing.[2,3]



US−Vietnam nuclear deal − fools' gold standard
A senior Republican senator wrote to the Obama administration in late October voicing concerns about a recently negotiated nuclear trade agreement with Vietnam that does not explicitly prohibit the country from developing weapons-sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technology.[1]

Bob Corker (Republican-Tennessee.) wrote: "The administration's acceptance of enrichment and reprocessing [ENR] capabilities in new agreements with countries where no ENR capability currently exists is inconsistent and confusing, potentially compromising our nation's nonproliferation policies and goals. ... The absence of a consistent policy weakens our nuclear nonproliferation efforts, and sends a mixed message to those nations we seek to prevent from gaining or enhancing such capability, and signals to our partners that the ‘gold standard' is no standard at all. The United States must lead with high standards that prevent the proliferation of technologies if we are to have a credible and effective nuclear nonproliferation policy."[2]

Corker is requesting a briefing from the Obama administration prior to the submittal of the US-Vietnam trade agreement to Congress. Once the agreement is submitted, the legislative branch will be required within 90 days of continuous session to decide whether to allow, reject or modify the accord.[1]

Shortly after the October 10 signing of the nuclear trade agreement, a US government official told journalists that Hanoi has promised "not to acquire sensitive nuclear technologies, equipment, and processing". But unidentified US officials told the Wall Street Journal that Vietnam would retain the right to pursue enrichment and reprocessing.[3]

Prior to the October 10 signing, Vietnam repeatedly said it would not accept restrictions on enrichment and reprocessing in a formal agreement with the US. According to Global Security Newswire, Hanoi "may make some effort ... to reassure the nonproliferation community, outside of the agreement text".[4]

In short, the agreement does not meet the 'gold standard' established in the US/UAE agreement of a legally-binding ban on enrichment and reprocessing [5] − notwithstanding contrary claims from US government officials and many media reports. Instead, it applies a fools' gold standard − a non-legally binding 'commitment'. There are many parallels in nuclear politics, such as India's 'moratorium' on nuclear weapons testing while Delhi refuses to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

US labour and human rights groups have urged President Obama to suspend free-trade negotiations with Vietnam because of its treatment of workers and government critics. Analysts say a sharp increase in arrests and convictions of government detractors could complicate the nuclear deal when it is considered by Congress.[9]

Vietnam has also signed nuclear cooperation agreements with Russia, France, China, South Korea, Japan and Canada. Plans call for Vietnam to have a total of eight nuclear power reactors in operation by 2027. Russia and Japan have already agreed to build and finance Vietnam's first four nuclear power units − two Russian-designed VVERs at Ninh Thuan and two Japanese reactors at Vinh Hai − although construction has yet to begin.[7] Vietnam intends to build its first nuclear-power reactor in a province particularly vulnerable to tsunamis.[8]

Progress − albeit slow progress − is being made with an IAEA low-enriched uranium fuel bank in Kazakhstan, which IAEA member countries could turn to if their regular supplies were cut. The fuel bank is designed to stem the spread of enrichment capabilities.[6]

[5] Nuclear Monitor #766, 'Sensitive nuclear technologies and US nuclear export agreements',


Thousands protest against Areva in Niger
Thousands of residents of the remote mining town of Arlit in Niger took to the streets on October 12 to protest against French uranium miner Areva and support a government audit of the company's operations.[1]

The Nigerian government announced the audit in September and wants to increase the state's revenues from the Cominak and Somair mines, in which the government holds 31% and 36.4% stakes, respectively. The government is also calling on the company to make infrastructure investments, including resurfacing the road between the town of Tahoua and Arlit, known as the "uranium road".[1]

Around 5,000 demonstrators marched through Arlit chanting slogans against Areva before holding a rally in the city centre. "We're showing Areva that we are fed up and we're demonstrating our support for the government in the contract renewal negotiations," said Azaoua Mamane, an Arlit civil society spokesperson.[1]

Arlit residents complain they have benefited little from the local mining industry. "We don't have enough drinking water while the company pumps 20 million cubic metres of water each year for free. The government must negotiate a win-win partnership," Mamane said. Areva representatives in Niger and Paris declined to comment.[1]

Another resident said: "The population has inherited 50 million tonnes of radioactive residues stocked in Arlit, and Areva continues to freely pump 20 million cubic metres of water each year while the population dies of thirst."[2]

Areva is also developing the Imouraren mine in Niger, where first ore extraction is due in 2015.[3]

Meanwhile, four French nationals from Areva and contractor Vinci have been released after three years in captivity. They were kidnapped by Islamic militants near the Arlit uranium mine. Seven people were kidnapped on 15 September 2010 by what has been described as the Islamic Mahgreb Al-Qaida group; three were released in February 2011. In May 2013, a terrorist car bomb damaged the mine plant at Arlit, killing one employee and injuring 14.[4]

[4] WNN, 30 Oct 2013,

More information:

  • Nuclear Monitor #769, 10 Oct 2013, 'Niger audits U mines, seeks better deal'
  • Nuclear Monitor #765, 1 Aug 2013, 'Uranium mining in Niger'

Sensitive nuclear technologies and US nuclear export agreements

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green - Nuclear Monitor editor

US business groups are lobbying the US government to limit the negotiation of bilateral nuclear trade agreements (known as Section 123 agreements under the 1954 Atomic Energy Act [1]) containing clauses banning the development of sensitive nuclear technologies (SNT) − uranium enrichment and nuclear reprocessing. SNT can be used to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons − highly enriched uranium or plutonium.

The United Arab Emirates agreed not develop SNT as part of its 2009 agreement with the US.[2] However the agreement does prohibit the stockpiling of plutonium separated from spent fuel produced in reactors in the UAE and separated in another country − just as Japan stockpiles plutonium separated from spent fuel in European reprocessing plants. Moreover the agreement reportedly contains an escape clause that allows the UAE to exercise any more favourable terms that the US grants other Middle Eastern nations in subsequent nuclear trade pacts.

The Obama administration dubbed the UAE agreement the "gold standard" for future agreements around the world. There has been an ongoing debate as to whether the "gold standard" SNT ban should be a condition of all future US nuclear agreements or whether it should be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Obama administration is currently undertaking its third successive internal review of the matter.[3] Some have suggested a compromise − US negotiators would seek an SNT ban in all or almost all agreements unless both the Secretary of State and the Energy Secretary agree to waive the requirement. There has also been discussion of a regional approach − for example the US might seek SNT bans in the Middle East but put Asia in the too-hard basket.

US business groups are fighting initiatives to limit the spread of SNT. In July, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the National Association of Manufacturers and the US Chamber of Commerce called on the Obama administration to expedite conclusion of bilateral agreements and to adopt a "pragmatic" approach to SNT.[4]

The business groups expressed concern that as well as losing out on business opportunities to competitors who do not impose the same restrictions, the US is also at risk of losing influence on nuclear security and non-proliferation on the global stage. The second argument is disingenuous − effectively the business groups are saying the government ought to permit the spread of SNT so the US is better placed to limit the spread of SNT.

That disingenuous argument was the basis of an April 25 joint letter to the Obama administration by former deputy Defense secretary John Hamre, former national security advisers Brent Scowcroft and James Jones, former Defense secretaries James Schlesinger and William Cohen, and retired Adm. Michael Mullen, previously chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[5] They argue against tightening restrictions because the "U.S. civil nuclear industry is one of [Washington's] most powerful tools for advancing its nuclear nonproliferation agenda. ... Weakening it will merely cede foreign markets to other suppliers less concerned about nonproliferation than the United States." In other words, spread SNT to help stop the spread of SNT, and spread SNT or other countries less concerned about the spread of SNT will spread SNT.

Henry Sokolski from the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center questioned the letter's contention that nuclear trade must be a principal vehicle for Washington's non-proliferation objectives: "You'd think after our wretched experience with civil nuclear programs in Iran, India, Iraq, Pakistan and our past near-calls with Taiwan and South Korea's programs, this would be the last thing anyone truly opposed to nuclear weapons proliferation would push."[5]

Sokolski collaborated with Foreign Policy Initiative head Jamie Fly on a February 2012 letter to Obama, signed by 20 conservative defense experts, recommending an approach stronger than the case-by-case policy then in favour in Washington. The signatories − including former Defense Department policy head Eric Edelman, former national security adviser Steven Hadley and former nuclear nonproliferation envoy Robert Joseph − said: "Rather than abandon efforts to tighten nonproliferation controls on civil nuclear exports, the United States should be leveraging access to our market to encourage French, Russian, and Asian nuclear suppliers to tighten their own rules to meet the nonproliferation gold standard."[6]

There are indications that Taiwan might agree to an SNT ban as part of a nuclear trade agreement with the US. [7,8] The current US−Taiwan agreement, which does not include an SNT ban, expires next year. Taiwan might sign an agreement without an expiration date, meaning that the SNT ban would be in force indefinitely.

South Korea is effectively a member of the 'gold standard' club as the 1992 Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula prohibits both North and South Korea from possessing enrichment or reprocessing facilities. However North Korea has violated the Declaration, and the situation in north-east Asia is further complicated by Japan's stockpiling of vast amounts of separated plutonium − a problem which will only worsen if the Rokkasho reprocessing plant proceeds to operation (see Nuclear Monitor #763, 'Japan's reprocessing plans').

The US is pressing South Korea to agree to maintain SNT bans as part of negotiations on the extension of the nuclear agreement. South Korea is unwilling to continue to forego SNT, and deadlocked negotiations have been extended for two years. There is some hope that if Taiwan agrees to an SMT ban, South Korea might be persuaded to do likewise. But even if Taiwan foregoes SNT, two elephants remain in the room − North Korea and Japan − not to mention the nuclear weapons programs of the US itself and of China.

South Korea's research into 'pyroprocessing' complicates the issue. Pyroprocessing would involve separating short-lived fission products from spent fuel, leaving plutonium mixed with other transuranics (a.k.a. actinides). That is far preferable to conventional reprocessing. On the other hand, proliferators would much prefer to have access to a mix of transuranics (including plutonium) rather than spent fuel, as spent fuel generates much more radioactivity and heat and is therefore much more difficult to handle.

Negotiations on a nuclear trade agreement between the US and Malaysia may commence in coming years but there is no indication as to whether Malaysia would agree to SNT bans.

Negotiations on a nuclear trade agreement between the US and Vietnam have commenced, but Vietnam is reportedly unwilling to agree to an SNT ban.[9,10]

Middle East
Discussions are ongoing between the US and Saudi Arabia on a nuclear trade agreement.[11] The option of a ban on SNT in Saudi Arabia is under discussion according to US State Department official Thomas Countryman. However Saudi Arabia has expressed unwillingness to forego SNT.

Countryman dismisses concerns that Saudi Arabia might develop nuclear weapons, although members of the ruling family have said they might do just that in response to Iran's nuclear program.[12] Also of concern is the potential for instability in the kingdom and who might control SNT if the ruling family is overthrown.

Saudi Arabia has signed cooperation pacts with a number of other nations including China, France, South Korea and Argentina.[13] Canadian officials have expressed concerns about the potential for Saudi Arabia to pursue nuclear weapons. "Minimal [International Atomic Energy Agency] safeguards are in place in SA [Saudi Arabia] to verify peaceful uses of nuclear energy ... and it has refused to accept strengthened safeguards," officials said in an assessment prepared for Canada's Foreign Affairs Minister last year. "Many observers question SA's nuclear intentions, especially if Iran were to acquire a nuclear weapons capability. As a result, SA does not meet Canada's requirements for nuclear cooperation."[14]

Countryman said he is "confident that any civil nuclear cooperation we agree would not in any way contribute [to] or encourage" nuclear weapons development in Saudi Arabia, although he surely knows that nuclear exports to Saudi Arabia could indeed contribute to and encourage proliferation. The US National Intelligence Council warned in its 2008 ' Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World' report of the possibility of a nuclear arms race in the Middle East and noted that a number of states in the region "are already thinking about developing or acquiring nuclear technology useful for development of nuclear weaponry."[15]

The US has also held discussions with Jordan and Syria regarding nuclear trade in recent years, though the talks have stalled because of political turmoil in the Middle East.[10,12]

Jordan is reportedly unwilling to agree to an SNT ban [16] though there were hints in early 2012 that perhaps Jordan would agree to a ban.[17]

The unfolding saga over US nuclear export policy should be put in context. In particular, it needs to be seen in the context of countless failed multilateral and international proposals over the decades to limit the spread of SNTs, such as the Bush administration's 'Global Nuclear Energy Partnership'.[18]

Such proposals fail for various reasons, not least the unwillingness of nuclear have-nots to forego options and technologies that the nuclear haves (weapons states and weapons-capable states) will not renounce. Another complication is Article IV of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which states: "Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes ... All the Parties to the Treaty undertake to facilitate, and have the right to participate in, the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy."

Lastly, an article on US nuclear export policy would be incomplete without mention of the tireless − and ultimately successful − efforts of the US under the Bush administration to end the global norm of prohibiting nuclear trade with countries that have not signed the NPT. The 2008 US−India nuclear trade agreement has had a number of unfortunate, predictable outcomes − legitimising nuclear weapons programs and fanning proliferation in South Asia, legitimising China's supply of reactor technology to Pakistan, undermining and complicating efforts to persuade Iran to forego SNT, etc. The Obama administration has done nothing to undo the damage.

[15] US National Intelligence Council, 2008, "Global Trends 2025 – a Transformed World",

Nuclear News

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Nuclear power suffers biggest ever one-year fall
Nuclear power generation suffered its biggest ever one-year fall in 2012. International Atomic Energy Agency data shows that nuclear power plants around the world produced a total of 2,346 TWh in 2012 − 7% less than in 2011, and the lowest figure since 1999. Compared to the last full year before the Fukushima accident, 2010, the nuclear industry produced 11% less electricity in 2012.

The main reasons were that almost all reactors in Japan were off-line for the full calendar year, and the permanent shut-down of eight reactors in Germany. Other issues included problems for Crystal River, Fort Calhoun and the two San Onofre units in the USA which meant they produced no power, and Belgium's Doel 3 and Tihange 2 reactors which were out of action for half of the year.

Three new reactors started up during 2012 − two in South Korea and one in China. In Canada, two older reactors came back into operation after refurbishment. This new capacity totalled 4,501 MWe, outweighing the retirements of the UK's Oldbury 1 and Wylfa 2, and Canada's Gentilly 2, which between them generated 1,342 MWe. Across the rest of the global fleet, uprates added about 990 MWe in new capacity. So total increased capacity was 4,501 + 990 − 1,342 = 4,149 MWe, a little over 1%.

The uranium spot price fell to US$39.75 / lb U3O8 on June 11, falling below $40.00 for the first time since March 2006.

At the end of 2012, world total capacity of solar photovoltaic generation reached 100 GWe, with 30.5 GWe installed in 2012 alone. There is about 2.55 GWe of concentrating solar power capacity worldwide, three quarters of this in Spain. Wind power soared in 2012 with a new record for installations − 44 GW of new capacity worldwide. Total capacity exceeds 280 GW, with plants operating in more than 80 countries. China leads the world with 75 GW of wind power capacity.

World Nuclear News, 20 June 2013, 'Nuclear power down in 2012',
Ana Komnenic, 12 June 2013, 'Uranium hits seven-year low',
REN21 Renewables Global Status Report, 2013,
J. Matthew Roney, 2 April 2013, 'Wind Power',


Fines and fire in the UK
The nuclear company Sellafield Ltd has been fined 700,000 pounds and ordered to pay more than 72,635 pounds costs for sending bags of radioactive waste to a landfill site. The bags, which contained contaminated waste such as plastic, tissues and clothing, should have been sent to a specialist facility that treats and stores low-level radioactive waste, but "significant management and operational failings" led to them being sent to Lillyhall landfill site in Workington, Cumbria. This breached the conditions of the company's environmental permit and the Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations. The mistake was only discovered by chance following a training exercise on the faulty monitoring equipment on April 20, and in the coming days the bags were recovered from the Lillyhall landfill site and dispatched to the Drigg radioactive waste dump. [1,2]

An investigation has been launched into an incident at Sellafield's THORP reprocessing plant which occurred on May 14. The incident involved mistaking two chemicals, formaldehyde and hydroxylamine. Cumbrians Against a Radioactive Environment spokesman Martin Forwood said that had the error not been spotted, "the consequences of introducing formaldehyde into the first stages of fuel dissolution could have been catastrophic for THORP's internal workings − and had the potential to initiate a site accident." The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) secretariat said it was "alarming" that Sellafield Ltd had classified the incident as a "non-radiological event." NFLA group chairman Mark Hackett said the incident "could have led to a major accident at the Sellafield Thorp plant." [3]

Nuclear waste clean-up operations at Sellafield could be taken back into state hands after a series of failings by private companies managing the site, as their 22 billion pound contract comes up for review. A consortium called Nuclear Management Partners was selected in 2008 to run the Cumbrian site for up to 17 years. But the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee have both criticised delays and cost over-runs. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) is now reviewing whether to renew the contract with the consortium ahead of a “break” point in March 2014. The NDA said it was considering three options, including stripping the consortium of the contract and taking Sellafield back into the NDA’s hands, a move that would require ministerial approval. It is understood to be drawing up plans for how the site would be run if it opted to do so. Decommissioning operations at Sellafield are expected to cost more than 67 billion pounds over the next century. [4]

Meanwhile, the company which operates the factories where the UK's nuclear weapons are manufactured has been fined for breaches of safety laws following a fire in which a member of staff was injured. AWE plc, which operates the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE), pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the health, safety and welfare at work of its employees. On May 28 the company was fined 200,000 pounds and ordered to pay £80,258 in legal costs and 2,500 pounds in compensation to an employee who was injured during the fire. The charge followed a fire which broke out in an explosives handling facility at the AWE Aldermaston site in Berkshire on the evening of 3 August 2010. The incident left a member of AWE staff with burns to his face and arm and required the evacuation of a number of local residents and closure of roads around the site as safety precautions. [5]

[1] CORE, 14 June 2013, 'Sellafield Ltd fined £700,000 for sending LLW to local landfill − largest ever fine for site',
[2] The Guardian, 15 June 2013, 'Sellafield fined £700,000 for sending radioactive waste to landfill',
[3] Peter Lazenby, 2 June 2013, 'Sellafield bosses play down near catastrophe',
[4] Emily Gosden, 20 June 2013, 'Sellafield clean-up could be taken into state hands as £22bn contract up for review', The Telegraph,
[5] Nuclear Information Service, 28 May 2013, 'Nuclear weapons factory operators fined £200,000 for safety breaches',


Kaliningrad nuclear plant work suspended
Russia has suspended work on its new Baltic nuclear power plant in Kaliningrad. It is designed for the EU grid and is now about 20% built. Despite endeavours to bring in European equity and secure sales of power to the EU through new transmission links, the 1,200 MWe plant is isolated, with no immediate prospect of it fulfilling its intended purpose. Kaliningrad has a limited transmission link to Lithuania, and none to Poland, its other neighbour. Both those countries plan to build new western nuclear plants, and in any case have declined to buy output from the new Baltic plant. With Estonia and Latvia, Lithuania is integrating its electricity system with the EU, and is about to start on a 1000 MWe link southwest to Poland. It does not wish to upgrade its Kaliningrad grid connection to allow Baltic NPP power to be sent through its territory and Belarus to Russia.

World Nuclear News on June 1 wrote: "It is a stand-out project for Russia: the first to be opened up to investment by European utilities; the first intended to export most of its output; and the first to use an Alstom-Atomenergomash steam turbine. Construction of the first VVER-1200 reactor began in February last year, with another one planned to follow. ... Despite being 18 months into construction of its first unit, the Baltic plant is also progressing without the hoped-for foreign investors."

NGOs − including FoE France, ATTAC France, Réseau "Sortir de nucléaire", Russian Ecodefense, German Urgewald and Banktrack − are warning that the Kaliningrad project may be revived, possibly with a new design and French funding (see the Banktrack website).

World Nuclear Association, New Russian nuclear plant stranded,
Grid concerns for Baltic project 11 June 2013,

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Two possible suppliers left for Jordan's first.  Jordan's first nuclear power plant will be supplied by either AtomStroyExport of Russia or the Areva-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries joint venture, Atmea.
The past three years have seen the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) whittle down a list of seven offers from four reactor vendors to the two announced on April 30. Jordanian official news agency Petra reported that the JAEC has decided to continue discussions with AtomStroyExport and the Atmea consortium, describing them as the two suppliers "best qualified" with the technology to best meet Jordan's requirements and needs. Both reactors still under consideration are advanced pressurized water reactors (PWRs) offering enhanced active and passive safety systems. The 1150 MWe Atmea 1 represents an evolution of French standard designs, and received preliminary safety approval from French nuclear regulators earlier this year. The AES-92 is a version of the VVER-1000 with enhanced safety and seismic features. Two AES-92 units are under construction at Koodankulam in India, while the closely related AES-91 is under construction at Tianwan in China. The JAEC will now continue discussions with the two shortlisted suppliers to resolve outstanding technical issues including the site selection process.
World Nuclear News, 30 April 2012

Charges dropped against Vermont Yankee protesters.
Prosecutors in Vermont are dropping criminal trespassing charges against 136 protesters who were arrested March 22,  at the corporate offices of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The protesters were arrested at the Entergy Corp. offices in Brattleboro. They refused to leave the property while demonstrating on the first day of the Vermont Yankee plant's operation after the expiration of its 40-year state license. On April 26, Windham County State's Attorney Tracy Shriver decided against moving forward with the charges given the limited resources of her office and the courts. "Weighing the seriousness of the criminal offences committed by the protestors against the time and means necessary to proceed with these cases has led me to decide against moving forward with these cases."

The Vermont Yankee plant, located in Vernon, has a new permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate for 20 more years, but its state license is expired. Over a 1000 people took place in the March 22 protest. (see Nuclear Monitor 741: Showdown for Vermont Yankee).
Brattleboro Reformer, 26 April 2012

Jaitapur: commemoration of death protestor. 
In India, opposition to nuclear projects is large. Besides the more publicized, but still rather unknown struggle at Koodankulam, the struggle at Jaitapur is fierce. On 18 April 2012, it was exactly one year ago that the people’s expression of anger against the proposed 9900 MW Jaitapur nuclear power project at Madban village of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra was on full display. People were continuously protesting from 2005 on when the land acquisition was set in motion and against environment clearance granted by the central government. A group of furious women ransacked and burnt papers and furniture at the Nate police station. The tension between the police and the people mounted which culminated in the police firing causing the death of Tarbej Sayekar, a 27 year youth.

The people in the Jaitapur locality observed the first death anniversary of martyr Tarbej Sayekar by observing a bandh (Bandh originally a Hindi word meaning 'closed', is a form of protest. During a Bandh, a political party or a community declares a general strike) and once again opposing the Jaitapur power project. On this occasion, between 3 to 5 in the afternoon, a crowd of about 3000 people gathered together and offered their tributes to martyr Tarbej Sayekar by reading the Koran.

Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project is a proposed 9900 MW power project of Nuclear Power

Corporation of India (NPCIL) at Madban village of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra. On December 6, 2010 agreement was signed for the construction of first set of two third-generation European Pressurized Reactors and the supply of nuclear fuel for 25 years in the presence of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
South Asians Against Nukes (SAAN), 18 April 2012

South Africa: environmental campaigner resigns from regulator.
Long-time environmental campaigner Mariette Liefferink has resigned from the NNR (South Africa's National Nuclear Regulator) citing her frustration over the organization's failure to deal with vulnerable communities exposed to dangerous mining waste. In 2009, the Minister of Energy appointed Liefferink, the chief executive of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, to the board of the regulator to represent the concerns of communities affected by nuclear issues. But now she says: "I see no benefits to remaining on the board because I cannot raise the concerns of communities." "There are 1.6 million people living in informal settlements on or adjacent to radioactive waste... and there are no management plans in place." A number of 36 sites are identified as 'radiological hotspots' in the Wonderfonteinspruit area. These sites are radioactive because of the uraniferous nature of the ore, but "[T]here is still no physical evidence of rehabilitation."

"The communities living in radioactive mine residue areas are mostly informal settlements but no regulatory decisions have been take regarding their protection."

She ends her resignation-letter saying: "It has become evident that there is a fundamental anomaly between what I perceive as the duty of the Board and the NNR and the Board’s and the NNR’s understanding of their duties."
Mariette Lieferinks resignation letter to Energy Minister Peters, 16 April 2012 / Star newspaper, 21 April 2012

PE planned reactor project now decade delayed.
US: Progress Energy -not long ago considered to be in the forefront of the US's nuclear renaissance- said on May 1, it will delay building its planned Levy nuclear plant in Florida by another three years. The announcement sets back the twin reactor project to a 2025-26 time frame from the original planned date of 2015-17 for the reactors to come online and start generating electricity. The company also updated its cost estimate for the planned Florida reactors from US$17 billion. The new estimate is US$19 billion to US$24 billion. The estimates don't include the cost of debt interest, which would likely add hundreds of millions of dollars to the price tag.
The delay in Florida is also taking place in North Carolina. Progress had originally planned to add two reactors at the Shearon Harris nuclear plant in Wake County by 2020-21. But now those proposed reactors are not in the company's 15-year plan, which means they would not be added until 2027 at the earliest, and possibly much later.
.biz (, 1 May 2012

Lithuania: no case for compensation Hitachi before 2015. On May 9, Lithuania's government gave its final approval to several plans aimed at "reducing its dependency on Russian energy sources", including the 1,350 ABWR nuclear power plant which it said could cost up to 7 billion euros (US$9.1 billion).

Lithuania has already initialled an outline plan with Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy with aim to build it by 2020-2022 for about 5 billion euros. However, the Finance Ministry said in a statement the end cost for the project could be 6.8 billion euros.

Around 4 billion euros would be borrowed and the rest would come from the countries backing the project, Lithuania (38%), Latvia (20%) and Estonia (22%), as well as Hitachi (20%). Poland was originally part of the project, but dropped out.

On April 16, Lithuanian Finance Minister Ingrida Šimonytė, said Lithuania has time until March 2015 to cancel the Visaginas plant without having to pay high compensation to the Japanese company Hitachi. "Based on the information that I have, in the initial design stage, before a final decision to invest and build a nuclear power plant, financial risks, which may be incurred by Lithuania is very limited", said Šimonytė.

According to the President of the Parliamentary Committee on Budget and Finance, Kestutis Glaveckasa, however, Lithuania will be forced to pay billions in damages, if the government withdraws from the contract for the construction of nuclear power plant. But Šimonytė stresses that the Ministry of Finance is at the stage of analyzing the concession agreement, the Lithuanian government signed in late March with a Japanese corporation. Later, a draft agreement will be presented to Parliament., 16 April 2012 / Reuters, 9 May 2012

Why the fuzz? Lauvergeon vs Lauvergeon.
Anne Lauvergeon, the former head of France's state-controlled nuclear group Areva accused French President Nicolas Sarkozy of wanting to try to sell a nuclear reactor to  Muammar Gaddafi's Libya at least until the summer of 2010. In interview published on April 10, on the website of L'Express weekly Lauvergeon said that Sarkozy proposed in July 2007 to sell a nuclear reactor to the Gaddafi government to be used to desalinate ocean water. Gaddafi, who ruled Libya for 42 years, was overthrown and killed in October by rebels backed by a NATO force in which French warplanes played a major role. Lauvergeon said she opposed the idea "vigorously". She said: "The state, which was supposed to be responsible, was supporting this folly. Imagine, if we'd done it, how it would look now!" Nothing new, one would imagine, but the interview received some resonance in the international press.

On July 2, 2007 Sarkozy signed an widely publicized global partnership agreement with Libya: the two countries "agree to enhance cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear energy, possibly leading to a civilian nuclear power program". It paved the way for the potential export by Areva of an EPR reactor to Lybia. There are no documents showing Lauvergeon, at that time head of Areva, opposed such a deal then. Lauvergeon was fired June last year.

Sarkozy was defeated by socialist party candidate Francois Hollande in the presidential elections on May 6, 2012.
Yves Marignac, WISE Paris, 15 November 2007 / Reuters, 10 April 2012.

Metsamor operations officially extended.
The Armenian government formally decided on April 19 to extend operations at the Metsamor VVER 440/230 nuclear power reactor, apparently because there is a delay in its planned replacement by a new facility. "Taking into account possible time frames for the launch of the new atomic energy block in the Republic of Armenia and the need to maintain the country´s energy security and independence during that period, it is necessary to extend the exploitation period of the Power Block No. 2," Energy Minister Armen Movisian said at a cabinet meeting that approved the measure.

The government assigned the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources to draw up by May next year a program of measures to ensure Metsamor´s longer-than-planned operations and their safety. The program will have to be submitted to the government for approval by September 2013. The construction of the new reactor is currently planned in 2013.

Metsamor was due to be decommissioned by September 2016 in accordance with the 30-year design life span. Armenia and in particular the area where Metsamor is located is an extreme seismic active area.
Azatutyan, 19 April 2012

Germans give up on UK nuclear

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Pete Roche

The two German utilities, E.ON and RWE, have announced they have decided not to proceed with plans to develop their UK joint-venture, Horizon Nuclear Power. Instead they will look for a buyer for Horizon, which was planning to develop up to 6.6GW of new nuclear capacity across two sites – one at Wylfa on the island of Anglesey in Wales and the other at Oldbury in Gloucestershire, South West England. 

RWE said the global economic crisis has meant that capital for major projects is at a premium and nuclear power projects are particularly large scale, with very long lead times and payback periods. The effect of the accelerated nuclear phase out in Germany has led to RWE adopting a number of measures, including divestments, a capital increase, efficiency enhancements and a leaner capital expenditure budget. A combination of these strategic factors, together with the significant ongoing costs of running the Horizon joint venture, has led to a situation where capital investment plans have been reviewed.  E.ON says in the UK, it will now focus on projects that will deliver earlier benefits, rather than the very long term and large investment new nuclear power calls for. Nevertheless E.ON and RWE both say they believe that for the right company Horizon remains an attractive project.

Despite promising that it would not subsidize new nuclear stations the UK Government has been working to implement an Electricity Market Reform program, which former Government advisor and Friends of the Earth Director, Jonathan Porritt describes as “…rigged in order to support nuclear power … at great cost to UK consumers, UK businesses and the long-term interests of the entire nationthe Coalition Government’s continuing pledge that any new nuclear programme will not get any additional public subsidy is now palpably dishonest”.

According to one Labour MP, Alan Whitehead, a member of the House of Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee, what the Government is trying to do is to design a subsidy system without incurring any action on ‘state aid’ from the European Commission. But even the promise of subsidies was not enough for E.ON and RWE. Keith Allott, head of climate change at WWF-UK, said: "Despite the Government's efforts to bend over backwards to support the nuclear industry, it is now blindingly clear that the economics just don't stack up.”  And Greenpeace's policy director Doug Parr said: "The Government's energy strategy is crumbling. Not even the billions of pounds of taxpayers' money they have offered as incentives to the German and French nuclear industry are enough to make a new generation of power stations economically viable.”

UK Energy Minister Charles Hendry attempted to play down the significance of the decision, insisting that it was based on pressures on the two Companies in Germany and not on any doubts about the role of nuclear in the UK. He claimed that Horizon represents an excellent ready-made opportunity for other players to enter the market. Whitehead says this idea is ‘whistling in the dark’ – it is pure whimsy. There are no new players. There are two other consortia already involved in the UK nuclear program. EDF Energy and Centrica are looking at building two EPR reactors at both Hinkley Point in Somerset and Sizewell in Suffolk. NuGen – a consortium made up of GDF Suez and Iberdrola are planning up to 3.6 GW at a site called Moorside adjacent to Sellafield.

The Nuclear Industry Association says it fully expects a new consortium to come forward for the “viable” project. A number of investors and utilities are already said to be talking to each other about forming consortia to bid for Horizon. For some time, these potential buyers, who are geographically spread from Europe to Japan, have been looking to take stakes of 10-30 per cent in Horizon. All that has changed is that they now have to buy the whole venture.

Speculation about who might be persuaded to buy Horizon and progress the idea of building new reactors at Oldbury and Wylfa seems to range across the whole global nuclear industry. EDF says it has enough on its plate with building four EPRs at Hinkley and Sizewell without taking on Horizon. Vattenfall has been mentioned. The NuGen consortium Iberdrola and GDF Suez might be interested – their current site adjacent to Sellafield is a long distance from large populations centers and needs expensive new grid connections that might have to cross national park land, and it is recently emerged that mineral rights on the site are owned by someone else who wants to be paid for them. NuGen is saying publicly that it is not pursuing an interest in Horizon, but privately saying there is a “fair chance” it will look at what’s on offer because of the complications at Sellafield.

The Daily Mail (March 31 issue) was virtually apoplectic about the possibility that the Russian company Rosatom might be a potential buyer. It said the company is known to have been looking for a way into the UK for a while. Under a picture of Chernobyl the right of center daily says Government dilly-dallying has opened the floor to a bid from the Russian firm that built Chernobyl. “No one with an ounce of common sense could be entirely comfortable with that prospect.”

The Financial Times (March 29) says sovereign wealth funds and Asian utilities are seen as possible buyers. According to the Lancashire Evening Post (April 2) the Government is talking with global sovereign funds in the Middle East and Far East about buying Horizon. According to The Express, Toshiba/Westinghouse is considering teaming up with GDF Suez. This could mean the construction of up to six AP1000s across the two sites. GE Hitachi is also said to be interested.

Some sort of consortium involving Westinghouse and funded by sovereign funds is perhaps most likely because the cancellation of these reactors would be a big blow to Westinghouse. The Company has been waiting for months for a decision from Horizon about which reactor design it would choose in the hope that its AP1000 reactor design would be selected. Many in the industry had assumed Horizon would choose Westinghouse, and the Government hoped to have two suppliers. But recent reports have hinted that Horizon might plump for Areva’s EPR giving the French - in the short-term at least - a monopoly on new British plants. The delay in the announcement by Horizon about its reactor choice was due at least in part to lobbying by Westinghouse, allegedly with officials from the US Embassy in tow. The reactor builder has even taken legal advice over whether it could mount a legal challenge on European competition grounds should it lose out to Areva in the Horizon bid. So the row threatened to develop into a full-blown legal confrontation.

The concern now is that, if no buyer is found, it will put EDF in an alarmingly powerful position. EDF is planning to make its investment decision about whether to go ahead with the first new nuclear station at Hinkley Point at the end of this year. The decision will hinge on whether the incentives the UK Government is prepared to countenance are large enough. As a result the French state-owned EDF will have the UK “over a barrel”. The current path will see the UK pay a French state-owned company to build new nuclear plants on what is effectively a “cost-plus contract.”

The UK Government is planning to introduce a new Energy Bill in Parliament in May which will include provision for a kind of feed-in tariff for nuclear known as a “contract for difference” which will guarantee nuclear electricity receives a certain price. That price is yet to be determined.

In a briefing note to Prime Minister David Cameron four former-Directors of Friends of the Earth argue that the Energy Bill will have significant implications for the future cost of electricity. It will replace our current liberalized market with one that is much more heavily planned and regulated, which is difficult to reconcile with the Government’s commitment to deregulation. They say even EDF cannot finance new nuclear in Britain on its own balance sheet and will rely on an implicit guarantee from the French and UK Governments to lower its cost of capital. The four former directors estimate that the Contracts for Difference Feed in Tariffs will provide a subsidy of £63 - £75 billion to EDF over the next 35 years –around £2bn (US$ 3.2bn or 2.4bn euro) per year.

Of course many of the same economic forces which made the German utilities to pull out will apply to all the other companies as well. The unfavorable attitude of the ratings agencies towards nuclear power, for instance, stems largely from the scale of investment required, together with future uncertainties surrounding power prices. The risks are writ larger when you think of a nuclear project compared with other forms of generation, because construction and planning is that much more tortuous, construction risk is higher and from an operational point of view they have a high fixed cost base. Moody's pays particular attention not only to nuclear power but to any large capital investment projects where the financial risk profile of a given utility may be affected by whether or not the project is completed on time and on budget.

Anglesey-based People Against Wylfa B spokesman Dylan Morgan said: “Now rather than focus on the fantasy that another consortium will come in [the Government] should follow the German lead and ditch nuclear altogether.

For further information: NuClear News No.39, April 2012, available at

Source and contact: Pete Roche
Email: Rochepete8[at]

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Dounreay: 'significant' hot particle found on beach.
Experts have discovered the most significant radioactive particle yet on a public beach two miles (approximately 3km) west of the redundant nuclear site of Dounreay, Scotland, UK. Dounreay clean-up contractor DSRL has informed the Scottish Environment Protection Agency of additional tests being carried out on a particle recovered during routine monitoring of a beach near the redundant nuclear site. The particle was detected at the water's edge at Sandside. The beach at Sandside is located. The particle - detected on February 14 - was the 208th to be recovered from the beach at Sandside in the last 15 years.

Provisional checks carried out on the beach indicated the particle had a higher than normal beta dose rate. A spokesman for DSRL said it was the first time a particle classed as significant - the highest classification in terms of radioactivity - had been found on the beach, although many had been found on the seabed and foreshore at Dounreay as well as on the site itself. Any particle with radioactivity above one million Becquerel (Bq) units is classed as significant.

Work is due to resume in May to clear particles from the seabed near the site. More than 1800 have been recovered so far from the seabed where there is evidence of a "plume" from historic effluent discharges dating back 50 years. Particles are fragments of irradiated nuclear fuel.
Dounreay Site restoration Ltd, website, February 20, 2012 / The Herald, Scotland,  21 February 2012

Defend democracy; Unite to shut Vermont Yankee down!
In 2010, the citizens and legislature of the State of Vermont, with support from their neighbors in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, decided to close the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor permanently by March 21, 2012, when VY's 40-year license expires. In 2011, Entergy, the New Orleans mega-corporation that owns Vermont Yankee, sued the State of Vermont, defying the democratic will of the people, to keep their aged, accident-plagued reactor running for 20 more years. On January 19, 2012, federal district court judge J. Garvin Murtha sided with Entergy against the State of Vermont and the people of New England. On February 18, the State of Vermont appealed Murtha's ruling. With the future of VY still hanging in the balance, nonviolent citizen action is more important than ever.

Let us make clear: We will NOT allow unbridled corporate power to deprive us of our inalienable right to live in safety on our homes, and to determine our own energy future – a future that is safe and green for our children and our children's children. Many events have taken place and will take place to shut Vermont Yankee down. The most important one is 'Occupy Entergy HQ' on March 22. There will be a brief rally at the Brattleboro, VT Commons starting at 11:00am, then a walk to Entergy Headquarters on Old Ferry Rd. in Brattleboro (3.5 miles) where there be a direct action, likely to include civil disobedience.
More information at:

Franco-British nuclear cooperation agreement.
On February 16, UK Prime Minister Cameron met his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris at a joint summit for the first time since their bitter clashes over Europe. The joint declaration on energy made contained a range of goals, the greatest of them being to encourage "the emergence of a Franco-British industry that is highly competitive across the whole supply chain at the international level." Most prominent in this will be the work of France's majority state-owned firms EDF and Areva and their cooperation with privately held UK firms for the construction of new reactors in Britain.

The agreement to co-operate on developing civil nuclear energy is meant to pave the way for the construction of new nuclear power plants. It was accompanied by the news of a deal between Rolls-Royce and French nuclear reactor developer Areva. Areva has asked Rolls to make complex components and provide engineering and technical services for two reactors to be built at Hinkley Point, Somerset.

But not everybody is confident that the agreement will bring much for Britian's industry. According to Tim Fox, head of energy at the Institution of Mechanical Engineers "Although some relatively small contracts are to be awarded to Rolls-Royce and BAM Kier, it looks increasingly likely that the vast majority of the contracts involved in the manufacture and construction of the new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point and Sizewell will go to France rather than the UK." Friends of the Earth's Energy Campaigner Paul Steedman said: "Cameron's deal today will leave British taxpayers footing a massive bill for new nuclear plants we don't need and can't afford - while EDF continues to rake in huge profits."
World Nuclear News 17 February 2012 / FOE Press release,  17 February 2012 / The Manufacturer, 17 February 2012

Meanwhile at Hinkley Point ….
From Febr. 12 on, following an occupation of trees a week earlier, activists are occupying a farmhouse close to Hinkley Point, to stop EDF Energy trashing land for the planned new nuclear power station. Anti-nuclear campaigners have been joined by members of Seize the Day as the first residents of Edf-Off Cottage which is on the 400-acre site earmarked for two new reactors.

At the High Court on February 27, EDF Energy failed in their bid to impose an injunction to stop an alliance of anti-nuclear groups from protesting on the 400-acre site set aside for two new mega-reactors at Hinkley Point. This injunction was being sought to remove these campaigners, but it was simultaneously designed to restrict future demonstrations. The Orwellian language even prohibits campaigning groups from 'encouraging other persons' to protest at the site. Speaking on behalf of the Stop New Nuclear alliance, Kate Hudson from CND stated "It should be inconceivable that private companies could restrict basic civil liberties in this way. They are not the arbiters of the nuclear debate, nor the guarantors of our freedoms. We will fight to ensure the rights of future generations to peaceful protest and to preserve essential democratic principles."

On 10 and  11 March, one year since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began, antinuclear groups call for a human chain/blockade around the station to show "our determined opposition to new nuclear".

Spain: OK for 41-year old Garona life extension. Spain's nuclear security agency CSN has determined that the country's oldest nuclear reactor, the 468 MW Santa Maria de Garona nuclear power plant, is safe to operate until 2019, in response to a request by the industry minister to review the installation. The approval, disclosed on February 17, clears the way for the recently installed Spanish conservative government to overturn the previous socialist government's 2009 order to have the generator closed in 2013. Although the CSN said there was "no safety or security issue that should impede continued operation of the power plant", the agency added that it would still have to review any formal application by the operator to extend the installation's license, including scrutiny of its latest operating data and future security measures being considered. Garona was first connected to the grid in March 1971!
The CSN in 2009 had given authorization for the station to operate for another 10 years, but the government at the time opted instead for an earlier expiration date. Since then, new regulations have been put in place, particularly following the accident at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant early last year.
Platts, 20 February 2012

World oldest reactor (44 years) closed. The world's oldest operating nuclear power reactor – Unit 1 of the Oldbury nuclear power plant in the UK - has been closed after 44 years of power generation on 29 February 2012. Unit 2 was shut down in June 2011, while unit 1 was expected to continue operating until the end of this year. Plant operator Magnox Ltd announced last October that it had decided to end operations ten months early as it was "no longer economically viable."
World Nuclear News, 29 February 2012

Beznau now oldest in world; call for closure.
After Oldbury's closure, Switzerland's Beznau nuclear plant holds the dubious record of being the oldest nuclear plant in the world and should be shut down, a group of environmental organizations said on February 23. Switzerland is phasing out nuclear energy but not fast enough, say the groups. They list a number of problems and point out that the company that runs it is planning to increase the earmarked CHF500 million (US$ 557m or 415m euro) to make it safe, money they believe could be better spent shutting it down and moving to safer energy sources., 23 February 2012

U.S.: Fourth Legislative Attack on Grand Canyon Uranium Ban Fails… The fourth legislative attempt to block the Obama administration's ban on new uranium development across 1 million acres of public land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park died February 14, when the House rules committee ruled it out of order. The amendment was sponsored by the same three Republican congressmen who sponsored three previous failed anti-Grand Canyon legislative proposals - Jeff Flake, Trent Franks and Paul Gosar, all from Arizona. The most recent amendment sought to overturn a January decision by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar enacting a 20-year 'mineral withdrawal' that bans new mining claims and development on existing claims lacking rights-to-mine across Grand Canyon's million-acre watershed (see Nuclear Monitor 740, 13 January 2012, In Briefs).

In 2010 and again in 2011, Flake, Franks and Gosar sponsored legislation that would have prohibited the Interior Department from enacting the mining ban; in 2011 they attempted to add a rider to a budget bill - their third failed attempt prior to this most recent amendment.

Over the past few years, nearly 400,000 people from 90 countries wrote the Department of the Interior urging it to ban new uranium mining around the canyon after a uranium boom threatened to bring a new wave of destructive mining threatening recreation, tourism, wildlife habitat and waters in Grand Canyon National Park. The mining ban has won wide support among American Indian tribes, regional businesses, elected officials, hunting and angling groups, scientists and conservationists.
Press release Centre for Biological Diversity, 16 February 2012

….but next attack imminent. The withdrawal of lands in northern Arizona from mining activities is unconstitutional, unlawful and violates the National Environmental Policy Act, said organisations representing the US mining and nuclear industries in a lawsuit against US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.

The suit has been filed with the US Federal District Court in Arizona by the National Mining Association (NMA) and the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the US nuclear energy industry's organization. The Department of the Interior (DoI), US Bureau of Land Management (BLM), US Forest Service and US Department of Agriculture are named as co-defendants alongside Salazar, in his capacity as Interior Secretary.

The NEI and NMA argue that Salazar does not have the legal authority to make withdrawals of public lands in excess of 5000 acres, citing a landmark 1983 Supreme Court ruling that such withdrawals would be unconstitutional. Furthermore, they claim, the decision to withdraw the land is "arbitrary, capricious, and not in accordance with law." Finally, the environmental impact statement (EIS) and record of decision on the withdrawal violate the terms of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) in failing to take a "hard look" at the economic and environmental consequences of the withdrawal.
World Nuclear News, 28 February 2012

Finland: Uranium mine granted permission.
The Finnish Talvivaara mine today gained permission to extract uranium and process it into uranium oxide. The UO4 would be transported away by rail and ships, possibly to Russia. The mine was opened a few years ago mainly as a zinc mine. It's using an experimental biosoaking process to extract small amounts of minerals from the ore. The company has been crippled by scandals from the beginning, with sulphuric acid and other chemicals continuously spilling all over nearby woods and lakes. The company has failed to make any profit so far and its CEO was forced to quit last year.

In a strange technocratic turn of events, the environmental authorities concluded that instead of closing down the mine, it would be beneficial to grant the mine a permission to separate the uranium from the rest of the waste so that the further spills bound to happen at least wouldn't contain radioactive materials. As a last minute effort, environmentalists tried to convince the government to at least demand a description of the separation process so as to ensure this doesn't just produce a lot more radioactive/toxic sludge. The government decided not to do so and instead just granted the permission "because it brings 40 million euros worth of investment to the area".

The local municipality and just about every major business in the area was opposed to the permission after the previous scandals and their trade being spoiled by the smelly pollution in the environment.
Jehki Harkonen, energy campaigner Greenpeace Nordic, Helsinki, 1 March 2012

Rosatom-owned company accused of selling shoddy equipment to reactors.
Russian Federal Prosecutors have accused a company owned by the country’s nuclear energy corporation, Rosatom, with massive corruption and manufacturing substandard equipment for nuclear reactors under construction both at home and abroad.  The ZiO-Podolsk machine building plant’s procurement director, Sergei Shutov, has been arrested for buying low quality raw materials on the cheap and pocketing the difference as the result of an investigation by the Federal Security Service, or FSB, the successor organization to the KGB. It is not clear how many reactors have been impacted by the alleged crime, but reactors built by Russia in India, Bulgaria, Iran, China as well as several reactor construction and repair projects in Russia itself may have been affected by cheap equipment, given the time frame of works completed at the stations and the scope of the investigation as it has been revealed by authorities.
Bellona, 28 February 2012

Increasing nonproliferation through nuclear trade

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

The Obama administration, in advanced negotiations on nuclear-cooperation agreements with Jordan and Vietnam, has withdrawn a demand that these countries forgo their rights to produce nuclear fuel, senior U.S. officials said. The policy shift, adopted after an extensive interagency review, drew criticism from some U.S. lawmakers, who charged that it could ease the spread of sensitive nuclear technologies.

A letter from senior US officials signals that the country will continue to seek nuclear trade agreements with conditions on enrichment and reprocessing implemented on a "case-by-case" basis. The letter from deputy energy secretary Daniel Poneman and undersecretary of state for arms control and international security Ellen Tauscher was sent to the administration of President Barack Obama on 10 January. The text of the letter was published by a Global Security Newswire article on 23 January.

The Obama administration in 2009 signed a nuclear-cooperation agreement with the United Arab Emirates that bound the Arab country not to enrich uranium domestically or reprocess spent plutonium fuel, the two technologies that can be used to produce nuclear weapons.

President Barack Obama cited the U.A.E. agreement as the "gold standard" for future nuclear-cooperation pacts. Washington has used the deal to press Iran over its nuclear program, arguing that Tehran should follow the Emirates and rely on the international market for nuclear fuel.

U.S. officials involved in the policy review said Washington risked losing business for American companies seeking to build nuclear reactors overseas, and could greatly diminish its ability to influence the nonproliferation policies of developing countries. And obviously the Obama administration concluded that most countries wouldn't be willing to follow the U.A.E. model, and that insisting on it would hurt American interests.

The fundamental justification for the decision is that insisting on the standard negatively impacts trade opportunities for U.S. companies, which in turn restricts the country's ability to set non-proliferation conditions: "Nuclear trade carries with it a critical nonproliferation advantage in the form of consent rights, along with other opportunities to influence the nuclear policies of our partners"

But the U.S. is pursuing a range of other tools (Nuclear Suppliers Group and fuel leasing arrangements), to ensure that developing countries seek to purchase nuclear fuel from foreign suppliers rather than developing the technologies needed to produce the fuel themselves.

In addition to negotiations with Jordan and Vietnam, the departments of State and Energy are beginning to renegotiate pacts signed in the 1970s with South Korea and Taiwan that will lapse in the coming years. The agreements, which are legally designated as treaties, require congressional approval.

South Korea is beginning to renegotiate its 1974 nuclear-cooperation agreement with the U.S. South Korean officials argue Seoul needs to use this method to safely dispose of the spent fuel coming from the country's growing nuclear-power industry. The 1974 U.S.-South Korean nuclear cooperation agreement requires U.S. consent if “any irradiated fuel elements containing fuel material received from the United States of America [are to be] altered in form or content.” As a matter of policy, South Korea requests that the United States agree to such activities even if U.S.-origin material is not involved. The cooperation agreement will expire in 2014, however, and South Korea wants to negotiate a new agreement that will give it the same programmatic permission that the United States has given the European Union, Japan, Switzerland, and, with certain conditions, India.

Under the agreements with the European Union, India, Japan, and Switzerland, the United States has provided advance long-term consent for reprocessing. In India’s case, according to the Indian-U.S. nuclear cooperation agreement, this long-term consent does not go into effect until India has built and brought into operation “a new national reprocessing facility dedicated to reprocessing material” under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards and the two countries have agreed on “arrangements and procedures under which reprocessing or other alteration in form or content will take place in this new facility.”

U.S. officials fear such a move would undercut efforts to get North Korea to give up its nuclear-weapons program. An agreement with Vietnam that doesn't follow the U.A.E. model could make it harder for the U.S. to get Seoul to accept stringent terms.

U.S. lawmakers are focused on the Jordan negotiation (an agreement is expected at the end of this year), fearing an agreement that allows domestic nuclear-fuel production could have a cascading effect across the Middle East. This is also because the U.A.E.'s pact allows it to renegotiate if another country in the Middle East gains more favorable terms. Saudi Arabia has also signed a memorandum of understanding with the U.S. and has echoed Jordan's reservations about giving up its right to enrich uranium, senior Arab diplomats said.

Lawmakers and nonproliferation experts fear more lenient nuclear-cooperation agreements with Jordan and Vietnam could undercut the campaign to contain Iran's nuclear program. "If the U.S. lets Jordan, Vietnam or South Korea make nuclear fuel, you can kiss any attempt to persuade Iran or any other state to forgo fuel making goodbye," said Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nuclear Policy Education Center.

Sources: Arms Control Today, Frank von Hippel, March 2010 / Nuclear Policy Education Center, 23 January 2012 / World Nuclear News, 25 January 2012 / Wall Street Journal, 25 January 2012 /


Russia to build npp in Bangladesh - attempt # ??

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

Russia is to build Bangladesh's first nuclear power plant at Rooppur under an intergovernmental cooperation agreement signed in Dhaka on November 2. The agreement was signed by Sergei Kiriyenko, head of the Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom, and Yafesh Osman, Bangladesh's minister of state for science, information and communication technologies. Rooppur is designated as the location for a nuclear reactor since 1963.

The signing ceremony was attended by dignitaries including Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina. Under the agreement, Russia will construct two 1000 MWe reactors at Rooppur, in Pabna district, about 200 km from the capital, Dhaka. It specifies that Rosatom's AtomStroyExport division will act as the contractor, while the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission will be the customer. Russia will also support Bangladesh in developing the necessary infrastructure for the proposed plant. The agreement calls for Russia to provide fuel for the plant on a long-term basis, as well as taking back the used fuel for long-term management and permanent disposal. Russia will also train workers to operate the plant. A separate agreement will be signed for Russia to provide the necessary financing for the Rooppur plant’s construction. The Government of Bangladesh is considering either a Government-owned turnkey project or a Build-Own-Operate-Transfer (BOOT) contract.

Kiriyenko said that the proposed reactors "will meet all the international post-Fukushima requirements." He noted that the plant will feature double containment, a passive heat removal system, hydrogen recombiners, a core catcher, as well as other safety features. According to a Reuters report, Osman said that construction of the reactors at Rooppur would begin by 2013 and will take five years to complete.

Russia, China and South Korea had earlier offered financial and technical help to establish nuclear power in Bangladesh. In March 2009, Russia made a formal proposal to construct a nuclear power plant in the country. The Bangladeshi government approved this proposal the following month. The latest agreement between the two countries follows the signing of an intergovernmental agreement in May 2010 on cooperation in the field of atomic energy for peaceful purposes. That agreement provided a legal framework for cooperation in the field of nuclear energy.

Plans to built a nuclear reactor at Rooppur were first drawn up in 1963 and after Bangladesh became independent from Pakistan after a war in December 1971 the plans were revived and an Atomic Energy Commission was set up. In April 1974 it signed a deal with India for information exchange about the "peaceful uses of nuclear energy" (less than a month later, on May 18, India exploded its first nuclear device code named Operation Smiling Buddha). On August 29, 1980, the government singed an agreement with France to provide technological and financial aid for the construction of a 300 MW nuclear power plant. The Saudi Arabia agreed to provide two-thirds of the finance, but Bangladesh was unable to find the rest of the money. In September 1981 it signed an Agreement for Coorperation Concerning the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy with the US and in December 1984 Russia offered to finance and supply a 440 MW reactor, supply and take back the fuel for an estimated price fo US$600 million. But again it did not materialize.

Then, in September 2007 after announcing the construction of 2 reactors in Rooppur for the xth-time, Bangladesh asked the IAEA for 'technical assistance and support'. Russia won a state-to-state-deal for ten construction. In a November 21 2011 report, the IAEA announced Bangladesh has "achieved notable progress in its nuclear infrastructure development of nuclear power". An Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission concluded that Bangladesh has "mostly met the conditions for knowledgeable decision-making and is actively preparing for the Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant project."

Sources: New Scientist, 13 December 1984 / Financial Express (Bangladesh), 3 February 2010 / World Nuclear News, 2 November 2011 / IAEA, November 21 2011 / Laka files on Bangladesh


Initial succes for Koodankulam protests

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Dr. Peter Custers

The struggle did not gain the same national prominence as the hunger strike waged by Anna Hazare, against rampant corruption of India’s top-politicians. Yet a landmark it surely was, - a landmark in the history of India’s nuclear program. As reported in the Nuclear Monitor 732 (September 9) a group of activists started a hunger strike near Koodankulam, in the southern tip of Tamil Nadu state on August 17. The action was directed against plans of the Indian government to commission a 1000 MW Russian-built nuclear plant soon.

From the very start it was apparent that this was not a struggle waged by a small disgruntled minority. For the hunger strike was both preceded and accompanied by mass demonstrations in which literally thousands of fisher folk from surrounding villages took part. Moreover, whereas the Gandhian-style protests were temporarily suspended in late August, they were resumed after the Department of Energy (DAE) indicated it would ignore the protestors’ demand. Then, in the second phase starting September 11, the movement peaked once more. This time, over a hundred people, including priests and nuns, went on an indefinite hunger strike in the village of Idinthakarai. Every day 10 thousand people or more would gather from the surrounding area to demonstrate their support. And every day support kept expanding, as students boycotted schools, merchants closed their shops, and gruel kitchens were set up in adjacent villages where fisher-folk refused to go out to catch fish. This time Tamil Nadu’s politicians just had to respond. On September 19, Jayalalitha, Tamil Nadu’s Chief Minister wrote an open letter to India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, insisting the protestors should be heard.

Jayalalitha’s move capped an initial success for the protests, which arguably are the most widespread and sustained local protest ever to have occurred against nuclear energy in India. They closely follow on the open discontent which earlier this year was registered against nuclear construction plans in Jaitapur, along the coast of Maharashtra. Both Jaitapur and Koodankulam are crucial links in India’s plans to expand its reliance on nuclear energy. But whereas the technology for the new nuclear plants in Jaitapur are to be supplied by the French company Areva, - the reactors being installed at the plants in Koodankulam are Russian in origin. They are known as the ‘VVER-1000/392’-design. Though based on a design for light- water reactors that has been in use for long, the design is a new variant. Indian scientists have for long questioned whether Russia’s VVER-1000 technology is safe. Doubts have further been fuelled by last March’s Fukushima disaster in Japan, and by the new assessments on nuclear safety made since then. In a report leaked to environmental organizations in June, an amalgam of Russian state agencies admitted that Russia´s nuclear industry is extremely vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters. Some 31 security flaws were listed. The document amongst others questions the capacity of Russian reactorsto  continue functioning safely, if cooling systems fail. It also pinpoints the risksof hydrogen explosions. Sergei Kiriyenko, the chief of Russia´s nuclear coordinating body Rosatom, reacted saying the deficiencies can be overcome if only enough money is forthcoming (!). But Indian critics don´t feel re-assured. Fisherfolk in the south of Tami Nadu are also concerned that the dependence of the light-water reactors on sea water for cooling, and the flushing of effluents into the sea, will seriously disrupt the ecology along their coast.

Furthermore, Koodankulam protesters have pointed their finger at experiences gathered at Kalpakkam, the nuclear complex located close to Tamil Nadu´s capital Chennai, along the state‘s eastern coast. In fact, here the wider significance of their movement becomes quickly evident. For the Kalpakkam complex does not just harbor a nuclear power plant, but also a reprocessing facility. The nuclear fuel rods from the reactors at Koodankulam, once depreciated, will most likely be reprocessed at Kalpakkam. Yet Kalpakkam has already proven to be a dangerous hotspot. Here, in January 2003, a valve connecting a high-level radioactive liquid waste tank and a low level waste tank leaked, leading to radiation exposure for at least six employees, an unknown number of deaths, and temporary closure of Kalpakkam´s main plant. The Kalpakkam nuclear complex also holds the dubious distinction of having been flooded when the devastating tsunami of 2004 struck.

Kalpakkam hence is an additional reason for worries. Not least because of the fact that the nuclear complex harbors a test reactor constructed towards enabling India build a plutonium economy. Indian peace activists have expressed suspicions that the plutonium separated at Indian civilian reprocessing facilities will be diverted and used to increase the country’s stock of atomic weapons. These suspicions have not been allayed by recent developments. Since the beginning of this year, India boasts three reprocessing plants. Further, the US government has in principle granted the Indian government permission to domestically reprocess fuel elements from reactors to be supplied under the 2008 US-India deal. Hence, diversion of plutonium towards India’s weapons’ program is quite well possible. Again, the use of plutonium separated at Kalpakkam for civilian purposes is no less questionable.

In short, the significance of the struggle waged by villagers in the south of Tamil Nadu stretches well beyond the Koodankulam nuclear project itself. Resistance was called off after the Union Government in Delhi sent a Minister of State, Narayanasamy, to Tamil Nadu, to talk to the Koodankulam protestors. Still, it would be wrong to believe that the demand of the protestors – that no nuclear production in Koodankulam be started – will easily be accepted. For the stakes are very large, since India’s nuclear lobby has set its mind on turning India into a plutonium power. Yet because the Koodankulam project is closely intertwined with plans for expansion of the Kalpakkam complex, the struggle is bound to reverberate throughout the state of Tamil Nadu and beyond.

Late September, 10 days after the protests against the construction of the nuclear plant at Koodankulam was withdrawn, the anti-nuclear activists have said to revive the protest if the ongoing work in the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP), was not suspended. The activists would embark on a mass fast from October 9, if the Central government failed to suspend the ongoing commissioning work in the nuclear plant by October 7.
Times of India, 3 October 2011

Source: Dr. Peter Custers (theoretician on nuclear production/ author of ‘Questioning Globalized Militarism’ (Tulika/Merlin, 2007), 30 September 2011                              


In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

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.:

Contact: Committee for Future Generations, P.O. Box 155, Beauval, Saskatchewan, S0M 0G0 Canada

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:
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.

Belene: HSBC signs contract for npp in earthquake zone

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Yann Louvel, Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator BankTrack

Exactly one month after the start of the Fukushima disaster, HSBC signed an agreement for the long delayed and highly controversial Belene nuclear power plant project in Bulgaria. HSBC is hired by the Bulgarian government for consultancy services, to help it decide how to proceed and attract new investors for the Belene project.

Belene is one of the oldest and most controversial nuclear projects in Europe. It is plagued with numerous problems, from its location in an earthquake zone in a country with a poor nuclear safety culture, to the use of an untested Russian reactor technology. [For more information on the Belene dodgy deal, you can access its full profile on the BankTrack website.]

Jan Haverkamp, Greenpeace energy campaigner for Europe, recounts the long history of the project: “As early as 1983 Soviet scientists warned that this location was not suitable for an NPP due to the seismic risks. In 1990 the Bulgarian Academy of Science came to the conclusion that the project should be dropped for economic, environmental and social reasons and the Bulgarian Government subsequently termed Belene to be ‘technically unsafe and economically unviable’. However, due to strong vested interests behind the project, Belene has become a kind of nuclear zombie and continues to pop up on the Bulgarian Government’s agenda, in spite of the fact that this is a dangerous and irresponsible project.”

Since 2006, over a dozen banks and several utilities have turned down offers to participate in or finance Belene. Among these are, for example, Deutsche Bank, UniCredit, Citibank, RWE, E.ON and Electrabel.

Heffa Schücking, from the German NGO urgewald, says: “Some banks had to find out the hard way that Belene is a no-go. After protests took place in front of Deutsche Bank and HypoVereinsbank branch offices throughout Germany, both banks were forced to withdraw from the project. RWE followed suit in 2009 after major shareholders attacked the company’s plan to provide 49% of the equity for Belene. European environment organizations are united in their opposition to this project and we are ready to move against HSBC if needed.”

The Fukushima disaster continues and shows us just how deadly a mix nuclear and seismic risks are. “As even the European Commission recently announced that it will review the legal and safety framework, including the seismic risk of the Belene project, it is incomprehensible that HSBC chose this moment in time to replace BNP Paribas as a financial advisor to the project,” says Yann Louvel, climate and energy campaign coordinator for the BankTrack network. He concludes: “The decision of HSBC is deeply disturbing. Instead of drawing the lessons from the Fukushima catastrophe, reviewing its nuclear policy and stepping out of this dangerous sector altogether, HSBC is now involved in one of the worst nuclear projects around the world. We call on the bank to immediately step back and abandon the Belene deal.”

Source: Press release BankTrack, 12 April 2011
Contact: Yann Louvel, Climate and Energy Campaign Coordinator BankTrack.  Vismarkt 15, 6511 VJ Nijmegen, Netherlands.

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Criticism South Korean UAE contract
A news program has belatedly exposed the fact that the South Korean government agreed to provide a loan covering approximately half the construction costs for the exportation of a nuclear power plant to the United Arab Emirates. While the government explained that this was part of ordinary power plant export financing, controversy has been flaring up as this revelation couples with previous controversies over inflation of the order amount and the deployment of troops to the UAE as a condition for receiving the order. A Jan. 30 episode of the MBC program 'News Magazine 2580' revealed that in the process of signing a contract with the UAE for the power plant export in December 2009, the South Korean government agreed to provide a loan for approximately US$10 billion (7.25 billion euro) of the total order amount of US$18.6 billion through Korea Eximbank. In addition, the program reported that the repayment period was set at 28 years, and that the transaction generates a loss due to the fact that South Korea, which has a lower credit rating than the UAE, has to borrow the money at high interest rates and lend it at low interest rates. The program also reported that the construction has encountered setbacks, including a delay in the groundbreaking ceremony from its originally scheduled date in late 2010, as the Korean government has encountered difficulties coming up with the promised US$10 billion loan.

Hankyoreh, South Korea, 1 February 2011

the 1st International Uranium Film Festival is Latin America´s first film festival to highlight nuclear and radioactive issues. It is an annual event with 2 international competitions.

The Uranium Film Festival wants to inform especially the Brazilian and Latin American societies and stimulate the production of independent documentaries and movies about the whole nuclear fuel cycle, about the dangers of radioactivity and especially about the environmental and health risks of uranium exploration, mining and processing. The Uranium Film Festival will be held from May 21th to 28th 2011 in the city of Rio de Janeiro and from June 2nd to 9th in the city of São Paulo

The first 18 films have been selected: look for the list at:

Germany: Complaints against runtime extensions to Constitutional Court.

In cooperation with citizens living close to Germany's seven oldest nuclear powerplants, Greenpeace has submitted a complaint to Germany's Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht). While Greenpeace Germany generally argues that the runtime extensions endanger each citizen's right of being protected against bodily harm, the new constitutional complaint is specifically directed at the latest Nuclear Energy Law's paragraph 7d. The new §7d tells reactor operators, in rather poetic language, to reduce risks threatening "the population". This is, according to Greenpeace's law experts, a significant point. It means that individual citizens who have lately filed complaints (with support from Greenpeace) against the extension of the licenses for reactors in their neighborhood will be denied the right of action. In other words, the old Nuclear Law was designed to protect citizens and gave them the right to complain in local courts against the risks caused by the local polluter, and the new law withdraws this right.

Parallel to Greenpeace's action, two other complaints against the new Nuclear Law

will be filed at the Constitutional Court later this year. One is by a number of states of the German federation and the other is by groups of members of the federal parliament.

Greenpeace press release (in German), 3 February 2011

Norway: severe consequences of Sellafield accident.
An accident at the high-activity liquor storage at Sellafield would have severe consequences for Norway's wildlife, agricultural industry and environment. The Norwegian Radiological Protection Authority has published a second report on the consequences of a accident that releases just one per cent of the high-level liquid waste at Sellafield. This report looks at the consequences to the environment and animals, while the first report considered the fallout likely from a similar accident. The report use the typical weather experienced in October 2008 and only considers the release of caesium-137. An actual accident would release other radionuclides, particularly strontium.

It is estimated the amount of caesium-137 deposited on Norway would be about seven times that from Chernobyl. Direct costs from Chernobyl on agriculture and reindeer in Norway have been over 665 million kroner (US$118 million; 86 million euro) and there are still annual costs of 15 million kroner. Up to 80 per cent of all lambs in Norway would be expected to have excess radiation levels and restrictions apply for decades. The report is available at

N-Base Briefing 681, 25 January 2011

Canada: White Elephant 'Pointless Lepreau' reappears in New Brunswick.
The Point Lepreau nuclear generating station provides the quintessential definition of a white elephant. The aging nuclear plant opened its doors three times over budget in 1983. The Energy and Utilities Board refused to support spending on refurbishing it beyond its expected lifetime, but politicians went ahead anyway. Today, costs for the touch-and-go overhaul are already over Cdn$1.4 billion (1.4 bn US$, 1 bn Euro). The latest guess at a completion date is May 2012, a delay of almost three years. Damage to public and worker health and the environment have yet to be calculated and the final costs for taxpayers may not end for generations.

An alliance of public interest groups in New Brunswick, known as the Point Lepreau Decommissioning Caucus, is spreading a simple, but powerful message: Point Lepreau is a white elephant, we don't need it. Pointless Lepreau is old, sickly and on its last legs: Do Not Resuscitate. To underline the foolishness of refurbishing Lepreau, the groups are holding surprise events featuring their newest member, an actual white elephant costume aptly named Pointless Lepreau.

Press release, 19 January 2011

When the dust settles.
The International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW) and IKV Pax Christi have been working on a joint project to create an animated short film on the hazards of depleted uranium and the international campaign against its use and are happy to announce that the English language version has now been completed. We have sought to render down a complex issue into six and a half minutes and at present the animation is available in English and Dutch, we hope that additional languages will be available in future.

Both versions are available from our Youtube channels at the links below. ICBUW can also provide copies for use at events and to help support your national campaigns.

English version:

UK Gov't sending papers down the memory-hole. The UK government and its agencies like the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA; successor to Nirex) are trying to airbrush out the history of the attempt to find a nuclear waste repository in West Cumbria. Documents and scientific papers which were formerly available on their websites have been removed; the Nirex documents have been transferred to the safe keeping of the British Geological Survey, where they may be 'consulted' at Keyworth, Nottinghamshire. But nothing remains online, not even an index of the documents and reports. Now, David Smythe has re-scanned much of the material and collected links of other parts.

Sellafield (West-Cumbria) was disqualified for several reasons, but now NDA and government is looking again at that region for final disposal.

Papers are available at:

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

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.

World Nuclear News, 12 January 2011

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