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3. Uranium mine development projects

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Uranium Mining Issues: 2013 Review

License applications:
−  according to our records, no license applications for new uranium mines were filed in 2013.

Uranium mining/milling licenses were issued for:
− for the operation of Cameco's Cigar Lake uranium mine in Saskatchewan, Canada,
− for the processing of ore from the new Cigar Lake mine at Areva's existing McClean Lake mill in Saskatchewan, Canada,
− for the operation of Cameco's North Butte in situ leach uranium mine in Wyoming, USA; production began in May,
− for the commencement of operation of Uranerz Energy's Nichols Ranch uranium in situ leach mine in Wyoming, USA,
− for underground mining at INB's Caetité uranium mine in Brazil,
− for Atomredmetzoloto's Mkuju River uranium mine project in Tanzania; however, ARMZ disputes a $206 million tax claim, and the start of development of the project is still open due to "some pending issues".
− for the operation of Anatolia Energy's Temrezli in situ leach uranium project in Turkey − even before the submission of an Environmental Impact Assessment (!).

Several uranium mine development projects were temporarily suspended and/or abandoned, due to the unfavourable market situation (and other issues):
− Ucore Rare Metals' Bokan Mountain − Dotson Ridge deposit in Alaska, USA, is now to be mined solely for rare earths.
− Energy Fuels' Piñon Ridge uranium mill project in Colorado, USA: a few months after the state approved the construction license, project owner Energy Fuels announced that the mill will not be built, unless there is an unexpected turnaround in the price of uranium.
− Strathmore's Peña Ranch uranium mill project in New Mexico, USA, was abandoned, after the company was taken over by Energy Fuels Inc.
− Uranium Energy's Grants Ridge uranium mine project in New Mexico, USA: the license application was withdrawn due to "market conditions and lack of funding".
− Strathmore's Lower Gas Hills open pit / heap leach uranium mine project in Wyoming, USA: the license application was indefinitely delayed "until such time that uranium prices justify licensing and construction of the facility".
− Energy Fuels' Canyon mine in Arizona, USA: the shaft-sinking was placed on standby "due to market conditions, and to simplify and lessen the expense of current litigation at the mine" (the Havasupai tribe and three conservation groups sued the U.S. Forest Service over its decision to allow operation of the mine).
− Areva's huge Imouraren uranium project in Niger was delayed further to the end of 2015; Areva pays an EUR 35 million compensation for the delay.
− Forsys Metals' Valencia uranium mine project in Namibia: most workers were dismissed due to the weak uranium market.
− Rio Tinto's Rössing mine in Namibia: the preparation of the Social and Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposed mining of the Z20 deposit was halted.

Projects currently under development, or being prepared for development:

In Canada:
− The environmental review process for the Kiggavik uranium mine project in Nunavut continued with Areva supplying responses to information requests and technical comments. The Saskatchewan Dene worried about flying uranium from the proposed Kiggavik mine over their traditional territory.
− The English River First Nation in Saskatchewan signed a deal with Cameco and Areva providing an estimated CDN$600 million in economic benefit over the next 10 years through industry employment, sustainable business development and community investment; some band members opposed the deal.
− Legal action was started challenging a similar Cameco/Areva deal with the northern community of Pinehouse in Saskatchewan.
− The Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations chief demanded a revenue sharing deal with First Nations for new mining projects.
− Further delays were announced for the start of mining operations at Cigar Lake and for the processing of Cigar Lake ore at the McClean Lake mill in Saskatchewan; mining at Cigar Lake actually began on December 16.
− Cameco's Millennium underground uranium mine project in Saskatchewan obtained environmental approval.

In the USA:
− Powertech's Centennial uranium in situ leach mine project in Colorado: the company quit the legal fight against the Colorado mining regulations; a Hong Kong company acquired a majority interest in the mothballed project.
− Powertech's Dewey-Burdock uranium in situ leach mine project in South Dakota: while the state Department of Environment and Natural Resources recommended that a mining permit be granted for the project, two state panels postponed further action until the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have made their rulings on the project; an U.S. NRC board admitted several contentions of intervenors against the project. Post-restoration uranium concentrations in down-gradient groundwater at the site may be much higher than previously thought, modeling suggests.
− Strathmore's Roca Honda uranium mine project in the Cibola National Forest, New Mexico: the U.S. Forest Service released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the project; opponents held protests in Albuquerque against it.
− Hydro Resources' Church Rock/Crownpoint uranium in situ leach mine project in New Mexico: the U.S. NRC released an Environmental Report for the license renewal of the project.
− Rio Grande Resources' idle Mount Taylor uranium mine near Grants, New Mexico: a court ordered a new hearing over the proposed reactivation of the mine after 23 years of inactivity.
− Virginia Uranium's Coles Hill uranium mine project in Virginia: opponents released a report raising questions on the ability of Virginia Uranium Inc. and its regulator to follow best practices in the development of the project.
− Bayswater Uranium's Reno Creek in situ leach uranium mine project in Wyoming: the licensing process continued with NRC issuing the opportunity to request a hearing and to petition for leave to intervene and a notice of intent to prepare a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS).
− Peninsula Energy's Ross uranium in situ leach project in Wyoming: the licensing process continued with the U.S. NRC issuing a Draft Supplemental EIS for comment and the U.S. EPA approving an aquifer exemption; construction work commenced in October.
− Ur-Energy's Lost Creek uranium in situ leach mine project in Wyoming: the mine started operation in August; in December, however, the state ordered the halt of operation for failure to maintain the mandatory bleed (a fundamental requirement for in situ leach mining: the pumped volume must be slightly higher than the injected volume to prevent solution excursions beyond the mining zone).
− Cameco's Gas Hills uranium in situ leach project in Wyoming: the licensing process continued with the U.S. BLM announcing the availability of the final EIS and the state inviting comment on the draft permit for the deep disposal wells.
− Denison's EZ uranium mine in Arizona: the proposed listing of endangered cacti may have impacts on the mine.
− Wate Mining's Wate uranium mine project in Arizona: the Navajo Nation plans to block access for uranium transport off site.
− Uranium Energy's Goliad in situ leach uranium mine project in Texas: in March, the U.S. EPA issued an aquifer exemption after intervention of a powerful lobbyist; residents appealed the aquifer exemption; and, Goliad County Commissioners appealed the TCEQ ruling allowing mining at the site.

In Central/South America:
− Santa Quitéria Consortium's Itataia uranium/phosphate mine project in Ceará, Brazil: the Environmental Impact Assessment report was filed in September.

In Africa:
− Zhonghe's uranium mine project in Namibia: public involvement did not take place according to the EIA regulation, The Earth Organization Namibia complained. Subsequently, the Environmental Impact Assessment for the project was finally made available − two years after completion and four months after the license was issued. Worse still, the document does not contain any assessment at all, it could just pass as a scoping document, if anything. Miraculously, though, it must somehow have passed the Namibian licensing process.
− China Guangdong's Husab uranium mine project in the Namib Naukluft National Park in Namibia: a last-minute change brought a switch from dry to wet tailings disposal, increasing the mine footprint by 400 hectares; construction began, while the comment period for the EIS amendment was still open.
− Deep Yellow's Ongolo and Tumas uranium mine projects in Namibia: draft Environmental Scoping Reports were lodged.
− Areva's mothballed Trekkopje uranium mine project in Namibia: a second shipment of uranium left the site in July.
− A-Cap Resources' Letlhakane uranium project in Botswana: "favourable economics" were announced from the scoping study, provided the uranium price rises significantly...
− Kanyemba uranium project in Zimbabwe: the government was criticised for many 'secretive' mining deals.
− Rockgate Capital's Faléa uranium mine project in Mali: Rockgate Capital Corp. was acquired by Denison Mines Corp.

In Europe:
− Greenland Minerals and Energy's Kvanefjeld rare earth − uranium project in Greenland: as the parliament decision on the lifting of the zero-tolerance uranium policy approached, the company − in an attempt to appease critics on the environmental impact of the project − proposed to locate the project's refinery overseas, for example in Denmark. But, as soon as parliament had lifted the ban, the company switched back to a refinery in Greenland. Environmental concerns were also raised on the planned dumping of millions of tonnes of tailings in a nearby Lake.
− Aura Energy's Häggån uranium mine project in Sweden: in February, Areva was selected as a preferred strategic partner for the project, but, in July already, Areva refrained from the partnership.
− European Uranium Resources' Kurisková uranium mine project in Slovakia: in February and March, protests were held against the project; in April, the Kosice city council confirmed its opposition to the proposed mine, and the Kosice Region incorporated a uranium mining ban in the zoning plan for the project site; in August, the Minister of Environment cancelled the renewal of the exploration licence, but the company filed an appeal. Interestingly, European Uranium Resources Ltd. is one of the companies that have announced to delete the term "uranium" from their name; after the merger with a base metal explorer holding properties in Portugal and Spain, the new name will be European Minerals Inc.
− CNU's Tulghes-Grinties uranium mine project in Romania: according to the Ministry of Economy, "the chances are very high to find financing for the development of the Tulghes-Grinties deposit".
− CNU's Uzina TG uranium mill project in Romania: in September, public comment was invited on the project that is to replace the existing Uzina R plant at Feldioara.
− Berkeley's Retortillo uranium mine project in Salamanca, Spain: in October, the environmental licence was granted for mining of the deposit; in November, environmentalists slammed the Environmental Impact Assessment for failure to assess the radiological impacts; in December, the Ministry of Industry postponed the decision on the mining project and demanded an assessment of its radiological impacts(!); on Dec. 28, protests were held in Retortillo against the mine project.

In Asia:
− UCIL's Gogi uranium mine project in Karnataka, India: the state resumed land acquisition for the mine in spite of a Union government order to scrap the project.
− Saghand uranium mines and Ardakan uranium mill in Iran: operation started in April.
− Navoi's Alendy, Aulbek and North Kanimekh uranium in situ leach mines in the Central Kyzylkum Desert, Uzbekistan: construction of the three mines was to be completed by year end.
− Areva's Dulaan Uul and Zoovch Ovoo uranium in situ leach mine projects in the Dornogobi province of Mongolia: Areva formed a joint venture to develop uranium mines in Mongolia.

In Australia:
− Areva's Koongarra uranium deposit in Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory, Australia: on March 14, the Australian Senate passed a bill reversing the exclusion of the Koongarra uranium deposit from Kakadu National Park, thus protecting it from mining.
− Cameco's Kintyre uranium mine project in Western Australia: in November, Cameco released the Environmental Review and Management Programme for comment; conservationists say, the project threatens the Karlamilyi National Park.
− Toro Energy's Wiluna uranium mine project in Western Australia: in April, the project obtained approval of the federal environment minister; in May, the viability of the project was questioned by an economist; in July, the native title covering the project was officially acknowledged.
− The World Heritage Committee considers placing the Great Barrier Reef on its "in danger" list over proposals to export Queensland's uranium across it.
− Marmota Energy's Junction Dam uranium in situ leach mine project in South Australia: positive test results pave the way for uranium field leach trials
− Alliance Resources' and Quasar Resources' Beverley Four Mile uranium in situ leach mine project in South Australia: after obtaining final state and federal environmental approvals, construction commenced in December.
− Marathon Resources withdraws from the uranium exploration business: "Both the political and regulatory regimes have deterred us permanently from the uranium industry," chairman Peter Williams told the company's annual meeting. The company had been exploring the Mt Gee site in South Australia's Flinders Ranges. However, it fell foul of the South Australian government over the illegal disposal of waste, while the government eventually banned all mining in the environmentally-sensitive area anyway.


Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Namibia: Leach tank failure

All milling operations at the Rossing uranium mine in Namibia ground to a halt after a structural failure at one of twelve leach tanks in the processing plant on December 3. A statement from Rossing said that a leak was detected and it was decided to pump out the tank for fixing, and during that process the leach tank experienced a "catastrophic structural failure". Rossing said the slurry was "channeled in trenches and contained in a holding tank". The area was evacuated.

Ben De Vries, General Manager of Operations, said: "This is obviously a very serious incident which is currently under investigation. I can assure you that we are applying a rigorous and structured approach to determine the cause of this failure and ensure that we safely return the plant to normal operations as soon as possible. At the moment the milling operation had been stopped, but is expected to restart once the failed tank has been isolated from the production process. Production in the other areas of the mine has not been affected and continues as usual."


Australia: major spill at Ranger

A tank in the processing area of the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory failed on December 7, spilling around 1.4 million litres of radioactive and acidic slurry. It is understood the radioactive liquid then flowed outside the ''bunded area'', or nearby containment banks, onto grassed areas and into the mine's stormwater and drainage system.

Workers were evacuated. All processing operations have been suspended (mining has already ceased as the open-pit ore body has been depleted). The federal environment minister has ordered an immediate clean-up and investigation − but still plans to devolve federal uranium mine approval and assessment powers to states and territories despite their demonstrated incompetence.

More than A$80 million (US$73 million ) was wiped off the value of Rio Tinto subsidiary Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) as a result of the spill, with shares down nearly 13%.

The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC), which represents the Mirarr Traditional Owners, has called for an audit of the site's facilities. "People living just a few kilometres downstream from the mine don't feel safe," GAC chief executive Justin O'Brien said. "How can we trust the assurances of a company which has repeatedly failed to safely manage this highly toxic material? It's a catastrophic failure on the part of not only the operator but also the government regulators in the Northern Territory and Canberra. ... This is nothing but a hillbilly operation, run by a hillbilly miner with hillbilly regulators."

About 60 Mirarr people live at Mudginberri, on Magela Creek, just 7 kms downstream from the mine. ''It's the wet now; it rains every day,'' O'Brien said. ''That creek is flowing right past the mine and into the community, where they fish and hunt, get barramundi, catfish, mussels. They drink the water. They play in it. People are worried sick.''

Monash University academic Dr Gavin Mudd said: ''ERA has form with this. The company has a history of delaying infrastructure maintenance in order to maximise profits.''

The Australian Conservation Foundation and the Environment Centre NT are calling for a halt to operations and an independent safety audit of the site and infrastructure; a review of the cumulative impacts of the Ranger operation and the adequacy of the regulatory regime; an independent assessment of the costs and consequences of the wider Australian uranium trade; a halt to any approvals or advance on the planned Ranger 3 Deeps underground uranium mining operation; and no devolving of federal powers to assess/approve uranium mining projects to state or territory governments

The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union is calling for all operations to be suspended until a full audit and inquiry into the infrastructure on the site has been conducted. AMWU Regional Organiser Bryan Wilkins said: "This mine site has a history of not dealing with safety issues – this was an accident waiting to happen. This incident occurred after parent company Rio Tinto boasted they cut costs by $2 billion this year. They may be saving money but they are putting people's lives at risk in the process. This tank was about 20 years old and it was an accident waiting to happen – they are lucky no one was hurt this time."


British bomb factory "played down" seriousness of fire

AWE, the private consortium that runs nuclear weapons plants at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire for the Ministry of Defence, "played down" a fire that could have caused "numerous fatalities" according to an internal investigation by the government's Health and Safety Executive (HSE). AWE was guilty of a "disturbing" catalogue of safety blunders in the handling of explosives, the HSE said, and its actions "fell far below the standard expected in an explosives manufacturing company." HSE released the report of its 10-month investigation into the fire at Aldermaston under freedom of information laws.


World Bank says no money for nukes, Goldman Sachs to sell uranium unit

The World Bank and United Nations have appealed for billions of dollars to provide electricity for the poorest nations. Announcing the 'Sustainable Energy for All' initiative, World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said US$600−800 billion a year will be needed to meet the campaign target of universal access to electricity, doubling energy efficiency and doubling the share of renewable energy by 2030.[1,2,3]

"We don't do nuclear energy," Kim said as he and UN leader Ban Ki-moon outlined efforts to make sure all people have access to electricity by 2030. Kim said: "Nuclear power from country to country is an extremely political issue. The World Bank Group does not engage in providing support for nuclear power. We think that this is an extremely difficult conversation that every country is continuing to have. And because we are really not in that business our focus is on finding ways of working in hydro electric power in geo-thermal, in solar, in wind. We are really focusing on increasing investment in those modalities and we don't do nuclear energy."[1]

Kim added that it had been difficult to find long term capital for poorer countries but insisted: "We will show investors that sustainable energy is an opportunity they cannot afford to miss."[1]

In July, the World Bank adopted a policy of providing "financial support for greenfield coal power generation projects only in rare circumstances," such as where there are "no feasible alternatives to coal."[4]

Meanwhile, US bank Goldman Sachs Group has reportedly put its uranium trading business up for sale. Goldman's two-person uranium desk was inherited with the purchase of US utility Constellation Energy's London-based trading operation in 2009.[5]

[1] AFP, 27 Nov 2013, 'World Bank says no money for nuclear power',
[2] World Bank media release, 27 Nov 2013,
[3] Sustainable Energy for All:
[4] John Upton, 18 July 2013, 'World Bank joins war on coal',
[5] Scott Disavino and David Sheppard, 25 Nov 2013, 'Goldman Sachs to sell uranium unit',


Nuclear decline in OECD

The amount of nuclear-generated electricity in the OECD area declined by 5.2% between 2011 and 2012, according to the Brown Book of nuclear energy data published by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency. Total OECD nuclear generation amounted to 1884 TWh in 2012, a 5.2% fall from 1988 TWh in 2011. Total electricity generation fell 0.1% over the same period. There were 331 operational reactors in the OECD as of 31 December 2012 − 133 in Europe, 125 in the Americas (US, Canada and Mexico) and 73 in the Pacific region (South Korea and Japan).

The Brown Book states: "The share of electricity production from nuclear power plants also decreased from 19.9% in 2011 to 18.9% in 2012. This decline reflects the permanent shutdown of three reactors that had reached the end of their operational lifetime (two in the United Kingdom and one in Canada), operational issues at some facilities and suspended operation at all but two reactors in Japan. Record electricity production at nuclear power plants in the Czech Republic and Hungary, combined with increased production in Canada, France, Spain and Sweden balanced, to some extent, declining production in Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States."


Brazil cools on nuclear power plans; favours wind

Brazil will probably scale down its plans for new nuclear plants due to safety concerns following the Fukushima disaster and pick up some of the slack with a "revolution" in wind power, the head of the government's energy planning agency said. Mauricio Tolmasquim, chief of the Energy Research Company, told Reuters it was "unlikely" the government would stick to its plans to build four new nuclear plants by 2030. He declined to specify how many might be built instead.[1]

"After Japan, things got put on standby," Tolmasquim told Reuters. "We haven't abandoned (the plans) ... but they haven't been resumed yet either. It's not a priority for us right now."

Tolmasquim added: "This is wind power's moment. There's been a revolution in terms of cost."

Nevertheless, Brazil is proceeding with the Angra 3 nuclear power project. In November, Areva signed a contract worth 1.25 billion euros (US$1.67 billion) with the Brazilian utility Eletrobras Eletronuclear for the completion of the Angra 3 reactor, located in the state of Rio de Janeiro. The Angra 3 project has a long history. Construction started in 1984 but faltered two years later. A return to construction was approved in 2007.[2]



Switzerland can reach 98% renewable electricity

Switzerland already gets more than half of its electricity from renewable sources. Now, German researchers say that the country could have 98% renewable power by 2050, up from the current 57%. Germany's GLR has published the country edition of its Energy evolution study for Switzerland (currently only available in German). Written on behalf of Greenpeace, the study finds that Switzerland can increase the share of renewables by quickly expanding photovoltaics, while the growth of biomass, wind power, hydropower, and geothermal would be more moderate. The Swiss plan to shut down their last nuclear plant in 2025.

Renewables International, 4 Dec 2013,
Energy[R]evolution Schweiz,


South Africa puts nuclear on hold ... again

The South African Department of Energy has reported that new nuclear power will not be required until after 2025 or even later. The country is likely to take on other power sources, according to the updated version of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for electricity, such as hydro and shale gas. The IRP is a 20-year plan that models demand and supply of electricity and plans for generation needs. Nuclear was seen as highly expensive compared to other available resources, however less-than-expected power demand is also playing a role in the latest projections. The National Planning Commission had cautioned against committing to an "expensive and irreversible" nuclear program, particularly when electricity demand has not grown in line with expectations.[1]

Earlier plans to build up to 20 GW of nuclear capacity were shelved in 2008, and more recent plans to build up to 10 GW by 2023 have now been dealt a blow. In addition, the devepment of Pebble Bed Modular Reactor technology consumed a great deal of R&D funding in South Africa before being abandoned in 2010.[2]

Two power reactors are in operation at the Koeberg Power Station near Cape Town, in the south-west of the country − the only power reactors in Africa.

[1] K. Steiner-Dicks, 4 Dec 2013, 'South Africa puts nuclear on hold',
[2] Steve Kidd, 4 Dec 2013, 'South Africa: can it go further in nuclear?',


Germany's 'Grand Coalition' committed to nuclear phase-out

The new German 'grand coalition' between Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union party, the Christian Social Union and the Social Democratic Party will remain committed to the nuclear phase-out and the energy transition, the coalition contract between the three parties says. "No later than 2022, the last nuclear power plant in Germany will be shut down," says the coalition contract.

The coalition government will continue the implementation of a law, adopted in July 2013, for choosing a site for deep geological long-term storage of high-level nuclear waste.

The coalition contract is available online (in German only):

NucNet, 28 Nov 2013, 'Germany's 'Grand Coalition' Remains Committed To Energy Transition',


Nuclear power to stay in France

The French government won't shut any more nuclear reactors after the country's oldest plant at Fessenheim is shut down, industry minister Arnaud Montebourg said. "My answer is no, my answer is clear," Montebourg said in an interview in Paris. Nuclear power will always provide at least half of France's electricity, he said. Montebourg's comments undercut President Francois Hollande's promise, made in last year's election campaign, to cut France's atomic output from 75% to 50% of electricity production by about 2025.[1,2]

Meanwhile, Thomas Houdre from the regulator Autorite de Surete Nucleaire said that "significant safety improvements have to be made" at spent fuel pools at French nuclear power plants. "There is no way of managing an accident in a spent-fuel pool. We want the possibility of this happening to be practically eliminated," he said. Last year, EDF declared a "major safety event" after it was discovered that fuel storage pools at the Cattenom plant were vulnerable to leaks.[3]

[1] Tara Patel, 12 Nov 2013, 'France Won't Shut Any More Atomic Reactors, Minister Says',
[2] 8 Dec 2013, 'French nuclear power here to stay, says industry minister',
[3] Tara Patel, 4 Dec 2013, 'France's 58 Nuclear Pools Must Be Safer, Watchdog Says',


South Korea: Nuclear power policy

Nuclear power should account for up to 29% of South Korean generation capacity by 2035, according to draft long-term energy plans submitted to the government. Previous plans called for 41% nuclear by 2035. The draft plan has been submitted to the parliament by the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy prior to a public hearing. In it, the government "recognises" the role of nuclear power but also says it plans to reduce power demand over the period to 2035. Korea's 23 nuclear reactors currently account for 22% of the country's generation capacity, and 29% of its electricity output. The South Korean nuclear power industry is in crisis because of a corruption and forgery scandal (see Nuclear Monitor #771 and #765).

WNN, 10 Dec 2013, 'Nuclear to remain Korean mainstay',

Ranger Mine

Nuclear News

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Killing the competition: US nuclear front groups exposed

A new report released by the Nuclear Information & Resource Service details US industry plans to subvert clean energy programs, rig energy markets and climate regulations to subsidize aging nuclear reactors.

A coalition of five organizations was joined by renowned energy economist Dr Mark Cooper to release the report, titled 'Killing the Competition: The Nuclear Power Agenda to Block Climate Action, Stop Renewable Energy, and Subsidize Old Reactors'.

The report details the industry's attacks on clean energy and climate solutions and the key battlegrounds in this new fight over the US's energy future. With large political war chests and armies of lobbyists, the power companies have opened up aggressive fights across the country this year:

* Blocking tax breaks for renewable energy in Congress.

* Killing renewable energy legislation in Illinois by threatening to close nuclear plants.

* Passing a resolution calling for nuclear subsidies and emissions-trading schemes in Illinois.

* Suspending renewable energy and efficiency standards in Ohio for two years.

* Ending energy efficiency programs in Indiana.

* Demanding above-market contracts for nuclear and coal plants in Ohio and New York.

Last year, the closure of several reactors highlighted the worsening economics of nuclear energy. Five reactor shutdowns were announced, and eight new reactors cancelled. The industry's rising costs − with new plants too expensive to build and old plants more and more costly to maintain − came head to head with a brewing energy revolution: low natural gas prices, rising energy efficiency, and affordable wind and solar power. As a result, Wall Street firms reassessed the industry, discovering an industry at risk and predicting more shuttered reactors in the coming years.

Energy economist Dr. Mark Cooper, of Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the Environment, published a paper outlining the factors contributing to nuclear energy's poor prospects and highlighting the vulnerability of dozens of reactors. Dr Cooper said: "Nuclear power simply cannot compete with efficiency and renewable resources and it does not fit in the emerging electricity system that uses intelligent management of supply and demand response to meet the need for electricity. Doubling down on nuclear power as the solution to climate change, as proposed by nuclear advocates, is a bad bet since nuclear power is one of the most expensive ways available to cut carbon emissions in the electricity sector. The nuclear war against clean energy is a last ditch effort to stop the transformation of the electricity sector and prevent nuclear power from becoming obsolete."

NIRS, 2014, "Killing the Competition: The Nuclear Power Agenda to Block Climate Action , Stop Renewable Energy, and Subsidize Old Reactors",

Oldest Indian reactor will not restart

After 10 years in long-term outage, it was reported on September 6 that there will be no restart for the first unit of Rajasthan Atomic Power Station (RAPS-1), located at Rawatbata, 64 km southwest of Kota in the north-western Indian state of Rajasthan. The 100 MW Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor, which was supplied to India under a 1963 agreement with Canada, operated from 1972 to 2004, though with multiple extended shutdowns. Cooperation with Canada was suspended following India's 1974 nuclear weapons test; however design details for the reactor had already been transferred to India.

Czech Republic: March against uranium in Brzkov

A march against planned uranium mining on September 7 was attended by approximately 200 people. The march was organised by the association 'Our Future Without Uranium', which expresses the disapproval of the Brzkov population with the government's intention to resume uranium mining. During the day citizens signed the petition by the civic association called "NO to Uranium Mining in the Highlands".

What went wrong with small modular reactors?

Thomas W. Overton, associate editor of POWER magazine, writes: "At the graveyard wherein resides the "nuclear renaissance" of the 2000s, a new occupant appears to be moving in: the small modular reactor (SMR). ... Over the past year, the SMR industry has been bumping up against an uncomfortable and not-entirely-unpredictable problem: It appears that no one actually wants to buy one."

Overton notes that in 2013, MidAmerican Energy scuttled plans to build an SMR-based plant in Iowa. This year, Babcock & Wilcox scaled back much of its SMR program and sacked 100 workers in its SMR division. Westinghouse has abandoned its SMR program.

Overton explains: "The problem has really been lurking in the idea behind SMRs all along. The reason conventional nuclear plants are built so large is the economies of scale: Big plants can produce power less expensively per kilowatt-hour than smaller ones. The SMR concept disdains those economies of scale in favor of others: large-scale standardized manufacturing that will churn out dozens, if not hundreds, of identical plants, each of which would ultimately produce cheaper kilowatt-hours than large one-off designs. It's an attractive idea. But it's also one that depends on someone building that massive supply chain, since none of it currently exists. ... That money would presumably come from customer orders − if there were any. Unfortunately, the SMR "market" doesn't exist in a vacuum. SMRs must compete with cheap natural gas, renewables that continue to decline in cost, and storage options that are rapidly becoming competitive. Worse, those options are available for delivery now, not at the end of a long, uncertain process that still lacks NRC approval."

India's new uranium enrichment plant in Karnataka

David Albright and Serena Kelleher-Vergantini write in an Institute for Science and International Security report: "India is in the early stages of building a large uranium enrichment centrifuge complex, the Special Material Enrichment Facility (SMEF), in Karnataka. This new facility will significantly increase India's ability to produce enriched uranium for both civil and military purposes, including nuclear weapons. India should announce that the SMEF will be subject to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards, committed only to peaceful uses, and built only after ensuring it is in compliance with environmental laws in a process that fully incorporates stakeholders. Other governments and suppliers of nuclear and nuclear-related dual use goods throughout the world must be vigilant to prevent efforts by Indian trading and manufacturing companies to acquire such goods for this new enrichment facility as well as for India's operational gas centrifuge plant, the Rare Materials Plant, near Mysore."

Iran planning two more power reactors

The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) plans to build two new nuclear power reactors, Bushehr Governor General Mostafa Salari announced on September 7. The previous week, AEOI chief Ali Akbar Salehi said that Tehran would sign a contract with Russia in the near future to build the two reactors in Bushehr. The AEOI states that the agreement with Russia will also include the construction of two desalination units.1

One Russian-supplied power reactor is already operating at Bushehr. Fuel is supplied by Russia until 2021 and perhaps beyond. Plans for new reactors may be used by Tehran to justify its enrichment program.

Meanwhile, construction licenses have been issued for the next two nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates by the country's Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation. Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation plans to begin construction of Barakah 3 and 4 in 2014 and 2015 respectively with all four of the site's reactors becoming operational by 2020.2


2. World Nuclear News, 15 Sept 2014

Depleted uranium as a carcinogen and genotoxin

The International Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons has produced a new report outlining the growing weight of evidence relating to how depleted uranium (DU) can damage DNA, interfere with cellular processes and contribute to the development of cancer.1 The report uses peer-reviewed studies, many of which have been published during the last decade and, wherever possible, has sought to simplify the scientific language to make it accessible to the lay reader.

The report concludes: "The users of DU have shown themselves unwilling to be bound by the consequences of their actions. The failure to disclose targeting data or follow their own targeting guidelines has placed civilians at unacceptable risk. The recommendations of international and expert agencies have been adopted selectively or ignored. At times, users have actively opposed or blocked efforts to evaluate the risks associated with contamination. History suggests it is unlikely that DU use will be stopped voluntarily: an international agreement banning the use of uranium in conventional weapons is therefore required."

A report released by Dutch peace organisation PAX in June found that the lack of obligations on Coalition Forces to help clean-up after using DU weapons in Iraq in 1991 and 2003 has resulted in civilians and workers continuing to be exposed to the radioactive and toxic heavy metal years after the war.2 The health risk posed by the inadequate management of Iraq's DU contamination is unclear − neither Coalition Forces nor the Iraqi government have supported health research into civilian DU exposure. High risk groups include people living near, or working on, the dozens of scrap metal sites where the thousands of military vehicles destroyed in 1991 and 2003 are stored or processed. Waste sites often lack official oversight and in places it has taken more than a decade to clean-up heavily contaminated military wreckage from residential neighbourhoods. Hundreds of locations targeted by the weapons, many of which are in populated areas, remain undocumented and concern among Iraqi civilians over the potential health effects from exposure is widespread.

The Iraqi government has recently prepared a five year environment plan together with the World Health Organisation and UN Environment Programme but the PAX report finds that it is unclear how this will be accomplished without international assistance.



Clean-up of former Saskatchewan uranium mill

More than 50 years after the closure of the Lorado uranium mill in Saskatchewan, workers are cleaning up a massive pile of radioactive, acidic tailings that has poisoned a lake and threatened the health of wildlife and hunters for decades. The mill is near Uranium City, where uranium mining once supported a community of up to 5,000 people. Lorado only operated from 1957 to 1961, but during that time it produced about 227,000 cubic metres of tailings that were dumped beside Nero Lake. Windblown dust from the top of the tailings presents a gamma radiation and radon concern. Workers will cover the tailings with a layer of specially engineered sand to prevent water from running over them and into the lake. In addition, a lime mixture is to be added to the lake to counteract the acidity.

In 1982, the last of the mines near Uranium City closed, but tailings from the Lorado site and the Gunnar mine were left untouched. Uranium City has about 100 residents now.

Clean-up work also includes sealing off and cleaning up 35 mine exploration sites. Later, the Saskatchewan Research Council is to begin a cleanup of the Gunnar mine. That project is in the environmental assessment stage. Four million tonnes of tailings were produced at Gunnar during its operation from 1955 to 1963.

The clean-up project is controversial. The Prince Albert Grand Council, which represents a dozen First Nations in central and northern Saskatchewan, said in a written submission for the Lorado and Gunnar projects that many residents favour removal of the tailings rather than covering them up. The Saskatchewan Environmental Society says more investigation should have been done on the feasibility of removing the tailings. It questions how the covering will stand up as climate change delivers more severe weather, and whether government will continue to monitor the sites.

France: Greenpeace activists given suspended sentences

A French court has issued two-month suspended prison sentences to 55 Greenpeace activists involved in a break-in at France's Fessenheim nuclear power plant in March. Fessenheim is France's oldest nuclear plant. About 20 Greenpeace activists managed to climb on top of the dome of a reactor in Fessenheim. The activists, mostly from Germany but also from Italy, France, Turkey, Austria, Hungary, Australia and Israel, were all convicted of trespassing and causing wilful damage.

Greenpeace has identified Fessenheim's reactors as two of the most dangerous in Europe and argues that they should be shut down immediately. The area around the plant is vulnerable to earthquakes and flooding. Fessenheim lies in the heart of Europe, between France, Germany and Switzerland, with seven million people living with 100 kms of the reactors.

USA: Missouri fire may be moving closer to radioactive waste

A new report suggests an underground fire at the Bridgeton Landfill may be moving closer to radioactive waste buried nearby. The information comes just days after it was announced construction of a barrier between the fire and the waste will be delayed 18 months. The South Quarry of the Bridgeton Landfill has been smouldering underground for three years. A number of gas interceptor wells are designed to keep the fire from moving north and reaching the radioactive waste buried at the West Lake Landfill. However the wells may have failed according to landfill consultant Todd Thalhamer, who is calling for more tests to determine exactly how far the fire is from the radioactive material.

Britain's nuclear clean-up cost explosion

The cost of cleaning up Britain's toxic nuclear sites has shot up by £6bn (US$9.7b, €7.5b), with the government and regulators accused of "incompetence" in their efforts to manage the country's legacy of radioactive waste. The estimated cost for decommissioning over the next century went up from a £63.8bn estimate in 2011−12 to £69.8bn in 2012−13, with more increases expected in the coming years. This increase is nearly all due to the troubled clean-up of the Sellafield nuclear facility in Cumbria.

Yellowcake blues

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Plenty of bad news for uranium mining companies in the past month. Here we summarise some of this news, drawing on the remarkable WISE-Uranium resources (

North America

Energy Fuels has put operations at its Canyon mine in Arizona on hold, citing current market conditions as well as ongoing litigation over the project. Legal proceedings were initiated by environmental groups and a local indigenous tribe. A US district court judge has approved an agreement to put the mine on standby and to stay proceedings in the case. Energy Fuels had been aiming for production in 2015.[1,2]

Energy Fuels plans to cease production at the White Mesa Mill in Utah in August 2014, and to fulfil delivery contracts with stockpiled uranium and uranium purchased on the spot market. The current spot price is lower than the company's production cost.[3]

Subject to the results of additional underground drilling, mining at the Denison Mines' Arizona 1 mine is expected to cease in early fiscal year 2014 due to the depletion of its known resources. Earlier this year, a federal appeals court ruled against conservationists and indigenous tribes in their challenge against the mine, located north of Grand Canyon National Park.[7]

Mining at the Pinenut uranium mine, Mohave County, Arizona, is expected to continue until July 2014, at which point the mine is expected to be placed on care and maintenance. Re-starting mining activities at Pinenut would be evaluated in the context of market conditions.[5,6]

The Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce is no longer neutral in Virginia's uranium mining debate. By a 37-11 vote, chamber officials favoured maintaining the 31-year moratorium following presentations from proponents and opponents.[4]

Strateco Resources is considering its options after Quebec's environment minister refused to authorise underground exploration at the Matoush uranium project. The project has been stymied by a moratorium on uranium exploration and mining permits imposed by the provincial government in April 2013. Quebec's environmental assessment agency is undertaking an assessment of the potential impacts of uranium mining in the province, and will present its recommendations next year. But in June, the provincial government announced that it plans to "refuse to issue the permit for the Matoush underground exploration project" due to "a lack of sufficient social acceptability" − presumably that decision will stand regardless of the environmental assessment agency's review. Cree traditional owners are opposed to the project and have called for a moratorium against all uranium development in Cree territory.[8−12]


Australian-based Paladin − which operates the Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia and the Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi − made a $US40 million loss in the three months to September, after recording a US$173 million loss in the previous quarter. Paladin has major debts and limited capacity to meet them, and is continuing to try to sell its minority interest in Langer Heinrich.[13,14]

UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, has rubbished the Kayerekera uranium mine deal between Malawi and Paladin, saying Malawi has had a raw deal that is robbing the poor. He said the deal was one of the investments in Malawi through which the country is losing resources that could otherwise make a difference in food security and other poverty alleviation initiatives. He said in the life span of the mine Malawi is expected to lose almost US$281 million. "Mining companies are exempt from customs duty, excise duty, value added taxes on mining machinery, plant and equipment. They can also sign special deals on the rate of royalty owed to the government," he said.[15]

Last year, Areva won the 'Dirty Hands, Pockets Full' category of the Pinocchio Awards for refusing "to recognize its responsibility for the deterioration of the living conditions of people living near its uranium mines in Africa." Little has changed. On November 22, Oxfam France, the Nigerian Association ROTAB (Network of Organisations for Transparency and Budgetary Analysis) and the coalition 'Publish What You Pay' released a report, 'Areva in Niger: Who benefits from the uranium?' The organisations denounce the tax breaks Areva enjoys, such as exemptions from customs duties, VAT exemptions and exemptions on taxes on fuel, and a loophole which allows Areva to minimise corporate taxes.[35]

Uranium mines operated by companies including Rio Tinto and Paladin Energy in Namibia face a water shortage as drought curbs supply to the mines and three coastal towns. Volumes from the Omaruru Delta aquifer have declined to four million cubic metres this year from nine million a year earlier. Water from a desalination plant owned by Areva isn't enough to meet the needs of Paladin's Langer Heinrich uranium mine, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Co.'s Husab uranium project and Rio's Rossing complex. Nehemia Abraham, under-secretary for water and forestry in the Ministry of Agriculture, told Bloomberg: "The water-supply situation at the coastal area has become too critical. Mining companies in the area will have to operate with less water. We are reviewing the situation now and from end of November we might be unable to get enough water from the aquifer to supply to mines." The government is planning a second desalination plant.[16]

The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace has asked the government of Malawi to institute an assessment of the impacts of Paladin's uranium mining activities at Kayelekera on the quality of water in the district. Diocesan Justice and Peace Desk Officer for Karonga, Mwawi Shaba, said "that lack of knowledge on the current state of water since the uranium mining activities started in the district in 2006 has raised health fears among people of Karonga. Some months ago fish started dying mysteriously in Lake Malawi here in Karonga and people started connecting this to uranium mining. People are blank on whether uranium mining activities have affected quality of water and that has raised feelings of health insecurity."[17]

Canada's Denison Mines has written down the value of its Mutanga uranium mine project in Zambia. The company said on November 7: "Since the Mutanga project's recoverable amount was determined to be lower than its carrying amount, the Company has recognized an impairment loss of $35,655,000 in the three months ended September 30, 2013." In June, Denison said it would only start developing the mine when prices rise to levels above US$65 / lb U3O8, and that it hoped the Zambian government would not revoke its mining licence following a three-year delay in developing the project.[18]

Rössing announced on November 11 that it has halted preparation of a Social and Environmental Impact Assessment for the proposed Z20 uranium mine in Namibia. The explanation is a little cryptic: "Rössing Uranium decided not to proceed the assessment at this stage, given that work to detail the arrangements for possible mining of the Z20 ore body is continuing. Therefore the SEIA will not be completed at this stage and another round of public consultation will not be conducted as yet. Rössing Uranium will make a decision on continuing the SEIA process at the appropriate time, either to update the current SEIA process or engage in a separate process.[19,20]


Marathon Resources has turned its back on the uranium industry for good. The company says the "risks were more likely to exceed rewards" in a sector hit by low prices. The company was developing a uranium mine in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary in South Australia, but the project came to a halt after Marathon was caught illegally dumping radioactive waste, and the state government later enacted a ban on mining in the Wilderness Sanctuary.[21,22]

Junior explorer Thundelarra has sold its Hayes Creek uranium interests in the Northern Territory of Australia for a lousy A$1.5 million (US$1.37 million). CEO Tony Lofthouse said the sale forms part of a broader rationalisation strategy being employed by the company: "It has become clear that we have too many tenements for a small company in difficult market times."[23]

Australia − Ranger uranium incidents

The Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation (GAC) is alarmed by revelations that a potentially contaminated vehicle was able to bypass security and make an unauthorised exit from the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory of Australia on November 3. The vehicle had not been tested for contamination. GAC, which represents the Mirarr Traditional Owners, was only informed of the incident by Rio Tinto's Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) days after the incident.[25−27]

GAC CEO Justin O'Brien said: "Rio Tinto often asserts that Ranger is the most regulated mine in the world, but this is the fourth such contamination scare over the past seven years."

In 2005, ERA was found guilty and fined for a contamination incident in March 2004 when 150 people were exposed to drinking water containing uranium levels 400 times greater than the maximum Australian safety standard. Twenty-eight mine workers suffered adverse health effects including vomiting and skin irritation as a result of the exposure. In 2009, it was revealed that around 100,000 litres of contaminated water is leaking daily from the Ranger tailings dam.

On 19 November 2013, GAC expressed concern at yet another incident − four empty uranium barrels from Ranger uranium mine had recently been located at Noonamah, south of Darwin. Justin O'Brien said: "It is clear that the radiation control measures at the Ranger mine site have failed on multiple occasions. While we welcome the timely reporting of this issue by the company, ERA's management of radiation is plainly inadequate. The Commonwealth Government must step in and ensure that this matter is taken seriously. To date the response by the Office of the Supervising Scientist has been dismissive and woefully inadequate. Both the NT and Federal Governments must broaden their current investigations into the vehicle incident and examine the entire management of radiation at the Ranger mine. ... This revelation raises very serious concerns for the Mirarr Traditional Owners regarding the suggestion of further mining at Ranger."

Open pit mining has ceased at Ranger, stockpiled ore is being processed and ERA is consistently reporting financial losses. ERA is going through an approvals process regarding potential underground mining − the Ranger 3 Deeps project.

Other countries

Areva has won the 'Greener than Green' category of this year's Pinocchio Awards for opening the Ureka museum ( glorifying former uranium mining in the Limousin area of France.[28,29] The awards are an initiative of Friends of the Earth France, ActionAid France and the Centre of Research and Information for Development. The 'Greener than Green' award goes to the company which has led the most abusive and misleading communication campaign in regard to its actual activities.

The NGO citation holds Areva to account for talking about the "adventure story" of uranium mining, "just like the irreversible contamination of 230 French mining sites ... and the devastation of many other areas by Areva worldwide." Just in the Limousin region of France, more than 60 abandoned mines are polluting springs, rivers and ground water. The museum celebrates mine workers, but does not mention that a study [30] found an excess of deaths due to lung and kidney cancer in a cohort of former miners. On a happier note, museum visitors can take advantage of the two-for-one offer on glow-in-the-dark sweets.

On September 11, during the repackaging of a drum containing potassium diuranate, 30 kgs of uranium were spilled in a room in Areva's SOCATRI facilities in France. The event was rated level 1 on the INES scale. Located at the Tricastin nuclear site, SOCATRI handles maintenance and disassembly of nuclear materials, as well as treatment of nuclear and industrial effluents from AREVA Tricastin companies.[31]

In Libya, the 10th Brigade, which guards the Sebha uranium storage facility, staged a protest on November 11 demanding overdue salary payments dating back to 2011. Up to 40 members of the Brigade shut the town's petrol storage tanks and blocked a key road. The Sebha storage facility holds at least 2.26 tonnes of uranium ore concentrate. Although Qaddafi renounced his chemical and nuclear weapons programme in 2003, ten years later the stockpiles remain. A report in The Times said that Bharuddin Midhoun Arifi, the commander of the group in charge of guarding the stockpiles, said that his men were frightened of the uranium: "My men don't like guarding the site as they believe it will make their skin fall off, so we guard it from a nearby checkpoint." He added: "Maybe someone could steal one or two drums if they wanted, but not more."[32]

Kazakhstan, the world's biggest producer of uranium, has called off all projects to increase output due to the protracted price slump. "We've put the brakes on implementing uranium output expansions," Vladimir Shkolnik, CEO of state-owned producer Kazatomprom, said in an interview. "The same goes for other elements of the nuclear-fuel cycle."[33,34]

As reported in the last Nuclear Monitor (#773), Rosatom is freezing uranium expansion projects in Russia and elsewhere due to low prices. The first casualty is the Honeymoon ISL mine in South Australia, which is to be put under care and maintenance.[24]

[1] WNN, 12 Nov 2013, 'Canyon on hold',
[2] 7 Nov 2013, 'Grand Canyon Uranium Mine on Hold',
[4] Virginia Pilot, 16 Nov 2013. See also
[5] Energy Fuels, 14 Nov 2013.
[8] Strateco Resources:
[9] WNN, 12 Nov 2013, 'Quebec minister says no',
[10] WNN, 23 April 2013, 'Uranium company fights Quebec moratorium',
[11] Strateco Resources, 25 June 2013, 'The Minister Will No Longer Wait for the Conclusions of the BAPE Report on the Uranium Industry',
[12] Mining Awareness, 4 Aug 2013, 'The Still Unanswered Question & Just What's So Important About The Strateco Resources Case?',
[13] AAP, 15 Nov 2013, 'Uranium miner Paladin slumps to $40m loss for quarter',
[14] Melanie Timbrell, 15 Nov 2013, 'Uranium price weighs on Paladin result',
[15] 'End of mission statement by the Special Rapporteur on the right to food', 22 July 2013,
[16] Felix Njini, 19 Nov 2013, 'Rio Tinto, Paladin Namibia Uranium Mines Face Water Shortage',
[17] WISE-Uranium,
[21] AAP, 21 Nov 2013, 'Explorer says uranium project unviable',
[23] Carmen Brown, 21 Nov 2013, 'Top End uranium project sells for $1.5 million',
[24] Reuters, 13 Nov 2013, 'Russia's Rosatom to mothball uranium mine expansion projects',
[31] ASN, 15 Nov 2013.
[32] Libya Herald, 13 November 2013.
[35] Oxfam France, 22 Nov 2013, 'Areva au Niger : à qui profite l'uranium?',,1824
English translation:

Langer HeinrichRanger Mine

Nuclear News

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Radiation can pose bigger cancer risk for children − UN study
Infants and children are at greater risk than adults of developing some cancers when exposed to radiation, according to a report released in October by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) and presented to the UN General Assembly.

Children were found to be more sensitive than adults for the development of 25% of tumour types including leukaemia and thyroid, brain and breast cancers. "The risk can be significantly higher, depending on circumstances," UNSCEAR said.

"Because of their anatomical and physiological differences, radiation exposure has a different impact on children compared with adults," said Fred Mettler, chair of an UNSCEAR expert group on the issue.

USA: Bad record keeping hindering clean-up of nuclear sites
The US government's decades-long effort to rehabilitate hundreds of sites around the country where nuclear weapons development and production has taken plan has been hampered by sloppy record-keeping. Documentation has been so uneven that the Energy Department says it lacks adequate records on several dozen facilities to be able to determine whether they merit clean-up. Additionally, in excess of 20 sites that were cleaned up and announced to be safe ended up needing more rehabilitation after lingering traces of nuclear contamination were found. The final price-tag of the clean-up effort is estimated to cost US$350 billion.[1]

Meanwhile, who − and what pot of money − would drive clean-up after a nuclear power plant incident is a question still left unanswered by the federal government, New York state officials said in a recent legal filing with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Under the Price-Anderson Act, the nuclear power industry's liability in the event of a catastrophe is limited, and in any case NRC officials said in 2009 that Price-Anderson money likely would not be available to pay for offsite clean-up − a revelation made public a year later when internal EPA documents were released under the Freedom of Information Act. Another three years have gone by and the federal government has yet to provide a clear answer, the New York Attorney General's office says. In 2012, NRC Commissioner William Magwood acknowledged that there "is no regulatory framework for environmental restoration following a major radiological release."[2]

[1] NTI Global Security Newswire, 30 Oct 2013, 'Bad Record Keeping Hindering Cleanup of Ex-Nuclear Sites: Report',
[2] Douglas P. Guarino, 25 Sept 2013, 'New York Wonders Where Nuclear Cleanup Funds Would Come From',

Areva signs uranium deal with Mongolian state
French utility Areva has signed a deal with Mongolia's state-owned Mon-Atom to develop two uranium mines in the Gobi desert. A company will be created, 66% owned by Areva, 34% Mon-Atom, and Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation will take an equity interest. Areva said exploration had discovered two uranium deposits with estimated reserves of 60,000 tonnes.

Mongolian protesters had warned before the signing that a deal could lead to the contamination of water resources in the area. Selenge Lkhagvajav, a protest leader, said: "We are not against cooperation with France. But we just say 'no uranium exploration in Mongolia', as not having it is the best way to prevent radioactive pollution and contamination."

Scotland: Dundrennan depleted uranium protest
Campaigners held a walk-on at the Dundrennan range in protest at the test firing of depleted uranium (DU) weapons into the Solway Firth. It was part of an international day of action and followed concerns about serious health issues resulting from the use of such weapons in war zones. The last DU tests at the south of Scotland range were in 2008. DU Day of Action events were also held in Finland, Japan, Norway, Costa Rica and elsewhere.

UK: Inadequate nuclear regulation
The UK government's nuclear safety watchdog has named the five UK sites that need the most regulation because of the safety problems they pose. They are the reprocessing complex at Sellafield in Cumbria, the nuclear bomb factories at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire, the nuclear submarine base at Devonport in Plymouth and the former fast breeder centre at Dounreay in Caithness.[1]

These sites have been highlighted by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) in its 2013 annual report as requiring an "enhanced level of regulatory attention" because of the radioactive hazards on the sites, the risk of radioactive leaks contaminating the environment around the sites and ONR's view of operators' safety performances.[1]

Sellafield was rated unacceptable in one inspection because a back-up gas turbine to provide power to the site in emergencies was "at imminent risk of failure to operate" because of severe corrosion. "Failure would reduce the availability of nuclear safety significant equipment, and also potentially injure or harm the workforce," says ONR.[1]

At Aldermaston, corrosion in a structural steelwork was discovered in 2012, resulting in the closure of the A45 building which makes enriched uranium components for nuclear warheads and fuel for nuclear submarines.[1]

In May, AWE admitted one count of breaching the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 in relation to an August 2010 accident and fire at Aldermaston. A worker was injured when the mixing chemicals in a bucket caused an explosion and a fire which led to the evacuation of staff and nearby residents. Bernard Thorogood, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, said an investigation into the fire revealed a "constellation of failures" relating to health and safety regulations which put employees at risk.[2]

[1] Rob Edwards, 5 Nov 2013,
[2] Basingstoke Gazette, 23 May 2013,

Italy: radioactive waste dumped illegally by Mafia blamed for cancer increase
The Italian Senate is investigating a possible link between buried radioactive waste and a rise of almost 50% in tumours found in the inhabitants of several towns around Naples. The illegal trafficking of hazardous waste came to light in 1997. A Mafia clan had run a profitable operation dumping millions of tonnes of waste on farmland, in caves, in quarries, on the edge of towns, in Lake Lucrino and along the coast.

Radioactive sludge, brought in on trucks from plants in Germany, was dumped in landfills, said Carmine Schiavone, who was involved in the illegal activities before becoming a whistle-blower. "I know that some is on land where buffalo live today, and on which no grass grows," he said.

Hannah Roberts, 1 Nov 2013, 'Toxic nuclear waste dumped illegally by the Mafia is blamed for surge in cancers in southern Italy',

UK: Dungeness power lines damaged by storms
EDF's Dungeness nuclear power station has been reconnected to the National Grid after power lines were damaged when storms battered southern Britain. The Kent power plant's two reactors were automatically shut down when electricity to the site was cut off on 28 October.[1] More than 60,000 homes and businesses were left without power.[2]

The Dungeness plant was in the media earlier this year when Freedom of Information documents revealed that ministers rejected advice from the Office for Nuclear Regulation to restrict development near nuclear plants. That advice was overridden when the government approved the expansion of Lydd airport, a few miles from the Dungeness plant. Dungeness was also in the news earlier this year when it was revealed that tritium leaks beyond the statutory limit had occurred.[3]

[1] BBC, 6 Nov 2013,
[2] Utility Week, 29 Oct 2013,
[3] 'Dungeness Airport Threat & Tritium', May 2013,

Nuclear transport accidents and incidents

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Burning truck, burning ship carrying uranium hexafluoride

Recent reports have detailed an August 22 event in Ohio, USA, involving a burning truck carrying uranium hexafluoride. Nuclear regulators in Canada – where the cargo originated – and in the US were not informed of the incident. Indeed there was no requirement for them to be notified.[1]

The fire was caused by brake overheating. Driver Brian Hanson doused the fire with water and thought he had extinguished it, and climbed back into the cab to call for a service truck. Then he realised the fire wasn't out and disconnected the trailer.

Hanson said: "I wound the legs down and disconnected it from the truck, losing the hair on my arms because it was really burning at that time – which I figure was kind of crazy in hindsight. But we're so programmed and told about the danger of a load, and the media danger. We're basically taught that the media's like terrorism. We're supposed to do everything we can to avoid media. I wanted to get the fire away from the uranium hexafluoride because it's heat activated ... It's really nasty stuff, and they would have had to evacuate a huge neighbourhood we were beside."

Hanson added: "So I got the truck disconnected, it was burning like crazy, fire blazing out the back, trying to get to a safe place to get off the highway and away from the load. I made it two miles before the truck was disabled, but I got off on the exit ramp and by that time the police were just seconds behind me, and the fire trucks were on the way."

A new rig was dispatched to pick up the uranium load.

The shipment came from a Cameco refinery in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada. Cameco said: "Uranium hexafluoride is transported in special containers that are designed and tested to withstand a significant impact and at least 30 minutes engulfed in flames at a temperature of 800 degrees Celsius." The material is transported in a cylinder about 1.2 metres in diameter and 6 metres long, containing 12,000 kilograms.

According to Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) – a U.S. Department of Energy research lab – if uranium hexafluoride interacts with water or water vapour, it is "chemically toxic," forming dangerous hydrogen fluoride gas. "Uranium is a heavy metal that, in addition to being radioactive, can have toxic chemical effects (primarily on the kidneys) if it enters the bloodstream by means of ingestion or inhalation," ANL says, and hydrogen fluoride "is an extremely corrosive gas that can damage the lungs and cause death if inhaled at high enough concentrations."

Atlantic Cartier ship fire

In May, fire damaged the Atlantic Cartier ship carrying nine tons of uranium hexafluoride while it was in the Port of Hamburg. The uranium was destined for the Areva-owned uranium enrichment plant at Lingen, Lower Saxony.[2] Authorities said containers with dangerous substances were promptly removed from the ship.[3]

From 2008−2013, inspections recorded 20 deficiencies involving the Atlantic Cartier relating to: international safety management; documentation of compliance with dangerous goods legislation; safety of access to working areas; Marpol (UN marine pollution convention) Annex 1 fire prevention issues; speed and distance indicators; safety of navigation (voyage plan); loadlines; propulsion auxiliary engine concerns; accident prevention (onboard personnel); ships certification and documentation; operational procedures (engines and equipment); and distress signalling.[4]

Canada − Trucks with radioactive cargo fail inspections

Since 2010, more than one truck in seven carrying radioactive material has been pulled off the road by Ontario ministry of transportation inspectors for failing safety or other requirements.[5] The information is contained in a notice [6] filed with a panel studying a proposal to establish a radioactive waste repository near Kincardine.

The notice states that since 2010, inspectors examined 102 trucks carrying "Class 7 Dangerous Goods (Radioactive material.)" Of those, 16 were placed "out-of-service," which means the vehicle "must be repaired or the violation corrected before it is allowed to proceed." Violations included faulty brake lights; "load security" problems; flat tires; false log; damaged air lines; and a driver with no dangerous goods training.[6]

In other cases, trucks were allowed to proceed but were slapped with enforcement actions for problems with hours of service; annual inspection requirement; missing placards; exceed gross weight limit; speed limiter; overlength combination; overheight vehicle; and vehicle registration / insurance.[6]

In total, 25 of the 102 inspections − nearly one in four − resulted in the vehicle being place out-of-service and / or enforcement action taken against the operator of the vehicle.[6]

[1] John Spears, 31 Oct 2013, 'Burning truck hauling nuclear load flies under radar',
[2] Martyn Lowe, 25 Aug 2013, 'Next Destination − Antwerp',
[3] May 2013,
[4] UK Nuclear Free Local Authorities, 28 Aug 2013, 'NFLA alarmed about docking of Atlantic Cartier in Liverpool,
[5] John Spears, 15 Nov 2013, 'Trucks with radioactive cargo fail inspections',
[6] Ministry of Transportation − Undertaking #61:

African action highlights uranium risks

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Dave Sweeney − Nuclear Free Campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation

The global uranium sector remains hard hit by the market fallout from the continuing Fukushima nuclear crisis with the uranium price falling 50% and severe cuts to the share value and profitability of uranium producers since March 2011.

Given this reality and the global financial crisis induced lack of access to easy and cheap cash, uranium producers in many parts of the world are cutting costs, corners and operations. They are also increasingly looking to traditional areas of low cost and governance as the place for a new wave of uranium development and exploitation − as a result Africa is firmly on the atomic agenda.

The thinking behind the renewed industry push into Africa was starkly expressed in 2006 when John Borshoff, the bullish and increasingly embattled CEO of Paladin Energy − an Australian company with highly contested operations in Malawi and Namibia − outlined the corporate rationale underpinning the renewed African push by uranium hopefuls: "The Australians and the Canadians have become over-sophisticated in their environmental and social concerns over uranium mining, the future is in Africa."

This type of thinking bodes ill for both people and the environment should uranium mining plans become a reality in the growing number of places in Africa where this trade is either expanding or gaining a foothold.

In response to the growing pressure for increased uranium mining in Africa, a group of Tanzanian and European environment, public health and legal rights organisations recently conducted an ambitious uranium awareness initiative in Tanzania to highlight nuclear concerns both there and more widely across and throughout Africa.

The initiative − which took place in early October 2013 − began with a field visit to exploration sites around the Dodoma/Bahi region in central Tanzania − the site of extensive, and contested, uranium exploration.

The country is dry with low rocky ranges, lots of scrubby plains and clay pans and a key feature is an intermittent wetland basin known as the Bahi swamp that supports lots of community and economic activity and food production including cattle herding, fishing and rice.

Much of the exploration is being undertaken by the Australian company Uranex and there is a high level of community concern over possible future impacts on land access and use and water concerns.

Despite being both lawful and widely supported by the local community, the field trip attracted the attention of the local authorities with police arriving and arresting a key community organiser from CESOPE, a Tanzanian environmental organisation that has been leading much grassroots work aimed at increasing awareness of the impacts of uranium mining.

Through a combination of group solidarity, with 50 visiting delegates and participants refusing to leave the local police station, and the intervention of a national parliamentarian and human rights lawyer, all was resolved. But the incident was a direct and potent insight into the everyday difficulties faced by local organisers and communities.

The site visit was followed by a major community meeting on the health and environmental impacts of uranium mining. Because of a directive from the local authorities this had to be relocated at short notice from the affected village area to the nearby town of Dodoma, the Tanzanian national capital. Despite this attempt to derail the event, the meeting was strong and positive with over 500 people attending and actively engaging.

The keynote presentations from visiting medical and industry experts and critics from North America, Europe, Australia and across Africa were well received and interspersed with songs, chants, enthusiastic Swahili campaign exhortations and theatre pieces and the day generated considerable energy, media and community attention.

Following this meeting the initiative returned to Tanzania's principal city, Dar Es Salaam, for a major international conference exploring the health and environmental impacts of uranium mining. The event attracted a lot of national media and stakeholder and government attention. It also attracted the attention of the Tanzanian national security service − again it was clear that the uranium issue is very sensitive at this time.

Conference delegates also met with and briefed a range of Tanzanian based stakeholders including the Mines Commissioner, industry regulators, journalists, diplomats and civil society representatives to raise concerns and experiences in relation to the uranium and nuclear industries in their home countries and any lessons and implications that these may have for African nations and communities.

African Uranium Alliance

The conference was followed by a positive meeting of the African Uranium Alliance, a continent-wide group of nuclear free activists who meet annually to share stories and strategies to strengthen effective opposition to the uranium and wider nuclear sector across Africa and to promote the vision of a secure energy future for the continent that is renewable, not radioactive.

As the majority of delegates departed Dar Es Salaam some Swiss, French, German and Australian visitors joined with Tanzanian civil society representatives on a journey to Songea in the far south of the country to meet with people affected by Mantra Resources Mkuju River project, Tanzania's most advanced uranium project. Mantra Resources was an Australian company but has been bought out by an international consortium from Russia, Canada and South Africa and now is the project operator rather than owner.

The trip involved long hours of road travel and, despite earlier assurances, a combination of major bureaucracy and miner trickery meant the delegation was unable to actually visit the site. This disappointment again highlighted the lack of transparency surrounding the uranium sector in Tanzania, and elsewhere.

The visit provided a much clearer understanding of both the political and geographical landscape and the opportunity to meet with a range of regional faith, labour rights and environmental representatives who shared their concerns around the threat of uranium mining in the region.

The last two days of the initiative were spent travelling some pretty remote and dusty roads that are slated for a major infrastructure upgrade to facilitate the development of the extractives industry − including planned multiple uranium projects in southern Tanzania. All the signs are there − road camps, clearing for electricity transmission lines, new signage and planned regional port upgrades to handle hazardous materials.

Those who are working for a nuclear free future in Tanzania − as is the case elsewhere − face challenging times. But if the road ahead for the miners is half as bumpy as the one we travelled then they too will face some real hurdles.

The Tanzanian uranium initiative was an important, well-grounded and positive contribution to charting a course to a nuclear free future in this country and across Africa. The initiative grew from the vision and hard work of Tanzanian civil society groups including the grass roots CESOPE, NaCUM (the National Coalition on Uranium Mining Tanzania) and the LHRC (Legal Aid Human Rights Centre), supported by the European based chapters of the Uranium Network and the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War and facilitated by donors including the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung.

These groups − and the many people on the ground working daily for a cleaner and safer future − deserve our recognition and respect. And the industry that fuels their concern and global radioactive risk demands our resistance.

More information:
Author: Dave Sweeney − Nuclear Free Campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation
Email: d.sweeney[at]


Nuclear News

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Nuclear fuel damage in Slovenian reactor
During a regular maintenance outage at the Krsko nuclear power plant in Slovenia, nuclear fuel was damaged.

Andrej Stritar, director of the Nuclear Safety Directorate, responded to a list of questions from Focus Association for Sustainable Development and Greenpeace Slovenia. Stritar said that on October 8, during an operation to transfer fuel from the reactor to the spent fuel pool, a fuel rod length of about 0.5m broke off and fell to the bottom of the spent fuel pool. Elevated radioactivity levels in the reactor pool, first detected in 2012, suggested a problem with fuel leaks.

Stritar said a report would be prepared into the incident but would not promise public release of the full report − his excuse is that release of the full report might jeopardise commercial intellectual property of the fuel manufacturer (Westinghouse).

Stritar said there are several possible causes of the incident such as small foreign objects that may damage the metal, or a manufacturing error.

Stritar said (translation by google-translate): "A finding of leaking fuel rods have not been evaluated by the INES scale, so we can not yet say what level would be."

The maintenance outage began on October 1 and will be extended beyond the planned 35-day period.

Questions and comments from Focus Association for Sustainable Development and Greenpeace Slovenia (google-translation):
Andrej Stritar's response to questions (google-translation):


Canada opens uranium sector to European investment, scraps new reactor plans 
A trade accord agreed in principle between Canada and the European Union (EU) will ease restrictions on European investment in Canada's uranium industry. It opens the door for companies like Areva SA and Rio Tinto to make much larger investments in Saskatchewan's uranium-rich Athabasca Basin. Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall said that the changes would make the province's uranium mining projects "much more attractive" to EU investors and estimated that the province could see investments of up to US$2.4 billion over the next 15 years as a result of the agreement.[1]

Investment restrictions have been in place since 1970, when Ottawa introduced the non-residential ownership policy (NROP). The law prevents foreign companies from owning more than 49% of a uranium mine in Canada, unless they cannot find a Canadian partner. The NROP has limited the competition for Canadian uranium leader Cameco, which owns stakes in most of the major projects in the Athabasca. Cameco's position has been that the NROP should remain in place unless other countries open up to uranium investment as well. While this free trade deal may open up the European market for Cameco, a company spokesperson said there are no obvious uranium resource opportunities on the continent that are worth developing.[2]

The Ontario government announced in October that it has abandoned plans for two new nuclear power plants and will focus on refurbishing its ageing facilities instead.[3] Ontario Power Generation had received detailed construction plans, schedules and cost estimates for the two reactor designs under consideration for new build at Darlington. The province's other nuclear operator, Bruce Power, has brought four mothballed units at the Bruce A plant back online but pulled back from plans for new units at Bruce in 2009.[4]



Greenland drops uranium mining ban

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Greenland's parliament has voted in favour of lifting the country's long-standing ban on uranium mining. The move could enable the Kvanefjeld uranium / rare earths project to proceed. The country introduced a ban on the mining of uranium and other radioactive elements in 1988, while under Danish direct rule. However, in a 15-14 vote, the parliament voted to repeal the ban on October 24.[1]

The vote came after five hours of heated debate that saw efforts to bring a no-confidence vote against the government, as well as a failed vote to put the ban to a referendum.[2] Sara Olsvig from Inuit Ataqatigiit, the largest opposition party, said: "We sought a compromise with the government and proposed that parliament decide on whether to conduct a broad information campaign followed by a national referendum. The government chose to ignore this proposition, as they also chose to ignore the many demonstrations against uranium and for a referendum, held in numerous towns in Greenland, the day before and on the day of the vote. The demonstration held in Nuuk is said to be the largest demonstration in Greenland for 29 years."[4]

Australia's Greenland Minerals and Energy − owner of the Kvanefjeld uranium and rare earths project in southern Greenland − welcomed the move. The Kvanefjeld project is currently the subject of a feasibility study.[1]

The Aboriginal-led Australian Nuclear Free Alliance will write to the Danish government, urging it to intervene. Greenland is a self-governing member of the Danish kingdom, but its defence and foreign policies are determined in Copenhagen. Whether uranium mining and export can proceed without Danish support is a contested question. It is possible − but unlikely − that the Danish Parliament will vote on the matter of uranium mining in Greenland. The Danish government has made an agreement with the Greenland government declaring their common intention to regulate export of uranium together.

Gitte Seeberg, the head of WWF Denmark, expressed regret that parliament had not respected the wish of a majority of Greenlanders and held a referendum. "Greenland could become one of the world's biggest uranium exporters, and that calls not just for parliament's approval, but also the approval of the people," Seeberg said.[2]

Avataq, the Danish Ecological Council, NOAH FoE Denmark and others have been fighting the proposal to repeal the uranium ban.[3]

A non-binding referendum may be held covering Southern Greenland including the Kvanefjeld project. The Greenlandic Premier Minister Aleqa Hammond promised such a referendum in her opening speech at the autumn session of Parliament and the promise has not been revoked.


Other stages of the nuclear fuel cycle

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

The Union of Concerned Scientists summarises water issues associated with uranium fuel fabrication [1]:

Processing uranium requires mining, milling, enrichment, and fuel fabrication, all of which use significant quantities of water.

  • Mining − Uranium mining consumes one to six gallons (3.8−22.7 litres) of water per million Btus of thermal energy output, depending on the mining method. Mining uranium also produces waste that can contaminate local water sources, and which can be especially dangerous given the radioactivity of some of the materials involved. (A Btu or British Thermal Unit is a measure of energy content, usually used to describe the energy content of fuels. One kilowatt hour is the rough equivalent of 3,400 Btus.)
  • Processing − Uranium processing consumes seven to eight gallons (26.5−30.3 l) of water for every million Btus of thermal output.
  • Milling − The milling process uses a mix of liquid chemicals to increase the fuel's uranium content; milling leaves behind uranium-depleted ore that must be placed in settling ponds to evaporate the milling liquids.
  • Enrichment − The next step, enriching the gaseous uranium to make it more effective as a fuel accounts for about half of the water consumed in uranium processing. The conventional enrichment method in the US is gas diffusion, which uses significantly more water than the gas centrifuge approach popular in Europe.
  • Fuel Fabrication − Fabrication involves bundling the enriched uranium into fuel rods in preparation for the nuclear reactor. 

At the 'back end' of the nuclear fuel cycle, the large commercial reprocessing plants in France and the UK are major sources of radioactive marine pollution. Cogema's reprocessing plant at La Hague in France, and the Sellafield reprocessing plant in the UK, are the largest sources of radioactive pollution in the European environment.[2]

[1] Union of Concerned Scientists, 'Water for Nuclear',
[2] WISE-Paris, Study on Sellafield and La Hague commissioned by STOA,

More information:
Friends of the Earth, Australia, 'Impacts of Nuclear Power and Uranium Mining on Water Resources',


Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Niger audits U mines, seeks better deal
The Nigerien government has ordered an audit of French nuclear group Areva's uranium mines. Areva operates two mines in Niger − Somair and Cominak. The Nigerien government holds a 36.4% stake in Somair (Areva 63.6%), which produces roughly 3,000 tonnes of uranium a year, and a 31% stake in Cominak (Areva 34%), which has an annual output of 1,500 tonnes.

With the two mines' 10-year contract coming up for renewal at the end of this year, Niger wants to increase its tax take and is calling on Areva to make infrastructure investments, including a new road to the remote mining region of Arlit, more than 1,000 km north of the capital Niamey.

President Mohamadou Issoufou, elected in 2011, has said he wants to dramatically increase state revenues from uranium, which accounted for 5 percent of the 1.4 trillion CFA franc (US$2.9 billion) budget last year.

Former president Mamadou Tandja succeeded in 2006 in roughly doubling the official uranium price, used to calculate profits and tax revenues, and ended Areva's monopoly on uranium extraction in 2007 by inviting in China's SinoU, which now operates the Somina mine.

Development of the uranium sector has been complicated by insecurity in northern Niger. The Somair mine was targeted by Islamist suicide bombers in May, killing one person and shutting down production, in retaliation for a French-led military operation against an al Qaeda-linked enclave in neighbouring Mali. The mine resumed full operation in August.

Daniel Flynn and Abdoulaye Massalatchi, 20 Sept 2013, 'Exclusive: Niger audits Areva uranium mines, seeking better deal',
'Niger mine resumes full operation', 7 August 2013,


UK: Derailment of empty nuclear transport flasks
During the process of moving a consignment of three empty High Level Waste flasks from the Barrow docks spur line onto the main railway line (heading for Sellafield), one of the three flasks derailed and a second flask partially derailed on September 16. Drawn by two Direst Rail Services locomotives (DRS – a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority), the transport is said to have been travelling at approximately 5 mph when the derailment occurred on the main line causing a partial blockage of the line and forcing the cancellation of some main line services for several days.

The third transport flask had remained upright and, following the rectification of the partially derailed flask, the two flasks were returned to the Ramsden Dock nuclear shipping terminal for inspection. Righting the fully derailed flask took a further four days because of what was described by Network Rail as a process that was 'extremely challenging due to the location and the ground conditions in the area'. An investigation has been launched and whilst the exact cause of the derailment has not yet been established, it is understood that some repairs to the main railway line are necessary. Once repairs are completed, the three flasks will be taken to Sellafield.
The empty HLW flasks had earlier arrived at the Ramsden Dock nuclear shipping terminal from Japan on board the ship Pacific Grebe. At Sellafield, the flasks will subsequently be loaded with further canisters of HLW before returning to Japan as required under the 'returns clause' of the contracts signed up to by overseas customers whose spent nuclear fuel has been reprocessed at Sellafield. Japan is scheduled to take back almost 900 canisters of vitrified waste in 35 flasks up to year 2017. To date, 132 canisters have so far been returned to Japan in three separate shipments.
The programme of returning HLW to Japan has been jinxed by a number of events. When the first shipment of one flask (January 2010) arrived in Japan, the HLW canisters within the transport flask failed to tally with the official paperwork – a number of them being 'out of position' within the holding channels of the transport flask. As a result, a scheduled HLW return to Holland had to be postponed whilst an investigation was carried out.
When the second shipment, made in July 2011 and consisting of 76 canisters in 3 flasks, arrived in Japan, radioactive contamination above Japanese acceptance limits was found on some canisters – with one found to be contaminated at almost 50 times the acceptance limit. And now the derailment of the empty HLW flasks at Barrow, following the return of the Pacific Grebe from its third shipment to Japan in January this year has further blotted the INS copy book.
A fourth and fifth HLW return shipment to Japan are scheduled from Sellafield in the first quarter of 2014 and for mid-2015 respectively.

− Abridged from Cumbrians Opposed to a Radioactive Environment, 23 Sept 2013, 

Nuclear News

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Legal challenges against nuclear power projects in Slovakia and UK

Slovakia's nuclear watchdog violated the law when it issued a building permit for ENEL's 3.7 billion-euro nuclear reactor project, the Supreme Court has ruled. The Italian utility's local unit, Slovenske Elektrarne AS, began building two new reactors at the Mochovce nuclear power plant in 2009 after receiving a permit by the Office for Nuclear Supervision. The Supreme Court has directed the regulator to reopen the public consultation process.[1] The battle continues − the Slovak nuclear regulator UJD said it would order a new round of public consultation but that ENEL can continue with construction.

Greenpeace, along with Ireland's heritage group An Taisce (the National Trust for Ireland), have launched two independent legal challenges to the UK government plans for new nuclear power plants at Hinkley Point, Somerset. The reactor plan is being challenged on the basis of the EU's Environmental Impact Assessment Directive, which requires that affected EU members states are informed and consulted during the planning stage of infrastructure projects that "could have a significant impact on the environment". Irish people were not properly consulted on the proposals.[2]

In a separate case, Greenpeace is challenging the UK Government's decision to grant planning permission for the reactors because it hasn't found a site to store the new nuclear waste, following Cumbria's resounding rejection of a national nuclear waste site in the area.[2]



Greenland uranium ban may be lifted

The ban on uranium mining in the Danish realm is expected to be lifted in the Greenlandic parliament in the coming months. The first reading of the new uranium bill will be on October 1, the second on October 24 and the third in Spring 2014. The decision will then have to be confirmed in the Danish parliament. The Greenlandic government decision will be preceded by publication of two reports – one scientific and independent and one political – on the consequences of lifting the ban. The scientific report has already been written, but the government has so far refused to make it public, a fact that has caused outrage among the opposition parties.

The Greenlandic Minister of Industry and Labour has also stated that a comprehensive public debate on uranium mining is unnecessary, before the ban is lifted, because the government was given a clear mandate to do so during the recent elections.

Abolishment of the uranium zero tolerance policy is not only a hot topic in Greenland, but also in Denmark. Even though the Danish government has given notice that it favours the bill, it could still be voted down in the Parliament. The Danish government is a minority government and even within the government itself there is opposition to lifting the ban.

Avataq, the Danish Ecological Council and NOAH FoE Denmark have weighed in on the debate and last month they published a feature article in Politiken, one of the biggest Danish dailies. The article has been translated into English:
− Niels Hooge


Uranium smuggling arrest at JFK airport. Patrick Campbell of Sierra Leone was recently caught at Kennedy Airport with uranium hidden in his shoes and luggage. He was charged with plotting to sell 1,000 tons of uranium to an FBI agent posing as a broker for Iranian buyers. He had allegedly responded to an advertisement in May 2012 on the website Campbell claimed to represent a mining company in Sierra Leone that sold diamonds, gold and uranium, and is accused of seeking to arrange the export of uranium from Sierra Leone to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas, packed in drums and disguised as the mineral chromite.


Plutonium and enriched uranium removed from nuclear test site in Kazakhstan. Working in top secret over a period of 17 years, Russian and US scientists collaborated to remove hundreds of pounds of plutonium and highly enriched uranium — enough to construct at least a dozen nuclear weapons — from a remote Soviet-era nuclear test site in Kazakhstan that had been overrun by impoverished metal scavengers, according to a report released in August by the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. The report sheds light on a mysterious US$150 million cleanup operation paid for in large part by the US, whose nuclear scientists feared that terrorists would discover the fissile material and use it to build a dirty bomb.


UK − Heysham shut down after electrical fault. Heysham 1 Power Station shut down both of its nuclear reactors after an electrical fault in a gas turbine generator. Firefighters were called to the plant on August 22. EDF Energy, which operates the plant, said it had been shut down as a precaution. In May, a reactor was shut down after smoke was seen coming from a turbine due to smouldering lagging on a turbine.


Lithuania opposes new reactor in Belarus. The Lithuanian government has made known its deep concerns about Belarus's nuclear power project near Ostroverts, and is demanding work be halted until safety issues are addressed and international treaties are complied with. Two diplomatic notes have been sent to Belarus over the past month to protest earth-moving and other initial work for the plant. "We have many concerns about safety and information we've asked for hasn't been provided," Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius said. A UN committee said in April that Belarus wasn't abiding by the terms of the Espoo Convention on cross-border environmental issues.
ESPOO Convention:


Birth defects: Did the occupation of Iraq leave a toxic legacy?

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Doug Weir - Coordinator of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons

During the occupation of Iraq, the city of Fallujah bore witness to some of the most intense US combat operations since Vietnam, with 2004's Operation Phantom Fury widely condemned for its ferocity and disregard for international law.[1]

Paediatrician Dr Samira Al'aani has worked in the city since 1997.[2] In 2006 she began to notice an increase in the number of babies being born with congenital birth defects (CBD). Concerned, she began to log the cases that she saw. Through careful record keeping she has determined that at Fallujah General Hospital, 144 babies are now born with a deformity for every 1000 live births. This is nearly six times higher than the average rate in the UK between 2006 and 2010, and one strong suspicion is that contamination from the toxic constituents of munitions used by occupying forces could be the cause. Now a new nationwide study by the Iraqi Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the World Health Organisation, has the potential to catalyse efforts to understand and confront the issue, but only if science can be allowed to rise above politics.

The politicisation of health research in Iraq has deep roots. In April 2001, plans were beginning to be put in place for a framework agreement between the WHO and Iraqi government that was intended to establish projects aimed at improving public health care in the country.[3] Among the projects were plans to improve the recording and registration of cancers and congenital malformations, and efforts to identify substances in the environment that might be responsible for the increases in those diseases reported since the 1991 Gulf War. Controversially for some states, depleted uranium from US and UK munitions was among the environmental risk factors to be investigated.

After six months, the plans were in disarray. While Baghdad had initiated the project, after consultation the WHO had announced that any costs associated with the projects would need to be borne by Iraq itself. "None of these projects can really start until funding has been found for them, and funding, it has been agreed, will be at the Iraqi initiative," said Neel Mani, incoming director of the WHO's Iraq programme at the time.[4] The Iraqi government, convinced that the health problems had been caused by the 1991 Gulf War and were thus the fault of the US and its allies, refused to cooperate. Political concerns had trumped the needs of the Iraqi people.

The United States has long been the WHO's largest single state donor and the institution has not been free of the criticism directed at other international bodies, such as the World Bank, in recent years that it is disproportionately influenced by its largest patron. The reality is that vast sums of money are involved and state donors have been keen to see returns that are consistent with their interests and principles, whether this is protection of Big Pharma's intellectual property rights or promoting neoliberal approaches to health care provision. Yet in order to be effective the WHO must be, and be seen to be, genuinely independent. The WHO's governing body, the World Health Assembly, reopened the issue of reform back in 2009 but progress has been slow, particularly as different parties are pushing the reform agenda in different directions.

When the WHO announced in 2011 that it was to work with Iraq's Health Ministry on a nationwide study to assess the rates and geographic spread of CBDs in the country, optimism began to build that this could be a significant first step in the long path towards reducing harm and providing assistance to affected families.[5] Prior to the announcement, studies into rates had been limited in scope to a single hospital, and questions were raised about their methodology. Taken in isolation these studies were insufficient to generate the political will for action. Additionally, concerns were expressed over Iraq's internal bureaucracy and power struggles after researchers reported that medical staff were being pressured into not speaking out. Gradually, hopes began to fade that effective research would ever see the light of day.

From the outset, phase one of the project was never due to consider causality – a fact that has drawn criticism from some quarters. Its original aim was to gather baseline data from selected districts and analyse spatial and temporal trends in the incidence of CBDs. Progress on the project was slow, with data collection hit by repeated delays, but during 2012 the WHO, which had posted a FAQ on the project in response to growing interest from the public and media, announced that: "The data collection process has been recently completed and the results are being analysed by the Ministry of Health and WHO. The data analysis process will conclude at the end of 2012 following which time the report writing process will start." [6]

The FAQ was notable in that it pre-empted questions on causality. Of these the possible link between depleted uranium use and CBD rates was covered; the tone was exasperated: "Is the study looking at a possible link between prevalence of child birth defects and the use of depleted uranium? No, absolutely not. The study is only looking at the prevalence of congenital birth defects in selected governorates."

This was understandable, the term birth defect covers a diverse spectrum of disorders; causes include single gene defects, chromosomal disorders, multi-factorial inheritance, environmental teratogens, maternal infections such as rubella and micronutrient deficiencies. Amidst the wreckage of post-war Iraq, there was no shortage of potential risk factors.

In March 2013, BBC World broadcast a documentary on the story. As with other media reports, Born Under A Bad Sign visited the hospitals and spoke with parents and doctors – all of whom were convinced that the health problems they were witnessing were linked to the war.[7] Journalist Yalda Hakim took this up with staff from the Ministry of Health and was able to discuss the CBD data with them. Although nervous, and reluctant to provide too many answers, citing political pressure, they confirmed that the study would find a link between increased incidence of CBDs and areas subject to the most intense fighting in 2003.[8]

If true, this is a hugely significant and profoundly political outcome, and while it doesn't identify a single causal factor for the increase in CBD rates, it narrows the field considerably. While the long-term impact of explosive remnants of war such as landmines and cluster bombs are familiar to most, questions are increasingly being asked about the public health legacy of toxic remnants of war.[9] While the two most notorious examples are depleted uranium and the dioxin contaminated Vietnam-era herbicide Agent Orange, an analysis of commonly used military substances – from heavy metals to explosives − demonstrates significant potential for harm from a range of materials.

Unfortunately data on the toxicity, environmental behaviour and dispersal of these substances is limited as militaries have often only undertaken research into the effects on their own troops or when faced by domestic regulations over emissions from firing ranges. This lack of data and the unpredictability of conflict means that accurately predicting the risk to civilians is enormously challenging. That no system of comprehensive post-conflict environmental assessment exists will ensure that many of these data gaps will remain.

Broadcast of the BBC report in March was followed by updates to the WHO's FAQ. Gone was the petulant 'No, absolutely not' from the line on depleted uranium and the first of a series of procedural delays was announced as committees were formed and new analyses proposed.[10] For campaigners seeking disclosure of the data as a first step towards focused research and humanitarian assistance in Iraq, the delays were worrying.

By July, further delays were announced, with the WHO's FAQ stating: "It was established that this large data set has a great deal of potentially valuable information and that additional analyses not originally conceived of should be done."[11] The WHO added that: "... in addition to further analyses, it was determined the work should also undergo the scientific standard of peer review. A team of independent scientists is now being recruited to review the planned analyses."

The political ramifications of the study are obvious and, while the alterations to the project may be scientifically justified on the basis of the dataset, it was felt that the best way to ensure confidence in the findings was to call for the study and analyses to be subject to genuinely independent and transparent peer review in an open-access journal. The WHO has used open-access journals in the past so the request is not without precedent. Crucially, any experts involved would be selected independently of the WHO.

So how can civil society and individuals influence an organisation as monolithic and apparently compromised as the WHO? On July 31, Dr Al'aani launched an online petition through ( − with the associated twitter hashtag of #Act4Iraq) calling for the WHO to immediately publish the collected data for independent peer review, so that scientific conclusions can be drawn and the affected parents can finally understand what has happened to their children.[12] For them, and for Dr Al'aani, the unfolding health crisis concerns far, far more than a debate over numbers and statistics. For those of us who are citizens of the states that invaded Iraq, it is vital to understand whether we carry a share of responsibility for those parents' suffering, and to demonstrate to Iraqis that the world has not forgotten about their country.


Doug Weir is Coordinator of the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons and manages the Toxic Remnants of War Project (, which explores the link between conflict toxics and civilian and environmental harm.

This article is reprinted from New Left Project.

Uranium price slumps, Paladin Energy in trouble

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green - Nuclear Monitor editor

The spot uranium price fell to US$34.50 / lb U3O8 in late July, a price not seen since December 2005 during the upswing of a spectacular price bubble which peaked in June 2007 at US$138 / lb. The 12% price slump in July was the biggest monthly loss since March 2011. Since September 2, the spot price has been still lower, at US$34.00. Those prices are just over half the spot price of US$66.50 / lb on 11 March 2011, the first day of the triple-disaster in north-east Japan.[1]

The long-term contract price has been reasonably stable in recent months at US$57 / lb. At that price, the value of annual global uranium requirements for power reactors is around US$10 billion.

FNArena wrote on September 17: "The issue of low uranium prices discouraging new supply is not just one of the spot price itself but one of the marginal cost of new supply. Producers suggested to Ux that the average marginal cost of production of operating mines is around where the spot price is now, but the marginal cost of developing a new mine is more like US$65-70/lb. From the nuclear energy prospective, respondents rated the most significant demand-side influences as, in descending order of influence, Japanese reactor restarts, Chinese reactor build, the premature shutdown of older US reactors and the emergence of newcomer countries to nuclear energy (about equal), and the upcoming French nuclear licence renewals."[19]

Raymond James analyst David Sadowski expects an average spot price of $40 per pound this year, $52 in 2014, and $70 in both 2015 and 2016.[2] Michael Angwin from the Australian Uranium Association expects low prices until about 2017/18, and a article states that "the road to recovery for this battered commodity will be a long haul".[3,4] Rob Atkinson, outgoing CEO of Energy Resources of Australia, says the uranium spot price is woeful, making it extremely difficult to make the case for developing a new mine, and the market will remain difficult for at least another two years.[21]

The industry hopes that reactor restarts in Japan will improve the situation − but restarts will be slow and in many cases strongly contested. The industry hopes that new build in China will improve the situation − but pre-Fukushima nuclear growth projections have been sharply reduced and China now plans to approve a "small number" of new reactors projects each year.[5]

The industry hopes that the end of the US-Russian 'Megatons to Megawatts' program − downblending highly enriched uranium from weapons programs for use in power reactors − will improve the situation. But mine production has met an increasing proportion of demand in recent years − 78% in 2009 and 2010, 85% in 2011 and 86% in 2012 (the shortfall was around 10,000 tonnes of uranium in 2011 and 2012).[6] This suggests that the end of the Megatons to Megawatts program will have a moderate impact. There is scope for weapons material to continue to supply the civil market regardless of future bilateral US-Russian agreements.[7] Ux Consulting noted last year that reduction in demand stemming from the Fukushima accident "essentially negates much of the reduction in supply resulting from the end of the US-Russia HEU deal".[8] Utilities have built up uranium stockpiles in recent years as a result of low uranium prices (the World Nuclear Association estimated commercial inventories totalling 145,000 tonnes of uranium in 2010 − enough to supply global demand for two years).[9]

Jeb Handwerger, described by Uranium Investing News as a "uranium bull and stock guru", says that "Smart money recognizes the bottom."[10] But smart money is heading for the door. At the Paydirt Uranium Conference in February 2012 in Australia, it was clear many companies were looking elsewhere, prompting an industry veteran to quip that copper and gold had never before enjoyed so much airtime at a uranium conference.[11] A year later, attendance was so poor that the conference was reduced from two days to one day and shifted from the Hilton Hotel to a less opulent venue.

Uranium gloom and doom is also being felt in the enrichment sector. Urenco posted a 45% drop in revenue for the first half of 2013 and a 31% fall in earnings (compared to the first half of 2012). Revenue fell to 384 million euros and earnings dropped to 319 million euros. Urenco said it expects a "substantial rebalance" during the second half of the year due to continued capacity expansion in its US facility and the construction of a new unit in the UK. The UK government owns one third of Urenco, as does the Dutch government, with the final third held by German utilities E.On and RWE. All the owners have been looking to sell their stakes but have so far failed to secure a deal.[20]

Paladin Energy
Australian-based Paladin Energy operates two uranium mines in Africa − Langer Heinrich in Namibia and Kayelekera in Malawi. CEO John Borshoff told a mining conference in Western Australia in July that the uranium industry faces a number of "major problems" such as the lack of greenfields development, dwindling investment capital and the sickly uranium price.[12]

Borshoff said: "[T]he uranium industry is definitely in crisis, I believe, and is showing all the symptoms of a mid-term paralysis if this situation does not demonstrably change. How can there not be a problem when you have an effective moratorium with nearly all major companies making no commitment to greenfields development until the price gets about US$70 and it is believed it can stay above that level. And how can there not be a problem when you have a strong chance that some of the more expensive, smaller operations will be mothballed − putting more pressure on current production. ... Only at this price level [US$70/ lb] − and above − can sufficient capital for new products be raised and returns on investment be justified to finally give some risk reward to the shareholder. And this appears to be a long way away."

Borshoff said much of the blame lies with the uranium industry's customers, who he said had focused on the expediency of current cheap prices rather than the supply−demand gap forecast to open in coming years.

Shares in Paladin plummeted on August 5 after the company announced a heavily discounted A$88 million raising through the issuing of 125.6 million shares.[13] The company's cash position dropped to A$78.1 million at June 30, down from A$112.9 million at the end of the previous quarter.[14]

The news followed a decision by the company to scrap negotiations for the sale of its interest in Langer Heinrich. Langer Heinrich produced 5.3 million pounds out of the company's total output of 8.26 million pounds of U3O8 in the year to June 30.[13] Borshoff said: "The current depressed uranium price has meant that it is unlikely that a price that appropriately reflects the strategic value of the asset will be achieved and accordingly proceeding at this time would be detrimental to long-term shareholder value."[15]

Andrew Shearer, an analyst at PhillipCapital Ltd., said: "The decision to terminate the asset sale is contrary to the company's guidance that the process was continuing well and heading toward a conclusion."[14]

Stockbroker RFC Ambrian said: "From a technical perspective, Paladin can be satisfied that it has achieved record sales but the fact remains that it has not had a profitable annual result since commencing operations. Our modelling forecasts continued negative cash flow and the company running out of cash in early 2014 and consequently [being] unable to service its substantial debt position. This was expected to be covered through the strategic sale of a minority interest in Langer Heinrich for cash."[16]

The share offering bought the company some breathing space if nothing else. Paladin had about US$670 million of debt at the end of March 2013 according to data compiled by Bloomberg.[14]

On August 30, Paladin Energy had more bad news, reporting a net loss of US$420.9 million for the 2013 financial year, more than double the previous year's loss of US$172.8 million and not far short of the company's record net loss of US$480.2 million in financial year 2009.[17,18] Borshoff launched into another spray about the low uranium price, labelling it ''diabolical'', ''extremely depressed'' and ''of great concern''.

Borshoff would not rule out closing one of Paladin's two mines (most likely the Kayelekera mine in Malawi) as part of the company's efforts to cut costs. Analyst Andrew Shearer said the Kayelekera mine was unlikely to be profitable at present prices, but the decision was complex: ''They would have to weigh up the cost associated with putting it on care and maintenance and whether they have any contractual agreements in terms of uranium sales.''

As Paladin does not make enough profit at current uranium prices to meet its debt repayments, the company will once again try to sell down its stake in its Namibian mine. Extra funding is needed to repay US$300 million in convertible notes that mature in 2015.[18]

As of late August, Paladin's share price was A$0.56, barely one-tenth the figure of A$5 the day before the Fukushima disaster.

According to Fairfax journalist Peter Ker, Paladin's "parlous state has some whispering about executive renewal."[17]


(Written by Nuclear Monitor editor Jim Green.)


Paladin threatens pensioner
Last December, Paladin Energy threatened 75-year old Australian pensioner Noel Wauchope with legal action for posting on her website an article critical about Paladin's uranium operations in Karonga, Malawi. The threat backfired when it was publicised in the widely-read Fairfax press.

Fairfax business columnist Michael West wrote: "The price of Noel Wauchope's concern for the people Karonga was a long and intimidating letter of demand from Ashurst on behalf of the uranium company Paladin Energy and its general manager of international affairs, Greg Walker. If she did not comply with these demands, warned Ashurst, she would face court action. ...

Among other things, the Ashurst letter accused the anti-nuclear campaigner of imputing that Mr Walker was 'insensitive'.

In any case, these kinds of threats to muzzle free speech are on the rise. At a time when the mainstream media is under pressure from falling revenues, lawyers are threatening and shutting down websites around the country at an alarming clip. ...

As to the threats against the mild-mannered antinuclear campaigner from Caulfield, Ashurst laid down a long list of supposedly defamatory imputations then noted, "The above details of falsity are not comprehensive and it should be assumed that any imputation not addressed is also false, unless otherwise stated".

This is just buffoonery. Yet the overall message of such threats is always crystal clear: back off, do what we tell you or you could lose your house. It looks like bullying, pure and simple."

Nuclear News

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Stop Japan's Rokkasho Reprocessing Plant
Action Requested: Sending letter to the Japanese Embassy in your country urging Japan not to start the Rokkasho reprocessing plant.

Dear Friends,

Greetings from Japan! Sixty-eight years ago on August 9, an atomic bomb containing about 6kg of plutonium destroyed the city of Nagasaki in an instant. Next year, Japan intends to start the commercial operation of the Rokkasho reprocessing plant, the only industrial-scale reprocessing plant in a non-nuclear weapons state, to separate plutonium from fuel used in nuclear power plants at a rate of 8 tons per year, equivalent to 1,000 bombs using the IAEA formula of 8 kg per bomb.

Originally, Japan intended to use separated plutonium to fuel fast breeder reactors, which were supposed to produce more plutonium than they consumed, guaranteeing a semi-eternal energy source. As in other countries, this program stalled, however. So Japan launched an uneconomical program to consume its accumulating plutonium in light water reactors. This also stalled. As result Japan has accumulated about 44 tons of plutonium, equivalent to more than 5,000 bombs: 34 tons in Europe, from reprocessing Japan's spent fuel in the UK and France, and 10 tons in Japan.

Due to the Fukushima accident we have only two of 50 reactors operating. The number and the timing the reactors to be restarted is uncertain and the prospect of being able to consume a significant amount of the existing plutonium in reactors anytime soon is dim. Applications for review for restart of 10 reactors under the new safety rules were just submitted July 8.

The government still wants to start operation of the Rokkasho reprocessing plant. Further accumulation of nuclear-weapon-usable material is a concern for the international society and for Japan's neighbors, who wonder about its intentions.

Separated plutonium is also a security risk. And if other countries follow Japan's example, it would increase proliferation risks.

Please help us to stop Japan from further separating nuclear weapon usable material by doing the following:

Send a message/letter by fax or otherwise to the Japanese Embassy in your country by August 9 urging Japan not to start the Rokkasho reprocessing plant and send a copy of the message/letter that you have sent or intend to send to the following e-mail address by 5 August no-pu[@]

List of Japanese Embassies:

We will deliver them to the government of Japan on August 9. We also will release them to the media.

Thank you very much in advance.


Sincerely yours,

Yasunari Fujimoto
Secretary General,
Japan Congress Against A- and H-Bombs (GENSUIKIN)

(For background information see 'Japan's Reprocessing Plans, Nuclear Monitor #763, 13 June 2013).


Canada: Cameco agreement to silence indigenous protests on uranium mining
After the Pinehouse collaboration Agreement with Cameco and Areva in December 2012, with the English First River Nation in May 2013 another indigenous community of Northwest Saskatchewan has - against protests of their community members - signed an agreement with these uranium mining companies to support their business and not to disturb it anymore.

The agreement - which members have not been permitted to see - allegedly promises $600 million in business contracts and employee wages to the Dene band, in exchange for supporting Cameco/Areva's existing and proposed projects within ERFN's traditional territory, and with the condition that ERFN discontinue their lawsuit against the Saskatchewan government relating to Treaty Land Entitlement section of lands near Cameco's proposed Millenium mine project.

− from Nuclear Heritage Network − NukesNews #10, 29 July 2013,

More information:
Committee for Future Generations,
Peter Prebble and Ann Coxworth, July 2013, 'The Government of Canadaʼs Legacy of Contamination in Northern Saskatchewan Watersheds,

South Korea: Nuclear scandal widens
The scandal in South Korea concerning the use of counterfeit parts in nuclear plants, and faked quality assurance certificates, has widened. [1]
In May 2012, five engineers were charged with covering up a potentially dangerous power failure at the Kori-I reactor which led to a rapid rise in the reactor core temperature. The accident occurred because of a failure to follow safety procedures. [2] A manager decided to conceal the incident and to delete records, despite a legal obligation to notify the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission. [3] In October 2012, authorities temporarily shut down two reactors at separate plants after system malfunctions.

Then in November 2012, the scandal involving counterfeit parts and faked certificates erupted. [4] The reactor parts included fuses, switches, heat sensors, and cooling fans. The scandal kept escalating and by the end of November it involved at least 8601 reactor parts, 10 firms and six reactors and it was revealed the problems had been ongoing for at least 10 years. Plant owner Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) acknowledged possible bribery and collusion by its own staff members as well as corruption by firms supplying reactor parts. [5]

Two reactors were taken offline to replace thousands of parts, while replacement parts were fitted to other reactors without taking them offline.

In recent months the scandal has continued to expand.

Late May 2013: Two more reactors were shutdown and the scheduled start of two others was delayed because an anonymous whistleblower revealed that "control cables had been supplied to [the] four reactors with faked certificates even though the part had failed to pass a safety test." [6]

June 20: Widespread police raids. [7] Prosecutors reveal that the number of plants suspected to have non-compliant parts (or at least paperwork) has widened to include 11 of South Korea's 23 reactor reactors. [8]

July 8: The former president of KHNP was arrested as part of the ongoing investigation into nuclear industry corruption. [9,10]

July 10: Search and seizure occurred at Hyundai Heavy Industries after the Busan Prosecutor's office obtained warrants relating to the nuclear parts scandal. [11]

July 11: Details emerged on the involved parties in the Hyundai headquarters raid, including persons and exchanged funds. Contract bribery is included in the charges. [12]

Even before the scandals of the past two years, a 2011 IPSOS survey found 68% opposition to new reactors in South Korea. [13] The proportion of South Koreans who consider nuclear power safe fell from 71% in 2010 to 35% in 2012. [14]

References and Sources:
1. Atomic Power Review, 14 July 2013, 'South Korea's Nuclear Energy Corruption Scandal Widens in Scope',
13. IPSOS, June 2011, 'Global Citizen Reaction to the Fukushima Nuclear Plant Disaster',
14. Reuters, 7 Jan 2013, 'South Korea to expand nuclear energy despite growing safety fears',


France: Activists target uranium and nuclear plants
Two uranium facilities were blocked by activists in the South of France on June 19. The collectives "Stop Uranium" and "Stop Tricastin" organised simultaneous non-violent blockades in front of two uranium facilities in the south of France. The first facility, the Comurhex Malvési (near Narbonne) is the entrance gate for yellowcake in France. The second facility was the Eurodif enrichment plant, on the Tricastin nuclear site, near Avignon.

About 30 Greenpeace activists were arrested on July 15 after breaking into an EDF nuclear power plant in southern France, saying they wanted to expose security flaws and demanding its closure. The activists said they reached the walls of two reactors at the Tricastin plant, one of France's oldest. The protesters who entered the plant at dawn unfurled a yellow and black banner on a wall above a picture of President Francois Hollande, marked with the words: 'TRICASTIN ACCIDENT NUCLÉAIRE: PRÉSIDENT DE LA CATASTROPHE?' (Tricastin Nuclear Accident: President of the Disaster?).

"With this action, Greenpeace is asking François Hollande to close the Tricastin plant, which is among the five most dangerous in France," said Yannick Rousselet from Greenpeace France. Greenpeace is pressing Hollande to honour his previous promise to close at least 10 reactors by 2017 and 20 by 2020.

In July 2008 an accident at a treatment centre next to the Tricastin plant saw liquid containing untreated uranium overflow out of a faulty tank during a draining operation. The same month around 100 staff at Tricastin's nuclear reactor number four were contaminated by radioactive particles that escaped from a pipe.

Nuclear Heritage Network − NukesNews #10, 29 July 2013,
Reuters, 'Greenpeace activists break into French nuclear plant',
'French Greenpeace activists break into nuclear power plant', 15 July 2013,
Angelique Chrisafis, 25 July 2008, 'It feels like a sci-fi film' - accidents tarnish nuclear dream',


Germany: Activists blockade nuclear fuel production plant
On July 25, around 50 activists blockaded Areva's nuclear fuel production plant in Lingen, north-east Germany. The protest included a climbing action as well as Samba-band. For seven hours, traffic delivering material to the plant was blocked. Around midday, police arrived and cleared away the peaceful non-violent blockade. A number of activists were taken to the police station. A female activist was wounded and had to be taken to the hospital.

Photo from visual.rebellion: