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Belgian government confirms nuclear phase-out

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Eloi Glorieux ‒ Senior Energy Campaigner, Greenpeace Belgium

The Belgian federal and regional governments finally reached an agreement on an Energy Pact, which is presented as the new federal energy strategy. In December 2017, the energy minister of the federal government and the energy ministers of the three regions (Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels Capital Region) reached a draft agreement ‒ but the largest federal majority party, the Flemish-nationalist N-VA, raised objections over the economic aspects. They preconceived that the closure between 2022 and 2025 of the seven PWRs of Doel and Tihange, representing a production capacity of about 5,900 MW, would have severe economic consequences, specifically for energy intensive industries.

Over the past decades, small and middle-sized enterprises and families in Belgium paid one of the highest electricity bills of OECD countries. This made it possible for nuclear operator Electrabel to amortize its reactors within a time period of 20 years and to supply baseload power at a dumping price to the big consumers. New studies, ordered by the federal energy minister, showed that the economic impact of the nuclear phase-out would not be insurmountable.

N-VA finally gave up its resistance and on 30 March 2018 the government presented its new federal energy strategy. This strategy serves five objectives: to secure the power supply, to respect the Paris agreements on climate change, to keep the electricity bill for companies and families competitive and to sustain a high as possible safety level for the power production plants. A monitoring committee will be established to monitor the evolution of these five objectives. Before 31 December 2018, the government will present a 'National Energy and Climate Plan 2030' to the European Commission. Meanwhile, the execution of the new federal energy strategy began, with the assignment of additional zones for offshore wind parks in the North Sea. In order to enable the closure of the seven nuclear reactors between 2022 and 2025, additional gas production capacity will also be enabled and interconnections with neighboring countries will be strengthened.

Does this mean that the nuclear phase-out in Belgium is set in stone once and for all? No, as illustrated by the decisions in 2014 and 2015 to extend the lifetime of Tihange 1 and Doel 1&2, although their decommissioning was imposed by the nuclear phase-out law. The big difference, however, is that this time all political parties – majority and opposition – with the exception of one small extreme right-wing party, have agreed to the new federal energy strategy.

The proof of the pudding, however, is in the eating. In this respect the federal elections of 2019 will be decisive. If the governmental agreement of that new coalition confirms the nuclear phase-out unequivocally, then it will be very difficult to reverse the decision.

Meanwhile, grassroots groups from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany ‒ along with environmental NGOs such as Greenpeace and WISE ‒ are requesting the immediate shut-down of Doel 3 and Tihange 2, which have thousands of cracks in their reactor pressure vessel. Recently, the city council of Liège, 25 km from Tihange, voted in favor of a resolution for the early closure of the cracked Tihange 2 reactor. There are also several court cases hanging on the decision to extend the lifetime of Tihange 1 and Doel 1&2 without having organized an Environmental Impact Assessment and cross-border public consultation processes. The outcomes of these court cases may well lead to an earlier closure of the oldest reactors than foreseen in the new federal energy strategy.

Taiwan to become nuclear-free by 2025?

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Gloria Kuang-Jung Hsu

Before the presidential election in early 2016, Ms. Tsai Ing-Wen, now the President of Taiwan, promised that all existing nuclear power plants will be closed by 2025. Implicitly, all reactors would operate for a maximum of 40 years, with no lifetime extension, and the fourth nuclear power plant will not become operational.

In January 2017, the Amendment of the Electricity Act passed the Legislative Yuan. Article 95 of the Amendment states "all nuclear power generating facilities shall cease operation by 2025." President Tsai's campaign promise became law. However, many uncertainties lie ahead, which will determine whether this part of Electricity Act becomes reality.

First, if the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) wins the next two presidential elections and maintains its majority in the parliament, the chance of having another amendment to Article 95 of the Electricity Act will be small.

However, since her inauguration in May 2016, President Tsai's administration has been criticized heavily not only by the oppositions, but also by many long-time DPP supporters. The latter group felt uneasy about the administration being filled with many ex-KMT old-guards, perhaps out of President Tsai's conservative nature. The KMT or Kuomintang is the Chinese Nationalist Party, retreated to Taiwan after WWII.

Indecisive on some policy issues and too hasty on others, President Tsai has united opposite sides: they are both angry and frustrated. Her poll ratings have plummeted. Although there is no credible challenger from the opposition KMT in sight yet, President Tsai's re-election campaign will not be as smooth as the past one. Many think the President will initiate a major cabinet reshuffle soon to change the current uncomfortable situation.

President Tsai also set a renewable energy target of 20% electricity generated by 2025, with the aim to fill the electricity gap created by the nuclear phase-out. Taiwan's Renewable Energy Act passed in 2009, and took effect in 2010. However, former President Ma Ing-Jiu is known to prefer nuclear and often looked down on renewables. The state-owned utility Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) was hostile towards renewables. The percentage of electricity generated by wind plus solar PV barely exceeded 1% at the end of 2016, after seven years of development. To reach 17% from 1% by 2025 is a very difficult task. Hydro and waste generate around 3% of electricity, with little growth potential.

The attitude of TaiPower is the key determining factor whether the nuclear-free law can be achieved. Taipower is a strong believer in nuclear energy. Two days after Tsai won the election in January 2016, TaiPower surprisingly updated its projection on future power shortages from high risk to little risk if Taiwan becomes nuclear-free. However, two months later, Taipower chair Huang Chong-Chiou denied that Taipower had ever made any such a U-turn in its electricity projection, and said he could not guarantee adequate electricity supply without nuclear power.

Of six operating nuclear reactors in Taiwan, four have full spent fuel pools, with no space for a whole core removal in case of emergency. Unit-1 of Chin San Nuclear Power Plant (NPP1) has been idle since December 2014, pending legislative hearings on the broken handle of a fuel assembly. On 16 May 2016, three sets of lightening buffer facilities on Unit-2 of Guo Sheng Nuclear Power Plant (NPP2) exploded. Taipower has yet to produce a satisfactory explanation, so the reactor remains shut. Despite such a precarious situation, Taipower seeks every opportunity to keep those reactors running.

As if trying to prove Chair Huang's point, in May 2016, Taipower began repeatedly issuing warnings of a possible power shortage. Seeming being manipulated, Minister without Portfolio Chang Jin-Shen suggested the restart of unit-1 of NPP1 as backup power to fill the possible electricity gap, only two weeks after Tsai's inauguration. The suggestion made little sense: at the end of 2015, total installed capacity was 48.7 gigawatts (GW) and peak demand was less than 37 GW. Wind and solar capacity combined is 3 GW. The capacity of the two idled nuclear reactors is 1.5 GW.

Nevertheless, based on data provided by Taipower, Premier Lin Chuan sided with Chang Jin-Shen. However, Chang was heavily ridiculed as lack of basic knowledge on nuclear, since nuclear is not suitable to be backup. Both Lin's and Chang's remarks immediately drew heavy criticism from civil society as well as many DPP legislators who were outraged by the betrayal of President Tsai's nuclear-free promise. Premier Lin retracted his words the next day.

This incident exposed the administration's limited understanding of Taipower, and its role in Taiwan's energy policy over the past four decades. It also showed that the administration fails to control Taipower. Even in early February, Taipower kept issuing warnings of tight electricity supply. As former Premier Frank Hsieh once said: "Taipower often uses heavily doctored information to push its own agenda. Taipower often arranges regular maintenance during peak demand."

What is Taipower's agenda? Most likely it is nuclear power. Since Taipower is a state-owned company, its management team dare not openly defy the President's nuclear-free doctrine. Instead, they use their monopoly status to block all possible options except one ‒ nuclear.

Article 6 of the Amendment of Electricity Bill states that "in order to maintain stable power supply, power generation, transmission and distribution divisions of Taipower can merge into a controlling consortium". Instead of tearing Taipower into three individual companies as electricity liberalization should do, Article 6 did just the opposite, strengthening Taipower's monopoly position.

In case not enough renewable electricity comes online, the first alternative is to burn more fossil fuels. In fact, Taipower has plans to add at least 7.4 GW of fossil generating capacity. The consequence will be greater emissions of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and more local pollution. As the Paris Agreement enters into force, the attempt to release more CO2 goes against the global trend, which calls for carbon neutrality by mid-century.

Some may say that since Taiwan is not party to the United Nation Framework Convention on Climate Change, there is no need to observe its rule. What happens if there are some types of economic sanction for not following the global consensus? Perhaps, nuclear should again be considered then?

Whether or not there is a healthy, vibrant development of renewable energy will determine the feasibility of the nuclear-free policy by 2025. Therefore, we demand a clear roadmap and corresponding budget allocations. Only when careful planning and actual implementation begin, can we comfortably say the nuclear-free policy is real. Without the framework and proper preparation, a promise is only a promise.

Gloria Kuang-Jung Hsu Ph.D, MPA is a Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences, National Taiwan University; Chair of Mom Loves Taiwan Association; and ex-Chair of Taiwan Environmental Protection Union.

Mass protests in Taipei on March 11

Thousands of citizens took to the streets in Taiwanese capital Taipei on March 11 demanding the closure of atomic power plants and more citizen involvement in decisions on radioactive waste storage. More than 60 anti-nuclear civil society groups rallied to demand greater openness and civic participation in managing nuclear waste, and advocated a move towards more sustainable forms of energy.

Indigenous groups from Orchid Island also took part in the demonstration outside the Presidential Palace with placards calling for the removal of nuclear waste from the island nation.

Marches were also held in Kaohsiung in the south, and Taitung on the east coast.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs responded by promising to comply with a plan to decommission nuclear plants and make Taiwan nuclear-free by 2025, in addition to using renewable sources for 20% of its power needs. In a press release, the ministry said the movement towards non-nuclear sustainable energy and lower carbon dioxide emissions has been stepped up, and announced two-year and four-year plans to boost solar photovoltaic and wind energy.

Belgium confirms nuclear phase-out by 2025, but extends lifetime of Tihange-1

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Eloi Glorieux, Energy campaigner Greenpeace Belgium

On July 4, the Belgian government finally took a decision about the fate of nuclear power. According to the 2003 nuclear phase-out law, all seven PWR's (4 at Doel and 3 at Tihange, with a total of 5,900 MW) should be decommissioned after 40 years of operation. In 2015, the three oldest reactors Doel-1, Doel-2 (both 433 MW) and Tihange-1 (900 MW) will reach the age of 40. The four other reactors are scheduled to be decommissioned between 2022 and 2025. Today nuclear power produces 54% of the country's electricity.

In the governmental agreement of Decem-ber 2011, the majority parties agreed to respect “in principle” the 2003 nuclear phase-out law, but the closure of the three oldest reactors in 2015 would  be subject to an “equipment plan” about the security of supply. At the end of May, the state secretary for Energy, Mel-chior Wathelet, presented his equip-ment plan. The report, made by his administration, concluded that till 2017- 2018, under extreme winter conditions, temporary supply problems could occur if the three oldest reactors would be closed in 2015. Nuclear plant operator GDF-Suez/Electrabel stated clearly that they were not ready to invest in the necessary upgrades and back fittings of those old reactors if they would not get a life time extension approval for at least ten years. Finally, on July 4th, the minister council took the following decision:

  • The twin units Doel-1 and Doel-2 will be closed in 2015, after 40 years of operation as stipulated in the nuclear phase-out law. 
  • The lifetime of Tihange-1 will be extended with 10 years, till 2025. 
  • The four other reactors will be closed after 40 years of operation, as stipulated in the nuclear phase-out law : Doel-3 in 2022; Tihange-2 in 2023; Tihange-3 and Doel-4 in 2025.

The minister council also decided  to delete article 9 of the 2003 nuclear phase-out law, which stipulates that the lifetime of the reactors may be extended over 40 years “if the security of sup-ply is endangered”. The government argued that this will secure the nuclear phase-out calendar, so that no new lifetime extensions could be granted in the future. Furthermore the government decided to facilitate the investment 
in new flexible replacement capacity, especially thermal gas plants. Because of the lifetime extension of Tihange-1, the existing gas plants become less profitable. To compensate this, the government intends to subsidize new gas plants. It remains very questionable that de European Commission will allow this governmental support for new fossil plants. Furthermore, in an attempt to cut the electricity price, the gover-nment decided to place 1,000 MW of GDF-Suez/Electrabel's cheap nuclear capacity at the disposal of the other power companies. 

The anti-nuclear platform Stop Nuclear & Go Renewables, initiated by Green-peace Belgium, WWF Belgium, Bond Beter Leefmilieu Vlaanderen and Inter-Environment Wallonie, is not impressed by the governments decision, which looks like a typical Belgian compromise. By extending the lifetime of the 900 MW Tihange-1 reactor with ten years, investors in new and flexible production capacity like efficient modern gas plants or renewables, will be deterred. Why should they invest in new expensive production capacity, if they will have to compete with the cheap electricity of old reactors which have been written off already for two decades? By taking only 866 MW of nuclear capacity from Doel-1 and -2 off-line in 2015, the grid will still be dominated by nuclear base-load power, making it very difficult to integrate more renewable capacity into the grid.    

Tihange-1 is a second generation PWR, build in the early 1970's. An indepen-dent review of the recent EU stress tests performed on Tihange-1 concluded: 
“Both the probability and the potential consequences of a severe accident are relatively high, therefore the risk of Tihange-1 is unjustifiably high. Consi-dering all facts, we recommend to shut down Tihange-1 immediately.” (Antonia Wenish, Oda Becker: “Critical Review of the EU Stess Test Performed on Nuclear Power Plants.” Study commissioned by Greenpeace. Wien/Hannover, May 2012.) Some 840,000 peoples are living within 30 km from the Tihange NPP, including the cities of Liège and Namur. The German city of Aachen  (260,000 inhabitants) is at 60 km, the Dutch city of Maastricht (120,000 inhabitants) is at 40 km. 

Source and contact: Eloi Glorieux, Energy campaigner Greenpeace Belgium
Email: eloi.glorieux[at]


Nuclear free Japan approaching: only 3 reactors online

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

At the moment only three of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors remain online, and come April, there very well may be no nuclear plants running at all, and the impact on society here will remain all but invisible. This time last year, around 30% of Japan’s energy came from nuclear. Given this source of energy has disappeared virtually overnight and there have been no significant problems for society the question must be seriously asked: does Japan really need nuclear?

Only three out of fifty-four nuclear reactors are now operating in Japan Since Shimane Nuclear Reactor Unit 1 was stopped for scheduled maintenance on January 27, 2012, only three out of fifty-four nuclear reactors are now operating in Japan. Unless the Japanese government and electric power companies restart some of the nuclear reactors, Japan will be completely without nuclear energy in late April when Tomari Nuclear Reactor Unit 3 is stopped for maintenance. The following is a schedule for stopping the currently operating nuclear reactors for maintenance:

February 20, 2012: Takahama Unit 3 (Kansai Electric Power Company)

Late March 2012: Kashiwazaki Kariwa Unit 6 (Tokyo Electric Power Company)

Late April 2012: Tomari Unit 3 (Hokkaido Electric Power Company).

In response to this situation, Yukio Edano, Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry, announced that the government began making a plan to meet electricity demand during the summer of 2012 without operating a nuclear reactor or imposing an order to restrict electricity consumption. This announcement came after the government think tank, the Japan Institute of Energy Economics, estimated that electricity supply would be only 7% short of peak demand even in case of an unusually hot summer.

Another important factor that contributed to Edano’s announcement was the growing local opposition to restarting nuclear reactors. The government tried to use stress tests as a strategy to justify restarting reactors quickly. After the Fukushima nuclear disaster, however, public opinion became critical of electric power companies, and local residents near nuclear power plants began demanding the expansion of safety agreements between their municipalities and power companies. As a result, it has become increasingly difficult for an electric power company to meet one of the requirements for restarting a nuclear reactor, a local municipality’s consent. After all, it is extremely problematic to try restarting a nuclear reactor when the cause of the Fukushima nuclear disaster remains unclear. At the negotiations between the government and NGOs on January 26, 2012,

the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency also confirmed that restart of a nuclear reactor was going to require consent from local municipalities and residents.

Lawsuit against restarts
On Februay 13, the first public hearing on a lawsuit filed by 612 plaintiffs from Hokkaido and elsewhere to decommission the three Tomari reactors, was held at the Sapporo District Court. It is the first lawsuit in Japan to dispute the future existence of nuclear reactors in operation since the March 11 accident at Fukushima.

The group of plaintiffs is represented by Yugo Ono, professor emeritus at Hokkaido University, and others, who argue that "the existence of the nuclear reactors itself violates the personal rights of residents." In the court hearing on Feb. 13, Hokkaido University professor Masuyo Tokita, one of the representatives of the plaintiffs' group, said, "Nuclear power generation is the most dangerous way of producing electricity in Japan, a leading earthquake country in the world. For people to spend their days at ease, nuclear reactors must be stopped."

A total of 1,704 people from across Japan, the largest number of plaintiffs in a pending nuclear-related suit, sued the government and the operator of the Genkai nuclear power plant in Saga Prefecture on January 31, demanding that all four reactors at the plant be halted. In the suit filed with the Saga District Court against the state and Kyushu Electric Power Co., the plaintiffs from Saga and 28 other prefectures assert the reactors are dangerous and make them feel insecure amid the Fukushima nuclear crisis.

They are also seeking compensation of 10,000 yen each per month covering the period from March 2011, when the crisis erupted at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi power plant, until Kyushu Electric suspends operation of the Genkai plant.

Another group of around 300 residents sued Kyushu Electric in already demanding that the utility suspend operation of the Genkai plant.

Nuclear free Japan approaching
The nuclear lobby, big business, and the Japanese government are pushing hard to restart reactors claiming it is for the health of the economy, but while excess power once helped Japan grow rapidly, nuclear has not saved Japan’s economy from decline, and it’s not going to save it now. By remaining wedded to nuclear the government will be simply playing a game of dice with Japan’s economic future, and the health and safety of its people. It should instead be using this moment of upheaval to end its unhealthy relationship with nuclear utilities like Tepco, and embrace energy solutions that will keep its people safe, help it stick to greenhouse gas reduction targets, and give its economy a huge boost with a green industry revolution.

The Fukushima disaster created a contamination crisis, but not an energy crisis. It kick-started an identity crisis, destroying Japan’s image as the poster child for a mythical clean and safe nuclear society, and turning it into yet another cautionary tale of the risks governments take on with atomic snake oil salesmen. But it’s not too late. With the remaining three reactors due to go into shutdown over the next month, a nuclear free summer approaches, and a nuclear free future awaits.

Thus, the worst scenario that the government and electric power companies feared is now becoming quite realistic: Japan may really go nuclear-free as of late April 2012.

This “worst scenario” for the government and electric power companies, however, also points to the possibility of moving toward sustainable society that does not rely on nuclear energy.

The day Tomari Unit 3 will be stopped is approaching. So is the day for nuclear-free Japan.

Lucky at Fukushima Daini
The Fukushima No. 2 (Daini) plant, on the border of Naraha and Tomioka towns in Fukushima Prefecture, was opened on February 10, to the media for the first time since the disaster. It is 12 kilometers from the Fukushima No. 1 (Daiichi) nuclear power plant, which suffered several meltdowns. Both facilities are operated by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Plant chief Naohiro Masuda, in charge of plant operations since the crisis, said that the reactors at No. 2 (4 BWR's, totalling 4,400 MW) were 'near meltdown'. "The No. 2 plant almost suffered the same fate as No. 1 [which led to a severe crisis]." The tsunami caused the No. 2 plant's seawater pumps, used to cool reactors, to fail. Of the plant's four reactors, three were in danger of meltdown. Luckily, one external high-voltage power line still functioned, allowing plant staff in the central control room to monitor data on internal reactor temperatures and water levels.

Masuda noted the timing of the disaster was also critical in saving the plant. "We were lucky it happened on a Friday afternoon [and not on a weekend]," he said. Masuda pointed out only 40 employees would have been at the plant if the earthquake had occurred in the evening or on a weekend. "[In that case] it would be have been difficult for us to deal with the disaster," he said. On March 11, about 2,000 employees worked to stabilize the reactors. Some employees connected 200-meter sections of cable, each weighing more than a ton, over a distance of nine kilometers. However, despite intense efforts by all employees, it took a long time to stabilize the reactors.
The Yomiuri Shimbun, 10 February 2012

Sources: Friends of the Earth Japan, News release 27 January 2012, Mainichi Daily News,  1 & 14 february 2012 / blogpost, 10 February 2012
Contact: Citizens' Nuclear Information Center (CNIC). Akebonobashi Co-op 2F-B, 8-5 Sumiyoshi-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 162-0065, Japan
Tel: +81-3-3357-3800
Email: cnic[at]



Global conference for a nuclear power free world

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

The “Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World” was held in Yokohama on 14 and 15 January 2012. More than 6000 people on the first, and 5500 on the second day, including 100 international participants from over 30 countries, gathered at the conference.

The entire conference was broadcasted live over the internet, with an audience of approximately 100,000. At the closing of the conference, the "Yokohama Declaration for a Nuclear Power Free World" was announced. It demands:

1) the protection of the rights of those affected by the Fukushima nuclear power plant accident;
2) Responsibility of the Japanese Government and the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco);
3) Minimization of residents' exposure to radiation;
4) A global road map for the phase out of the nuclear fuel cycle and the decommissioning of all nuclear power plants;
5) Currently closed Japanese nuclear power plants to not be reopened;
6) The prohibition of export of nuclear power plants and components, especially to industrializing nations; and
7) It emphasis of the role of local and municipal authorities; and declares to develop a global network to support Fukushima. It also calls for actions to be taken throughout the world on 11 March 2012.

The diverse proposals for action made by conference participants are being gathered on a web site entitled the "Forest of Action for a Nuclear Power Free World". These many proposals include a range of levels, from recommendations to governments to suggestions of what individuals can do, and this web site provides a forum to develop to concrete future actions.

Eight current and former mayors, including two from Fukushima, joined the Mayors' Forum which was held as a special session at the conference. Here, it was decided to form a network of mayors to work to break free from nuclear power, and announced that a preparatory meeting for this network will be held in late February 2012. The Yokohama Declaration supports this proposal, and calls for citizens' support of this initiative.

The conference was coordinated by an Organizing Committee comprised of six Japanese NGOs, with Peace Boat as Secretariat. Many other organizations also cooperated in the coordination of programs throughout, and the conference was supported by a great number of endorsing organizations and corporations, and supporting organizations. More than 100 groups also held self-organized events at the conference, including around 20 organizations from Fukushima, and several international groups including WISE. A further characteristic of the conference was a diverse range of participatory workshops and opportunities for exchange, including in the Fukushima Room and children's programs.

The international guests visited the Fukushima town and region with a one-day bus tour. They spoke with farmers, civil servants of the City of Fukushima and villagers who have been evacuated out of the 20 kilometer zone to live in just a few miles out of this zone. One thing was made very clear to the foreign guests; the disaster is not over! Thousands of people still live in highly contaminated areas, the economy of the whole region has collapsed and thousands of families are disrupted because quite often children are evacuated to family far away while the adults stay in Fukushima to protect their houses and fight with national authorities and Tepco over compensation issues. 

More information:


Taiwan: fallacies and truths behind official nuclear phase-out plan

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Green Citizen Action Alliance

On November 3, Taiwan government declared a new energy policy which confirms that current reactors will be phased out, but the nuclear power plant under construction will be brought into commercial operation. This “pseudo” nuclear phase-out plan implies that Taiwan can become nuclear free as early as 2055. Furthermore, this new energy policy is formulated based on fallacies which will only place Taiwan under the darkest shadow of nuclear threat. 

On November 3, President Ma Ying-Jeou held a press conference by himself, declared a new energy policy which confirms that the current three nuclear power plants (with six reactors) will be phased out during 2018 to 2025, but the fourth nuclear power plant (at Lungmen, consisting of  two 1350 MW reactors) under construction will be brought to into commercial operation over the next five years.

With the concerns on energy security, reasonable electricity price and greenhouse gas emissions reduction, he insisted that Taiwan only can take a gradual path toward a nuclear free homeland, which is stated clearly by Environmental Basic Law.

In the “new” energy policy, the government provided a scheme to ensure the nuclear safety of all nuclear power plants and several counter-measures on energy efficiency enhancement and renewable energy promotion. Comparing to the situation before Fukushima catastrophe, the government deed takes a U-turn on nuclear power policies which seek the life extension and add more reactors at existing plants during past three years. It seems that government had finally responded to the public demand shown by the demonstrations in March and April. However, there are three key fallacies hiding behind this pseudo nuclear phase-out plan, and those fallacies will only place Taiwan under dark shadow of nuclear threat. 

Fallacy 1: de-growth of electricity demand is not possible
Implementation of this policy implies that Taiwan will still be trapped by energy-intensive development pathway in next two to three decades. Taiwan government emphasizes that the efforts on energy efficiency enhancement will be maximized, but at the same time intimidates citizens that if the fourth nuclear power plant is not able to fully operational in 2016, we will suffer electricity shortage that will lead to huge economic consequence and downward quality of life. But the covered truth is that this policy is actually built on the assumption that electricity demand will grow 3.2% annually, which then will lead to a 24% increase of electricity consumption at 2016 compared to 2010. The manufactured gap of electricity supply is created based on the assumption that the improvement rate of energy efficiency is only able to increase slightly, and the material output of electronics, petrochemical and steel industries will be expanded 30% in next five years. The upsurge growth of electricity demand contradicts the crucial measures in the nuclear phase-out scenarios being proposed in Germany and Switzerland: electricity demand should be restrained. But it is also against the vision of a true energy revolution that Taiwanese long for.

Fallacy 2: international peer-review process can ensure the safety
Owing to the enormous design and engineering errors of the fourth nuclear power plant revealed during the past three years the official 'Oversight Commission on the safety of the fourth nuclear power plant' (which includes representatives from environmental NGO, local community and engineering experts) even made a resolution this August, stating that the construction process should be stopped, unless Taipower reforms their engineering procedure before the end of this year.  Ignoring those warnings, the government still attempted to persuade the public that the safety of the fourth nuclear power plant can be ensured through a peer-review process by international experts. However, from the government's perspective, the only want to invite experts from World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) from the United States. The credibility of these two organizations hasn’t been questioned in Taiwan, even after the Fukushima catastrophe.

As we witness all kinds of flaws exposed by the Fukushima catastrophe, we also need to point out that the existing peer-review process is not equal to safety, since Fukushima Daiichi power plant just went through WANO peer-review process in 2009.

Like Indian government used the result of WANO peer-review process to suppress the public opposition on the construction of Koodankulam nuclear power plant in recent months, this scene will repeat in Taiwan and many other countries. Hence, to expose the fallacy of the existing peer-review process should be viewed as an important issue for global anti-nuclear movement.

Fallacy 3: existing stress test is well-organized and useful
President Ma pointed out that all current reactors are examined through the stress test that follows EU criteria. However, according to the first stage near-term safety assessment of nuclear power plants released this October by the regulatory body, Atomic Energy Council (AEC), only few key safety issues are answered. Even AEC already recognizes that the seismic design of the Chin-Shan nuclear power plant is not sufficient; however Taipower Company is still reluctant to take practical actions. Under this loose stress test, not only extreme climate events or terror attacks are absent, the most fundamental issue such as loss of electric power, AEC only asked Taipower to provide measure to response to a 24 hours blackout, not 72 hours blackout as occurred at Fukushima Daiichi. The most unacceptable issue is the lack of public participation during the whole stress test process, neither hearings or public consultations were held, only selected scholars were invited to comment on the report.

From Grassroots to Politician's Drama    
The above three fallacies exhibit that the promise of a nuclear free future made by President Ma, is merely hot-air.In the meantime, the President Candidate from the Democratic Progressive Party, Miss Tsai Ing-Wen declared that she will seek a true nuclear free homeland which includes retirement of existing reactors and abolishment of fourth NPP commercialization. However, she didn’t seem to be aware that de-growth of electricity consumption is the necessity to a nuclear free Taiwan, thus her commitment is not more reliable. This circumstance implies NGOs should keep generating political pressure to fight for the true alternative. After the two major demonstrations, NGOs chose diverse approaches to increase political pressure and raise public awareness, which included petition for a referendum on the fourth nuclear power plant, public education on nuclear disasters in primary school, or minor demonstrations in different forms. In memory of Fukushima catastrophe, all main NGOs involved in the anti-nuclear movement have a joint action at every 11th day of the month.

After ten years of absence on the main political agenda, the Fukushima catastrophe opens a new window of opportunity for the anti-nuclear movement in Taiwan. However, the anti-nuclear NGOs are all aware that the realization of nuclear free homeland should not solely relay on the overturn of the ruling party. Therefore, we need global support to help us to expose the above fallacies, to earn the public trust that a nuclear free Taiwan is necessary. Moreover, the global energy revolution cannot be achieved without a model for newly industrialized countries; Taiwan could be such a model to present a different development pathway and proof it is possible.

Source and contact: Chia-Wei Chao, Member of Executive Board, Green Citizen Action Alliance.

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Belgian phase-out: oldest 3 reactors to close in 2015.
Belgian's political parties have reached a conditional agreement to phase nuclear power by 2025, if they can find an adequate supply of energy from alternative sources by that time. Belgium currently has seven nuclear reactors at two sites, four at Doel in the north, and three at Tihange in the south. The three oldest reactors are set to be shut down by 2015, with the rest taken off the grid by 2025. The agreement confirms a decision taken in 2003, which was shelved during Belgium's political stalemate. The country has been without a federal government for 18 months, after coalition talks repeatedly failed following the elections in April 2010. Belgian's power stations are operated by Electrabel, which is part of French GDF-Suez. The company's share price fell nearly 5 percent on Monday.

Although Belgium had long planned its nuclear exit, public hostility to nuclear power has grown since Japan's nuclear disaster at Fukushima earlier this year.  Belgium will now negotiate with investors to see how it can find new capacity to replace the 5,860 MW that will be lost if the nuclear phase-out goes ahead.
Deutsche Welle, 31 October 2011

EDF delays construction start in UK.
In Nuclear Monitor 735 (October 21, 2011) we published an article called: 'UK nuclear program: companies reconsider investments', in which it was analyzed that even EDF must be having second thoughts about investing in new build in the UK, although (Electricite de France) is the only company that did not express doubts about investing in new nuclear in UK. E.On, RWE, Centrica and SSE (which cancelled investments) all have second thoughts and started internal review processes.

But on October 28, a few days after the publication, EDF decided to delay the construction of the four planned nuclear reactors in the UK, confirming a report from the French Les Echos newspaper. According to the EDF spokeswoman, EDF is taking time to evaluate the consequences of delays at a reactor under construction in Flamanville and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. EDF will release a new calendar for the project during the fall, she said. EDF was planning to start building the first of the planned nuclear rectors in 2013, the newspaper said.

(to be continued…), 28 October 2011

Mexico: natural gas cheaper than nuclear.
Mexico, Latin America’s second-largest economy and one of three Latin American nations that uses nuclear power (the other two being Brazil and Argentina), is abandoning plans to build as many as 10 new reactors and will focus on natural gas-fired electricity plants after boosting discoveries of the fuel. Mexico considered a plan to build as many as 10 nuclear power plants by 2028, according to a CFE presentation. The state company was weighing four investment plans to increase long-term capacity, the most ambitious nuclear plan included building 10 nuclear plants, according to the May 12, 2010 presentation.

The country is “changing all its decisions, amid the very abundant existence of natural-gas deposits,” newly appointed Energy Minister Jordy Herrera said in a November 1 interview. Mexico will seek private investment of about US$10 billion during five years to expand its natural gas pipeline network, he said.

Mexico’s energy ministry plans to update the nation’s long- term strategic plan to reflect the increased importance of gas, Herrera said, with the report due in the first quarter of 2012.

“Until we find a model to make renewable energy more profitable, gas is more convenient,” Herrera said. “The country has very high potential to develop renewable energy,” Herrera added. “But the renewable energy world is hurt by the cheap gas prices. And the government has to consider how much it can spend to promote alternative energy sources.”, 3 November 2011

New IPFM-report on managing spent fuel.
The International Panel on Fissile Materials (IPFM) releases new report: "Managing Spent Fuel from Nuclear Power Reactors: Experience and Lessons from Around the World". The report provides an overview of the policy and technical challenges faced by efforts at long-term storage and disposal of spent fuel from nuclear power reactors over the past five decades. It analyzes the efforts to manage and dispose of spent fuel by ten countries that account for more than 80 percent of the world's nuclear power capacity: Canada, Finland, France, Germany, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The new report also provides an overview of the technical issues relating to interim storage and transport of spent fuel, geological repositories, and the challenge of the associated international safeguards. The spent fuel from nuclear power reactors, and the high-level wastes produced in the few countries where spent fuel is reprocessed to separate plutonium, must be stored in a manner that will minimize releases of the contained radioactivity into the environment for up to a million years. Safeguards will be required to ensure that any contained plutonium is not diverted to nuclear-weapon use.
A PDF version of the report is available at

2011 edition of Nukespeak published.
On October 4, 2011, Sierra Club Books published the 30th anniversary edition of Nukespeak: The Selling of Nuclear Technology from the Manhattan Project to Fukushima exclusively in e-book format. First published in 1982 in the wake of the first great nuclear plant accident at Three Mile Island, the original edition, written by Stephen Hilgartner, Richard C. Bell, and Rory O’Connor, examined the turbulent history of the nuclear industry, documenting the extraordinary public relations campaign that developers undertook to sell nuclear technology.

Nukespeak is the language of the nuclear mindset — the worldview or system of beliefs of nuclear developers and enthusiasts. The word “Nukespeak” is a  tribute to George Orwell, who in his novel 1984, used the term “Newspeak” as the name of the language of Big Brother and the totalitarian state. Unlike a living language, the state was constantly removing words from common usage, with the ultimate goal to make it (literally) impossible for a citizen to think a seditious thought.

The new 2011 edition, updated by original authors Richard C. Bell and Rory O’Connor, brings the book fully up-to-date, exploring the critical events of the last three decades—including the disaster at Chernobyl, the campaign to re-brand nuclear energy as a “clean, green” solution to global warming, and the still unfolding disaster at Japan’s Fukushima power plant. In addition, the authors argue persuasively that a language of euphemism and distraction continues to dominate public debate about nuclear weapons and nuclear power around the world.
The book can be purchased online at: Amazon, iTunes and Barnes & Noble

Radioactive and toxic mine dumps threaten Johannesburg. The 380 mine dumps and slimes dams in the the South African province Gauteng are causing radioactive dust fallout, toxic water pollution and soil contamination, according to the final draft of a new report by the Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (GDARD) on mine residue areas (MRAs). The report was completed in July but is yet to be released. The report warns that if the province doesn’t act, it's capital “Johannesburg will eventually be seen as an old mining town that has reached the end of its working life”, with banks refusing to finance any homes or development near the dumps. Johannesburg is the largest city in South Africa by population and the world's largest city not situated on a river, lake, or coastline.

The report found that most MRAs – including mine dumps, waste rocks dumps and water storage facilities – in Gauteng are radioactive “because the Witwatersrand gold-bearing ores contain almost 10 times the amount of uranium in gold. “These radioactive tailings co-exist in these MRAs alongside the iron sulphide mineral pyrite, which reacts in the presence of oxygen and water to form a sulphuric acid solution – the main cause of acid mine drainage,” says the report, Feasibility Study on Reclamation of Mine Residue Areas for Development Purposes: Phase II Strategy and Implementation Plan. But it says that the broader issue of “diffuse sources” of pollution represented by the mine dumps and slimes dams and their possible interactions with rainfall, seepage, surface water runoff and shallow groundwater “is possibly more important than the impact of acid mine drainage in Gauteng.

In February, the Saturday Star revealed how the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) had recommended the relocation of residents of Tudor Shaft informal settlement, on an old radioactive mine dump, in Krugersdorp. The report suggests that this NNR ruling is “likely to become a watershed ruling likely to be relevant for a number of other sites” and that high-risk informal settlements will need to be relocated to minimise human health risks.
Saturday Star (South Africa), 5 November 2011

Germany's half-hearted phase-out

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

German anti-nuclear activists saw the switching off of eight German nuclear power plants with mixed feelings. Eight reactors going offline is definitely a great success, however, it leaves nine reactors running for quite some time and gives the nuclear industry many opportunities to obstruct further progress in phasing out nuclear power.

The limits of the German phase-out became clear in the area of export promotion where it didn’t stop the German government to actively support the building of Angra 3, a new nuclear plant in Brazil. The deal goes back to the German-Brazilian nuclear treaty of the 70ies, which foresaw the building of eight nuclear power plants, a uranium enrichment plant and a reprocessing plant. In reality, it yielded into the building of one reactor, Angra 2, which went online in 2000. Still on the plate is Angra 3, the twin reactor of Angra 2, which existed for decades only as construction site. The original planning and offering was done by German Kraftwerks Union, which first became part of Siemens, then of Areva-Siemens and is now owned completely by Areva, after Siemens left the joint-venture. In late 2009 Areva (at the time still Areva-Siemens) asked for an export credit guarantee for deliveries to the construction of Angra 3 worth 1,3 billion euro (US$1.6 bn). The then new conservative government got rid of the still existing guidelines for export credits as they did forbid the promotion of nuclear exports. The government handed out a guarantee in principle for Areva’s deliveries in February 2010. This can turn into a final guarantee only once the financing of the project is fixed with private banks.

Areva and its Brazilian client Eletronuclear are negotiating with a consortium of mainly French banks including Société Générale and BNP Paribas for the financing. Which was the status when the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe happened.

Guarantees in principle can be cancelled when the legal or factual basis changes. Following Fukushima, urgewald and other environmental organisations addressed chancellor Merkel. They pointed out that the moratorium for the oldest German reactors as reaction to the accident represented a change in the factual basis and should lead to the cancellation of the guarantee in principle. In April an online petition by campact, urgewald and attac asking for the cancellation started. Over 130.000 people signed it until October. In July an action in front of the chancellors office accompanied the attempt to hand over the petition. The Angra case was taken up with a lot of interest by the media, asking what a German phase out might mean for nuclear exports.

Opposition members of the budget committee forced the government in July not to prolong automatically the guarantee in principle (due every six month until the final guarantee is given) in the light of Fukushima and the German phase-out.

Apart from the German phase-out, some facts in Brazil raised further doubt on the project: following the Fukushima accident, a close look into the two existing Brazilian nuclear power plants revealed that Angra 2 had been running for 10 years on a preliminary licence. The head of the Brazilian nuclear authority CNEN had to leave office. Further, existing criticism on the unsatisfactory evacuation plans and radioactive waste storage on site in open cooling pools was reinforced. In July the Brazilian bar association addressed the High Court on the grounds that the congress never voted on Angra 3, which is against the Brazilian constitution. Electronuclear claims that the project has a valid licence from the 70ies, while the bar association argues that after 20 years of de facto stalemate of the project it has to be considered a new projects and needs validation from the congress.

Urgewald and campact addressed the German government and the budget committee on these developments and asked its members to cancel the guarantee in principle. The committee had been involved into the granting of the guarantee as they have to be informed about guarantees surpassing one billion Euro and can reject it.

However, despite the German phase out the government decided to prolong the guarantee in principle and the budget committee swallowed this decision in September. In order to calm critics they demanded a study from Areva showing how Angra 3 takes into account the lessons from Fukushima and reacts to possible problems, especially earth quakes, landslides (regular in the area and often blocking the only evacuation road), floods, electricity supply in emergency situations and evacuation plans. This study is supposed to be done by ISTec, a German institute for safety technology. They did an earlier study for Areva explaining that Angra 3 was in line with international safety standards. Urgewald obtained the study under a freedom of environmental information act request and Greenpeace commissioned an analysis of it, which revealed that the outcome was questionable and mainly a courtesy to Areva. Which suggests what to expect from the new study. The study is supposed to be ready by the end of this year or early next year, which might be the moment when the financial deal with the private banks might be as well ready for signing.

In reaction to the outrageous decision in favour of maintaining the guarantee, urgewald, together with campact and attac launched a protest campaign. It addresses chancellor Merkel and members of the ruling parties with postcards and calls for protest actions in front of the constituency offices of ruling parties’ members. The aim is to criticise the hypocrisy of “phasing out” in Germany and supporting new builds of nuclear power plants in other countries in order to promote German exports no matter what. It is as well to show to the members of parliament that citizens don’t want to be bail for nuclear exports and these kind of export promotion is under public scrutiny.

Source and contact: Regine Richter, urgewald
Email: regine[at]

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Germany's phase-out: Siemens follows

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
LAKA Foundation

Europe's largest engineering company, Siemens, decided to withdraw entirely from the nuclear industry. Chief executive Peter Loescher told Spiegel magazine it was the firm's answer to "the clear positioning of German society and politics for a pullout from nuclear energy". Siemens was responsible for building all 17 of Germany's existing nuclear power plants, and some abroad.

Siemens has been active in nuclear power for decades, for the most part under the name of KWU (Kraftwerk Union AG). KWU was established on April 1, 1969, by Siemens and another Germany firm AEG. The first (foreign) order was signed on that same day, the construction of the 450MW PWR at Borssele, The Netherlands. As a matter of fact an option for the construction of a second reactor was signed too, but never materialized. Other foreign reactor construction contracts signed were with Brazil, Iran, Argentina, Switzerland and Spain

On January 1, 1977 Siemens bought the AEG 50% KWU share and 10 years later, on October 1, 1987 KWU ceased of being an independent company and became part of Siemens concern.

In early 1989 Siemens started talks with Framatome, the French builder of PWRs. Which resulted in the joint venture Nuclear Power International (NPI). In 1991 a technical reactor concept was decided called the European Pressurized Water Reactor (EPR). "EDF and the major German utilities decided early 1992 to support the strategy and streamline their separate development of future reactors on the basis of this Franco-German cooperation", as Jean-Claude Leny Chairman and CEO of  Framatome put it in a March 1993 article in the German industry magazine Atomwirtschaft. The key milestone in the marketing of the EPR would be 1998 when first pouring of concrete was expected for the first EPR. EDF would place orders to Framatome and "hopefully" the German utilities to Siemens for EPR units to be built in Germany. "Framatome, Siemens and NPI will market and supply the EPR export markets", which was considered to be the main market.

Well as we know it didn't work out as planned.

In August 2000, Framatome and Siemens agreed to a new joint venture formally merging their nuclear activities into a new company called Framatome ANP, subsequently renamed Areva NP. Framatome would hold 66 per cent of the stock and Siemens the rest.

Continued delays to EDF’s order led Areva NP to switch to Finland as the focus for its marketing. In May 2002, the Finnish Parliament approved the construction of a fifth nuclear unit in Finland. In December 2003, the Finnish utility TVO signed a turnkey deal with Areva NP for a 1600MW EPR at a cost, including interest during construction and two fuel charges  of €3bn with first power first half 2009. Again, that didn't work out as planned: online not before second half of 2013 and costs expected to double.

In 2009 Siemens used an option to exit Areva SA. But an arbitration tribunal in May this year ordered Siemens to pay 648 million euro (more than US$900 million) to Areva after it failed to meet contractual obligations.

Due to the decision to withdraw entirely from nuclear, Siemens will cancel the long-planned joint-venture with Russian nuclear-power company Rosatom Corp. in the field of reactors. although Mr Loescher said he would still seek to work with their partner "in other fields". There are no financial implications linked to Siemens's retreat, according to spokesman Alfons Benzinger.

The German government's decision marked a complete U-turn by the chancellor, who only in September 2010 had announced that the life of existing nuclear plants would be extended by an average of 12 years. Siemen's move, announced on September 18, is also a turnaround. In 2009, the firm withdrew from the joint venture with Areva, because the German firm had ambitions to expand its own competence to build entire nuclear plants. "In view of global climate change and the increasing power demand worldwide, for us nuclear energy remains an essential part of a sustainable energy mix," Mr Loescher had said at the time.

Siemens has gradually scaled back its nuclear-power operations in recent years, after helping build some of the world's largest reactors in the latter part of the last century. While Siemens is pushing renewable-energy sources such as wind turbines and solar power, the company will continue to build steam turbines that can be used both in conventional as well as nuclear facilities.

The German engineering company makes products including high-speed trains, medical scanners, and factory-automation equipment. The entire energy division is Siemens's second- largest by revenue, generating 6.77 billion euros ($9.34 billion) in the most recent quarter.

Sources: Groene Amsterdammer (NL), 16 November 1977 /  Financial Times, 28 February 1989 / Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 14 April 1989 / Atomwirtschaft,: Franco-German Cooperation in Nuclear Development, March 1993 / Nuclear News ‘Siemens/Framatome nuclear merger completed’ August 2000 /  Nuclear Monitor 719/720, 12 November 2010 / Bloomberg, 18 September 2011 / BBC News, 18 September 2011
Contact: WISE Russia


Japanese prime minister: "nuclear free future"

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

“We will aim to bring about a society that can exist without nuclear power,” Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said in a television address to the country July 13. The statement was Kan’s clearest yet about the appropriate long-term energy goals for a country dealing with the consequences of the worst nuclear crisis in a quarter-century. More than two-thirds (70.3 %) of Japanese support Prime Minister Naoto Kan's call to do away with nuclear power, a media poll showed on July 24, underscoring growing opposition to atomic energy in the wake of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

It has now been more than four months since the accident began at Fukushima Daiichi and unfortunately no end is yet in sight although much of the major media moved on from Fukushima. But the accident continues, radiation continues to be released (though much lower amounts, of course, than initially), and the risk of new problems remains.

"Japan without nuclear power"
Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan's July 13, statement was his clearest yet about the appropriate long-term energy goals for a country dealing with the consequences of the worst nuclear crisis in a quarter-century: “We will aim to bring about a society that can exist without nuclear power.” One day before that statement, Kan told lawmakers that Japan must scrap a plan that calls for the country to increase its use of nuclear power to 53 percent by 2030, up from the pre-quake level of roughly 30 percent. And he took a stand against the government’s long-peddled slogan about the safety of nuclear power ­ the “safety myth” that allowed for the construction of 54 reactors over four decades. “Through my experience of the March 11 accident, I came to realize the risk of nuclear energy is too high,” Kan said. “It involves technology that cannot be controlled according to our conventional concept of safety.”

But Kan’s energy plan faces numerous obstacles, from within his own government and from the utility companies that act as regional monopolies. There is also the matter of Kan’s own domestic unpopularity and his waning authority to guide the country.

But the fact that public opinion is changing, was also highlightened  by the fact that, also on July 13, the Asahi Shimbun, Japan’s second-largest paper, ran a front-page editorial calling for the phase-out of nuclear energy. But the piece also warned against immediate abandonment. “If we go to zero suddenly, we will encounter power shortages, and our lives and economic activities will be hugely affected,” the editorial said. “It is more realistic to not try too hard but to steadily decrease the dependency.”

Nuclear establishment
But Naoto Kan's dream of creating a society free of nuclear power appears destined to die when his reign as prime minister expires. No politician considered a possible successor is taking up Kan's call to decommission all of Japan's nuclear reactors. In fact, almost all prominent Cabinet ministers and executives of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan who have supported Kan appear reluctant to go along with his nuclear-free idea.

Japan suspend nuclear talks
In what could be an important move, the Japanese government has decided to suspend negotiations with India and four other countries on civil nuclear cooperation following Prime Minister Mr Naoto Kan's call for Japan's eventual exit from atomic power, according to a media report. Any move to proceed with the talks now “could risk contradicting the Prime Minister's policy,” an unnamed government source was quoted as saying by 'Kyodo' news agency.

The report said the government will suspend talks with India, Brazil, South Africa, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates on the sale of Japanese-made nuclear power equipment and technology. The decision concerns negotiations over completing separate nuclear power cooperation agreements with these countries.

The source also indicated the government will not schedule any high-level talks with the five prospective nations on completing nuclear cooperation accords without getting Mr Kan's nod, the report said.

Turkey to cancel talks with Japan?
The Turkish government informed the Japanese government that it will cancel the preferential negotiations with Japan and start talks with other candidate countries on the project to build a nuclear power plant, if Japan does not make clear its intention to continue the negotiations by the end of July, (Japanese) government sources said.

Turkey plans to construct a power plant with four 1.4 million kilowatt-class nuclear reactors in the Black Sea coastal city of Sinop. It aims to start operating the plant around 2020. Toshiba Corp. hopes to win an order to construct the plant with the cooperation of Tokyo Electric Power Co.

The negotiations between Turkey and Japan have been suspended since the nuclear crisis began at TEPCO's Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Turkey ended negotiations with South Korea last December and gave the Japanese government the preferential negotiation rights. Turkey, which is also an earthquake-prone country, highly valued Japan's quake-resistance technology in awarding the priority rights, according to the sources.

After Kan's "denuclearization declaration" on July 13, it has been increasingly unclear whether Japan will be able to extend government-level support to Turkey, even if Toshiba won the order. Meanwhile, Japan's rivals, especially South Korea, are eager to extend such support.

"Stable cooling"
Tepco says it has achieved “stable cooling” of all of the reactors at the site. This might sound like good news until it is realized that Tepco does not mean the reactors are at cold shutdown. In fact, all 3 reactors with fuel in them remain above the boiling point of 100 degrees Centigrade, meaning that water continues to boil off and radiation continues to be released. Cold shutdown—bringing the temperatures below 100 degrees—is still not expected before January 2012. What Tepco really means is that it has more or less successfully set up a system for water to be recirculated through the reactors, so that constant water from outside is no longer needed. However, the recirculation system has been plagued with problems from the beginning and continues to not work at desired capacity. That is not the case for the Unit 4 fuel pool, which continues to receive water from outside. Temperature in the pool is said to be below boiling, at 80 degrees Centigrade.

Radioactive beef
The central government is considering buying all beef with levels of radioactive cesium exceeding government standards in an effort to try to address rising consumer concern and falling prices for Japanese beef. It would be the first time the central government has provided direct compensation for food products contaminated by the accident at Fukushima.

However, the current draft plan only envisages paying for beef that has been confirmed as contaminated in random tests. Meat from cows that have not been tested will not be bought. Farmers are demanding that all cows affected by shipment restrictions be bought up by the government to cover large losses from tumbling beef prices due to the radiation scare. The payment of compensation to beef farmers could lead to complaints from other farmers and fishermen of preferential treatment.

The issue of contaminated beef surfaced July 8, when meat from cattle shipped from a farm in Minami-Soma, Fukushima Prefecture, was found to have levels of cesium exceeding government standards. The contamination was caused by feeding the cattle contaminated straw. Investigators are looking into whether cattle in other areas have been similarly affected.

Industry minister Banri Kaieda said that Tepco should shoulder part of the costs of the government's planned purchase.

But it’s not just beef and straw. Very high levels of Cesium-137 and other radioactive elements have been detected in all manners of agricultural products and soils across the region. Of particular note are both the Cesium-137 levels far higher that allowable limits, but also the continued presence of high levels of Iodine-131. Because of its 8-day half-life, Iodine-131 released during the initial week of the accident, when extremely large amounts of radioactive materials were ejected from all the Fukushima reactors, already has decayed to background. The continued presence of high levels of Iodine-131 is a certain indicator of the radiation releases that continue at Fukushima and will continue for months to come.

State support Tepco
A bill aimed at keeping troubled utility Tepco solvent gained approval from a Japanese parliamentary committee on July 26, with both ruling and opposition party support, paving the way for its passage through both houses of Japan's parliament. The bill would create a state-backed entity to financially support Tepco, which is in desperate need of assistance to cope with the potentially staggering costs of compensating those affected by the nuclear accident at its Fukushima Daiichi plant.

But while approval of the bill may reassure financial markets concerned about Tepco's survival, revisions to the bill to secure its likely passage mean the key issue of who pays what to fund the compensation will be decided later. Japan's two leading domestic rating agencies have already warned that parliament needs to move quickly to avert a Tepco bond rating downgrade that could trigger a major selloff in the utility's bonds, hitting the broader market.

Tepco shares have lost 76% since the accident while the yield on the utility's bonds has risen sharply, as has the cost of debt protection.

Nuclear plant workers developed cancer despite lower radiation exposure than legal limit. Of 10 nuclear power plant workers who have developed cancer and received workers’ compensation in the past, nine had been exposed to less than 100 millisieverts of radiation, according to a Mainichi Daily News report. The revelation comes amid reports that a number of workers battling the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant were found to have been exposed to more than the emergency limit of 250 millisieverts, which was raised from the previous limit of 100 millisieverts in March. The current guidelines for workers’ compensation due to radiation exposure only certify leukemia among various types of cancer. In these cases compensation is granted only when an applicant is exposed to more than 5 millisieverts of radiation a year.

According to Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry (of Japan) statistics, of the 10 nuclear power plant workers, six had leukemia, two multiple myeloma and another two lymphatic malignancy. Only one had been exposed to 129.8 millisieverts but the remaining nine were less than 100 millisieverts, including one who had been exposed to about 5 millisieverts.

Mainichi Daily News, Japan, July 27, 2011 

Sources: Washington Post, 13 July 2011 / The Statesman, 17 July 2011 / Asahi, 19 July 2011 / NIRS update, 19 July 2011 / Asahi, 23 July 2011 / Japan Times, 24 July 2011 / Reuters, 24 July 2011 /, 26 july / The Yomiuri Shimbun, 27 July 2011
Contact: Citizens' Nuclear Information Center (CNIC), Akebonobashi Co-op 2F-B, 8-5 Sumiyoshi-cho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 162-0065, Japan.
Tel: +81 3-3357-3800


In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Municipalities try to block Danish plans for a final LILW repository.
The five Danish municipalities that host the six sites designated by Danish Decommissioning (DD) as a potential final low- and intermediate-level radioactive waste repository (see In Brief, Nuclear Monitor 727, 27 May 2011) have all refused to host it. On 26 May they sent a letter to the Danish interior and health minister, Bertel Haarder, suggesting that Risø National Laboratory on the island of Zeeland, where almost all of the radioactive waste has been produced at three research reactors, should be the place, where the waste is kept in the future. If that is not possible, a deal should be struck to send the up to 10.000 cubic metre radioactive waste abroad to a country experienced in dealing with it. The municipalities were dissatisfied that they had not been consulted in advance and that they had to hear of DD’s recommendations through the press. The minister dismissed the protests, arguing that the decision where to place the waste is several years off in the future and that there would be plenty of time to discuss the final location. However, locating the waste will not be up to him because the Danish interior and health ministry that has so far overseen the process is expected to give up its responsibilities after the completion of the pre-feasibility studies that has now been submitted. Since 2009 three other ministries have been fighting each other in order not to have to take charge of the project. The whole process has been heavily criticised in the media as well as from political opposition parties. Most recently, the Swedish NGO Office for Nuclear Waste Review (MKG) has criticised DD for not acknowledging that some of the waste is high-level radioactive waste and that it has failed to distinguish between short and long lived intermediate-level radioactive waste. According to MKG, apart from being designed to store only the short lived low- and intermediate-level waste and not the long lived, the planned Danish repository does not live up to Swedish standards, mainly because the safety analysis is too short-term.
Ingeniøren, 29 March 2011 / Jyllandsposten, 15 April 2011 / Radio Denmark, 26 May 2011

Sit-in against Jordan nuclear program in capital Amman.
On May 31, Jordan wittnessed its first anti-nuclear action. Not a spectacle in terms of number of people and methods applied, the participants comprised many concerned Jordanian citizens who are worried of the highly dangerous potential impacts of nuclear energy in Jordan. It included people from various disciplines of life, connected with their fear about the country’s nuclear program, which calls for the establishment of a 1,000 megawatt (MW) nuclear reactor. Wearing black T-shirts reading “No to a nuclear reactor”, the 40 protesters expressed concern over the effects of a nuclear reactor and uranium mining on public health and the environment.

Basil Burgan, an anti-nuclear activist and part of a coalition of 16 NGOs, said the demonstration was the “continuation” of efforts to take Jordan’s nuclear ambitions off-line. “We have come to a point where nuclear power has begun to take priority over solar and wind energy and we want to say that a small desert county like Jordan has no need for a nuclear power program,” he said on the sidelines of the sit-in,

Adnan Marajdeh, a resident of the Hashemiyyeh District near the planned site of the country’s first reactor in Balama, some 40 kilometers northwest of the capital, said there has been growing concern among local residents over the social and environmental impact of the plant. “We already suffer from the effects of the Samra Power Station, the Khirbet Al Samra Plant, a steel factory… now they have to put a nuclear power plant on top of us as well?” added the military retiree, who is president of the Jordan Environment Protection and Prevention Society.

Despite a resurgent opposition to nuclear power, Jordan is expected to select one of three short-listed vendors - Canadian, Russian and French-Japanese technologies - by June 30 for the construction of the countries first nuclear power plant.
Jordan Times, 1 June 2011 / Blog Batir Wardam at:

UK: No stress-test for Sellafield.
Media reports early June cited a British government spokesperson as saying that Sellafield would not be one of the 143 nuclear reactors across Europe to undergo a “stress test”. The spokesperson explained that the UK decision was based on the fact that Sellafield was a nuclear processing facility and not a power plant, therefore it did not meet the EU criteria for stress-testing. But Sellafield’s exclusion causes Irish consternation and the "renewed goodwill and neighbourliness between Ireland and Britain that has followed Queen Elizabeth’s successful visit to these shores" is facing fresh peril.

The Irish government do not seem to be taking no for an answer - a spokesperson for Environment Minister Phil Hogan said it was the department’s “understanding and expectation” that the stress test would apply to Sellafield, following a bilateral meeting on the issue in March.

“Sellafield cannot be exempted from vital safety health checks because of a technicality. It remains an active nuclear site and therefore poses risks like any other. The UK authorities should be willing to put Sellafield to the stress test, even if it’s not covered by the EU proposal, as it still represents a major safety concern for Irish citizens,” said the Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness., 4 June 2011

EU: directive to export radioactive waste.
EU member states should be able to send their radioactive waste to non-EU countries according to the EU Energy Committee. Voting on a draft directive on the  management of spent fuel, MEPs agreed that countries should be able to export radioactive waste outside of Europe, as long as it is processed in accordance with new EU safety rules.

Under the proposed directive, each EU state must create programs to ensure that spent fuel and waste is "safely processed and disposed of", as well as holding plans for the management of all nuclear facilities, even after they close.

MEPs also backed stricter rules for the protection and training of workers in the industry, agreeing that national governments must ensure sufficient funds are available to cover expenses related to decommissioning and management of radioactive waste under the "polluter pays" principle.

The EU Parliament's final vote on the directive will take place in June., 27 May 2011

Albania moves away from nuclear.
Maybe it was unlikely already but Albania moved one step away from nuclear. Albanian Premier Sali Berisha hinted May 7, on the fifth anniversary of the European Fund for Southeast Europe that the country is reconsidering previous plans for the construction of a nuclear power plant. Despite not declaring a definitive step down from the project, Albania’s Prime Minister made reference to the incident at Fukushima and Germany’s decision to close all nuclear plants by 2022 as a sign his government might be moving away from plans to build a nuclear plant. At the same time, according to a report by Top Channel, Berisha asked EFSE to help provide loans to investors willing to build new hydropower plants, meaning that for the time being Albania’s priority will be water generated energy., 8 June 2011

France: only 22 % in favor of new reactors.
France is the world's most nuclear-dependent country, producing 80 percent of its power from 58 reactors, but public opposition is growing. An opinion poll published June 4, found just over three-quarters of those surveyed back a gradual withdrawal over the next 25 to 30 years from nuclear technology.

The Ifop survey found only 22 percent of respondents supported building new nuclear power stations,15 percent backed a swift decommissioning and 62 percent a gradual one.
Reuters, 7 June 2011

Germany: popular resistance makes 2022 phase-out likely; movement wants faster

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

Only four of Germany’s 17 nuclear plants are in operation after some reactors were shut down for maintenance on May 21.  Some antinuclear organizations even warn for staged black-outs. Germany’s seven oldest reactors were shut down after the March 11 Fukushima disaster and five more have been halted for planned maintenance. Another hasn’t been in operation for years. Power generated from nuclear energy in Germany has fallen to under 10 percent, about half of what is produced from sun, wind and hydro, from 23 percent of the total before March.

On Saturday 26 March, only 2 weeks after the Fukushima accident started, an unprecedented 250.000 people took to the streets in four cities in Germany. Since Chancellor Merkel decided to revoke the 2000 phase-out scenario last year, the German anti-nuclear power movement became even stronger than it already was. Since that decision to prolong the life of nuclear power in Germany every Monday evening demonstrations ('Montagsdemo') took place in many cities and a 100,000+ demonstration in Berlin on September 18, 2010, but after Fukushima the movement changed gear with ‘Montagsdemos’ in several hundred (up to 840!) cities. For May 28, again large demonstrations in 21 cities are announced, which will most likely attract well over 150.000 people. Blockades are planned at two reactor sites (Biblis and Brokdorf) mid June just before the 3 months closure of the 7 oldest reactors ends. A decision whether to restart these 7 reactors has not been made yet.

Meanwhile, the pro-nuclear Angela Merkel changed her mind again and decided that a phase-out has to take place in about 10 years. The Bavarian faction of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative union, the CSU, set its first-ever target for Germany to stop using nuclear power late on May 20, suggesting a total withdrawal by 2022. The markedly conservative group that dominates Bavarian politics held a closed-door meeting for its top brass which ran several hours late as they debated the issue. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the next day that 2022 was "a good time" for Germany to end nuclear power.

Germany had been scheduled to stop all nuclear power production by 2020 as part of a legislation introduced by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's Social Democrat and Green coalition in 2000, until the current administration overturned this law in 2010 after winning the general elections.

The Green party, meanwhile, says the current government should complete a nuclear withdrawal before the end of the current legislative period in 2017.

A draft report from Germany's ethics commission, set up by Chancellor Merkel to debate the pros and cons of nuclear energy in Germany, says the country could and should close down all its nuclear power stations by 2021. And it says this date could even be moved forward by some time.

Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats slipped behind the environmentalist opposition Greens into third place in Bremen, Germany's smallest state, in May 22's regional election. It was their worst showing there since 1959. In March, the Christian Democrats lost a traditional heartland, the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, to a Green-led center-left coalition.

RWE buys into Dutch nuclear.
Meanwhile, one of the four German utilities with nuclear power plants, RWE, succeeded in the long wish to take a stake in the only Dutch nuclear power plant at Borssele. On May 17 it reached agreement with utility Delta for a 30% stake in the 1973 PWR.

Legal wranglings over ownership of  Borssele have been rumbling on since RWE announced an offer to buy Dutch utility Essent in January 2010. Essent owned 50% of the plant, together with Delta, through the EPZ joint venture. However, Delta took legal steps to prevent the sale of Essent's share in the Borssele reactor to RWE, arguing that the plant should remain in public ownership, in line with EPZ's articles of association and shareholders' agreement. Dutch courts duly upheld Delta's view and as a consequence, Essent's 50% stake in Borssele was excluded from the buyout to RWE. Now, according to a statement by Delta, the two companies have reached an agreement that will see Delta remain the majority shareholder, thereby protecting the public interest in the plant. Final agreements on the deal are due to be signed by the end of the year.

But more important, with this agreement, it is likely RWE will be a partner for Delta in the planned construction of (a) new reactor(s) at Borssele. At the moment there are still two formal applications for new units: one by Delta and one by the shareholders of Essent, called ERH.

Sources: AFP, 21 May 2011 / AP, 25 May 2011 / Sueddeutsche Zeitung,  20 May 2011 / Deutsche Welle, 11 and 21 May 2011 / World Nuclear News, 17 May 2011
Contact:.ausgestrahlt. Marienthaler Straße 35 (Hinterhaus), 20535 Hamburg, Germany
Tel. + 49 40 - 2531 89 40

Switzerland: closer to a nuclear phase-out or tactical pause?

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Philippe de Rougemont, President, Sortir du nucléaire

A referendum on the construction of three new 1600 MW nuclear power plants (NPP) was  to be held in 2013, for a planned grid connection in 2025. That was before the Fukushima catastrophe. Since then the federal department  in charge of energy decided to uphold the entire consultation process to "learn more" from the Japanese catastrophe.

When the nuclear catastrophe started to unfold at Fukushima-1 on march 11, the Minister for energy and infrastructures, Ms Doris Leuthard, a former nuclear lobby board member, decided to uphold the non-decisionary consultation process - mandatory under the new nuclear energy law - that was to lead to a decisionary referendum expected for 2013 (see Nuclear Monitor 676, 4 September 2008). The reason given for this decision was to analyse 3 new nuclear power plants projects using new knowledge gained at Fukushima. A country without sea coastline has no tsunami warning zone, but other residual risks exist, such as major breaches in large mountain dams that could drown nuclear installations, earthquakes or human errors.

The federal council ordered new studies, on the security of the 5 existing nuclear reactors and on future energy scenarios, including nuclear phase-out plans. At first the antinuclear campaign was relieved by this, until doubts started clouding the federal decision. Had Ms Leuthard been genuinely shocked by the new nuclear catastrophe, enough to halt a process that was supposed to lead to the building of at least one new nuclear power plant that she backed until then? Or was it a tactical decision, namely, a momentary suspension, not a grounding? Was she afraid Swiss citizens wouldn't vote according to plan this time, and simply decided to postpone the vote until momentary emotional considerations receded back to normal? Since 1984, three votes on nuclear phase out initiatives (formal proposals) have been put to vote. Each one failed to phase out nuclear power, apart from a 1990 vote, 4 years after Chernobyl, that imposed a 10 year moratorium on nuclear power plant constructions.

What are the current prospects for change on the energy issue outside of the federal council?

The Swiss Green party launched a new federal initiative, gaining political and NGO support. If voted into the constitution (in 3 to 5 years), it would bar construction of new nuclear power plants and limit life cycles of existing reactors to 40 years, with a last closure in 2024. The Socialist party, also in competition for new green votes, announced parliamentary initiatives to phase out nuclear power.

Major editorialists and conservative politicians have taken position against nuclear energy, before Fukushima this wouldn't have been expected. In June the Swiss parliament will hold sessions dedicated to future energy scenarios; will the anti-nuclear drive lose momentum or will this catastrophe act as a catalyst for change? Two weeks after Fukushima, a poll showed 87% of the population wanted a progressive nuclear phase out.

Source and contact: Philippe de Rougemont, President, Sortir du nucléaire, CP 1378  CH 1001 Lausanne