You are here


Uranium Mining in Niger (Jim Green)

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green, Friends of the Earth, Australia (and editor of the Nuclear Monitor)

In the latest unrest at Niger's uranium mines, one person was killed and 14 wounded in a car bomb attack at Areva's uranium mine at Arlit, northern Niger, on May 23. Two suicide bombers were also killed. On the same day, military barracks in the northern town of Agadez were attacked, resulting in the deaths of 18 soldiers and one civilian.

The Arlit attack caused sufficient damage to force a halt to mining operations, which were partially restarted on June 18.

The Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO) claimed responsibility for the attacks, in retaliation for military involvement in neighbouring Mali. MUJAO was one of three Islamist groups that seized control of northern Mali last year before French-led troops drove them out.

Moktar Belmoktar, whose brigade calls itself 'Those Who Sign In Blood', also claimed responsibility for the Arlit attack and is believed to be responsible for an attack on a gas plant in Algeria in January which resulted in 80 deaths including 37 foreign hostages.

Areva and uranium mining in Niger
Areva has been mining uranium in Niger for more than 40 years and operates two mines in the north of the country through affiliated companies Somair (Arlit mine) and Cominak (the nearby Akokan mine). Areva is also working to start up a third uranium mine in Niger, at Imouraren.

In July 2007, rebels attacked the compound of an electricity company that powers the area's towns and the Arlit and Akokan uranium mines, but government troops fought them off. Around the same time, rebels made a series of attacks on government and mining interests, killing 15 government soldiers and abducting over 70 more.

Four French workers were kidnapped in 2008 by Tuareg-led rebels and released several days later. The rebel Niger Justice Movement (MNJ) said the French were seized to demonstrate to foreign mining companies that the Niger government could not guarantee the security of their operations.

In August 2008, gunmen killed one civilian and wounded another in an attack on a lorry used for transporting uranium from north Niger to a port in Benin.

In 2010 in Arlit, seven employees of Areva and one of its contractors were kidnapped. Four of them, all French nationals, are still being held. The group has repeatedly threatened to execute them in retaliation for the French-led intervention in Mali.

After the 2010 kidnapping, the French government sent special military forces to protect Areva's uranium mines in Niger, supplementing private security companies which mostly employ former military personnel. The use of French military forces to protect commercial interests led to renewed criticisms of French colonialism in Africa. (France ruled Nigeria as a colony for 60 years, ending in 1960.) In any case, French military forces and Nigerien counter-terrorism units failed to prevent the May 23 attack.

An Areva employee said questions were still being asked as to how the May 23 attack could have happened considering "the impressive military and security apparatus" that was in place. Agoumou Idi, a worker at the mine site, said: "We saw a car enter the factory and immediately it exploded. The terrorists, probably from MUJAO, took advantage of the fact that the entrance gate was open in order to let in a truck carrying the next shift of workers. They used that opening to enter the heart of our factory and explode their vehicle."

In addition to attacks and kidnappings, the Arlit mine has been subject to worker disputes. Workers began an open-ended strike on August 20, 2012 over labour conditions, but the strike ended the following day as negotiations resumed with management over conditions at the mine.

There have also been workers strikes at the nearby Akokan uranium mine. About 1,200 workers began a 72-hour strike on July 9, 2012 to demand higher wages. A 48-hour strike began on April 18, 2013 to demand the payment of a bonus on the mine's 2012 financial results. In May 2012, the social security tribunal of Melun (France) condemned Areva for the lung cancer death of a former employee of the Akokan mine. The court ordered Areva to pay 200,000 Euros plus interest in damages, and to double the widow's pension. Serge Venel died of lung cancer in July 2009 at the age of 59, after working at the Akokan mine from 1978 to 1985.

Ethnic and regional tensions
Areva's operations have exacerbated ethnic and regional tensions within Niger. Uranium production is concentrated in the northern homeland of the nomadic Tuareg minority, who have repeatedly risen in revolt, charging that whatever resources do accrue from the mining operations go primarily to the southern capital of Niamey.

According to the UN human development index, Niger is the third poorest country on the planet, with 70% of the population continuing to live on less than US$1 a day and life expectancy reaching only 45.

A 2010 Green Left Weekly article notes: "The military domination of Niger's politics has its roots in the discovery of uranium in the then-French colony shortly before independence in 1960. Independence was conditional on secret agreements giving France preferential access to mineral resources and continued military influence. Nigerien units of the French colonial army became the armed forces of the nominally independent republic and continued to be trained, armed and financed by France. French troops remained in Niger. ... The neocolonial secret agreements giving Areva below-market prices mean that very little of the wealth from Niger's uranium remains in the country. What little wealth is left over is pocketed by the military-based elite."

Likewise, Khadija Sharife wrote in a 2010 Pambazuka article: "French interests on the continent were realised through France's postcolonial Africa policy, known as Françafrique, extending to the diplomatic and political echelons of the Elysée from the days of de Gaulle. The policy comprised corporate and intelligence lobbies, multinationals intimately connected to the State such as Elf and Areva, French-backed dictators, and shadow networks named in honour of its masterminds such as Jacques Foccart, de Gaulle's chief Africa advisor who was called out of retirement at age 81 by French President Jacques Chirac to resume activities. Chirac himself would declare in the early 1990s that the continent 'was not yet ready for democracy.' ... Currently, the Niger's 12,000 armed forces are guided by 15 French military advisors, with Nigerien personnel largely trained, armed and financed by France, protecting five critical defence zones – namely geostrategic routes and mines."

In 2008, international transparency campaigners meeting under the umbrella of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative condemned the opaqueness surrounding Nigerien mining contracts and demanded their "full publication in the official gazette and the elimination of confidentiality clauses." Nigerien environmental and civil society groups have also denounced the 'vagueness' of local authorities over numerous uranium and oil prospecting licences granted to foreign firms, including Areva. In May 2008 the Nigerien parliament rejected the creation of a commission of inquiry into mining contracts.

Environmental and health impacts
Areva was one of three companies receiving the Prix Pinocchio awards in 2012, in the category "Dirty Hands, Pockets Full" ( Friends of the Earth France said Areva "refuses to recognise its responsibility for the deterioration of the living conditions of people living near its uranium mines in Africa", a charge that was denied by Areva.

In 2008, Areva received a Public Eye Award as one of "the world's most irresponsible companies" for its uranium mining operations in Niger ( NGOs the Berne Declaration and Pro Natura alleged: "Uranium mining in Niger: mine workers are not sufficiently informed about health risks, open-air storage of radioactive materials. Workers with cancer are deliberately given a false diagnosis at the company hospital."

Niger's uranium mines have been the subject of many environmental and health controversies including leaks; contamination of water, air and soil; the sale of radioactive scrap metal; the use of radioactive ore to build roads; and poorly managed radioactive tailings dumps.

In November 2009, Greenpeace − in collaboration with the French independent laboratory CRIIRAD (Commission for Independent Research and Information about Radioactivity − and the Nigerien NGO network ROTAB (Network of Organizations for Transparency and Budget Analysis − − carried out a brief scientific study of the areas around the Areva mining towns Arlit and Akokan. The groups found:

  • In 40 years of operation, a total of 270 billion litres of water have been used, contaminating the water and draining the aquifer, which will take millions of years to be replaced.
  • In four of the five water samples that Greenpeace collected in the Arlit region, the uranium concentration was above the WHO recommended limit for drinking water. Historical data indicate a gradual increase in uranium concentration over the last 20 years. Some of the water samples contained dissolved radioactive gas radon.
  • A measurement performed at the police station in Akokan showed a radon concentration in the air three to seven times higher than normal levels in the area.
  • Fine (dust) fractions showed an increased radioactivity concentration reaching two or three times higher than the coarse fraction. Increased levels of uranium and decay products in small particles that easily spread as dust would point to increased risks of inhalation or ingestion.
  • The concentration of uranium and other radioactive materials in a soil sample collected near the underground mine was found to be about 100 times higher than normal levels in the region, and higher than the international exemption limits.
  • On the streets of Akokan, radiation dose rate levels were found to be up to almost 500 times higher than normal background levels. A person spending less than one hour a day at that location would be exposed to more than the maximum allowable annual dose.
  • Although Areva claims no contaminated material gets out of the mines anymore, Greenpeace found several pieces of radioactive scrap metal on the local market in Arlit, with radiation dose rates reaching up to 50 times more than the normal background levels. Locals use these materials to build their homes.

2008 CRIIRAD report
A 2008 report by CRIIRAD found that dispersal and re-use of contaminated scrap metal from the mines has been a common practice. CRIIRAD also raised concerns about the storage of tens of millions of tonnes of radioactive tailings in the open air, just a few kilometres away from Arlit and Akokan. CRIIRAD noted that radon gas and radioactive dust can be scattered by the powerful desert winds.

Bruno Chareyron, a physicist and laboratory manager with CRIIRAD, said: "When we released the results to the press, Areva organised a press trip to the Niger and paid for a plane to take a team of 30 journalists to the country – but there was no Geiger counter, no real or tangible way to discern the levels of radiation. They could have been standing on radioactive rocks built into the street and not known differently."

Niger's National Centre for Radiation Protection (CNRP) was found to be idle when visited by CRIIRAD. Chareyron said: "CNRP could not carry out analysis due to the fact that their only Gamma spectrometer was broken – a wire had been out of place since the machine was initially delivered to them."

According to CRIIRAD, analyses of water distributed by Areva in Arlit from 2003−2005 showed total alpha radioactivity of between 10 and 100 times above the WHO guidance value. Following these reports, Areva closed several of the identified wells, but never admitted this was due to uranium in the water. However, internal Areva documents showed that Somair had known for several years about the uranium levels in the drinking water they supply.

The pattern seems to be weak environmental and public health standards which are only addressed − partially − when local or international NGO scrutiny embarrasses Areva, or in response to local worker and citizen protests such as the 5,000-strong demonstration in May 2006.

Some 2,000 students held a protest in Niger's capital Niamey on April 5, 2013 against Areva to demand their country get a bigger slice of its uranium mining revenues. Marchers held placards saying "No to exploitation and neo-colonialism" and "No to Areva". Mahamadou Djibo Samaila, secretary general of the Union of Niamey University Students, said: "The partnership in the mining of uranium is very unbalanced to the detriment of our country."

The Niger Movement for Justice, a largely Tuareg-armed militia active since 2007, has demanded a more equitable distribution of uranium revenue, protection from ecological degradation and access to constitutional rights such as water and waste sanitation, education and electricity.

The government has dismissed the armed civil society movement as anti-democratic 'drug smugglers'. Yet the government has also complained about Areva's behaviour. In 2007, the government expelled Dominique Pin, head of Areva Niger, from the country. In February 2013, President Mahamadou Issoufou said the government intends to renegotiate its partnership with Areva for the exploitation of uranium resources. Mining yields "only 100 million Euros per year", Issoufou said. "It represents only 5% of our budget, that is not permissible. This is why I asked for a balanced partnership between Areva and Niger."

Areva's Imouraren uranium project
Development of the large Imouraren uranium deposit, 80 kms south of Arlit and Akokan, is slowly proceeding. The Imouraren SA joint venture is 57% owned by Areva, 33% by Sopamin, and South Korean utility Kepco holds 10%.
Production was scheduled to begin in 2012 but has been repeatedly delayed, and is currently scheduled for mid-2015. In March 2013, Areva agreed to pay the Nigerien government 35 million euros compensation for the delays. A number of factors have delayed the project − issues arising from the kidnapping of seven Areva workers in Niger's north in 2010, labour disputes, and the depressed state of the uranium market post-Fukushima. Workers held a week-long strike over labour conditions in April 2012, halting construction at the site.
Heavily-armed men attacked a camp of uranium prospectors at Imouraren on April 20, 2007, killing a security guard and wounding three other people. Some 20-30 men demanding a better deal for local Tuareg people raided the camp operated by Areva housing around 250 people and made off with six vehicles and a large number of mobile phones. The gunmen said they belonged to the Niger Movement for Justice, which emerged in February 2007. They called for the proper implementation of a 1995 accord which ended a Tuareg rebellion by promising the tribespeople priority in jobs with local mining companies.

In August 2012, the independent French radiation laboratory CRIIRAD ( and the Nigerien NGO Aghir in'Man ( expressed concerns that the mine will lead to the drying up and contamination of water resources and the disappearance of pasture in an area covering hundreds of square kilometres. The mine will also have impacts on fauna and flora, according to the NGO's president Almoustapha Alhacen.

CRIIRAD's Bruno Chareyron noted that the ore grade at Imouraren is very low, necessitating the excavation of 3.8 billion tonnes of rock to get at that uranium. Consequently, the open pit mine will have a length of 8 kms and a width of 2.5 kms. The pit will be surrounded by piles of waste rock with uranium concentrations too low for processing. Dust and seepage from these piles will have impacts on the health of the residents and on groundwater. CRIIRAD and Aghir in'Man demanded that Areva prepare a new Environmental Impact Assessment and provide precise answers regarding the hydrogeological impact, the long-term disposal of radioactive wastes, and compensation for affected people.

References and Sources


Azelik Uranium Mine in Niger
The Azelik uranium mine, 160 kms south-west of Arlit, began production at the end of 2010. It is operated by the Societe des Mines d'Azelik SA (SOMINA), a consortium with major China National Nuclear Corp (SinoU) equity.
The Christian Science Monitor reported on controversies surrounding the mine:
"The sun-wizened Tuareg women of Azalik have declared war on China. Like their ancestors, they once eked out a living selling dried salts from an ancestral well. Everything changed last year, when the government leased their land to the China Nuclear International Uranium Corporation (Sino-U) for uranium exploration. Left with no livelihood and no compensation, a hundred women gathered to launch stones at mining machinery. "Now it is eternal war," says Tinatina Salah, their 50-year-old leader, who still seeks compensation for the loss of her salt.
"Tuareg rebels accuse deposed president Tandja's administration and mining companies of neglecting development in the north, which is a Tuareg stronghold. Last month Nigerien workers – many of whom are Tuareg – denounced in a written statement conditions at SOMINA, claiming it resembled "a Chinese colony." Nigerien laborers sleep in dorms, separately from Chinese workers. The rooms are located in illegal proximity to open pit uranium mines, and the Nigeriens suffer chronic diarrhea on account of an unsanitary water supply, the document charged."

In March 2013, 680 workers at the Azelik mine went on a 72-hour strike, later extended, demanding better wages and bonus payments.

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Israel: first permit for uranium exploration.
Israel’s Energy and Water Ministry on April 3 granted Gulliver Energy the first ever uranium exploration permit. The Israeli oil and gas exploration company is headed by former Mossad intelligence agency director Meir Dagan. In a statement dated April 3, Gulliver said the permit is for a year and covers 1,200 acres in Israel’s northern Negev Desert region near the town of Arad. The area to be explored extends to the Dead Sea. Gulliver requested the permit after radioactive material was discovered at shallow depths of less than 100 meters during oil exploration testing last year. A feasibility study conducted in the past year concluded there was a high probability of finding uranium there. Initial tests were conducted to a shallow depth but further tests at various depths are planned in order to assess the prospects for finding uranium.

Arad Mayor Tali Peloskov said the town will not allow any mining in the area. He has requested a meeting with Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman on the matter in order to assess the health risk of mining in the area. Local residents who are opposed to mining operations have also set up a lobby to oppose efforts to mine for uranium as well as phosphates near the town. The land involved is near large phosphate reserves. Israel conducted a national uranium survey in the late 1980s, and the region near Arad was found to have potential for uranium. In the past Israel attempted to extract uranium from phosphates. The Weizmann Institute of Science, a multidisciplinary research institute in Rehovot, Israel, developed a technique that was costly and the project was dropped. Neither the company nor the ministry has said whether the uranium would be used in Israel or exported.
NuclearFuel, 16 April 2012

Myanmar: no longer pursuing nuclear program.
Myanmarese President Thein Sein said on May 14, the country had given up its plan to develop nuclear programs in cooperation with Russia in the mid-2000s. Sein told visiting Korean President Lee Myung-bak that Russia offered to build two 10 megawatt nuclear reactors for civilian, not military, use. But the country’s military junta did not pushed the project due to its inability to manage it, he was quoted as saying by Lee’s security aide Kim Tae-hyo. In 2007, Russia's atomic energy agency and Myanmar signed a deal to build nuclear research reactor. Reports said the reactors would use low enriched uranium consisting of less than 20 percent uranium-235. The plans to buy a nuclear reactor from Russia have been in the pipeline for years, and were met with suspicion. (See for instance Nuclear Monitor 657, 21 June 2007: Myanmar: a new Iran in the making?)
Asia News Network (The Korea Herald), 15 May 2012

Brazil shelves plans to build new nuclear plants.
Brazil announced on May 9, it has abandoned plans to build new nuclear power stations in the coming years in the wake of last year's Fukushima disaster in Japan. The previous government led by former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had planned to construct between four and eight new nuclear plants through 2030. But the energy ministry's executive secretary, Marcio Zimmermann, was quoted as telling a forum May 8, that there was no need for new nuclear facilities for the next 10 years. "The last plan, which runs through 2020, does not envisage any (new) nuclear power station because there is no need for it. Demand is met with hydro-electrical power and complementary energy sources such as wind, thermal and natural gas."

Brazil has two PWR in operation. The Angra I was the first Brazilian nuclear reactor, which has been hampered by problems with corrosion in the steam generators due to a metal alloy used by westinghouse, which forced the recent replacement of both steam generators.

The Angra II reactor was completed after more than 20 years of construction, as costs soared from initial estimates of 500USD/kW in 1975 to over 4000USD/kw.
The total cost of Angra III, whose completion has been delayed for years, will be around 10 billion Brazilian reais (US$5.9 billion, 4.7bn euro).
AFP, 9 May 2012 /, 9 May 2012

Used parts sold for new in South Korea.
On May 11, a South Korean businessman has been jailed for three years for supplying potentially defective parts to the country's oldest atomic power plant Gori, near Busan. The man, identified only as Hwang, was sentenced for selling recycled turbine valve parts. He cleaned and painted used parts stolen from the plant's dump by an employee. He then sold them back to the plant, on three occasions since 2008, disguising them as new products. Hwang pocketed some three billion won (US$2.6 million) through the fraud, according to the court. The plant employee who stole the scrapped parts was sentenced to three years in prison in April.
There have been previous scandals over potentially defective parts in nuclear power plants. In April the nuclear safety watchdog launched an investigation at Gori and another plant, after they were found to be using components developed by a local company but based on illegally obtained French technology. The Gori-1 Reactor at the plant was also at the centre of a scare in February when it briefly lost power and the emergency generator failed to kick in. Several officials and engineers have been punished for covering up the incident.
AFP, 16 may 2012

Nigeria proposes two reactor sites. In the category ‘uhh, sorry?’ the following:
Nigeria’s Kogi and Akwa Ibom states are being put forward as proposed areas for nuclear reactors, pending approval of the federal executive council, the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) has said. Chairman of the commission, Dr Erepamo Osaisai, said it would submit the two locations for the siting of nuclear power reactors in the country soon to the Presidency. Dr Osaisai made the disclosure in a lecture to the fellows of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering in Sheda, Abuja. He said the preliminary sites' survey and evaluation project investigated a number of technical, environmental, security, social and economic issues. The two locations are within Geregu and Ajaokuta local governments in Kogi State and Itu Local Government in Akwa Ibom.

Nigeria is planning to generate 1000 MW of electricity through nuclear energy by 2020 and gradually increase it to 4000 MW by 2030. Osaisai expects that NAEC will apply for the licensing of the approved sites by the end of 2013. He said a draft law for the implementation of the national nuclear power program has been developed and has been subjected to detailed scrutiny by all major stakeholders with technical input of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), according to the news report.
The Nigerian Voice, 28 May 2012 / Nuclear Energy Insider, Policy & Commission Brief 24 – 30 May 2012

Tanzania: uranium mining threat to World Heritage site.
The Unesco World Heritage Committee (UWHC) will break the deadlock in June when it will decide whether or not to allow mining of uranium in Selous Game Reserve, one of the largest remaining wilderness areas in Africa, harboring the largest elephant population on the continent. The Mkuju River Uranium Project is planned by Russian ARMZ, a subsidiary of Rosatom and Canada-based UraniumOne. A decision on whether to change the boundary of the World Heritage site Selous Game Reserve and thus 'pave the way' for uranium mining - or not, will be made by the World Heritage Committee at its June 2012 session in St. Peterburg, Russia.

According to deputy minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, any move by the committee to halt uranium extraction would be a big blow to Tanzania which has been insisting that its extraction is critical to funding the country’s development programs and driving its economy. Some international as well as local environmentalists and politicians, including a handful of MPs, have strongly opposed the mining plans. They have maintained that the mining project would have a devastating impact on the economic and social fronts, and would deal a major blow to the ecology of the region. However, Tanzania went ahead and applied to the Unesco World Heritage Committee for permission to mine uranium at the 5-million hectare game reserve in the south of Tanzania.
The Citizen (Tanzania), 18 May 2012

Areva in Africa; the hidden face of French nuclear power

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Juliette Poirson

The reality of French nuclear colonialism on the African continent is described in depth by Raphael Granvaud’s book Areva en Afrique, published in French earlier in 2012. Granvaud details the conditions under which France and Areva procure uranium at the lowest price, at the cost of political interference and environmental, health and social disaster for local people. It dispels the myth of French energy independence through nuclear power, since the uranium fueling civil and military nuclear power comes in large part from Africa.

In recent weeks, Areva’s practices in Africa were in the headlines several times, and Areva worries about this growing criticism.On April 25, 2012, employees working at Imouraren uranium mine in Niger (which could become the biggest in Africa when it should open in 2014), went on strike to protest against their working conditions. The information was published not only in local media, but also international media, which is quite new! On May 11, a French Court for social affairs condemned Areva for an "inexcusable mistake" in regard to the death from lung cancer of a French former employee who worked seven years for Cominak, one of the two subsidiaries of Areva in Arlit, Niger. This victory gives hope for African victims of uranium. These two affairs are only a visible part of how Cogema, since 2001 called Areva, worked and is still working in Africa. The reality is described in depth by Raphael Granvaud’s book Areva en Afrique, published in French in 2012 by Editor Agone. He reveals that since the 1950’s Areva mines African ore at the lowest cost and with no care for the environment, the workers and the communities.

The great development of French civilian and military nuclear power have been possible thanks to the exploitation of the soil of French African colonies (as in Madagascar from 1954) and then of African independent countries (in particular in Gabon and Niger). Even before the closure of the last uranium mine on French soil in 2001, the fuel for French nuclear plants was largely imported. So, the "French energy independence" was always only a myth spread by the French state.

The author shows that for more than 40 years, Cogema’s African subsidiaries were able to exploit uranium at low prices thanks to Françafrique and the support of dictatorial regimes sympathetic to French interests. ‘Françafrique’ is a system of domination developed by France over its former colonies in Africa in order to keep control of raw materials and strengthen its geostrategic and economic position. For instance, in 1974, when Nigerien President Diori attempted to demand higher uranium prices, he was ousted by a military coup, perpetrated under the watchful eyes of French authorities. Today the collusion between politics and interests of the French nuclear industry keeps going on. In 2009, French President Sarkozy supported Nigerien President Tandja, who sought to extend his term unconstitutionally, in exchange for which he obtained for Areva the contract of Imouraren mine. Similarly, he negotiated in trouble circumstances a memo between the Democratic Republic of Congo and Areva, enabling the company to explore the whole subsoil of Congo, representing an area the size of Europe.  

The environmental, health and social scandal
The book points out that African people did not get any positive impact of uranium mining, and that conversely, they were sentenced to all its negative consequences. The disaster in terms of health, social and ecological aspects is immense.
In the case of Arlit, Niger, the uranium exploitation since 1967 resulted in agro-pastoral land-grabbing around the two mine sites, destruction of fauna and flora, air contamination by dust and radioactive gases, radioactive contamination of water or short-term irreversible exhaustion of the two aquifers - one is already dried up to 2/3 and the other will be irreversibly dried up within 40 years.  
In the case of Gabon, the uranium mines closed in 1999 but the terrible consequences still continue despite a huge redevelopment program largely paid by the European Development Fund and not by Areva itself! Some areas are heavily polluted, as well as the river flowing nearby.
Areva’s stranglehold on local health facilities enabled a conspiracy of silence on occupational diseases. In forty years of operation in Arlit, Niger, Areva has not recognized any occupational disease!

Mobilization of civil society
In short, African debt of Areva is huge, but this doesn’t arouse much interest among authorities nor international institutions. Until now, mostly civil society organizations do care. The book recalls how local organizations first revealed the scandal of uranium mining in Africa, despite Areva’s ostracism.
As a consequence, Areva had to make some concessions, notably regarding the security of the workers, but generally refuses to take responsibility and continues to green wash its activities. 'Health observatories' were set up in Gabon in 2010 and in Niger in 2011. They are supposed to enable individual compensation for the (ex)-workers, who can prove that their illness is related to their work in the mines. After an initial phase of observation, NGOs that are part of these bodies are now denouncing the lack of independence of the Observatories. In the case of OSRA (“health observatory of the Agadez region”, Niger), they criticize the fact that Areva offers allowance for attendance, seen as a mean to buy their silence.

There is still a lot to do in terms of information, legal and policy work, in order to improve the lives of local people, reduce environmental risks, obtain a fair distribution of income lead to uranium, as well as to avoid new mines. Hard work is being led by Earthlife in Namibia; Brainforest in Gabon; the CED in Cameroon and in Central African Republic; ROTAB, Gren, Arlit’s coordination of civil society, Arlit’s civil society synergy in Niger; and many others.

More information on Areva in Africa (in English):

Source and contact: Juliette Poirson, Danyel Dubreuil, members of the French NGO ‘Survie’, which campaigns for the abolition of neo-colonial ties between France and its former colonies.

Dumping on traditional owners: the ugly face of Australian racism

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Jim Green, Friends of the Earth, Australia (and editor of the Nuclear Monitor)

The nuclear industry has been responsible for some of the crudest racism in Australia's history. This racism dates from the British nuclear bomb tests in the 1950s but it can still be seen today.

The British government conducted 12 nuclear bomb tests in Australia in the 1950s, most of them at Maralinga in South Australia. Permission was not sought from affected Aboriginal groups such as the Pitjantjatjara, Yankunytjatjara, Tjarutja and Kokatha. Thousands of people were adversely affected and the impact on Aboriginal people was particularly profound.

Many Aboriginal people suffered from radiological poisoning. There are tragic accounts of families sleeping in the bomb craters. So-called 'Native Patrol Officers' patrolled thousands of square kilometers to try to ensure that Aboriginal people were removed before nuclear tests took place. Signs were erected in some places − written in English, which few in the affected Indigenous communities could understand. The 1985 Royal Commission found that regard for Aboriginal safety was characterized by "ignorance, incompetence and cynicism". Many Aboriginal people were forcibly removed from their homelands and taken to places such as the Yalata mission in South Australia, which was effectively a prison camp.

In the late-1990s, the Australian government carried out a clean-up of the Maralinga nuclear test site. It was done on the cheap and many tons of debris contaminated with kilograms of plutonium remain buried in shallow, unlined pits in totally unsuitable geology. As nuclear engineer and whistleblower Alan Parkinson said of the 'clean-up' on ABC radio in August 2002: "What was done at Maralinga was a cheap and nasty solution that wouldn't be adopted on white-fellas land."

Despite the residual contamination, the Federal Government has off-loaded responsibility for the land onto the Maralinga Tjarutja Traditional Owners. The Government portrays this land transfer as an act of reconciliation, but the real agenda was spelt out in a 1996 government document which states that the clean-up was "aimed at reducing Commonwealth liability arising from residual contamination."

A win for the Kungkas
In 1998, the federal government announced its intention to build a national radioactive waste dump near Woomera in South Australia. Leading the battle against the dump were the Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta, a council of senior Aboriginal women from northern South Australia. Many of the Kungkas personally suffered the impacts of the British nuclear bomb tests at Maralinga in the 1950s.

The Kungkas were sceptical about the government's claim that radioactive waste destined for the Woomera dump was 'safe' − after all, the waste would be kept at the Lucas Heights reactor site south of Sydney if it was perfectly safe, or simply dumped in landfill.

The proposed dump generated such controversy in South Australia that the federal government secured the services of a public relations company. Correspondence between the company and the government was released under Freedom of Information laws. In one exchange, a government official asks the PR company to remove sand-dunes from a photo selected to adorn a brochure. The explanation provided by the government official was that: "Dunes are a sensitive area with respect to Aboriginal Heritage". The sand-dunes were removed from the photo, only for the government official to ask if the horizon could be straightened up as well.

In July 2003, the federal government used the Lands Acquisition Act 1989 to seize land for the dump. Native Title rights and interests were extinguished at the stroke of a pen. This took place with no forewarning and no consultation with Aboriginal people.

The Kungkas continued to implore the federal government to 'get their ears out of their pockets', and after six long years the government did just that. In the lead-up to the 2004 federal election, with the dump issue biting politically, the government decided to cut its losses and abandon its plans for a dump in SA.

The Kupa Piti Kungka Tjuta wrote in an open letter: "People said that you can't win against the Government. Just a few women. We just kept talking and telling them to get their ears out of their pockets and listen. We never said we were going to give up. Government has big money to buy their way out but we never gave up."

Toxic trade-off
The ears went straight back in the pockets the following year with the announcement that the government planned to establish a radioactive waste dump in the Northern Territory.

A toxic trade-off of basic services for a radioactive waste dump has been part of this story from the start. Governments have systematically stripped back resources for remote Aboriginal communities, placing increased pressure on them to accept projects like the radioactive waste dump.

The nomination of the Muckaty site in the Northern Territory was originally made with the promise of $12 million compensation for a small group identified as the exclusive Traditional Owners. While a small group of Traditional Owners support the dump in return for financial compensation, a larger group have been ignored and they have initiated legal action in the Federal Court challenging the nomination of the Muckaty site.

Even though the court case is unresolved, the Government has passed legislation targeting Muckaty as the only site under active consideration for a radioactive waste dump. The National Radioactive Waste Management Act 2012 is draconian, overriding the Aboriginal Heritage Act and bypassing the Aboriginal Land Rights Act. It allows for the imposition of a dump on Aboriginal land with no consultation with or consent from Traditional Owners. Nuclear racism in Australia is bipartisan - both the Labor Government and the Liberal/National Opposition voted in support of the legislation.

Muckaty Traditional Owner Penny Phillips said: "The Government should wait for the court case before passing this law. Traditional Owners say no to the waste dump. We have been fighting against this for years and we will keep fighting. We don't want it in Muckaty or anywhere in the Northern Territory."

The Central Land Council expressed "profound disappointment" at the passage of the National Radioactive Waste Management Act. David Ross, Director of the Land Council, said: "This legislation is shameful, it subverts processes under the [Aboriginal] Land Rights Act and is clearly designed to reach the outcome of a dump being located on Aboriginal land in the Northern Territory, whether that's the best place for it or not. This legislation preserves the Muckaty nomination without acknowledging the dissent and conflict amongst the broader traditional owner group about the process and the so-called agreement. The passage of this legislation will further inflame the tensions and divisions amongst families in Tennant Creek, and cause great stress to many people in that region."

Federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson has refused countless requests to meet with Traditional Owners opposed to the dump. Muckaty Traditional Owner Dianne Stokes says: "All along we have said we don't want this dump on our land but we have been ignored. Martin Ferguson has avoided us and ignored our letters but he knows very well how we feel. He has been arrogant and secretive and he thinks he has gotten away with his plan but in fact he has a big fight on his hands."

Dianne Stokes is not alone. Many Traditional Owners are determined to stop the dump and they are supported by the Northern Territory Government, key trade unions including the Australia Council of Trade Unions, church groups, medical and health organizations, and environmental groups. If push comes to shove, there will be a blockade at the site to prevent construction of the dump.

Uranium mining
The patterns of nuclear racism are also evident in Australia's uranium mining industry. Racism in the mining industry typically involves some or all of the following tactics: ignoring the concerns of Traditional Owners insofar as the legal and political circumstances permit; divide-and-rule tactics; bribery; 'humbugging' Traditional Owners (exerting persistent, unwanted pressure); providing Traditional Owners with false or misleading information; and threats, most commonly legal threats.

To give one example, the 1982 South Australian Roxby Downs Indenture Act, which sets the legal framework for the operation of the Olympic Dam copper-uranium mine in South Australia, was amended in 2011 but it retains exemptions from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Traditional Owners were not even consulted. The SA government's spokesperson in Parliament said: "BHP were satisfied with the current arrangements and insisted on the continuation of these arrangements, and the government did not consult further than that."

That disgraceful performance illustrates a broader pattern. Aboriginal land rights and heritage protections are feeble at the best of times. But the legal rights and protections are repeatedly stripped away whenever they get in the way of nuclear or mining interests. Thus the Olympic Dam mine is largely exempt from the SA Aboriginal Heritage Act. Sub-section 40(6) of the Commonwealth's Aboriginal Land Rights Act exempts the Ranger uranium mine in the NT from the Act and thus removed the right of veto that Mirarr Traditional Owners would otherwise have enjoyed. NSW legislation exempts any uranium mines in that state from provisions of the NSW Aboriginal Land Rights Act. Native Title rights were extinguished with the stroke of a pen to seize land for a radioactive waste dump in South Australia. And Aboriginal heritage laws and Aboriginal land rights are being trashed with the current push to dump in the Northern Territory.

The situation is scarcely any better than it was in the 1950s when the British were exploding nuclear bombs on Aboriginal land.

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth, Australia and a former national committee member of the Australian Nuclear Free Alliance.

Source and contact: Jim Green. FOE Australia, PO Box 222, Fitzroy, Victoria, 3065, Australia.
Tel: +61 417 318 368

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Uranium mining and water

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

For Australia especially, global warming means water shortage -drought over wide areas, more evaporation. Uranium mining is water intensive. Already outback communities in Australia are being hit by water shortage, as water is being extracted from the Great Arterial Basin faster than it is being replenished.

Water use in a typical uranium mine is approximately 200 to 300 gallons per minute. In water-short Australia, BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam uranium mine has been for years taking 35 million litres of water each day from the underground aquifer, at no cost whatever. When BHP digs its new biggest hole in the world, it will pay a small fixed price for removing even greater amounts, exceeding 42 million litres.

BHP Billiton Olympic Dam mine expansion in South Australia has received a go ahead on 10 October 2011. This will create the world's largest open pit mine, over 1km deep, 4.5km long and 3km wide. Olympic Dam already consumes an inordinate amount of ground water extracted from the Great Artesian Basin every day - for free. The mine expansion will entail BHP Billiton expanding groundwater extraction and building a desalination plant at Point Lowly which will impact the only known breeding ground of the giant Australian cuttlefish, prawn fisheries and the sensitive marine environment.

BHP Billiton proposes to increase its water consumption by an additional 200 million litres per day. Water intake from the Great Artesian Basin will increase from 35 million litres per day to up to  42 million litres per day, with the remainder to come from the proposed coastal desalination plant at Point Lowly. That’s over 100,000 litres every minute – in the driest state on the driest continent on earth. The water intake from the Great Artesian Basin has already had adverse impacts on the unique Mound Springs found near Lake Eyre, which are fed by the underlying Artesian Basin, and are sacred to the Arabunna people, the traditional owners of the area. Under the Indenture Act, BHP Billiton pays nothing for its massive water intake for the Olympic Dam mine, despite recording a total net profit of US$23. 95 billion in 2011, nearly double its 2010 figure of US$13.01 billion.

Out of sight, out of mind
Groundwater is a major resource, but one that has been taken for granted for decades. In the past, groundwater supplies were treated as an infinite resource, and subject to an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude. But that’s changing. There’s now an enormous interest in the way our groundwater resources are measured, managed and utilised. There are also concerns over issues such as over-extraction of water, pollution, wastage, allocation and licensing issues, water pricing and groundwater salinisation.

The most well-known and important groundwater source in Australia is the Great Artesian Basin, or GAB. This is a vast groundwater source that underlies 22 per cent of Australia – extending beneath the arid and semi-arid regions of Queensland, the Northern Territory, South Australia and New South Wales. It covers about 1.7 million square kilometres, and contains an estimated 8700 million megalitres (1 megaliter = 1 million liters) of water. Not surprisingly, it’s one of the largest artesian water basins in the world……

The sustainable yield of a groundwater source depends on balancing the use or discharge against recharge rates. Normally discharge of groundwater occurs through vegetation, into streams and lakes, or through evaporation into the atmosphere. Sustainable yield cannot simply be determined by a measure of the recharge rate. If water is extracted for human use at the recharge rate, discharge to other areas can be affected…..

Extraction of groundwater can also lead to salinity problems and have a negative impact on native vegetation with roots that tap into groundwater, as well as wetlands, rivers and streams. The full impact of using these aquifers as planned is not known, but is likely to reduce the rate of water flowing to support rivers and wetlands and other groundwater dependent ecosystems.

Water from the Great Artesian Basin in Central Australia is being depleted to keep residual radioactive dust from uranium mining wet in order to keep it from blowing across the continent. Seven million gallons of water is being extracted from the basin per day to keep the radioactive dust in place, according to Kerrieann Garlick, a member of Footprints for Peace from Perth, Australia.

Despite its profits more than tripling in the last three years, BHP has never paid a cent for the vast amounts of water used by the Olympic Dam copper and uranium mine near Roxby Downs. Under the Roxby Downs Indenture Act BHP is not required to pay for this water usage. The Indenture Act applies specifically to the Olympic Dam mine, and provides for wide-ranging legal exemptions and overrides from environmental and Aboriginal heritage protection laws that apply elsewhere in the state, including the Environmental Protection Act and the Natural Resources Act (which incorporates water management issues).

“The Indenture Act means that the Olympic Dam mine is not subject to the same environmental regulatory framework as other industrial projects in the state,’ explained Nectaria Calan of Friends of the Earth Adelaide. “Additionally, by allowing BHP to take water from the Great Artesian Basin for free, the South Australian government is essentially providing BHP with a massive subsidy,” she continued.

The water intake from the Great Artesian Basin has already had adverse impacts on the unique Mound Springs found near Lake Eyre, which are fed by the underlying Artesian Basin, and are sacred to the Arabunna people, the traditional owners of the area.

As time goes by,  it is growing harder for the nuclear industry to hide the toxic effects and legacy of uranium mining. But, uranium mining still disproportionately affects people who can be marginalized in some way by governments. The case against uranium mining is not only a public health and environmental issue, it is also a human rights issue.

Sources: Indymedia Australia, 12 October 2011 /
Contact: Australian Conservation Foundation, First Floor 60 Leicester St Carlton VIC 3053, Australia
Tel:  +61 3 9345 1111
Email: afc[at]


Canada to sell uranium to China

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

The Canadian government of Stephen Harper has chosen to override the qualms of the government's non-proliferation experts to permit a multibillion-dollar business in exports of Saskatchewan uranium to China's nuclear industry. A deal the Prime Minister announced in China on February 9, a protocol amending Canada's nuclear co-operation agreement with China to allow the export of uranium concentrate, seals far closer ties with Beijing than ever seemed possible in Mr. Harper's early days in power.

Canada may be seen as playing an important role in undermining the precarious nuclear non-proliferation regime -- one that has been in danger of coming unraveled for decades because of the hypocritical double standard that is at the heart of the regime. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) makes a sharp distinction between "Nuclear Weapons States" and "Non-Nuclear Weapons States".  The Treaty is frankly discriminatory and imposes different obligations on the two "types" of nations. The "nuclear have-nots" are required to submit to international inspections of all their nuclear facilities and must promise never to use nuclear technology or nuclear materials for weapons purposes.  These requirements do not apply to the official "nuclear have" nations designated as only five in number: the USA, Russia, Britain, France, and China.

However, Article 6 of the NPT requires that Nuclear Weapons States act in good faith to eliminate their nuclear arsenals as soon as possible. This obligation has been upheld by the World Court as a legal requirement that is binding on the Nuclear Weapons States. Yet they continue to ignore it.

Any country that acquires nuclear weapons in the absence of or in defiance of the NPT -- Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea, for example -- are not supposed to exist.  And they are not supposed to receive nuclear assistance, nuclear facilities, or nuclear materials from nations who have signed the NPT. But Canada has resumed nuclear cooperation and trade with India despite the fact that India developed nuclear weapons using Canadian technology initially and has not signed the NPT. And Canada is now willing to sell uranium to Nuclear Weapons States like China.

The deal with Beijing has raised concerns in Ottawa, because it includes less stringent accounting for how the uranium is used than Canada typically demands, sources said. When Australia made a similar deal with China in 2008 that included less accountability, it faced criticism from other uranium suppliers, including Canada. China insisted on getting the same sort of accounting requirements for Canadian exports that it got from Australia. As well as using uranium for other purposes, it also has military nuclear programs, which are not subject to accounting or inspection.

The message seems to be that business concerns are, for the self-styled "Harper government", far more important than nuclear non-proliferation objectives. If Canada were determined to achieve a world without nuclear weapons, she would refuse to sell uranium to any nation that maintains a nuclear arsenal unless that nation formally renounces nuclear weapons and works overtly for the total elimination of such weapons of mass destruction. For even if Canadian uranium is only used for civilian purposes, it surely frees up other uranium so it that can be used in nuclear weapons -- uranium that would otherwise have to be used as fuel for nuclear reactors.

Source: Globe & Mail, 10 February 2012 / Gordon Edwards, email 11 February 2012
Contact: Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. c.p. 236, Station Snowdon, Montréal QC, H3X 3T4 Canada
Email: ccnr[at]


In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

China denies nuclear accident reports.
China has denied reports that it was forced to shut down its newest nuclear reactor last year after an incident. A report from Japan's Atomic Energy Agency said the China Experimental Fast Reactor (CEFR) stopped generating electricity in October following an accident. The incident sparked alarm in Japan and South Korea over the prospect of radiation leaking from the CEFR. According to a Tokyo newspaper, which cited the Japanese Atomic Energy Agency's investigation, those fears were intensified by Beijing's failure to report the accident or release details of what happened. But Wan Gang, the director of the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE), denied there had been an accident or any cover-up and also refuted the allegations of poor safety. "CEFR hasn't been operating since July last year so reports that an accident occurred in the autumn are extremely inconsistent with the facts," Gang told Chinese media. But that again, is not in line with reports sofar. On July 21, 2011, exactly one year after achieving first criticality, the head of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), Sun Qin, declared that the unit had successfully achieved grid connection.

CEFR is a fourth-generation reactor and China's first fast reactor. The sodium-cooled, pool-type fast reactor has been constructed with some Russian assistance at the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIEA), near Beijing, which undertakes fundamental research on nuclear science and technology. The reactor has a thermal capacity of 65 MW and can produce 20 MW in electrical power.
World Nuclear News, 21 July 2011 / Telegraph (UK), 27 January 2012 /, 28 January 2012

Germany: site selection HLW repository after 2019
Under a new plan, agreed on by the national government and federal states, the Gorleben salt dome in Lower Saxony would be a reference site for the site selection of a spent fuel disposal facility. The plan does not rule out using Gorleben but also says no decision has been made to use the site. The scientific study of the site, Germany’s only existing candidate for a high-level nuclear waste repository, was halted under a moratorium 2000. The moratorium was lifted 2010 years after the Federal Office for Radiation Protection, or Bfs, filed an application to resume studies and prolong Gorleben’s operating license through September 2020.

Under the new plan, the first step will be the development of the legal and regulatory framework which is scheduled to be completed in mid-2012. The plan calls for development of safety requirements and determination of what types of geologic formations might be used for waste disposal, between mid-2012 and mid-2013. They could include salt domes and mines, clay and crystalline rock, according to the plan. Hydrological parameters will also be set. By mid-2013, the German parliament is scheduled to put the criteria into a federal law governing repository development. The authorities involved in site selection will have until mid-2014 to identify potential sites and until the end of 2014 to select candidate sites. Surface studies are planned through the end of 2019. After that, underground studies will be done and a site will be chosen, although the plan does not specify a date for that decision. Construction and commissioning approvals are to be issued after 2019.
Nuclear Fuel, 26 December 2012

Africans and the Global Uranium Trade.
A new book to be published early March 2012 and written by Gabrielle Hecht: Being Nuclear: Africans and the global uranium trade. Uranium from Africa has long been a major source of fuel for nuclear power and atomic weapons, including the bomb dropped on Hiroshima. In 2002, George W. Bush claimed that Saddam Hussein had "sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa" (later specified as the infamous "yellowcake from Niger"). Africa suddenly became notorious as a source of uranium, a component of nuclear weapons. But did that admit Niger, or any of Africa's other uranium-producing countries, to the select society of nuclear states? Does uranium itself count as a nuclear thing? In this book, Gabrielle Hecht lucidly probes the question of what it means for something--a state, an object, an industry, a workplace--to be "nuclear."

Hecht shows that questions about being nuclear--a state that she calls "nuclearity"--lie at the heart of today's global nuclear order and the relationships between "developing nations" (often former colonies) and "nuclear powers" (often former colonizers). Nuclearity, she says, is not a straightforward scientific classification but a contested technopolitical one.

Hecht follows uranium's path out of Africa and describes the invention of the global uranium market. She then enters African nuclear worlds, focusing on miners and the occupational hazard of radiation exposure. Could a mine be a nuclear workplace if (as in some South African mines) its radiation levels went undetected and unmeasured? With this book, Hecht is the first to put Africa in the nuclear world, and the nuclear world in Africa. Doing so, she remakes our understanding of the nuclear age.

Gabrielle Hecht is Professor of History at the University of Michigan. She is the author of The Radiance of France: Nuclear Power and National Identity after World War II and editor of Entangled Geographies: Empire and Technopolitics in the Global Cold War, both published by the MIT Press. Hardcover: 440 pages, published by MIT Press (expected on 2 March, 2012). ISBN: 978-0262017268

'Worst scenario' on Fukushima crisis kept under wraps.
Japan's nuclear disaster minister Goshi Hosono has said ‘the worst scenario’ on development of the nuclear crisis at the Fukushima complex, which was compiled two weeks after the crisis began, was shared only by a few lawmakers, including then Prime Minister Naoto Kan, due to fears it might cause confusion among the public. "The scenario was not a possibility in fact. If it had been made public at that time, it was likely that no one would have remained in Tokyo," Hosono was quoted as saying by Kyodo News. "It would have caused trouble regarding the government's handling of the nuclear crisis," he said.
Asian Age, 30 January 2012

Uranium mining issues: 2011 review

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Uranium

For the fourteenth consecutive year, the Nuclear Monitor is proud to publish the annual Uranium Mining Issues Review. The reviews are compiled by Peter Diehl from the WISE Uranium Project. First published in the last issue of 1998 it gives an in-depth overview of developments regarding all aspects of uranium mining: mines, exploration, environmental issues, indigenous people, production and so on.

At the beginning of the year 2011, the weekly uranium spot price, as published by Ux Consulting (UxC), continued the increase it had begun in mid-2010, starting from US$ 62.50 per lb U3O8 at year end 2010, until reaching a high of US$ 73.00 on January 31. As of March 7, it had declined again to US$ 66.50. After the Fukushima disaster in Japan (March 11), the price declined further, reaching a low of US$ 49.00 on August 29. It then remained in the US$ 51-55 range, with US$ $51.75 at year-end.

The monthly industry average price for long-term contracts, as published by Cameco, first jumped from US$ 66.00 in December 2010 to 71.50 in January 2011, but then continuously declined to US$ 62.50 per lb U3O8 (in November, as the December-value was not yet available at the time of writing).

Impacts of the Fukushima accident in Japan and the subsequent nuclear phase-out announcements of several countries:
- Cameco expects a 8% reduction in global uranium consumption in 2011 as a result of the Fukushima accident,
- Ux Consulting (UxC) cut the 2020 nuclear expectations by 10% after the Fukushima accident,
- in October, Kazakhstan ended its rise in uranium production to stabilize prices,
- the low uranium price contributed to the suspension of several uranium mine development projects, many of which are based on a uranium price of US$ 60 per lb U3O8, or higher (see below)


Moratoria/Bans (establishing/extending/keeping):
- In Canada, the province of British Columbia paid a company CDN$ 30 million for the surrender of its Blizzard deposit claim, pre-existing to the province's anti-uranium policy.
- The U.S. Department of Interior plans to ban mining claims near the Grand Canyon (Arizona) for 20 years. The ban hasn't been finalized yet, but a temporary ban has been extended twice, already. Nevertheless, the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality issued permits for three uranium mines in the proposed withdrawal area. Arizona businesses launched a campaign –supporting- the Grand Canyon mining moratorium.
- UNESCO included the site of the Koongarra uranium deposit in Australia into the Kakadu National Park's World Heritage listing, as requested by the Traditional Owner to protect the site from uranium mining. Areva's attempts to prevent this had remained fruitless.
- South Australia proclaimed a mining ban for the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, causing the Traditional Owners to split over the issue. Exploration company Marathon Resources commenced court action over the ban that affects its exploration license.

Moratoria/Bans (lifting/weakening):
- Labrador's Inuit government voted to lift the moratorium on uranium mining it had imposed in 2008.
- In New Mexico, a court overturned the designation of Traditional Cultural Property status to Mount Taylor. The mountain, which as many as 30 Indian tribes consider sacred, is threatened by exploration and proposals for uranium mining.
- A company that wants to mine the Coles Hill deposit in Virginia pushes for lifting the state's uranium mining moratorium, whereupon several organizations formed to keep it.
- Greenland authorized the exploration of radioactive minerals at the Kvanefjeld rare earth/uranium deposit, thus further relaxing its zero-tolerance uranium policy.
- New South Wales announced in December to review its ban on uranium mining, after it still had assured in August to have no plans to overturn the ban. The change of opinion is caused by the Federal Government's policy change to allow uranium exports to India (see below).

Exploration issues:
- In February, a drilling company employee died in an accident at the Cree East project uranium exploration site in Saskatchewan, Canada.
- A Federal review panel recommended approval of the Matoush underground uranium exploration project in Québec despite missing social license and a long list of inadequacies.

Canada's federal regulator CNSC subsequently approved the Environmental Assessment Comprehensive Study Report on the project. This is one of the few cases, where an Environmental Impact Assessment process was initiated already for exploration rather than mining.
- Uranium exploration in Uruguay was put on hold, after uranium was declared a class one mineral, which becomes state property once it is mined.
- Areva announced 12,000 tons of potential uranium resources in central Jordan, while Rio Tinto withdrew from uranium prospecting in southern Jordan.
- Israel is set to license uranium exploration in the Negev.
- Nepal announced to start uranium exploration near the Tibet border.
- The Czech Environment Minister upheld the decision to deny a request to open the Osecná-Kotel area in Northern Bohemia for uranium prospection and exploration. The Ministry of Economics, on the contrary, urges the revival of uranium mining in the Czech Republic.
- Mongolia issued 107 uranium exploration licenses.
- South Australia reinstated Marathon Resources' exploration license in the Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary after a three year suspension for improper waste disposal. 

Environmental opposition against uranium exploration:
Uranium exploration projects drew opposition at a number of locations:
- at various sites in the Canadian province of Québec, where in November a petition for a uranium moratorium was presented to the National Assembly of Québec,
- in the Puno region of Peru,
- in the Jämtland province of Sweden,
- in the Sudety mountains in Southwestern Poland,
- in Western Australia, where a 1250 km uranium protest march was held.

Positive preliminary economic assessments:
Positive preliminary economic assessments, preliminary feasibility studies, or scoping studies were announced for the following uranium mine projects:
- Horseshoe, Raven, and Roughrider (Saskatchewan)
- Eco Ridge (Ontario)
- Lance in-situ leach projects (Wyoming)
- in situ leach mining of Strathmore's Churchrock deposit (New Mexico)
- Phase 1 development of Nyota prospect (Tanzania)
- Omahola (Namibia)
- De Bron-Merriespruit South (South Africa)
- Blackbush in situ leach mine (South Australia)

A Pre-feasibility study for the Bigrlyi uranium deposit in Australia's Northern Territory, however, showed that the mining project is economically marginal.


License applications for new uranium mines were actually filed for the following projects:
- Ross uranium in situ leach mine project in Wyoming,
- reopening of Laramide's La Sal uranium mine in Utah,
- Atomredmetzoloto's Mkuju River project in Tanzania,
- Mulga Rock project in Western Australia

Uranium mining/milling licenses were issued for:
- the Eco Ridge rare earths and uranium mine project near Elliot Lake (Ontario), fifteen years after the shutdown of the last uranium mine in the area; the company plans to use underground (!) and surface heap leaching,
- the Nichols Ranch and Lost Creek uranium in-situ leach projects in Wyoming,
- the controversial Piñon Ridge uranium mill in Colorado,
- the license for the Crownpoint in situ leach mine in New Mexico (heavily opposed by the Navajo) was reactivated after 11 years on hold,
- the controversial Goliad uranium in situ leach project in Texas,
- the huge Husab (ex Rössing South) open pit uranium mine project in Namibia

Several uranium mine development projects were temporarily suspended due to the unfavourable market situation (...and other issues):
- Moore Ranch in situ leach mine in Wyoming - just six months after receiving the license,
- the controversial Centennial mine project in Colorado,
- Areva's Bakouma project in the Central African Republic, where six uranium activists were arrested for one week in September,
- Areva's Trekkopje open pit and heap leach project in Namibia,
- Areva's Ryst Kuil project in South Africa,
- Salamanca I in Spain,
- BHP's Yeelirrie project in West Australia

Projects currently under development, or being prepared for development, with licensing processes at various stages:
In Canada:
- Areva's long-planned Kiggavik uranium mine project near Baker Lake in Nunavut, where the Draft EIS was made available for comment at the end of the year; the project became possible after local Inuit abandoned their opposition in 2007,
- Cameco's high-grade Cigar Lake uranium mine in Saskatchewan, where Cameco signed a milling arrangement with Areva to have all ore from the mine processed at Areva's existing McClean Lake mill,
- the recently discovered high-grade Roughrider deposit in Saskatchewan, the majority owner of which is now being acquired by Rio Tinto after winning a bidding war with Cameco

In the USA:
- Aurora open pit uranium mine and mill in Oregon, a state that has not seen uranium mining for decades,
- heap leach facility at Strathmore's Gas Hills project in Wyoming,
- Sheep Mountain uranium mine and sulfuric acid heap leach project in Wyoming,
- Green River uranium mill project in Utah, where the state rejected the request of Mancos Resources Inc. for water for the mine,
- reopening of La Sal #2 mine in Utah for ore "sampling",
- Green River #9 underground uranium mine in Utah,
- Pawnee in situ leach uranium mine project in Texas,
- the controversial Coles Hill uranium mine project in Virginia, that became the subject of several independent studies analyzing its social, economical, and environmental impacts; a National Academy of Sciences report, in particular, found "steep hurdles" for the project; in August, a consultant for Virginia Uranium disputed a study on the hazards from the planned uranium mill tailings dam during a natural disaster - three hours after the area was shaken by a rare 5.8-magnitude earthquake...

In Central/South America:
- restart of uranium mining in Reynosa, Mexico,
- Caetité mine in Bahia, Brazil,
- Santa Quitéria mine in Ceará, Brazil, where uranium production is to start in 2014/2015

In Africa:
- Namibia completed a Strategic Environmental Assessment for the central Namib Uranium Rush, while that rush is already in full swing,
- the Valencia uranium mine project in Namibia, where Forsys lost an appeal over a groundwater abstraction permit,
- the INCA and Tubas Red Sand areas of the Omahola uranium mine project in Namibia,
- the Etango uranium mine project in Namibia, where the public consultation period for the Environmental and Social Impact Statement on the expanded mine ended in March, while the document still wasn't available at the end of the year (!),
- Firawa uranium project in Guinea,
- Kanyika niobium-uranium project in Malawi
- Mooifontein open pit uranium mine and heap leach project in South Africa,
- the controversial Mkuju River project in Tanzania, where Russia's Atomredmetzoloto plans to mine uranium in the UN World Heritage-listed Selous Game Reserve,
- the Manyoni project in Tanzania, where the costs of proposed uranium mining in the Bahi Swamp area are highly likely to exceed benefits, according to an NGO report,

In Europe:
- a proposal for restart of in situ leach uranium mining at Stráz pod Ralskem in North Bohemia (Czech Republic) was slammed by NGOs in view of exorbitant reclamation cost still to be covered at the site,
- Novokonstantinovskoye uranium mine in Ukraine

In Asia:
- Jordan announced that is to produce uranium in the central region in a joint venture with Areva "within two years",
- a Uzbek-Chinese joint venture plans to start uranium mining in the Navoi region of Uzbekistan,
- the Kharasan in situ leach uranium mine in Kazakhstan is at commissioning stage, still awaiting an operating license,
- herders on horseback protested in Ulaanbaatar in April against mining activities in Mongolia; in December it was announced that two uranium processing facilities are to be built in the Dornod province,
- a CGNPG uranium subsidiary develops new mines in China,
- CNNC signed an agreement with the Xinjiang Autonomous Region on mining of the Yili uranium deposit,
- the controversial Gogi uranium mine project in Karnataka (India) received state approval, while environmental clearances from the State and Central agencies are still pending,
- the Thummalapalle uranium mine and mill in Andhra Pradesh (India) was causing depletion and contamination of groundwater even before commissioning, and villagers demanded full compensation for displaced families,
- environmentalists warned from possible impacts of uranium mining in the Lambapur area in Andhra Pradesh (India) on Hyderabad's drinking water resource,
- The state-run Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) has started mining for uranium in the Cauvery area in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu in partnership with Uranium Corp. of India,
- Meghalaya (India) may shift the proposed Kynshi hydro power project in the West Khasi Hills for known uranium deposits

In Australia:
- Traditional Owners want the Jabiluka deposit in the Northern Territory (Australia) to remain undeveloped and the site to be incorporated into the Kakadu National Park,
- Cameco's Kintyre uranium project (West Australia), where construction is to start after 2015,
- the Wiluna uranium mine project (Western Australia), where the EIS was released for public review,
- Mullaquana uranium in situ leach project field leach trial in South Australia,
- the Honeymoon in situ leach uranium mine in South Australia, where commissioning started in November

Supplies projects for the uranium industry
Namibia's extraordinary uranium rush requires manifold efforts to assure the necessary supplies for the uranium mines:
- Namibia plans to build a second desalination plant in the uranium region,
- Namibia is to install Diesel generators near the uranium mines, but is also considering the construction of an 800 MW coal power plant near Arandis,
- Three chemical production plants for uranium industry chemicals planned at the Namibian coast will have serious environmental impacts and extinct certain species; conservationists demanded the selection of a less environmentally sensitive site for the plants

Alternate uranium recovery projects
By-product recovery of uranium from mining primarily for other ores:
- Talvivaara's Sotkamo uranium byproduct recovery project in Finland obtained government permission,
- Norilsk Nickel's Harjavalta uranium byproduct recovery project in Finland is progressing,
- the uranium processing plant at the Ezulwini gold/uranium mine in South Africa restarted after repairs,
- Harmony Gold Mining Co. considers uranium production at its Tshepong, Phakisa and Masimong mines in South Africa

The recovery of residual uranium from wastes and tailings:
This process that in principle would be environmentally advantageous for reducing the toxic load of the wastes and at the same time decreasing the need for fresh mining, in reality turns out to work not so smoothly:
- Cameco canceled the project for recycling of wastes from the Blind River and Port Hope nuclear fuel facilities in Ontario at its Key Lake mill in Saskatchewan,
- First Uranium's Mine Waste Solutions tailings reprocessing project in South Africa was commissioned, but so far it only recovers gold, as commissioning of the uranium recovery plant has been postponed; in September, the Minister of Mineral Resources withdrew the mining right for the tailings reprocessing project for environmental concerns raised by the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, but First Uranium continued operation undeterred,
- in November, an uraniferous slurry spillage occured at Mintails' West Rand tailings reprocessing project in South Africa,
- in the Czech Republic, residents opposed the processing of a further waste rock pile of the former Príbram uranium mines in Western Bohemia for uranium recovery, as they are fed up with the dust and noise generated by the process for decades

Planned expansion
of existing uranium mines and mills, with licensing processes at various stages:
- Key Lake expansion project in Saskatchewan (Canada),
- processing of ore from the McArthur River at the McClean Lake mill in Saskatchewan,
- Rabbit Lake Tailings North Pit Expansion Project in Saskatchewan,
- the North Trend Expansion Area of Cameco's Crow Butte uranium in situ leach mine in Nebraska (USA), that received a state permit for construction and operation,
- Cameco's Smith Ranch/Highland in situ leach mine in Wyoming, where the Highland processing plant is to be reopened for resin stripping,
- expansion of operations at the La Sal Mines Complex in Utah,
- doubling the production of the Caetité uranium mine in Bahia (Brazil),
- Stages 3 and 4 of the expansion of Paladin's Langer Heinrich uranium mine in Namibia,
- expansion of the Rössing uranium mine in Namibia, where the Draft Social and Environmental Impact Assessment was available for comment for just two weeks,
- increase of Ukraine's uranium production above 1000 t in 2011,
- expansion of Areva/Kazatomprom joint venture in situ leach uranium mines in Kazakhstan,
- production increase planned at Inkay in situ leach uranium mine in Kazakhstan,
- altogether, Kazakhstan is ready to increase the annual uranium production from 19,900 tons up to 25,000 - 30,000 tons; for 2012, 21,346 tons are planned,
- expansion of the Turamdih uranium mill in Jharkhand (India), where the second public hearing in March was stalled after protests by villagers,
- expansion of the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory (Australia), where the Ranger 3 Deeps exploration decline obtained government approval,
- the gigantic Olympic Dam copper/uranium mine expansion project in South Australia, that obtained government approval in spite of protest from Conservation and Aboriginal groups,
- the Beverley North project in South Australia that obtained approval for a field leach trial

Natural forces affecting operating mines and mills:
- processing at the Ranger uranium mill in Australia was suspended for 5 months due to high water levels in the tailings impoundment after heavy rainfall,
- volcanic-like activity was observed in the Arlit uranium mining district in Niger (a bad omen for Areva?),
- the yellowcake drying and packaging plant at Paladin's Kayelekera mine in Malawi had to be relocated due to a "land slippage"

Environmental issues at operating mines and mills:
- Cameco's Rabbit Lake mine in Saskatchewan still is Canada's uranium mine with by far the highest load of uranium discharged to the environment, in spite of improvements,
- Uranium One Inc. (majority-owned by Atomredmetzoloto), new owner of the Willow Creek (formerly Christensen Ranch/Irigaray) uranium in situ leach mine in Wyoming, spared no efforts to match up to the poor reputation of former mine owner Areva: the mine restarted without EPA approval, the company contested the applicability of EPA's evaporation pond regulations, the company was fined US$ 25,000 for the missed sampling of 24 monitor wells, the state issued a Notice of Violation for the spill of sodium chloride brine solution, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) began a special investigation after an aerial release of yellow cake powder,
- Cameco's Highland/Smith Ranch uranium in situ leach mine in Wyoming - the largest mine of its kind in the U.S. - also showed a poor environmental performance: the state regulator requested an investigation of possible impacts of a long-term excursion observed, numerous deficiencies were identified during an inspection of abandoned drill holes, many compliance concerns and numerous violations were identified during site inspections, and Cameco now seeks relaxed standards for groundwater restoration at Highland Mine Unit B, after the NRC identified irregularities,
- Cotter Corp.'s Cañon City uranium mill in Colorado, although idle, produced bad news, as well: trichloroethylene was found in nearby wells, the company - a subsidiary of high-tech company General Atomics - proved to be incapable of providing safe access to monitoring locations on the tailings impoundment, and the company was cited for a spill of uranium-contaminated solution,
- Cotter Corp. moreover was ordered to build a bypass pipeline at its defunct Schwartzwalder Mine in Colorado, to stop uranium contamination of water,
- at ERA's Ranger uranium mine in Australia, the notorious water management problems that contributed to the 5-months outage of the uranium mill provoked attacks from environmentalists; the Traditional Aboriginal land owners even pressured ERA to shut the mine down, until the company in November announced the decision to improve the waste water management at the site

Yellow Cake transport incidents:
- on the way from Canada to China, yellowcake containers onboard a ship were damaged in severe weather; the incident caused cleanup costs and losses of CDN$ 19 million, leading to the ship owner going bankrupt,
- in Jharkhand (India), a truck with uranium from the Jadugoda mine was damaged in a collision,
- in the Kakadu National Park in Australia, a yellowcake truck coming from the Ranger mine got stuck in water-laden ground

Miners' health issues at operating mines and mills:
- Reliance Resources, LLC, the operator of the Pandora mine operator in the La Sal complex (Utah) was fined $92,600 for the fatal accident that happened in 2010; Reliance and Denison Mines Corp (another mine operator in the La Sal complex), however, continued to be cited for more health and safety violations by the dozen,
- in December, Areva announced it would monitor the health of thousands of workers (and residents) exposed to its uranium mine sites in Niger, bowing to pressure from advocacy groups,
- in the Ezulwini gold/uranium mine in South Africa, four miners died in separate accidents during the course of the year, three of which in fall-of-ground accidents; in December, half of the workforce at the mine was fired in response to the impact of these fatal accidents "on employee morale and productivity" (!),
- at Paladin's Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi, a truck driver died in an accident in June,
- the workers at the Ranger mine (accounting for half of Australia's uranium workers) are not covered by Australia's new Radiation Dose Register due to inadequate legislation in the Northern Territory, a Senate hearing reveiled

Residents' health issues at operating mines and mills:
- Residents of areas near nuclear facilities in Ukraine are to receive risk compensation,
- the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presented dose and risk estimates for residents from radon emissions of existing and hypothetical uranium mills and of in situ leach uranium mines, with the highest doses by far found for a hypothetical uranium mill site in Virginia

Supplies issues at operating mines and mills:
- Paladin's Kayelekera mine in Malawi suffered temporary shutdowns due to delivery disruptions in diesel fuel and sulphuric acid,
- the water supply for Namibia's uranium mines was reduced by 25% in March, in view of a water shortage in the central coastal area,
- only lucky coincidence prevented the crash of a runaway railcar with a freight train carrying sulfuric acid for the Rössing uranium mine in Namibia,
- the Turamdih uranium mill in Jharkhand (India) was halted for water shortage in March

Other issues at operating mines and mills:
- in December, Cotter Corp. announced that it plans to seek license termination for its idle Cañon City uranium mill in Colorado, rather than to rebuild it,
- in September, the Caetité uranium mill in Brazil was allowed to resume operation, which had been stopped after a spill in May 2010,
- in Malawi, a student was found dead in September, after a critical publication alleged payments of the Kayelekera uranium mine to the Malawi president,
- the Dominion gold/uranium mine in South Africa was restarted by its new owner; uranium production was to begin "shortly",
- at the Turamdih uranium mine in Jharkhand (India), landlosers stopped company officials from accessing the site in April

- while preparations for, or actual cleanup of a few smaller abandoned mines in the U.S. continued at the well-known incredibly slow pace, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at long last announced a plan to clean up the Northeast Church Rock Mine in New Mexico - which is the largest abandoned uranium mine on the Navajo Nation,
- in January, the acidic mine water flowing out of South Africa's abandoned gold/uranium mines reached the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site, putting fossils at risk; seismic events almost doubled since toxic acid mine drainage water started filling the abandoned mines,
- in February, South Africa's Nuclear Regulator finally announced the planned relocation of an informal settlement from a radioactive mine waste dump in Krugersdorp, but in November the majority of these residents were still waiting for relocation; a new report found that the dangerous levels of radioactivity in Gauteng's mine dumps will take decades and billions of rands to clear

- a further extension of the completion date was requested for the clean-up of the former Earth Sciences uranium recovery plant in Calgary (Alberta, Canada),
- the U.S. federal government and the operators of the Midnite uranium mine in Washington finally reached a deal on the US$ 193 million cleanup of the site - thirty years after the shutdown of the mine,
- ExxonMobil requested grossly relaxed groundwater standards for its Highland uranium mill tailings site in Wyoming,
- Kennecott requested, and U.S. NRC staff endorsed, the fourth 5-year postponement of initiation of decommissioning of the Sweetwater uranium mill in Wyoming,
- the uranium concentration in surface water at Areva's Shirley Basin tailings site in Wyoming was found to exceed the drinking water standard,
- with stimulus funding expired, the Moab tailings relocation effort in Utah now continues at a slower pace,
- Homestake requested permission for continued crop irrigation at its Grants tailings site in New Mexico - with water heavily exceeding drinking water standards for selenium and uranium; U.S. EPA and U.S. NRC are at odds over the reclamation of the site, in particular on the applicable radon emission standards,
- uranium concentrations in groundwater at the former Bluewater mill site in New Mexico were found to exceed the standard,
- the uranium groundwater standard was exceeded further at the Grand Junction uranium mill tailings disposal site in Colorado,
- the legitimacy of the "nuisance" claim stakes found on the Maybell uranium mill tailings site in Colorado is still unclear, compromising the credibility of the U.S. long-term uranium mill tailings management program,
- in August, firefighters battled a brush fire at a former uranium in situ leach mine in Texas,
- a justice ordered the cleanup of the former Poços de Caldas uranium mine in Brazil - 15 years after it was closed,
- 200 homes had to be demolished for excess radiation at Areva's former uranium mine site in Mounana (Gabon) - 12 years after the mine closed,
- in December, Areva announced that it will compensate the families of two former employees who died of lung cancer after having worked in its Mounana mine for years; this is the first time the mining group commits to such compensation after concluding an agreement with Sherpa association in 2009,
- in June, Areva was ordered to remove illegally disposed decommissioning wastes in the former Limousin uranium mining area in France,
- in February, Wismut's water treatment plant capacity in the former Ronneburg uranium mining area in Germany turned out to be insufficient to handle the effluent volume increase after heavy rains; after a capacity increase in July, untreated mine water still had to be released occasionally,
- the federal cleanup project of Wismut's uranium mining legacy in Germany is expected to cost more and last longer (until 2020),
- additional funding was assured for the reclamation of those Wismut legacy sites that are not part of the federal cleanup project,
- the cleanup of Wismut's 1954 Lengenfeld uranium mill tailings spill was finally completed - after 57 years,
- in the Czech Republic, the reclamation of the former MAPE Mydlovary uranium mill and one of seven associated tailings ponds in South Bohemia was completed,
- in Kyrgyzstan, there still are no replacement homes available for people living on old uranium mine waste dumps in the Mailuu-Suu and Min-Kush areas,
- the World Bank provides additional financing for the tailings relocation being performed at Mailuu Suu,
- Kazakhstan plans to recover rare earth elements from the abandoned Aktau uranium mill tailings dump

- a Cameco study claims that the solubility type classification of yellow cake from in situ leaching is 100% "fast", leading to lower inhalation doses for uranium mill workers,
- a study found that the carcinogenicity of uranium might depend on its physical and chemical nature and its isotopic composition,
- the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) plan a "Prospective Birth Cohort Study Involving Environmental Uranium Exposure in the Navajo Nation",
- ICRP released Publication 115 revising the radon risk coefficient from 0.000283 to 0.0005 per Working Level Month (WLM), the new value now coming close to the one published in BEIR VI 13 years earlier

- the World Health Organization (WHO) raised its drinking water guideline for uranium from 15 to 30 micrograms per liter, based on new epidemiological studies on populations exposed to high uranium concentrations,
- the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a rule on decommissioning planning, and a final rule to ease restrictions on commencement of construction before a license is issued,
- an U.S. NRC audit identified "opportunities" for more effective oversight of uranium recovery decommissioning,
- the Utah regulator halted the practice of misclassifying blended uranium waste as "Natural Uranium",
- the new Brazilian Mining Code is to speed up uranium mining projects,
- Peru is drafting an environmental guide for uranium exploration,
- Mali aims to lure investors with a mining code review,
- the Central African Republic, Niger, and Kyrgyzstan were accepted as countries compliant to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a global standard for companies to publish what they pay and for governments to disclose what they receive,
- Namibia and South Africa are not adequately regulating uranium mining, and the Central African Republic apparently is not prepared to regulate it, a WISE/SOMO report found,
- Namibia's government reserved exclusive exploration and mining rights for uranium,
- Namibia finally published Radiation Protection and Waste Disposal Regulations - 35 years after uranium mining started in the country,
- the European Commission considers long-term stewardship of uranium mine and mill tailings an open issue (!),
- Finland (which has no uranium mines) will assist Zambia in the review of its uranium mining regulations

Uranium trade

- China more than tripled its uranium imports in 2010

Proliferation issues and uranium trafficking
- four drums of uranium concentrate were stolen from Areva's Trekkopje pilot scale uranium mine in Namibia,
- Yellow Cake uranium was found stored near Sabha in Libya,
- Russia and Australia adopted a safeguarding mechanism for civilian use of Australian uranium exports to Russia,
- India is working out mechanisms with South Africa to access its uranium,
- Australia's ruling Labor party ended the ban on uranium exports to India, a non-signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)

Foreign exploration and mining investment and cooperation
- Russia's Gazprom was granted a uranium exploration license in Niger,
- Russia is cooperating with Ethiopia in the assessment of potential uranium reserves in Ethiopia,
- Russia, Iran, Libya, and others competed for uranium rights in Sierra Leone, according to documents released in Wikileaks,
- Russia's Rosatom announced that is ready to mine uranium in the Czech Republic

- France signed a deal with Chile for uranium development

- India and Kazakhstan signed a nuclear agreement, including joint uranium mining,
- India showed interest in stakes in Areva's African uranium mines

- China Guangdong Nuclear's uranium subsidy made a "possible offer" for Kalahari Minerals, co-owner of the Husab (formerly Rössing South) mine project in Namibia,
- a Chinese takeover bid was made for uranium explorer Bannerman Resources, majority owner of the Etango deposit in Namibia,
- an Uzbek-Chinese joint venture plans to start uranium mining in the Navoi region of Uzbekistan

- Japan and Vietnam signed a nuclear cooperation agreement, including uranium exploration and mining

- Cameco is to finance the construction of the uranium byproduct plant at Talvivaara's Sotkamo nickel/zinc mine in Finland and to buy the uranium produced

This and that:
- In the United Kingdom, music once composed for the campaign against uranium mining on the Orkney Islands was played at the Royal Wedding in Westminster Abbey on April 29. Prince William and Kate Middleton chose to include "Farewell to Stromness" by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies in their service because it featured in Charles and Camilla's 2005 blessing. Sir Peter, who lives on the Orkney island of Sanday, wrote Farewell to Stromness in 1980 as a piano composition for "The Yellow Cake Revue" - a protest against plans to mine uranium ore in Orkney.
- In Germany, a group collected donations to substitute Areva as a sponsor for a local cultural event. Under the slogan "Poesie ohne Uranstaub" (Poetry without uranium dust), a citizens' group collected Euro 15,000 to replace the amount Areva is expected to donate for the 2012 installment of the annual "Poetenfest" (Poetry Festival) in Erlangen, Germany.
- In Canada, on the contrary, the Elliot Lake (Ontario) city council voted to return to its roots for a major municipal celebration: the council voted to change the name of the "Jewel in the Wilderness Festival" back to the "Uranium Festival". The Uranium Festival was created in the 1970s by former mayor of Elliot Lake Roger Taylor. Elliot Lake was a major uranium mining area between 1955 and 1996. Uranium mining will now return to the area with the development of the Eco Ridge rare earth/uranium mine (see above).

Archive of Uranium Mining reviews
Earlier annual mining reviews can be found in Nuclear Monitor issues 722 (2010), 702 (2009), 682 (2008), 665 (2007), 650 (2006), 640 (2005), 623 (2004), 600 (2003), 579 (2002), 560 (2001), 540 (2000), 522 (1999) and 504 (1998) or at:

Source and contact: Peter Diehl at the WISE Uranium Project.

Wise Uranium

ALP export policy: dollar signs over danger signs

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Dave Sweeny, Australian Conservation Foundation

With around 40% of the world’s uranium and currently supplying around 20% of the global market from three commercial mines, the issues of safety, radioactive waste management and the proliferation of nuclear weapons underpin Australia’s uranium mining and export debate. At its National Conference in December 2011 the Australian Labor Party (ALP) took a big step down a dangerous and divisive path with its decision to clear the way for uranium sales to India.

A cornerstone of the governing Australian Labor Party’s (ALP) uranium policy has been a pre-condition to only supply nations that have signed the UN’s nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT).

In operation since 1970 and with 190 nations signed on, the NPT is one of the worlds most subscribed to Treaty’s. Only India, Pakistan and Israel have never signed the NPT while North Korea withdrew in 2003. Although imperfect, the NPT remains one of the world’s best ways to restrict the spread of its worst weapons.

In November 2011 Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard abruptly announced she would seek to weaken Labor’s commitment to the NPT by exempting India and freeing up uranium sales. This move led to a high profile and close fought debate at the ALP’s National Conference in early December.

Selling uranium to India would breach Australia’s clear obligations under the South Pacific Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty – the Treaty of Rarotonga – which requires treaty partners to only supply nuclear materials, including uranium, to nations that accept comprehensive ‘full-scope’ international safeguards. India does not and has stated it will not. Around 50% of Indian nuclear facilities remain exempt from international inspection and review. Any move to sell Australian uranium to India would put further pressure on the already stressed, under-resourced and under-performing international nuclear safeguards regime.

Proponents of the policy change relied on internal ALP political machinations and enforced crude factional bloc voting rather than assessment or analysis to advance their position.

There was no clear and compelling case made to justify dropping such a long standing and prudent policy position or to address the fact that the sale of uranium to India is inconsistent with the ALP’s view that Australia can make a significant contribution to promoting nuclear disarmament and the reduction of nuclear stockpiles.

Critics of the plan highlighted India’s active weapons development program, the deep and continuing hostility between India and its nuclear armed rival and neighbour Pakistan and the increasing tension with China. Adding Australian uranium into this volatile context would further these divisions and risks, free up domestic Indian uranium supplies for use in India’s military nuclear program and lead to calls for future uranium sales to Pakistan.

Pro-nuclear and conservative commentators with strong nuclear industry links joined the chorus of concern ahead of Conference to call for a halt to the rushed and ill-conceived sales plan. Australian NGO’s and anti-nuclear groups like the Australian Conservation Foundation, Friends of the Earth, the Beyond Nuclear Initiative and the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons joined with other civil society groups to highlight the issue.

Many of the 400 Conference delegates received letters, briefing materials, phone calls and visits. The corridors of Canberra were walked and talked. Opinion and commentary pieces were written, media comment and briefings provided and there was an active presence at the Conference itself.

Sadly, the potential dollar signs shone brighter than the very real danger signs. Debate over Australia’s obligations under international law and role and responsibility as a provider of a dual use mineral was deliberately clouded by unrelated issues including the Prime Minister’s ability to ‘deliver’, absurdly optimistic economic projections and the fact that India is ‘friendly’.

The one credible argument raised by proponents of sales was India’s pressing need for increased energy and electricity.

The provision of Australian uranium to India is not a responsible or effective response to India’s aspiration to increase access to electricity to address widespread poverty.

Instead of using the cumbersome, costly and contaminating 20th Century technologies of coal and nuclear India could leapfrog into the rapid and widespread utilisation of clean and contemporary renewable systems.

These would cause the lights to work across India while ensuring the alarms stayed silent across Pakistan and would provide a lasting and local solution to India’s growing power needs.

The continuing Fukushima nuclear emergency highlights the vulnerability of nuclear power – even in a technically sophisticated country as Japan. Nuclear reactors in India, like nuclear missiles on the India – Pakistan border, would be ticking time bombs.

But such arguments did not carry the day amid the glare of the TV cameras and the shallow mantra of jobs and safeguards. On Sunday December 4, 2011 the ALP National Conference narrowly voted (206 to 185) for Australia to undermine the NPT, reject its treaty obligations and abandon any pretence of nuclear responsibility.

It has been said that opponents of the deal won the debate but lost the vote. The issue was fiercely contested within the Labor Party, including by senior Cabinet Ministers and around 45% of delegates. Many in Labor are angry with the content and process of the decision and the issue remains unfinished business both within the Labor Party and the wider community.

It is a long way from policy on the run to uranium on a ship and Australian activists are increasing their call for an independent assessment of the impacts, costs and consequences of Australia’s involvement in the uranium and nuclear trade.

In the shadow of Fukushima it is time to stop cutting corners and start raising standards.

Source and contact: Dave Sweeny (Dave is the national nuclear campaigner with the Australian Conservation Foundation.) Floor 1, 60 Leicester St, Carlton VIC 3053, Australia.
Tel: +61 3 9345 1130

No uranium exports to India

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard is seeking to overturn a ban on Australian uranium exports to India: “Selling uranium to India will be good for the Australian economy and good for Australian jobs.” Australia, holder of the biggest known uranium reserves, has a long standing policy of not exporting uranium to India, because it hasn’t signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Over the next couple of weeks as the Australian Labor Party (ALP) national conference is getting closer, we are going to hear a lot about uranium sales to India. Prime Minister Gillard and others within the Labor Party are on a mission to overturn Labor’s long-standing opposition to selling uranium to India. One Labor Senator has declared that if the ban gets overturned then ALP will be “selling out everything we’ve stood for as a party for the last 40 years”. The debate is heating up and members of the Labor left are ready to fiercely oppose this change in policy at the National Conference.

On November 16, any organizations and individuals from Australia and India signed onto a letter urging Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Resources Minister Ferguson, Foreign Minister Rudd and some senators, to reconsider plans to export uranium to India. Many nuclear disarmament organizations are strongly opposed to India's being able to import Australian uranium, as this will inevitably contribute to a nuclear arms race in the Indian subcontinent.

India has a limited quantity of unsafeguarded uranium of its own that can be set aside and used for nuclear weapons purposes.

There has been speculation over the last couple of decades that India would be unable, without importing uranium, to be able to sustain both the ambitious civil nuclear power program it has, and to keep up with Pakistan's aggressive nuclear weapons program, a program that is set to soon exceed, in warhead numbers, that of the UK.

We would like to remind you that back in December 2002-January 2003, Indian and Pakistani military faced each other across the 'line of control' and that the worlds number one wire story was 'India, Pak, move nukes to line of control'.

At that point the large-scale use of nuclear weapons between India and Pakistan was very much on the agenda. We note that on the very day on which you made your announcement, India conducted a successful test of its nuclear-capable Agni-IV (Agni-II Prime) missile.

This is surely not a sign of a subcontinent that is moving in a peaceful direction.

Authoritative, peer-reviewed scientific studies have recently predicted that a nuclear war between India and Pakistan would create catastrophic changes in global climate and massive destruction of Earth's protective ozone layer. This would lead to the coldest average weather conditions in the last 1000 years and greatly increase the amount of harmful UV-B light reaching both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. Consequently, these long-term environmental consequences would significantly decrease global agricultural production and lead to global nuclear famine.

Selling uranium to India will involve radical alterations to Australia's long-standing (and till recently bipartisan) nuclear nonproliferation policy, according to which Australia will sell uranium only to signatories of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). India is not and cannot be, an NPT signatory due to its significant nuclear weapons program (and therefore cannot sign the additional protocol to the NPT which presumes NPT signatory status).

The undersigned organizations therefore urge the Australian government to retain Australia's long standing and correct policy of not exporting to India.

Leave uranium in the ground! (It's not as radical an idea as it might sound).
Uranium accounts for a paltry 0.3 per cent of Australian export revenue and 0.03 per cent of Australian jobs. Few would notice if the industry vanished and still fewer would miss it. Uranium sales to India would do very little to expand Australia’s export revenue. If Australia supplied one-fifth of India’s current demand, uranium exports would increase by a measly 1.8 per cent. Even if all reactors under construction or planned in India come on line, Australia’s uranium exports would increase by just 10 per cent.
The Age, November 1, 2010 / Jim Green,, November 18, 2011

Source: Bloomberg, 15 November 2011 / John Hallam (Letter coordinator), 16 November 2011
Contact: John Hallam, People for Nuclear Disarmament NSW Nuclear Flashpoints, Surry Hills Sydney NSW, Australia.
Email: johnhallam2001[at]



The menace of uranium mining; Falea, Mali

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

The Berlin conference held in 1884/1885 drew the borders and organized the distribution of the African continent as we currently know it. Today multinational corporations hold the rights to and collect the riches of Africa’s arable land and resources, including the uranium of Falea which is to be exploited by Rockgate Capital Corporation.

In Mali about 60 exploration or exploitation licences are issued to foreign mining companies each year. In this race for the extraction of mineral resources encouraged by the Malian government, uranium and bauxite are the most sought after. The highest potential for uranium is in the community of Falea, endowed with extraordinary biodiversity and cultural richness.

The Municipality of Falea is located in the Western part of Mali and borders Guinea and Senegal. The population is estimated at 17,000 inhabitants. Most of the population is young (between 15 and 40 years old) and female (approximately 62%), comprising the ethnic groups: Djalonkes, Mandinka, Fula and Diakhanké.

About twenty years ago the French multinational Cogema – today Areva – discovered deposits of uranium, copper and bauxite in Falea. In 2007 the government of Mali concluded an agreement with the Canadian company Delta Exploration, now Rockgate Capital Corp, concerning the future exploitation of its primary resources. The conditions of the contract have not been made public.

Neither the Council of the Wise nor the “modern” municipal council, in place since 1995, nor the population were officially informed or consulted. In 2008 an airstrip was built within 50 meters of the primary school.

Traditionally, land in Mali belongs to no one. The «Maitre de la terre» «Chief of the soil» hands over the land to those cultivating it. Those who are digging a well or planting a tree on a piece of land granted to them by the “Maitre de la terre” are recognized by common law as the cultivators of the land upon which he generates value.

The traditional system is based on the ancient wisdom of refusing to allow land to become a commercial good or private property. Land is considered common to all and is not a commercial merchandise.

Short-term speculation has replaced traditional wisdom. The Malian government, influenced by the institutions inherited from its French colonial past, is selling the country’s wealth and traditions. All land not protected by ownership titles is state-owned. The mining code of Mali, adopted in 1999, gives the mining Ministry the right to issue mining permits for extracting fossil and mineral substances. This new administrative body was put in place by

the central authorities. Traditional institutions attempt to co-exist with modern law. The mayor and his municipal council have been elected since 1999. Common law which did not recognize ownership titles has been replaced by costly and long procedures for accessing land: numerous public inquiries, permits to be obtained and mandatory waiting periods.

Since 2009, core soil samples are collected from 300 meter deep holes drilled every 200 meters and flown by an Antonov plane to a South African laboratory with the goal of establishing a map to facilitate the exploitation of the surface as well as the ground beneath it.

Avoiding the Worst
In Bamako the Association of Citizens and Friends of Falea – ARACF – fights for the rights of Falea’s population. The association attempts to bring independent expertise and international attention to Falea; with partners such as the city of Geneva, the European Civic Forum, the CRIIRAD in France, and the OEKO Institute in Germany.

To obtain an exploitation permit, the Mali mining code requires companies to produce an environmental impact study – ESIA – containing the description of the project and an evaluation of the effects on people, nature and wildlife, soil, water, air, countryside and national resources. In April 2010 Rockgate Capital Corporation handed this job to Golder Associates, environmental experts and consultants with nearly 7000 employees based in over 150 offices worldwide.

If it is to determine and prepare citizen expertise within the time framework given, ARACF has, however, not received information concerning the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment schedule (ESIA). Officially, Mali’s central government adheres to the 'Environmental impact assessment and environmental audit capacity building in both public and private sectors' program set up by the International Resources Group (IRG - USAID).

The only reliable sources for the moment are statements published by Rockgate on its Internet site. The ARACF strongly wishes greater access to government information.

Access to official documents proves to be very difficult. This means that obtaining geological and regional maps, as well as viewing the proposed plans and programs of infrastructure and road construction necessary for the transportation of minerals is facilitated for potential investors, but complicated and quite expensive for civilians.

Baseline study
Before beginning to mine uranium, a natural radioactivity map must be drawn up. The nuclear lobby would like us to believe that the occurrence of birth defects and cancers is a normal event due to the presence of large underground uranium deposits; that the millions of tons of highly radioactive soil unearthed by the mining operation is not a contributing factor.

"To put in place a detailed study of the impact area (10.2 km x 13.3 km), a major hurdle must be overcome: limited access of the local population to the land Rockgate is prospecting, in spite of Malian law which specifies that only the underground mineral rights have been ceded to the corporation, not overland rights. For example, the military has been brought in to expel farmers from their traditional lands bordering the Falea based Kondoya gold mine in deference to the mining company and thus outside the land specifically designated for mining".

The baseline study is sponsored by the city of Geneva with technical support supplied by the French Independent Nuclear Research and Information Center (CRIIRAD). Geneva 'the guardian city' of the Falea baseline study, keeps the data of the study in a sure and neutral place.

"To reduce the devastating effects on the environment, the procedure for obtaining permits must require proof of independent and sufficient funding to cover the costs of rebuilding the land once the mine is shut down, as well as a plan and financing for the safe storage of the wastes produced by the mine for at least 200 years."

Advice to ARACF from Gerhard Schmidt of the German Oeko Institute

Source and contact: ARACF (Association des Ressortissants et Amis de la Commune de Falea), ACI Baco-Djicoroni, Rue 573 , Porte 682, Bamako, Mali
Tel: 00223 20 28 11 43
Email: faleadounia[at]


Uranium miner Paladin accused of bribery - leading to activist's death in Malawi

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

Australian uranium mining company Paladin has been discredited yet again, and with shocking results. Student and activist Robert Chasowa was killed after having published a document in which he accused Paladin of bribing the President of Malawi. The President, facing serious protests by civilians and NGOs, is repressing civilians with increasing violence and threats. Paladin's connections to the President remain unclarified.

Paladin Africa's uranium mine in Kayelekera, Northern Malawi, continues to give rise to alarming calls from NGOs. Human rights activists in Malawi have complained about intransparency and secrecy policies from the beginning of the mine's operations, and reported about being questioned and intimidated by police forces while monitoring radioactive transports. Paladin received frequent negative media attention as labourers died in accidents at the mine and health and safety procedures proved below standard.

International NGOs have accused Paladin of completely disregarding international industry practices concerning disclosure and transparency of practices and policies, including payments to national governments. Also, activists claim that international safety and environmental standards are neglected by the company. Company culture has been called 'neocolonialist' and 'incredibly arrogant' towards those who are affected by mining operations.

Meanwhile, authoritarian President Bingu wa Mathurika, who was democratically elected a few years ago but whose rule has recently developed some dangerous characteristics of a dictatorship, is confronted with nation-wide protests. Only 6% of people in Malawi have access to electricity, poverty remains high, and there have been serious fuel and currency shortages for a long period. The fact that Mathurika purchased a US$ 20 million presidential airplane and has spent millions of public dollars on private occasions such as his 2010 wedding, have not done his public image much good.

July 2011 protests ended up in nineteen protesters shot dead by the police. The President dismissed his entire Cabinet after the July demonstrations and immediately formed a new Cabinet, which included his brother and his wife. Since then, activists have been accused, arrested, and beaten up. The violence and intimidation even included several cases of arson.

The student who was found dead at the University of Malawi was the Vice-President of the organisation Youth for Democracy and Freedom (YDF), who published a weekly political update. The update that caused policemen to enter university, arrest and question the YDF's President Black Moses and probably to kill Robert Chasowa a few days later, was addressed at President Mathurika and questioned his policies and money flows, warning him that he will one day be prosecuted for  multiple human rights abuses. In the update, the YDF asks Mathurika 'Mr President – why should Paladin Africa, a company which is mining uranium at Kayerekera be banking US$100,000 every month to your personal account in Australia-when Malawi is experiencing a cute shortage of forex?'

A few days after, Robert Chasowa was found dead next to a tall university building, his body intact but with a wound on his head. The police officially stated that Chasowa had committed suicide, claiming that he even left a suicide note, implying that he had gotten afraid of the political situation.

Government denies responsibility for Chasowa's death. Paladin denies paying money to an Australian private bank account of Mathurika.

Sources: Nyasa Times, Malawi Voice, Face of Malawi, Nuclear Intelligence Weekly, Malawi Today
Contact: WISE Amsterdam


Uranium activists arrested in Central African Republic

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

Six uranium activists were arrested and imprisoned without charge in the Central African Republic on September 16. After a week in detention, during which it was insinuated that the activists were involved in terrorist activities, espionage, and/or general destabilizing of the country, all were released.  

The activists were on their way to a workshop in Bakouma, where French nuclear company AREVA owns a uranium mine, when they were halted by armed military forces. Without being informed about the reason for arrest, they were transported back to the country’s capital Bangui, interrogated, and immediately detained. 

Purpose of the activists travelling to Bakouma was to organise a workshop for local citizens and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to inform them about the social, economic, and environmental impacts of uranium mining.

Upon arrest, the authorities claimed that the activists were not authorised by the Ministry of Mining to travel to Bakouma. In fact, the activists had demanded and received permission from the Ministry previous to their trip – even though the authorisation was officially only needed for the one foreigner in the group of activists. This surprising and obviously erroneous claim by the authorities make one wonder what the real reasons for the arrest might have been.

Infrequent uranium exploration activities have been conducted in the region since decades. Although ore grades at the Bakouma deposit are relatively high compared to some other African mining sites, the infrastructural and political situation made the Central African deposit less attractive for commercial mining operations.

Until today, only French nuclear company AREVA has opened a uranium mine in Bakouma. The Central African government, desperate to attract any kind of foreign investment into the economically underdeveloped country, was hoping for the first uranium production to be realised by 2010. However, despite government pressure and promises by AREVA, the French still have not shown much interest in starting production.

Meanwhile, the habitants of the region remain uninformed about the developments taking place at government and company level. Local populations live in a remote area where access to education, services, health care and justice is absolutely minimal. Scarce and biased information is provided by government and industry.

With the aim to inform the communities about mining hazards, NGOs based in Bangui are making efforts to get access to the Bakouma population. For information and support, the Central African NGOs are supported by various international organisations. The arrested activists were representatives of the Organisation Centrafricaine pour la Défense de la Nature, l’Observatoire Centrafricain des Droits de l’Homme, the Groupement des Agriculteurs pour la Lutte contre la Désertification et la Pauvrété, the Association pour la Protection Environnementale et le Développement Durable, the Association Centrafricaine des Professionnels en Evaluation Environnementale, and Capacity for Development.

As serious problems related to uranium mining operations are undoubtedly occurring in the Central African Republic – lack of public participation, radiological and toxic contamination of the mining area, neglect of human rights, etc – the Central African human rights and environmental experts who were arrested are receiving much support from foreign organisations, who offer their expertise and support. Organisations such as Capacity for Development (Belgium), CED (Cameroon) and Croissance Saine Environnement (Gabon), along with other organisations, are actively involved in empowering the Central African organisations, and are closely monitoring the Central African developments.

Now that the Central African activist movement to struggle for more information, more public participation, and better protection of environment and humans, becomes better-organised and more powerful, it seems that the Central African government are not so pleased with this new, more mature civil society: hence the arrest of the activists. AREVA, equally, has proven to find it difficult to accept the role of civil society in decision-making on mining activities. The company has not shown much willingness to keep Central African citizens informed and to communicate openly with NGOs.

Meanwhile, the activists do not at all seem discouraged by the unexpected turn of events. Fiercefully claiming their rights and confronting their authorities, while enjoying support and protection by the international community, it is expected that the activists will continue to enhance public participation and disclosure of information in the Central African Republic.

The prisoners were suddenly released on September 22. One of the activists, a foreigner, forcibly returned to Europe. All other activists, of Central African nationality, remain in the country. The Central African activists are planning to discuss their arrest with the authorities and will seek clarification from them. It is still unknown when the activists will attempt once again to reach the communities in Bakouma.

Sources: personal contact with involved activists
Contact: WISE Amsterdam


In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For more information please visit:
GreenLeft (Aus.) 23 July 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

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