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African uranium mines the center of attention

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

Uranium mining operations in Africa are being monitored actively by a wide range of organisations worldwide. After the last international uranium mining conference in Tanzania, November 2010, several reports have been published on the topic by various organisations.

A February 2011 study on financial benefits from uranium mining to African host states, Radioactive Revenues (Nuclear Monitor 727, May 27, 2011) published by the Dutch Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, SOMO, in collaboration with WISE Amsterdam, is now followed by a more extensive study on mitigation of social and environmental impacts. The new report analyses what mitigation measures are taken by companies and governments in the Central African Republic, South Africa, and Namibia, and compares these practices and results with the situation in Canada and Australia. The report, entitled Uranium From Africa. Mitigation of Uranium Mining Impacts on Society and Environment by Industry and Governments, will be published July 1, 2011

Reason for this study to be undertaken was the observation that the sudden increase in uranium prices in 2005/2006 has led to an augmentation of uranium mining activities in Africa. This uranium rush followed a uranium price increase, which developed after secondary uranium stocks - from superfluous Cold War nuclear weapons – started to decrease and the nuclear industry hoped to begin their often-mentioned but never-realized ‘Nuclear Renaissance’. The uranium rush has had its effects worldwide: hundreds of uranium prospection and exploitation companies were quickly established by speculators, who all have put claims on uranium deposits. However, with the most attractive deposits already claimed by the large players, and unfavorable conditions in some countries (Australia, rich in uranium, has several provinces which have put moratoria on uranium mining), Africa has received much attention from the industry. The lack of strict regulations and the absence of pressure on companies to be accountable for the effects of their operations in Africa are likely to influence Africa’s popularity.

Uranium mines are notorious for their impacts on environment and health. Processing of the radioactive uranium ores to produce a marketable product, uranium ore concentrate, inevitably leads to a release of uranium and its toxic and radioactive decay products, as well as other heavy metals, into the environment. In the best case, only soils become contaminated. In reality, radioactive contamination of ground and surface water, soils, and air, is commonly measured near uranium mines worldwide. Inhalation and ingestion of toxic and radioactive elements can lead to various diseases in humans.

In the study, behavior of companies and governments was analyzed by use of a questionnaire on the mining operations. The questionnaire was sent to NGOs, governments, and the industry. Topics that were treated in the questionnaire were:

* General policies, which concern agreements with host governments, documentation, certification, stakeholder engagement, grievance mechanisms, closure planning;
* Economy on the economic impacts and revenue transparency. The economic part on revenues and revenue transparency was used for the report Radioactive Revenues, the joint SOMO/WISE publication published in February 2011.
* Environment, impacts from mining in general, and uranium mining specifically. Special attention wass given to tailings, the mining waste. Piles of waste rock and ponds of tailings are toxic and radioactive and need to be handled with special care. Isolation from the environment is required. Questions were asked about energy use, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, water consumption, biodiversity, radiological surveys in the region.
* Labour rights on issues such as number of workforce, ethnicity and gender, discrimination, strikes, lock-outs, wages, occupational health and safety, and radiation protection for workers.
* Society considered participation of indigenous peoples and communities; Free, Prior, and Informed Consent, forced resettlements, security forces, public policy, corruption and compliance.

A selection of operations was analyzed: in the Central African Republic, Areva’s Bakouma mine; in South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti’s Vaal River operations, as well as First Uranium’s Ezulwini mine and MWS tailings reprocessing operation; and in Namibia, Areva’s Trekkopje mine, Paladin’s Langer Heinrich mine, and Rio Tinto’s Rössing mine.

In all operations, problems were paramount. Ranging from irresponsibly high water consumption in the desert, to hiding the deaths of workers, to absolute non-communication and denial of the public to the right to participate in decision-making processes; many worrying situations were observed.

The report concludes: ‘The question ‘What do industries and governments do to mitigate the negative impacts caused by uranium mining?’ cannot always be answered properly for every mining operation. Lack of transparency and accountability keep important information shielded from the public eye. This is a worrying signal. It has been widely recognised that accountability and transparency are crucial factors in whether or not populations can benefit from their natural resources. The lack of accountability and transparency observed in the Central African Republic, South Africa, and Namibia, can and does lead to mismanagement, and possibly also to corruption.

Company behaviour and Corporate Social Responsibility performance are highly variable. Environmental and social impacts remain significant; but addressing these issues can help prevent the worst case scenarios. Rio Tinto’s prior poor performance is improving by the use of extensive Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility programmes. AngloGold Ashanti seems to be following the same strategy. Both companies do address their negative impacts and have installed structures and projects to mitigate these. Areva is still highly centralised and is giving little attention to local issues such as stakeholder communication and public participation. Mitigation measures which were described by the company were minimal, which is surprising for a large nuclear energy company, rich in resources and experience. First Uranium performs poorly, especially on public participation and transparency. Claims of good corporate behaviour are not based on disclosed evidence, and are weakened even more by the company’s refusal to communicate openly and acknowledge real concerns of affected populations. Paladin Energy is not giving any proof of active and effective mitigation of their negative impacts.

The negative consequences from uranium mining were known before the writing of this report. Yet the current mitigation (or ‘greenwashing’) behavior of industry and responsible governments had so far not been described. The current report will therefore be helpful to point the nuclear industry as well as Northern and Southern governments at the underperformance of the uranium miners, and provide African NGOs with accurate information on relevant processes and issues in their countries. It can be used as a tool to inform stakeholders, to put pressure on companies, and to enhance awareness on the negative impacts of  nuclear energy consumption. Public concern about nuclear energy in the EU is generally not focused on uranium mines in Africa, but it can become a main topic if the public is well-informed about the current situation and behaviour of mining companies they are familiar with.The study was undertaken by WISE Amsterdam in collaboration with SOMO and can freely be obtained by sending an email to

The February 2011 study Radioactive Revenues, on financial benefits from uranium mining operations for African host states, can still be downloaded from

U-mining in DR Congo; a radiant business
Another new June 2011 study, by the Ecumenical Network Central Africa (ENCA), entitled Uranium Mining in the DR Congo. A Radiant Business for European Nuclear Companies? Focuses on AREVA’s practices in the Katanga mining province in the DRC and makes the connection with Siemens and German banks. It can be downloaded from

A Cameroonian network of organisations has recently published an information brochure with practical information on uranium in Cameroon. Among others, the Center for Environment and Development (CED) and the Network of Struggle against Hunger (RELUFA) have worked on the brochure – both Cameroonian organisations which give much attention to the topic of uranium mining. The brochure contains some general information on the advantages and drawbacks of uranium mining, and poses some fundamental questions to the government. According to the brochure, the Cameroonian government needs to ‘consider the exploitation of this resource with much discernment in order to take a decision which will meet the interests of the population in the best possible way.’  The brochure concludes with the questions ‘When comparing the possible advantages of a uranium project with the negative impacts, is the risk of an imbalance in favor of negative impacts not too important? In the current context, do we need to exploit this resource, or should we leave it in the ground?’

The brochure can be found at

Source and contact: Fleur Scheele at WISE Amsterdam


New NSG guidelines limit India's access to sensitive nuclear technology

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
LAKA Foundation

The Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has decided to tighten the norms of enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology exports. The revised rules, under discussion for years, have been adopted at a June 23-24 Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting in the Dutch town of Noordwijk. In fact, this means a partial reversal of the exemption for India to have access to nuclear equipment and technology, although some analysts are unsure about the wording in the final statement.

The U.S. Bush administration helped India (which never signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty) to become eligible for imports of nuclear technology, including sensitive enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) equipment and technology, in September 2008. This was adopted by NSG and an exemption from the existing NSG rules that banned nuclear trade with countries that are not signatories of the NPT. The landmark civilian nuclear cooperation agreement ended India's atomic isolation following its 1974 nuclear test and could mean billions of dollars in business for US corporations, as well as for reactor-supplying firms from France and Russia. But now enrichment and reprocessing equipment and technology, however, are no longer part of the deal. But still there seems to be a snag somewhere in the NSG decision.

The NSG was just set up after India's first nuclear weapons explosion in 1974 “to ensure that nuclear trade for peaceful purposes does not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices”. But in September 2008 it did the very opposite by agreeing to the exceptional waiver for India as part of New Delhi's controversial Indo-U.S. nuclear cooperation deal. However, in the build-up of this agreement there was a great deal of resistance to the waiver within the NSG. India’s non-NPT status stuck in many throats during the negotiations leading up to the 2008 waiver by the NSG allowing India to engage in nuclear commerce. NSG failed to produce a consensus, necessary for any decision to go through. Six “like-minded” countries - Austria, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Switzerland - which argued that India must accept three conditions in order to resume nuclear trade, led the resistance. These included a periodic review of compliance with India's nonproliferation pledges, exclusion from trade of sensitive technologies such as uranium enrichment and spent fuel reprocessing, and cessation of nuclear commerce in case India tests. In the event, India only accepted the first condition and doggedly refused to go beyond reiterating its unilateral moratorium on testing. But the NSG agreed.

At the Noordwijk meeting the exemption has been partly reversed under the new NSG rules. There aren't any restrictions to trade in reactors or nuclear fuel, but it limits India's access to sensitive enrichment and reprocessing (ENR) equipment and technology which are vulnerable for proliferation. But India's Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has rejected as untrue, reports that the clean waiver India got from the NSG for ENR equipment and technology has ended because of an NSG ban for non-NPT countries. Speaking to NDTV, an Indian TV channel, Mukherjee said America must honor its commitments to India. He said the US is committed to the civilian nuclear cooperation deal with India and the clean waiver given by the NSG. He said he reminded the US administration that the clean waiver to India still stands according to the deal signed by both countries. 

Reprocessing equipment and technology comes into play in the treatment of spent fuel from a nuclear reactor, which can be reprocessed and used in a fast-breeder reactor. In 1985, India became the sixth nation to possess fast-breeder technology. The former chairman of India's Atomic Energy Commission Anil Kakodkar commented on the NSG decision: “In the bilateral 2008 Indo-US civilian nuclear deal, there was some forward looking language. The understanding was that even if it is not possible now, it would be made possible in the future. The new NSG guidelines are completely contrary to that spirit.” […] “It's a big departure, or betrayal of the exemption NSG had granted India.” According to Kakodkar the ENR technology is key to the enhancement of the power capacity using fast breeder reactors. India is among a handful of nations to have its own ENR technology, but the plan was to use international ENR technology in the nuclear program that was born out of the international cooperation, he said. “India's very large domestic program or the nuclear fuel cycle will not be affected in any way as far as I understand,” he added.

India's main opposition party BJP asked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to give clarifications on the recent decision made by NSG. Spokesman Rajiv Pratap Rudy told media the reports emanating from The Netherlands had confirmed the worst fears expressed by BJP in parliament when it ratified the Indo-US Nuclear Treaty signed between Dr Singh and U.S. President George Bush. "The exemption India got is being sought to be nullified and we got nothing in return for the deal it signed with U.S. and India would be treated on par with countries like Pakistan, North Korea and Israel who too have not signed the NPT", he said. “Our apprehensions have become true with the NSG resolving to strengthen its guidelines on transfer of sensitive ENR technologies after considering all aspects of the implementation of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India.”

NSG members such as the US, Russia, Germany and the Netherlands support India to join the NSG., although it did not sign the NPT. Just before the NSG Noordwijk meeting the Obama administration lauded the NSG move to restrict trade enrichment and reprocessing systems even as it reaffirmed its support of civilian atomic trade with India. Former Indian envoy M.K. Bhadrakumar said, “There is a clear double standard here on the part of the U.S..” Also France and Russia, who each have signed nuclear agreements with India and have also repeatedly voiced their openness to selling enrichment and reprocessing technology to India, have accepted the new NSG rules.

Ambiguous NSG declaration
There is some wording in the Public Statement of the Noordwijk meeting that shows the ambiguous NSG position and makes it difficult to analyze the exact outcome.

- the NSG therefore agreed to strengthen its guidelines on the transfer of sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technologies […] and

- continued to consider all aspects of the implementation of the 2008 Statement on Civil Nuclear Cooperation with India and discussed the NSG relationship with India.

How do these accounts relate to each other? Proliferation expert Mark Hibbs of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace firmly believes that the outcome is a strengthening of the guidelines. “The new (NSG) guidelines include language saying transfers of enrichment and reprocessing technologies should be limited to NPT states and India doesn't qualify.” [..] “India has been trying to get that particular item out of the new guidelines and they failed,” Hibbs said. “It limits their access to sensitive technology.”

The NSG - which consists of 46 nations, including the five recognized nuclear weapons states that are not subjected to the IAEA safeguards regime - tries to ensure that nuclear exports are not diverted for military purposes. This would bar all NPT outsiders - India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea - from such items, which can have both civilian and military applications. Even though they are NPT signatories, the new guidelines would also apply to Iran and Syria as they are being probed by the IAEA over suspicions that they have channeled nuclear activities towards military ends.

Sources: Nuclear Monitor 677, 25 September 2008; NSG Public Statement, 24 June 2011 on; The Economic Times, 29 June 2011; Reuters, 28 June 2011; NTI, 28 June 2011
Contact: Laka Foundation, Ketelhuisplein 43, 1054 RD Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


UNESCO includes Koongarra into Kakdus world heritage listing

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
WISE Amsterdam

On June 27, the UNESCO World Heritage Committee voted to modify the boundaries of the Australian Kakadu National Park World Heritage Area to include the previously excluded Koongarra area. Koongarra includes a major uranium deposit that was discovered in 1970, but which has never been mined. There are some legal steps the Australian Government will need to finalise before Koongarra is officially included as part of Kakadu National Park.

Kakadu Traditional Owners witnessed and welcomed the decision by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to include Koongarra within the Kakadu World Heritage Area. Representatives of the Mirarr attended the 35th session of the World Heritage Committee in Paris, France, to support moves by the Senior Traditional Owner of the neighbouring Djok clan, Jeffrey Lee, to permanently protect the Koongarra region from the threat of uranium mining.

On June 20, the Australian Federal Government said the French nuclear energy company Areva, tried to block the push for the world heritage listing of Koongarra area: Areva formally requested the nomination of Koongarra be removed from the agenda of the meeting.

When Kakadu was declared a national park in 1979, a small section of land was left off the map. This 1200 hectare region, known as Koongarra, is entirely within the Djok Traditional estate. It includes a major uranium deposit that was discovered in 1970, and for which Areva holds exploration licences, but which has never been mined.

High level Australian and international assessment teams have opposed any mining plans and recommended increased protection for the unique region.

Senior Traditional Owner of the Djok clan, Jeffrey Lee, has consistently opposed uranium mining on his country and has travelled to Paris to personally support and witness the boundary change as a step towards the inclusion of his land into Kakadu.

In 2010 both major Australian political parties committed to making Koongarra part of the surrounding national park.

The decision to add the environmentally and culturally significant Koongarra region in Kakadu to the World Heritage register is a powerful and positive step towards the permanent protection of one of Australia’s most special places. The Koongarra area in Kakadu includes the much-visited Nourlangie Rock (Burrunggui/Anbangbang) and is important in the Rainbow Serpent and Lightning Man storylines.

Sources: ABC Darwin, 20 June 2011; Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation Media statement, 27 June 2011; ACF press statement

Winners at international uranium film festival

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Urânio em Movi(e)mento

The First International Uranium Film Festival of Rio de Janeiro which ended 28 May 2011, in the historical Manson "Laurinda Santos Lobo". From 34 international productions surrounding the nuclear fuel chain and radioactive risks four winners were selected.

The best short film of this first International Uranium Film Festival - selected by the Jury - was a Costa Rican production of director Pablo Ortega of the University of Costa Rica: Uranio 238: La Bomba Sucia del Pentágono, Uranium 238: The Pentagon's Dirty Pool. Isabel McDonald from the San José Quaker Peace Centre of Costa Rica: "Winning this award will help the efforts towards an international treaty banning DU weapons world-wide."

The best feature film - selected by the jury - was a new production by Director Michael Madsen from Denmark "Into Eternity". An impressive film which deals with the philosophical questions of the issues concerning the permanent storage of high-level nuclear waste. The film brings the audience down thousands of meters into a rock formation in the countryside of Finland where the construction of the first high-level nuclear waste storage facility is been built.

The audience award for the best short film were given to:  "Césio 137. O brilho da morte", directed by Luiz Eduardo Jorge of Brazil. His documentary shows the events that transpired in a real live tragedy about the release of  Caesium-137 into a populated area 1987 in the city of Goiânia, Brazil. This was the worst radioactive accident in Latin America, which cost the lives of many people and the health of hundreds or possibly thousands of survivors.

"Césio 137. O brilho da morte" was produced by Laura Pires as well as the winner of the audience award for the best movie:  "Césio 137. O pesadelo de Goiânia". Director Roberto Pires contracted famous Brazilian actors for this important and first ever made film of this nuclear accident in central Brazil. The script of "Césio 137. O pesadelo de Goiânia" is based on statements by the victims and medical personal attending the victims, taken by Roberto Pires at the time of the accident, who himself some years later died from radiation exposure.

A big surprise for the invited guests was the appearance of three representatives of the indigenous peoples of Brazil who gave a musical performance and a prayer to the Uranium Film Festival and its guests. Chief Alfonso Apurina from the Amazon state Acre and his two companions from other indigenous peoples were invited by the festival organizers in respect of their traditional land rights to Brazil and in respect to their struggle to preserve the Old Indigenous Museum of Rio de Janeiro, that is in danger because of construction of projects to accommodate the Olympic Games.

Indigenous people from all over Brazil have been occupying the abandoned first "Museo do Indio" of Brazil beside the famous Maracanã Football stadium since 2005, with the intention of creating their own cultural centre for all the indigenous peoples of Latin America. This "Museo do Indio" was deeded to the indigenous people of Brazil by its creator Darcy Ribeiro in 1954, but left abandoned since 1972. Since 2010, these indigenous people have been at risk of being expelled from the building and the land it stands on that rightfully belongs to them. And they have no intentions of giving this stronghold to make way for a shopping center as part of the Olympic Games project.

The First International Uranium Film Festival and its Award Ceremony ended with another, a real "bombastic" surprise, "Atomic Bombs on the Planet Earth", the newest production of the famous film director Peter Greenaway was shown to the selected audience. "We received that fantastic short film of Greenaway today", said Festival director Norbert G. Suchanek. "We have decided that Atomic Bombs on Planet Earth will be the Opening Film of the 2nd International Uranium Film Festival May 2012 in Rio de Janeiro!"

Source and contact: Marcia Gomes de Oliveira, Urânio em Movi(e)mento
Rua Monte Alegre 356/301, Santa Teresa - Rio de Janeiro/RJ, CEP 20.240-190, Brazil.

Movimento Urânio em Nisa Não

Uranium mining in Africa: radioactive revenues

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

For African countries, the revenue derived from the uranium mining operations of multinational corporations is -despite the high price of uranium- minimal, uncertain and volatile. The financial agreements that these countries make with the uranium producers regarding their share in the profits are the primary reason for this state of affairs. This is the conclusion of a new report from WISE and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO): Radioactive Revenues: Financial Flows between Uranium Mining Companies and African Governments.

The report Radioactive Revenues analyses the financial aspects of uranium mining in the main African uranium producing countries -Namibia, Niger, Malawi and South Africa- and examines the activities of the four largest multinational uranium mining companies in Africa: the French AREVA group, the English-Australian Rio Tinto, the Australian Paladin Energy and the South-Africa-based AngloGold Ashanti.

Currently, one-fifth of all uranium worldwide is mined in Africa, and production is expected to double in the next two years. Nevertheless, uranium mining remains an uncertain source of revenue for African countries given the unstable price of uranium and the dependence on corporate profits.

The predictability of revenues
The most important revenues for host states from uranium mining in Africa are corporate income taxes, selling rights, mining royalties and, to a lesser extent, employment taxes, but there is a great deal of difference between the predictability and stability of these sources of revenue. Selling rights and royalties are generally more stable than corporate income tax as they do not depend directly on the profits of the mining companies, which can be highly volatile. The revenues from mining royalties depend primarily on uranium prices on the world market, but also on agreed prices and quantities in long-term contracts signed with customers.

Of all of the potential sources of revenues, those related to corporate earnings are the most volatile. These sources include corporate income tax (a percentage of taxable profits), taxes on dividends, and benefits from holding a stake in the mining company (dividend, retained earnings). These revenues are affected by uranium prices, production costs and by companies being able to reduce their corporate income tax liability through mechanisms that compensate them for losses in earlier periods and/or through the accelerated depreciation of investments.

In general, corporate income taxes may be further reduced by multinational corporations through the use of intra-group transactions that move their costs and earnings to jurisdictions where the corporate income tax rate is most favourable to the company. This study does not investigate the use of such (legal or illegal) tax avoidance/evasion mechanisms, but the frequent use of these mechanisms by multinational corporations in general likely reduces the contribution of corporate income tax as a source of revenue for host states and contributes to its unpredictability.

Niger’s right to sell a percentage of the uranium produced directly on the global market uranium provides an additional and somewhat stable source of revenue for the Nigerien government. This revenue stream is of course dependent on the market price.

Uranium prices
Many of the sources of revenue for host states depend heavily on the price of uranium on the world market. The period 2007–2009 was somewhat unique in this respect. During the period 1990- 2003, prices were much lower. Beginning in 2004, prices rose sharply, peaked in 2007, and have been slowly decreasing since then, although 2010 saw prices rise again slightly over 2009 levels.

The high prices during the 2007–2009 period caused earnings and profits of mining companies to rise as well. As a result, revenues for the host states from mining royalties and corporate income taxes increased as well. However, there is no guarantee that prices will not fall back to the low levels seen during 1990–2003, which would mean a significant reduction in revenues from royalties and corporate income taxes.

Changing regulations on revenues for host states
The study finds that some African host states have recently moved to strengthen their financial regulations on uranium mining in order to receive greater revenues from these operations. In 2007, Namibia decided that uranium mining companies should pay royalties of 3% of sales. In 2010, South Africa introduced mining royalties of 1.75% of gross sales when profits are 10% of gross sales.

However, the move that has been the most remarkable in generating additional revenues for the host state has been Niger’s acquisition of uranium selling rights, first negotiated with AREVA in 2007. During the years 2007, 2008 and 2009 the revenues received by the Nigerien government from this revenue stream amounted to Euro 9.1 million, Euro 27.5 million and Euro 20.9 million respectively. From 2013/2014 onwards, the Imouraren mine, with AREVA as the main shareholder, will enter into production. The government of Niger will have the right to sell 33.35% of the uranium produced, which is estimated to reach 5,000 tons annually. Also, for the existing mining operations by SOMAÏR and COMINAK, since 2010 Niger has the right to sell uranium according to its stake in the mining company (i.e. 36.6% and 31%, respectively).

Comparison of taxes and other contributions
Per kilogram of uranium sold, the study finds that Paladin in Malawi and AngloGold Ashanti in South Africa pay less taxes and other financial contributions than Rio Tinto in Namibia and AREVA in Niger. With a relatively low percentage of mining royalties to be paid and many opportunities for Paladin to reduce its corporate income tax in the early years of operations, Malawi is not expected to obtain much revenue from Paladin’s uranium mining operations if uranium prices decline. However, given the physical and operational differences between mines (e.g. uranium ore grade, capacity, production costs, lifetime, etc.), it is difficult to make a judgement about the regulations relating to revenues for the host states with regard to each mining operation.

In the period 2005 – 2009, the revenues received by Niger from the AREVA-owned mining operations amounted to Euro 225 million. In the same period, Namibia received Euro 181 million in revenue from the Rio Tinto-owned mining operations. A notable difference is the royalty rate, which is 3% in Namibia and 5.5% in Niger. In the period 2005 – 2007, Namibia received more revenue than Niger from corporate profits, but Niger has been catching up through the acquisition of selling rights.

Transparency of companies
Of the four companies reviewed in the study, Paladin appears to be the least transparent. It is the only company in the research that does not support the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and was the only company unwilling to answer requests for information for this study. Payments such as employment taxes and customs duties could not be found in its annual reports, while payments of corporate income taxes and royalties were not listed on a country-by-country basis.

Rio Tinto is transparent with regard to taxes and other contributions to the Namibian government by its majority owned company Rössing Uranium. Rio Tinto, along with AngloGold Ashanti, reports its tax payments on a country-by-country basis. AREVA cooperates in the EITI-related process of comparing company payments and government revenues in Niger. Among the four countries examined in this report, Niger is the only one that participates in the EITI.

The agreements (investment contracts) that uranium mining companies sign with host states can have a law-making function and often include tax exemptions and stabilization clauses. Such mining agreements are generally not made public. Paladin has signed a mining agreement with the government of Malawi, including tax exemptions and a clause which guarantees that the company will not face any increase in taxes or other contributions in the coming ten years. The fiscal details of this mining agreement have been made public. For Niger, most fiscal details of such agreements could be found without gaining access to the mining agreements themselves. The agreements between AngloGold Ashanti and South Africa and Rio Tinto and Namibia did not seem to contain specific clauses on taxes and other contributions that differ from national laws.

Source: Radioactive Revenues. Financial Flows between Uranium Mining Companies and African Governments by Albert ten Kate & Joseph Wilde-Ramsing. SOMO, WISE 2011.
The report can be downloaded at:

In the shadow of Fukushima: Australia's new uranium debate

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Dave Sweeney

The continuing disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear complex is sending shock waves through the Australian uranium industry. Australia is home to around 40% of the world’s uranium reserves and currently supplies around 20% of the global market from three commercial mines. The sector is dominated by large scale multi-national companies with BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto responsible for over 90% of production. Recent years have seen a strong industry and federal government push to greatly expand the sector with aggressive promotion and exploration programs and a range of political and financial assistance measures.

Despite this support the uranium industry remains fiercely contested with wide spread and sustained opposition from environmental and Indigenous groups and a high level of community concern. In this context images of exploding reactors and technicians dressed in protective suits running radiation counters over bewildered children have damaged the industry’s perception and strengthened the resolve of opponents to uranium mining.

The market has reflected this new sense of concern with steep falls in the share value of particularly the smaller, dedicated or aspirant uranium companies. While industry promoters like the Australian Uranium Association remain upbeat about the sector’s prospects many brokers and market commentators are cautious or sceptical about the sector’s opportunities for growth. Economics Professor John Quiggan from the University of Queensland colourfully captured this mood describing the sector as reflecting “zombie economics” – unhealthy but refusing to die.

The political response to the new landscape has been disappointing with the avidly pro-nuclear federal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson describing uranium mining as “a fact of life” and pledging further support to the sector while Prime Minister Julia Gillard has spoken of “business as usual” and actively promoted the Australian resource sector on post Fukushima visits to Japan, China and Korea.

The renewed attention is coming at a pivotal time for the Australian industry. Despite strong opposition the industry is pushing hard to expand both existing and new operations. Despite the Rio Tinto owned Energy Resources of Australia’s Ranger uranium mine in the World Heritage listed Kakadu National Park region having to suspend mining and processing operations following severe contamination threats posed by heavy rainfall ERA is continuing to push for an expansion of the troubled mine, including through the use of a controversial acid leaching technology.

The world’s biggest mining company BHP Billiton is also pushing ahead with their plan to open a massive new open cut operation at its Olympic Dam/Roxby Downs site in northern South Australia. The mine plan would see Olympic Dam become the world’s largest uranium project and is linked with extensive and adverse impacts on water quality and consumption and the generation of enormous volumes of perpetual pollution in the form of mine tailings.

In the shadow of Fukushima Australian opponents to uranium mining have been active on the streets, the airwaves and cyberspace pushing for a renewed national debate on the costs and consequences of the nation’s involvement in the nuclear trade and a halt on the export of the material that leads to leaking tailings dams at home and fuels radioactive waste and leaking reactors internationally. They are gaining increasing support for their call that our global energy future needs to be renewable not radioactive but Australian resource politics is a game with high stakes and hard players and the struggle remains an active work in progress.

Source and contact: Dave Sweeney, Nuclear Free Campaigner, Australian Conservation Foundation
Adress: Floor 1, 60 Leicester St, Carlton Vic 3053, Australia.
Tel: +61 3 9345 1130

Uranium mining issues: 2010 review

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Peter Diehl

For the thirteenth 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.

During the first half of the year 2010, the uranium spot market price, as published by Ux Consulting (UxC), decreased from US$ 44.50 to 40.50 per lb U3O8. It then increased to 62.50 per lb U3O8 at year end, 40% above the value at the beginning of the year, but still far below the unprecedented June 2007 peak of 136 US$ per lb U3O8. The long term average price, as published by Cameco, recovered from US$ 61 to 66 per lb U3O8.


- Moratoria:
The Canadian province of Québec declined a uranium mining moratorium, dismissing a petition signed by 14,000 supporters. Greenland relaxed its zero-tolerance uranium policy for exploration licenses, thus enabling continued exploration work at the Kvanefjeld rare earth/uranium deposit.

- Environmental opposition against exploration:
Uranium exploration projects continued to draw opposition at a number of locations:

  • at various sites in the Canadian province of Québec,
  • in the Tallahassee area in Colorado, USA,
  • near the Grand Canyon in Arizona, USA,
  • in the Syunik province in Armenia (where a demonstration of 2,000 was held in November), and
  • in Balpakram National Park in India's Meghalaya state.

In Argentina, a High Court halted a uranium project in the UNESCO World Heritage area Quebrada de Humahuaca in Jujuy province.

- Violations at exploration sites:
At several uranium exploration sites, violations were found and, in some cases, even prosecuted:

  • Uravan Minerals Inc. was ordered to clean up its Sand Lake exploration camp site in Nunavut, Canada;
  • Titan Uranium Inc was fined CDN$ 85,676 for burning hazardous waste in northern Saskatchwan, Canada;
  • Ur-Energy Inc. paid a US$2000 penalty for multiple violations identified at its Lost Creek uranium exploration site in Wyoming, USA; and
  • Mesteña Uranium LLC was cited for well plugging deficiencies at its exploration wells in Texas, USA.

- Positive preliminary economic assessments:
Positive preliminary economic assessments were announced for more than a dozen of proposed uranium mining projects. As most of these assessments were based on uranium prices on the order of US$ 60 per lb U3O8, while the actual spot price was hovering close to US$ 40 during the first half of the year, the anti-uranium activist could hardly suppress a smile. Towards the end of the year, however, with the uranium spot price reaching just that level, the smile migrated to the mine developers.

Positive preliminary economic assessments, preliminary feasibility studies, or scoping studies were announced for the following uranium mine projects:

  • Daneros underground mine in Utah, USA;
  • Dewey-Burdock in situ leach mine in South Dakota, USA;
  • Coles Hill mine in Virginia, USA;
  • Sheep Mountain mine in Wyoming, USA;
  • Lance in situ leach mine in Wyoming, USA;
  • Centennial in situ leach mine in Colorado, USA;
  • Colibri II/III mine in Peru;
  • Marenica open pit mine with heap leaching in Namibia;
  • Madaouéla underground mine in Niger;
  • Nyota open pit mine in Tanzania;
  • Kvanefjeld rare earth/uranium mine in Greenland;
  • MMS Viken open pit mine in Sweden; and
  • Ambassador mine in Western Australia.

The Etango low-grade uranium mine project in Namibia only just reached feasibility at a uranium price of US$ 60 per lb U3O8, and this only, after the size of the already huge 400 m deep open pit had casually been doubled from 3 by 1 km to 6 by 1 km.


License applications for new uranium mines were actually filed for the following projects:

  • the North Trend and Three Crow Expansion projects of Cameco's Crow Butte in situ leach mine in Nebraska, USA;
  • the Dewey Burdock in situ leach mine in South Dakota, USA;
  • the Ludeman in situ leach mine in Wyoming, USA; and
  • the by-product extraction of uranium at the Talvivaara nickel/zinc mine in Finland.

Uranium mining licenses were issued for:

  • the Palangana in situ leach mine in Texas, USA; and
  • the Moore Ranch in situ leach mine in Wyoming, USA

Projects currently under development, or being prepared for development:

In Canada:

  • Areva's Kiggavik project in Nunavut;
  • Cameco's Cigar Lake project in Saskatchewan, where underground development resumed after the water inflow had been stopped;
  • Cameco's Millennium project in Saskatchewan;

In the USA:

  • the Dewey-Burdock in situ leach mine project in South Dakota;
  • the Coles Hill mine project in Virginia, where studies were commissioned from several sides to assess possible impacts;
  • the following in situ leach projects in Wyoming: Ludeman, several satellites to the Christensen Ranch / Irigaray mine, Lost Creek, Moore Ranch, Nichols Ranch, JAB/Antelope, Jane Dough, Reno Creek, Lance, Ross, and Gas Hills

(in March, the U.S. EPA raised concern about potential contamination of aquifers from the planned deep disposal wells for three Wyoming uranium in situ leach projects; also in March, the U.S. Interior Department said the sage grouse deserves - but won't get - protection [!], a matter of concern for the JAB/Antelope projects);

  • the Sheep Mountain conventional uranium mine project in Wyoming;
  • the Piñon Ridge uranium mill in Colorado;
  • the Centennial in situ leach mine in Colorado, where the water table will have to be raised to leach the part of the uranium ore zone that is located above the groundwater level (!);
  • the Daneros underground mine in Utah;
  • the Churchrock/Crownpoint in situ leach mine in New Mexico, where court decisions further paved the way for a production start in 2013;
  • the Roca Honda underground mine in Cibola National Forest, New Mexico;
  • Denison's Arizona 1 mine in Arizona, where mining started in January;
  • Denison's Pinenut, Canyon, and EZ mines in Arizona;
  • the Apex mine in Nevada;
  • the Goliad in situ leach mine in Texas;
  • the Palangana in situ leach mine and Hobson processing plant in Texas, where production started in November/December.

In South America:

  • the Colibri II/III uranium deposit in Peru;
  • the Sierra Pintada and Huemul mines in Argentina;

In Africa:

  • Areva's Imouraren uranium mine in Niger, where startup has been deferred and is now expected end 2013;
  • the Chinese-owned Azelik mine in Niger, where working conditions caused unrest in March and China produced its first overseas uranium in December;
  • the Adrar Emoles open pit mine in Niger;
  • the Madaouéla underground mine in Niger;
  • the Mkuju River uranium project in Tanzania, where production was to start at the end of the year, and Russia's Atomredmetzoloto announced in December to take it over;
  • the Faléa mine in Mali;
  • Denison's Mutanga project in Zambia, where mining is to start by 2012;
  • the Njame uranium deposit in Zambia, where mining is to start "once price behaves";
  • Areva's Trekkopje uranium mine in Namibia, where death of aquatic life was observed near the desalination plant in April, and where the second stage pilot scale operation was taken into operation in July;
  • the Etango open pit mine in Namibia;
  • the Marenica open pit/heap leaching mine in Namibia;
  • the Husab (formerly Rössing South) dual open pit mine in Namibia, where miscalculations in the EIA report underestimated radon doses by a factor of one million (!);
  • infrastructure projects for the uranium industry in Namibia, such as two chemical production plants for reagents required for the uranium mining industry, improvements of power supply, and a second desalination plant;
  • DRDGold's East Rand gold mine in South Africa, where plans for uranium production were put on hold;

In Europe:

  • the Kurisková mine in Slovakia;
  • the Salamanca uranium mine in Spain, where a plan for reopening was announced;

In Asia:

  • the Dornod mine in Mongolia, where Russia's Atomredmetzoloto mysteriously replaced majority owner Khan Resources Inc.;
  • Areva's Dulaan Uul deposit in Mongolia, where underground heap leach tests started in December;
  • the Kylleng-Pyndemsohiong-Mawthabah mine project in Meghalaya, India, where the state government is concerned about the negative impacts, while India is no longer in a hurry to mine uranium in Meghalaya, as imports now ease the supply problem;
  • the Gogi uranium mine and mill in Karnataka, India, for which UCIL seeks clearance and for which it expects not "any significant radiological impact";
  • the Tummalapalle uranium mill in Andhra Pradesh, India, which is to start operation by March 2011;
  • three underground mines and a uranium mill in the Lambapur area in Andhra Pradesh, India, for which UCIL is seeking clearances for construction;
  • Cameco's majority-owned Inkay in situ leach mine in Kazakhstan, where production started;
  • the Bandar Abbas mine in Iran, where domestic uranium production started, and
  • the Saghand mine in Iran that is to start operation soon;

In Australia:

  • the Wiluna, Yeelirrie, and Lake Maitland open pit mines, and Cameco's Kintyre open pit mine in West Australia, where protests against the uranium industry were held at several locations and occasions;
  • the Oban ISL mine in South Australia, where a uranium field leach trial started;
  • the Honeymoon in situ leach uranium mine in South Australia, where commissioning began in April;
  • the Beverley North Extension and Mullaquana in situ leach mines in South Australia.

In Australia's Northern Territory, however, the uranium industry stumbled upon a number of difficulties:

  • Toro Energy Ltd abstains from the planned acquisition of the Napperby uranium deposit for marginal feasibility;
  • the Traditional Owner of the Koongarra uranium deposit wants the land comprising the deposit to be added to the Kakadu National Park;
  • Traditional Owners say, the mining companies are exploiting language barriers; and
  • the Northern Territory government withdrew the support for the development of the Angela Pamela uranium mine.

Alternate uranium recovery projects
By-product recovery of uranium from mining primarily for other ores is planned for two projects:

  • at the Talvivaara nickel/zinc mine in Finland, and
  • at the Radomiro Tomic copper mine in Chile.

By-product recovery of other elements from mining primarily for uranium, on the contrary, is the goal of technology Toshiba is developing for the recovery of rare earths from uranium in situ leach mining in Kazakhstan.

The recovery of residual uranium from existing uranium mill tailings deposits is planned at four sites in South Africa:

  • the Mine Waste Solutions Buffelsfontein tailings project, which had its environmental authorization for the planned "super dump" (dam for the secondary tailings left from the recovery process) temporarily withdrawn, and is now to be commissioned by May 2011;
  • the Rand Uranium Cooke tailings dump project, where one of several sites considered for a "super dump" was dropped after protests of residents, and the project later was found to be not feasible at current uranium prices;
  • the AngloGold Vaal River area surface tailings project; and
  • the Gold Fields Ltd Witswatersrand tailings recovery project;

The recovery of uranium from seawater may become cheaper with a new absorbent tested in Japan.


- Planned expansion of existing mines and mills:

  • Key Lake uranium mill in Saskatchewan, Canada;
  • North Trend, Three Crow, and Marsland Expansions of Cameco's Crow Butte in situ leach mine in Nebraska, USA;
  • Denison's Pandora mine in La Sal, Utah, USA, where groups filed a suit to stop the project;
  • La Sal Mines Complex in Utah, USA;
  • Rosita in situ leach mine in Texas, USA;
  • AngloGold's South Uranium plant in South Africa;
  • Rössing mine in Namibia;
  • Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia, for which groundwater abstraction cannot supply enough water;
  • Turamdih uranium mill in Jharkhand, India, where protests lead to the scrapping of a public hearing in October;
  • Ranger mine in the Northern Territory, Australia, opposed by Traditional Owners;
  • Olympic Dam mine in South Australia, opposed by environmental NGOs;
  • Beverley North Extension project of Beverley in situ leach mine in South Australia, got federal and state approval in December;

- Environmental issues at operating mines and mills:
In Saskatchewan, Canada, environmental monitoring revealed a sharp increase of uranium loads in lake sediments near the Rabbit Lake mine in the years 2007-2008, similar to the increase observed in 2002-2003. The 2009 data showed some decrease, but the uranium loads remained above the "probable effects level".

In Wyoming, USA, Cameco Resources paid a US$13,000 fine for failure to report an excursion at its Highland in situ leach mine. At the idle Christensen Ranch in situ leach mine in Wyoming, the U.S. NRC requested further groundwater cleanup efforts at inadequately restored mine sections.

In Colorado, USA, Cotter Corp.'s currently closed Schwartzwalder uranium mine was found to contaminate groundwater near a Denver Water reservoir. Cotter Corp. defied state orders to clean up the contaminated mine water and even sued the state over the cleanup order. The state imposed a US$55,000 penalty, which was later increased by an additional $39,000. Mining regulators also ordered Cotter Corp. to address heaps of toxic uranium ore at the mine site.

Cotter Corp moreover announced to willfully neglect the EPA requirement to conduct radon measurements at its Cañon City uranium mill tailings impoundment in Colorado. Cotter Corp. apparently is determined to contest Areva's long-held No. 1 rank as the most irresponsible uranium mining company.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) released a report on health hazards at the residential area of Lincoln Park near Cotter's Cañon City uranium mill site. The agency found that drinking contaminated private well water over many years may have put some Lincoln Park people at risk for health effects. While most people in Lincoln Park are now on the public water supply and thus no longer exposed, ATSDR recommends that people still using private well water in Lincoln Park stop using it for household purposes.

A citizens group filed a lawsuit accusing Colorado regulators of failing to require Cotter Corp. to set aside enough money to clean up its uranium mill in Cañon City. Colorado Citizens Against Toxic Waste (CCAT) filed the lawsuit in Denver District Court against the state health department and others. It says the department has estimated it will cost at least US$43 million to decommission and decontaminate Cotter's mill, which is a Superfund site, but the state let Cotter set its financial surety at just $20.2 million.

The company, on the other hand, disputes a state order requiring Cotter to adjust its US$2.6 million surety to US$9.9 million to cover groundwater monitoring at the Cañon City uranium mill site.

In Arizona, USA, mining at Denison's Arizona 1 uranium mine started in January. In May, however, the U.S. EPA said the mine was operating illegally, as the company did not secure the necessary federal approval before ventilating the mine or testing emissions. In June, a court denied a Preliminary Injunction to suspend operations at the mine; environmental organizations had claimed that potential impacts on endangered species had not been considered.

In Brazil, wells near the Caetité uranium mine were closed for excess radiation levels.

In Niger, Areva took action to clean up the radiation spots identified by Greenpeace in the streets of Akokan, near Areva's Akouta underground uranium mine. In September, Niger citizens filed a class action in USA against Areva for damages suffered by the State of Niger and the inhabitants of the area of Niger where Areva operates its uranium mines.

On December 17, a dam failure of a retention basin spilled 200 cubic meters of uranium-containing liquids at Areva's Arlit open pit mine in Niger.

In Namibia, experts of the Geologic Survey of Namibia and Germany's Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources called for an end of groundwater abstraction for the purposes of uranium mining and processing; the experts rather recommend the construction of a second desalination plant.

In November, a railcar destined for the Rössing uranium mine in Namibia spilled sulfuric acid after a derailment.

Uranium miner Paladin Energy Ltd refused the disclosure of its carbon footprint. The company operates the Langer Heinrich mine in Namibia and the Kayelekera mine in Malawi.

In South Africa, a burst of the Cooke gold/uranium tailings dam on December 18 sent toxic mud into the Wonderfonteinspruit river.

In Russia, a court ordered the Krasnokamensk uranium mill to stop local lake pollution. Due to insufficient waste water treatment capacity, the concentrations of zinc, phosphate, phenol, oil products, iron, magnesium, sulphates, nitrates and several other dangerous admixtures exceed the permissible standards.

In Kazakhstan, ranchers complained about the impacts of the Karamurun uranium in situ leach project on cattle. Affected residents in the Shieli region demanded the creation of a commission to investigate the situation.

In India, Uranium Corporation of India (UCIL) was served a notice for illegally drawing river water at its Jaduguda uranium mine in Jharkand.

In Australia, uranium concentrations in tailings seepage at the Ranger uranium mine in the Northern Territory were 5400 times background, and the regulator says it will be impossible to rehabilitate the site. The reported uranium concentration in the seepage (27 mg/l) is slighthly higher than that to be used for a uranium byproduct recovery project in the Talvivaara nickel/zinc mine in Finland (see above) - coincidentally announced the same day...

In June, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) conceded after two months of denials, abnormal salt levels found in Kakadu creek were caused by the Ranger mine. An ice core from the Antarctic was found to bear traces of uranium that may have been carried by the wind from Australian mines in 1995, according to a glacier expert.

- Miners' health issues at operating mines and mills:
In Utah, USA, a uranium miner died on May 26 in a rock fall accident in Denison's Pandora mine. The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) cited the mining company for inadequate worker training and failure to test a tunnel wall for loose rock.

In Malawi, Paladin Energy Ltd ordered miners to work in its Kayelekera mine in spite of shortage of dust masks.

In South Africa, a miner died on November 16 in a fall-of-ground accident at the Ezulwini gold/uranium mine.

In South Australia, workers are exposed to unsafe levels of radiation at BHP Billiton's Olympic Dam mine, according to a company whistleblower. The whistleblower reportedly produced documents that show BHP uses manipulated averages and distorted sampling to ensure the figures are below the maximum exposure levels set by government.

In Australia, the Electrical Trades Union (ETU) in Queensland and the Northern Territory is banning its members from working on uranium mines or within the nuclear energy industry. ETU secretary Peter Simpson says corporate interests and political leaders are trying to bribe workers with the promise of high wages while denying the health risks of uranium mining.

- Other issues at operating mines and mills:
In Saskatchewan, Canada, a Federal Court dismissed an application by the Athabasca Regional Government to review the license renewal for the McClean Lake mine and mill.

In Wyoming, USA, Uranium One Inc. acquired Areva's idle Christensen Ranch and Irigaray uranium in situ leach mines. Subsequently, a majority in Uranium One Inc. was acquired by Russia's Atomredmetzoloto, making these mines plus the new Moore Ranch in situ leach mine the first Russian-owned uranium mines in the U.S.

In December, the U.S. NRC authorized the restart of the Christensen Ranch/Irigaray uranium ISL mines.

Brazil's minister of defense, Nelson Jobim, rejected IAEA inspections of uranium processing plants and restrictions on sale of uranium to third countries. The IAEA urges Brazil to sign an additional protocol that imposes controls on the commercialization of uranium and establishes inspection of the processing plants.

In Niger, Areva restarted uranium recovery from low grade ores by heap leaching at its Arlit mine. On September 16, seven foreigners, including one Areva employee, were kidnapped in the uranium mining town of Arlit.

In Namibia, a water crisis in Swakopmund affected also the uranium mines. Paladin Energy Ltd, operator of the Langer Heinrich mine, targets first uranium deliveries to China in 2011. In October, Paladin reported a doubling of the ore reserves at the Langer Heinrich deposit.

In South Africa, the uranium plant at the Ezulwini gold/uranium mine was temporarily closed in August for repair works.

In Kyrgyzstan, the Kara-Balta uranium mill stopped operations because of unstable deliveries of the Kazakh raw material.

In Kazakhstan, Mukhtar Dzhakishev, former head of state uranium company Kazatomprom, was sentenced to 14 years in jail for theft and corruption.

In Jharkhand, India, Uranium Corporation of India Ltd (UCIL) seeked assistance against protests from people displaced for the Jaduguda mine: In wake of frequent demonstrations by displaced people seeking compensation in the form of job and financial aid, the UCIL management approached the district administration and sought safety and security help. The agitators often stage dharnas [method of seeking justice by sitting at the door of one's debtor or wrongdoer and fasting until justice is obtained] and demand job and cash compensation from time to time.

In Australia, Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) downgraded the production target for its major Ranger mine from 5240 to 3900 tons, due to "disappointing ore grades".

The breakdown of the Olympic Dam mine ore haulage system in October 2009 caused losses of more than US$ 200 million; a computer failure was identified as the cause. In July, protesters blocked a road to the Olympic Dam uranium mine.

Participants and observers of a protest at the Beverley uranium mine on May 9, 2000, were awarded compensation; the protesters had been beaten, capsicum-sprayed and locked in a shipping container by police.


In Saskatchewan, Canada, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) ordered the Saskatchewan Research Council to assess and eliminate continued safety risks identified during an inspection at the former Gunnar mine site.

In Arizona and New Mexico, USA, plans were prepared to deal with the hazards of at least a few of the many abandoned uranium mines in these states.

Near Johannesburg in South Africa, an announced environmental disaster took its course, when on January 27 acid mine water started overflowing from abandoned West Rand gold/uranium mines. The river of acid mine water threatens, among others, the Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site. If no adequate measures are taken by end 2011, acid mine water will start to decant even in central Johannesburg (!).

This is, however, not the only problem left from 120 years of mining in South Africa: tailings seepage is of concern at many sites; an informal settlement was built on radioactive mine waste (!), leading to high radiation exposures of the residents; and a brick factory produces bricks made from radioactive tailings (!).

A surveillance report prepared by the Nuclear Regulator on the radiological impacts of mining wastes in the Wonderfonteinspruit Catchment Area is full of errors and raises many questions.

In Saxony, Germany, cleanup of the 1954 (!) Lengenfeld uranium mill tailings spill started in April. In Thuringia, however, other than in Saxony, there still is no management program for abandoned legacy uranium sites that are not covered by the federal Wismut cleanup program. In view of several incidents, a local environmental group urged the reassessment of the Thuringian legacy uranium sites.

In Ukraine, independent environmentalists detected high radiation levels at an abandoned uranium mine in the Dnepropetrovsk region. The contaminated site is being used for livestock.

In Kyrgyzstan, after two decades of discussions, finally, preparatory work started for relocation of two of the most dangerous tailings dumps at Mailuu Suu.

In Kazakhstan, an analysis of plant samples documented contamination in the surroundings of the former Aktau uranium mines.

In Australia's Northern Territory, a recreation reserve was closed due to radiation from the former Rum Jungle uranium mine.

In New South Wales, the cleanup of the former Hunters Hill uranium mill site located in midst a suburb of Sydney faces indefinite delay; plans to move the contaminated material to a landfill near Penrith have been abandoned after protests from the Penrith Council.  


In the Northwest Territories, Canada, the cleanup of the former Rayrock uranium mine site was found to be incomplete - 13 years after it supposedly was completed; moreover, the tailings cover was already deteriorating.

In Nebraska, USA, Cameco again requested an enormous extension of the period of groundwater restoration at an exhausted section of its Crow Butte in situ leach mine, extending the period of groundwater restoration to nine years - far beyond the regulatory requirement of 2 years.

In Wyoming, the U.S. NRC approved relaxed groundwater standards at the Split Rock uranium mill tailings site.

At the Bear Creek tailings site, uranium concentrations in groundwater were found to exceed predicted values more then tenfold.

In New Mexico, the failed groundwater cleanup at the Church Rock tailings site is nothing but an administrative problem, according to its previous operator United Nuclear: compliance could easily be achieved, if EPA and NRC issued the requested waivers and alternate concentration limits. At the surface, the company again demonstrated its incapability to even keep the site fences in proper condition, so inspectors had to chase three cows, this time.

At Grants, Homestake offered to plug (!) contaminated private wells near its uranium mill tailings site; and in July, a tailings evaporation pond breached during heavy rains; in September, Homestake had to repair the cover on the side slope of the tailings pile after high rainfall events; and in December, a review report identified numerous deficiencies with ongoing groundwater cleanup at the site.

At the Bluewater mill site, uranium concentrations in a monitoring well are found to be increasing and are expected to exceed the standard soon.

In Colorado, at the disposal site of the relocated Grand Junction uranium mill tailings, the rise of uranium concentrations in groundwater beyond standards did not alarm custodian DOE. Moreover, in Grand Junction, uranium mill tailings underneath roadways still pose a problem.

At the Maybell tailings disposal site, during an inspection, another claim stake was found - this time on top of the disposal cell (!), making DOE's efforts to achieve safe disposal for a period of 1000 years look ridiculous.

At the disposal site of the relocated Durango uranium mill tailings, rising uranium concentrations in a monitoring well caused concern; however, the groundwater standard miraculously is no longer exceeded.

At the Old Rifle processing site, the chosen groundwater management strategy of natural flushing turned out not to function as predicted; any alternative approaches still have to be evaluated.

In Utah, the relocation of the Moab uranium tailings is progressing well; it is however feared that the project could lose two thirds of its funding by 2012.

In Arizona, a radiological assessment of stained soils at the former Monument Valley, Arizona, uranium mill site found no elevated risk - if you stay away 99.86% of the time.

In Argentina, the Supreme Court ordered the cleanup of the San Rafael uranium mine site, before mining can restart.

In Gabon, the NGO Brainforest called for an independent study on the radiological situation in Mounana, where Cogéma/Areva mined uranium until 1999. In September, the European Parliament commissioned a study on the use of radioactively contaminated material from uranium mines in building construction in Gabon and Niger. In October, Areva launched the "Mounana health observatory" to study the impact of uranium mining at this site on the health of former workers, in particular.

In Spain, the decommissioning of the Quercus uranium mill was deferred in expectation of a restart.

In France, the inspector of the DREAL authority called for an improvement of the water treatment at Areva's Bellezane tailings site in the Limousin area, where excessive uranium concentrations were found in creeks.

In Romania, an ecological group has initiated some monitoring of uranium mine waste dumps that are still awaiting rehabilitation in the Ciudanovita area.

In Ukraine, the State Nuclear Regulation Committee assessed the technical conditions of the Zheltiye Vody and Dniprodzerzhynsk uranium mill tailings ponds as satisfactory.

In Australia, a study found that the rehabilitation of the Rum Jungle mine in the Northern Territory has "clearly failed" after just two decades; in particular, the study criticized the exclusion of polluted groundwater from rehabilitation and the poor design, construction and/or performance of engineered soil covers - both leading to increasing acid drainage impacts on the Finniss River.

In West Australia, high radiation levels were found at the former Lake Way uranium mine; and, children were found accessing an old uranium site in Kalgoorlie.


A study found no increase in cancer incidence among residents at the former Homestake Grants, New Mexico, uranium mines and mill other than that attributed to mine work.

A study found decreases in white blood cell counts and alterations in systolic blood pressure among residents in the vicinity of the former Fernald Feed Materials Production Center in Ohio, which functioned as a uranium processing facility from 1951 to 1989.

A study found association between cerebrovascular diseases mortality and cumulative radon exposure in a French uranium miner cohort.

A study found excess chromosomal aberrations in Kazakh uranium mine/mill workers.


The Colorado Legislature passed the Uranium Processing Accountability Act that will force uranium mills to clean up existing messes before launching new projects.

The Colorado Division of Reclamation, Mining and Safety (DRMS) approved new rules to protect groundwater during in situ leach uranium mining; these rules carry out state legislation passed in 2008. Powertech Uranium Corp., the proponent of the Centennial in situ leach uranium mine, is suing the state claiming the rules are unlawful and unreasonable.

The U.S. NRC issued a proposed rule to ease restrictions on commencement of construction before a license is issued.

An investigation by journalists revealed that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) spent two decades under-reporting radiation levels in local water supplies, which helped water districts avoid fines, but exposed residents to potentially harmful radioactive elements. Hundreds of water providers near the Gulf Coast had delivered drinking water containing radioactive contaminants, all with the blessing of state officials, using a reporting method that came to be known as "Texas math." The TCEQ also regulates uranium mines in Texas.

Zambia has established safeguarding guidelines for uranium and regulations for uranium mining

Namibia's government declared its determination to permit uranium mining in protected areas: Mining Commissioner Erasmus Shivolo said no mines would be prohibited from protected uranium-rich areas given the industry's economic value.

 Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) commissioned by the Namibian Ministry of Mines and Energy calls for a government policy to prevent the Namibian uranium 'rush' from turning into a uranium 'crush'.

In November, Namibia started the development of a "uranium policy" covering not only uranium mining, but the entire nuclear fuel cycle (!); the policy is being developed with assistance from Finland, which has no uranium mines (!).

The government of France plans to weaken the regulatory scheme for uranium mill tailings: deposits of radioactive mining residues, including uranium mill tailings, shall no longer be licensed as "installation nucléaire de base" (INB), but as the less tighter regulated "installation classée pour la protection de l'environnement" (ICPE).

The German legislator approved a 10 µg/L drinking water standard for uranium, which is lower than WHO's provisional guideline value of 15 µg/L, but still higher than the 2 µg/l demanded by some environmentalists.

The Slovak parliament, in response to a petition against uranium mining signed by over 113,000 people, finally agreed on legal changes in the geological and mining laws. The changes are giving local communities, municipal and regional authorities more information access and powers to stop or limit exploration of uranium deposits and to stop proposed uranium mining. All 41 municipal authorities influenced by proposed uranium mining already have declared that they do not agree with proposed uranium mining in their territories.

Australia throws a cloak of secrecy over its uranium exports: for the year 2009, Australia for the first time no longer reports the destination of its uranium exports by country; the latest report only shows data by continent: "Individual country information is not provided in order [to] protect commercial confidentiality".


- Uranium trade
Canada signed a nuclear agreement allowing uranium exports to India, and Cameco signed an agreement to supply uranium to China.

Kazakhstan signed a nuclear technology and uranium supply pact with Japan, and Kazatomprom signed a uranium supply contract with Chinese companies.

Australia ratified an agreement that allows uranium exports to Russia, but Australia still abstains from exports to India.

France released a report making the material flux of nuclear fuel production more transparent.

The Bern Canton government demanded to establish a legal requirement for full disclosure of the origin of the uranium used in Swiss nuclear power plants, after utility BKW was inable to trace back the origin of the uranium used in its Mühleberg reactor.

According to a report prepared by professional services firm Ernst & Young, bauxite and uranium are the two minerals most affected by fraud and corruption.

- Proliferation issues and uranium trafficking
The Brazilian police discovered 450 kg of contraband uranium ore.

Brazil rejects IAEA inspections of uranium processing plants and restrictions on sale of uranium.

Congo armed groups are forming criminal gangs, trafficking uranium, among others, a UN report says.

DR Congo signed a nuclear proliferation deal with the USA.

Iran assists Guyana with uranium prospection and intends to prospect for uranium in Bolivia.

Iran's 15% stake in the Rössing uranium mine in Namibia is causing headaches in view of the U.N. sanctions imposed on Iran. The mine's majority owner Rio Tinto, however, declared "that it believes to be complying with the current United Nations requirements."

Reporters of a dissident radio station have collected files and photographs which suggest that the ruling junta of Myanmar (Burma) is mining and experimenting with uranium with the aim of one day creating a bomb.

The Indonesia House demanded an inquiry into alleged uranium mining by Freeport in Papua.

- Foreign exploration and mining investment and cooperation
Major uranium consumers without sufficient domestic uranium resources have developed frantic activities to get access to uranium resources abroad:


  • Through the acquisition of Uranium One Inc., Christensen Ranch and Moore Ranch have become the first Russian-owned uranium mines in USA;
  • Moscow and Ukraine are in talks about a uranium mine project at Novokonstantinovskoye;
  • Rosatom has applied to develop Namibia's Rössing South (Husab) uranium deposit, although the project is currently owned by Australian explorer Extract Resources Ltd;
  • Russia and Bangladesh signed an agreement on the exploration and development of uranium deposits, among others;
  • Russia and China consider the joint exploitation of uranium deposits in Africa;
  • Russia signed an agreement with Kuwait on nuclear cooperation, uranium exploration and mining;
  • Russia and Mongolia signed an agreement on the development of the Dornod uranium deposit in Mongolia, although the project is currently majority-owned by Canadian explorer Khan Resources Inc.;
  • Russia acquired the owner of the Mkuju River uranium project in Tanzania;


  • Jordan and Areva signed a mining agreement for uranium resources in Central Jordan;
  • French utility EDF plans a partnership with Russia's Rosatom, including uranium mining;
  • Areva is interested in developing Tanzania's uranium deposits;
  • Areva is in talks with DR Congo over possible uranium exploration at Shinkolobwe;
  • France and Mongolia signed an agreement on nuclear cooperation, uranium mining.


  • Malawi signed an agreement with India on uranium exploration;
  • India plans to mine uranium in Mongolia;
  • Russia offered India a stake in the Elkon uranium field;
  • India is seeking participation in uranium exploration in Namibia;
  • India's Nuclear Power Corporation and Uranium Corporation is to form a joint venture to acquire uranium mines abroad;


  • China and Uzbekistan signed an agreement on uranium cooperation;
  • China and Mongolia signed a Memorandum of Understanding on nuclear power cooperation;
  • Russia invited China to join the exploitation of Russian uranium deposits;
  • Russia and China consider the joint exploitation of uranium deposits in Africa;
  • China's uranium miner CNNC and the China-Africa Development Fund plan to develop uranium resources in Africa;
  • Marenica Energy Ltd secured key Chinese funding to progress further Feasibility Studies of its Namibian uranium project;
  • Areva is ready to give Chinese access to the Imouraren uranium mine in Niger;
  • a Chinese entity takes a controlling stake in the owner of the Kanyika niobium-uranium project in Malawi;
  • China produced its first overseas uranium at the Azelik mine in Niger;


  •  Japan joined a uranium exploration project in Queensland, Australia;
  •  Japanese companies are to participate in the development of uranium deposits in Kazakhstan;
  •  Jordan signed an agreement on nuclear cooperation and uranium exploration with Japan;
  •  Japanese company JOGMEC signed a mineral exploration deal with Tanzania;


  • Korean companies are keen on a stake in the Rössing South (Husab) uranium mine project in Namibia;
  • Korea Resources Corp signed an agreement on the development of the Valencia uranium deposit in Namibia;
  • Korea Electric Power Corporation is to invest into the Salamanca Uranium Project in Spain.

Earlier annual mining reviews can be found in Nuclear Monitor issues 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.

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

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

Source: The Guardian (UK), 20 December 2010

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

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

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

Source: World Nuclear News, 12 January 2011

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

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

NIRS,, 23 December 2010

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

Kyodo, 17 December 2010

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

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

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

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

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

Guardian (UK), 13 January 2011

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

African NGO's trained on uranium mining issues

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Fleur Scheele, WISE Amsterdam

Continued interest of international uranium mining companies in the possibilities of extracting uranium from African soil has attracted the attention of non-governmental organizations worldwide. Many organizations work both individually and in groups on uranium mining in various African countries. In November 2010, a training week for NGOs was organized on the issue in Tanzania. An extremely diverse group of African and non-African experts and organizations joined and shared their knowledge and strategies in order to obtain information and inspiration for further action on uranium mining in Africa.

Representatives from 21 organizations from 9 African countries were present during the training week. All of them have had experiences with international mining companies working in their countries, whether this be in exploiting or exploring uranium resources. Some, such as a few Namibian and Nigerien NGOs, have been working on the issue for years, whereas others have only recently been confronted with uranium exploration and/or exploitation, as is the case with the Central African NGOs.

The training week was organized and partially paid by WISE Amsterdam, and was co-financed by various international organizations: Cordaid, NIZA, Eirene, SOMO and OxfamNovib. Other organizations, such as CRIIRAD, Greenpeace International and the Australian Conservation Foundation kindly contributed by allowing some of their uranium mining experts to be present as trainers in Tanzania.

Aims and background
The backgrounds of the participating organizations appeared to be remarkably diverse: they work on development issues, poverty alleviation, labor rights, human rights, peacekeeping, nuclear issues, and/or environment. A few of these organizations do not necessarily aim at stopping uranium mining operations, but would rather impose boundary conditions on uranium mining. They wish to ensure that local communities can give consent on whether or not uranium mining should take place on their land, that public participation is taking place during every step of the mining processes, that rights of local communities are respected, and that the communities at the very least gain significant economic benefits.

Most organizations, however, prefer to avoid any kind of uranium exploitation in their countries and keep the standpoint ‘Leave Uranium in the Ground’. Experienced NGOs claim that many years of uranium mining worldwide have shown that the expectations of great economic development and increased welfare do not actually become a reality for local communities. In the long term, uranium mining does not provide a single benefit for communities. The promises often made by governments and companies have proven to be empty. This view was clearly expressed by Australian activist Dave Sweeney when he quoted Aboriginal Senior Traditional Owner Yvonne Margarula: “None of the promises last, but the problems always do.“

Tanzania, being one of the countries where international companies are now eagerly exploring uranium resources, proved to be a suitable host for the uranium training week: many Tanzanian NGOs, journalists, and members of parliament showed their interest by attending and actively contributing to the training week. They had mostly been invited by the Foundation for Environmental Management and Campaign Against Poverty (FEMAPO). FEMAPO has already been working in the Bahi district of Tanzania, where currently uranium exploration is taking place. They have worked with the communities of the Bahi district, and has informed them about the environmental hazards of uranium exploration in their region. Like FEMAPO, its sister organization CESOPE is currently working on informing the Tanzanian public and the affected communities. Uranium mining is a substantial threat to the Bahi people, as their livelihoods often entirely depend on their natural environment.

Central African organizations ACAPEE and OCDN, as well as some other Central African NGOs which did not attend the training week, are critically following French multi-billion dollar corporation AREVA. Assisted by several foreign organizations, they put pressure on their government as well as on the company to increase transparency of revenues and mining contracts. Also the necessary Environmental Impact Assessment is critically being followed by ACAPEE.

Central African citizens are not familiar with uranium mining and the public is not informed about its hazards. The capital-based NGOs try to improve their communication with the Bakouma community, in whose region AREVA is exploring uranium. Communication is difficult in the Central African Republic (CAR) due to limited infrastructure, the remoteness of many areas, and differences in languages. Therefore, NGOs in the CAR not only scrutinize the most prominent decision-makers, but also continuously search for the best strategies to inform the public, such as by gathering with other NGOs, trying to find ways to physically reach the remote area of Bakouma, and using radio stations.  

Cameroonian organizations CED (Centre for Environment and Development) and RELUFA (Reseau de Lutte contre la Faim, the Network of Poverty Alleviation) showed impressive material on their campaigns in Cameroon. They have provided villagers in exploration areas with GPS devices and training on GPS use. Thus equipped, the villagers can create their own village maps, on which land use is indicated. Sacred sites, agricultural land, rivers: anything can be included in these maps. After mapping the region, the maps can be used as a tool for discussions with the company as the villagers can point out exactly what land is important to them. CED and RELUFA do not only wish to empower the villagers and lobby at government and industry, they also strongly feel the need to do baseline studies on soil, water, and air and will soon start measuring radiation levels with their newly acquired Geiger-Mueller counter.

Several NGOs from Nigers capital Niamey were inexperienced on uranium mining issues and learned much about radiation, company structures, and social issues. They have all decided to start spending more time on the issue and to start informing the public in their country. Niger has seen uranium exploitation for several decades. This has had impacts on the country’s geography, economy, and environment. However, the communities are not well-informed on radiation, and the general public has not benefited from uranium revenues. ROTAB, a network of organizations for transparency and budgetary analysis, is working on the international Publish What You Pay campaign and has lately been paying much attention to the extractive industries in Niger. GREN, which also aims at the extractive industries, also participates in the PWYP campaign. In the past, these organizations focused  on gold and oil extraction in Niger. The international peace advocacy organization Eirene is active in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, and is now planning to start working on uranium mines with the organization GENOVICO. All have decided to increase their attention for uranium mining.

Organisation Aghir-in-Man was also present during the training. This NGO is based in the mining community of Niger and has worked exclusively on uranium mining over the past years. Aghir-in-Man has worked with several international NGOs in the past, whereby the last successful collaboration was with Greenpeace International and CRIIRAD, who published a report on the environmental pollution around Niger’s uranium mines in 2010. Aghir-in-Man draws attention to the issue internationally, but also organizes meetings with local communities on practical issues. As a result of meetings where women were informed about the dangers of washing their husbands’ dirty mineworkers clothes from the mine, women now refuse to wash uranium-contaminated clothes. The dusty clothes, that can contaminate people internally, are now being washed by the company at the mine.

In Malawi, the recently opened mine of Australian firm Paladin Energy has drawn attention of ActionAid Malawi and Citizens For Justice. They are keeping an eye on the developments in their country. Paladin Energy proves to be very non-communicative towards civil society: both the country offices in Malawi and Namibia and the headquarters in Australia have not responded to repeated WISE requests for interviews or email contact. That Paladins first concern is not its corporate social and environmental responsibility is not surprising if one keeps in mind the words of its CEO John Borshoff: “Australia and Canada have become overly sophisticated. They measure progress in other aspects than economic development, and rightly so, but I think there has been a sort of overcompensation in terms of thinking about environmental issues, social issues, way beyond what is necessary to achieve good practice.” Keeping in mind the shocking environmental pollution and neglect of Aboriginal rights in Australia by the uranium mining companies, Borshoff’s explanation that this Australian situation is already beyond ‘good practice’ makes one fear for Paladin’s corporate behavior when working in Africa. Not only has Paladin Energy managed to obtain very favorable contracts in Malawi, so that people’s rights are not guaranteed and the Malawi state does not make much profit from mining, the mine is also based close to Lake Malawi, upon which many people depend for its water and food. Activists fear contamination of the lake. CFJ and ActionAid try to inform and assist local communities and will do more research on a rumor about illegal nuclear transports from Malawi to Namibia. They are also keen on doing more radiological measurements themselves, something they have already done with river water recently.

Meanwhile, Earthlife Africa is working hard in South Africa and Namibia. Both countries have to deal with mine waste from uranium- and other mines, communities that are being exposed to radiation, and authoritarian governments that ignore the concerns of civil society. The limited knowledge of the public on mining hazards, along with a repressive political culture in both countries, proves it difficult for Earthlife and other NGOs to force governments and industry to mitigate environmental and social problems. Other countries can learn from South Africa’s problems when it comes to managing abandoned mines. South Africa has a long mining history: gold, platinum, chrome, manganese, diamonds and other metals were and are being exploited on a large scale. This has left behind a legacy: today, there are over 6000 abandoned mines in South Africa. These are not only dangerous to enter; they also cause great environmental problems. Many of them fill up with extremely acid water which contaminates ground water and river systems, and they have toxic and radioactive mine waste stored next to them. As the mining companies which owned them are no longer existing, the abandoned mines have now become the responsibility of the government. The extent of the problems, the impact on environment and communities, and the associated costs are so high that the government is reluctant to start working on tackling even the most urgent problems. South Africa’s Federation for a Sustainable Environment and Earthlife are continuously battling to hold the authorities accountable. The campaigns of FSE have long been neglected, but the lobbying now seems to have drawn some national and international attention to the issue and the issue is being discussed in parliament – these first steps can provide the South African NGOs with some hope.

Namibian human rights organization NamRights has observed Namibia change from a new and promising independent country, proud of its independence and wealthy with natural and human resources, into a country where government is letting its wealth being exploited to the benefit of a few individuals in the highest ranks of industry and government. A study by Labour Resource and Research Institute LaRRI in 2008 has shown that mineworkers in the Rossing uranium mine are suspecting their illnesses are related to their occupation. However, there is no possibility for them to go see a specialized medical doctor who is independent from the mine, and any claims towards company Rio Tinto are therefore no option. Unfortunately, government lacks the means and the willingness to carry out proper radiological measurements, and does not assist the sick people. There might be a role for NamRights to draw attention to these ill workers and community members, and remind Namibia’s uranium-keen government that they have a greater responsibility than just to attract wealthy international corporations to Namibia.

Inspired by the numerous examples of successful activism the NGOs will continue to work individually and together on uranium mining. Every country needs to find its own solution. Yet international NGOs can support, motivate, and strengthen one another. All NGOs mentioned in this article are more than willing to share their information and thoughts with you. Please contact them if you wish.

For freely available reports on uranium mining in Africa, please contact NIZA, SOMO, and WISE. WISE is preparing a full report of the training week, including all presentations. A copy can be obtained via WISE in January 2011. Also, SOMO and WISE are about to publish a report on revenues for African states, and will distribute an extensive publication on African uranium mines and their social and environmental impacts by February 2011.

Source: Fleur Scheele, WISE Amsterdam
For more information, contact: Marieke van Riet, WISE Amsterdam

Earthlife Africa

R.E.C.A. and compensating Navajo Nation U-miners

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

In a new book, “Yellow Dirt. An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed”, award-winning environmental journalist Judy Pasternak follows four generations of Navajo families in a uranium mining area. She chronicles the cultural stoicism that prohibited them from complaining for so long about the alarming rates of cancer deaths, the betrayal of trust by corporate and government interests, the growing awareness of the tragedy visited on them in the name of national security, and the efforts to fight for restoration.

The crime story in "Yellow Dirt" develops around early tensions within the Atomic Energy Comittee. Pasternak quotes AEC safety inspector Ralph Batie telling a Denver Post reporter in 1949: "Definite radiation hazards exist in all the plants now operating." Batie was ordered to "keep your mouth shut." Jesse Johnson, the liaison between Washington and the mining companies, cut Batie's travel budget and strong-armed him into transferring out of the area. Pasternak writes that "Johnson simply would not allow uranium to pose a distinct peril of its own; he would not let cancer be an issue."

Sixty years later, while U.S. Congress considers amendments to the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA)  which would specifically allow compensation to workers exposed after 1971, make qualification for benefits easier to obtain, incorporate additional exposure testing and apply to those exposed to fallout from nuclear testing in more geographical areas, additional RECA coverage efforts are in the works.

One movement seeks to expand RECA to cover members of the Navajo Nation who were workers or children of workers in the uranium industry. Navajo workers and their descendants have experienced unique and devastating effects since uranium mining began on or near reservation lands.

Uranium Mines on Reservation Lands
As the largest Native American tribe in the U.S., the Navajo Nation covers about 27,000 square miles of parts of New Mexico, Utah and Arizona. Because some of the uranium mines operating during the 1950s and 1960s were located on Navajo reservation lands in these states, many of the uranium mine workers were members of the Navajo Nation and were repeatedly exposed to dangerous levels of radiation. This caused the uranium miners, their families and later generations throughout the Navajo Nation to experience radiation-related illnesses like cancer, kidney disease and birth defects.

In addition, there has been a significant environmental impact on Navajo lands. According to Navajo President Joe Shirley, some uranium mines and milling sites were never properly closed or cleaned up. Residents near exposed areas have experienced sickness from radiation and pollution to the land and water surrounding their homes. This resulted in a tribal decision in 2005 to ban all uranium mining and milling on Navajo lands, but as the cost of uranium rises, companies have been knocking on the Navajo Nation’s door.

Efforts to Expand RECA
The Navajo Nation Dependents of Uranium Workers Committee has led a grassroots effort in recent years to aid the children of Navajo uranium miners who suffer ongoing effects related to radiation exposure. This group claims that many Navajo people who would otherwise be eligible for RECA coverage cannot get the help they deserve because the medical records from 50 or more years ago they need as proof no longer exist.

In past meetings with the Navajo nation about the continued effects of uranium mining, U.S. Senator Tom Udall has stated that “he is committed to continuing a dialogue on the effects of uranium mining on Navajo people and to seek justice for those who have been harmed.” His recently proposed amendments to RECA could benefit many members of the Navajo nation.

In addition to adding areas of coverage and including post-1971 workers, the RECA amendments could help the Navajo by allocating funds for further research on the impact of radiation exposure to workers, their families and communities. They could also allow RECA claimants to use affidavits in place of non-existent records and grant more compensation and medical benefits to eligible victims.

Respect and Support
Navajo President Joe Shirley continues to fight for RECA amendments, a moratorium on uranium mining in the U.S. and help with addressing the reservation environmental issues. The first step in compensating the Navajo people exposed to radiation and uranium activity who need help today would be for Congress to pass the proposed amendments, which are currently awaiting a hearing before the Senate or House Judiciary Committee.

Source: and “Yellow Dirt. An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed”, written by Judy Pasternak, Sept. 2010, Free Press.  317 pp. ISBN 978-1-4165-9482-6

For more information look at the Navajo Justice Page at:

Navajo Attitudes Toward the Resource. In the Navajo creation story, there is mention of uranium. Uranium - called "cledge" - is from the underworld, and is to be left in the ground. According to the creation story, the Navajo were given a choice between yellow corn pollen and uranium. In Navajo belief, the yellow corn pollen possesses the positive elements of life. The pollen is prayed for and carried in medicine bags. Uranium was thought of as an element of the underworld that should remain in the earth. When uranium was released from the ground, Navajos believed it would become a serpent. Evil, death and destruction were seen as the problems the Navajo would face. These problems have become reality to the Navajo since mining began.



In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

EU: ITER budget 2011 cut.
Members of the European Parliament's budget committee on October 4, voted to cut planned funding for the ITER experimental nuclear fusion project in 2011. The budget committee adopted an amendment to cut the ITER budget by 57 million euro to Euro 304.76 million (US$419.77 million) in 2011 in a revision to the EU's research budget. The week before, the parliament's rapporteur on the budget, Polish center-right MEP, Sidonia Jedrzejewska, said it was difficult to find cuts in the research budget because of very tight limits in the long-term budget and the need for proposed increases in areas like entrepreneurship and innovation and other energy-related projects. MEPs agreed to compensate for increases in expenditure in these areas by making equivalent cuts in the ITER budget, based on the assumption that the fusion project, which is running behind schedule, would not need all the funds allocated to it in 2011. This did not go far enough for the Green group, which wants the ITER program scrapped. "The least costly option would be to abandon the project now before the main construction has started at all. All the more so, given the massive doubts as to the commercial viability of nuclear fusion, which even optimistic analysts agree will not be commercially functional before 2050... We are deeply concerned that the Council is planning to throw an additional Eur1.4 billion into the black hole that is the ITER budget in 2012 and 2013," German Green MEP Helga Trupel said.
Platts, 5 October 2010

Canada: 60 million for electricity not produced.
The people of Ontario paid Bruce Power nearly Can$60 million in 2009 to not generate electricity for the province. According to the Toronto based CTV news station, a deal between the nuclear generator, a private company, and the Ontario Power Authority (OPA) sets out a guarantee for a certain amount of power to be purchased -- even if it's not needed; the socalled ‘surplus baseload generation’. The OPA agreed to pay Bruce Can$ 48.33 (US$ 47.67 or 34.48 euro) for each megawatt hour of electricity that was not needed. In 2009, demand for electricity was down in Ontario, largely as a result of the recession. This meant Bruce's nuclear reactors weren't operating at full capacity. As a result, the OPA paid Bruce power Can$ 57.5 million for about 1.2 terawatt hours of electricity that was not produced. A terawatt is a million megawatts. An OPA spokesperson said the arrangement is like having a fire station: “they aren't needed all the time, but one must still pay to keep it open”. A Bruce Power spokesperson said the company is simply fulfilling its side of the deal.
CTV Toronto, 21 September 2010

Australia: no NT Government support for Angela Pamela mines.
Australia’s Northern Territory Government would not support the establishment of a uranium mine at Angela Pamela, 20km south of Alice Springs, it said 27 September. Paladin Energy Ltd, which holds an exploration licence for the Angela and Pamela uranium deposits with joint-venture partner Cameco Australia, says it is “surprised” by the announcement. Although the project is still at the exploration phase, Paladin says it has already spent “many millions of dollars,” relying on encouragement and positive support from the government.  Chief minister Paul Henderson said that the close proximity of the mine to tourist centre Alice Springs “has the very real potential to adversely affect the tourism market and the Alice Springs economy.” According to Nuclear Engineering International, the decision does not mean that the government is against development of uranium mines elsewhere. Ultimately approval for the establishment of a uranium mine will be the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government.
Nuclear Engineering International, 29 September 2010

Kuwait: opposition to nuclear fantasies.
A Kuwaiti lawmaker questioned plans by the oil-rich Gulf emirate to build a number of nuclear reactors for power generation and demanded information about the expected costs. In a series of questions to Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad al-Ahmad al-Sabah on September 22, the head of parliament's financial and economic affairs panel, Yussef al-Zalzalah, asked if sufficient studies have been made on the issue. He also demanded to know the size of the budget allocated for the project and what has been spent so far. In its drive to develop nuclear energy for peaceful use, particularly to generate electricity, the Gulf state set up Kuwait National Nuclear Energy Committee (KNENEC) in 2009 headed by the prime minister. The emirate has signed memoranda of cooperation with France, the United States, Japan and Russia and, in April, upgraded its deal with France to the level of a full agreement.

KNNEC secretary general Ahmad Bishara said earlier in September that Kuwait will sign a fifth memorandum of cooperation with South Korea, which last year clinched a multi-billion-dollar deal with the neighboring United Arab Emirates. Zalzalah also inquired about press statements that Kuwait planned to build four 1,000 MW reactors by 2022, and if sufficient studies were made, and demanded documents related to the issue. Bishara has said Kuwait expects electricity demand to double in 10 to 15 years from the current 11,000 MW, which would make the country face a serious power shortage. KNNEC is conducting a series of studies on the cost of power generation by nuclear energy, setting up legal frameworks, reviews on potential sites for nuclear reactors and human resources, Bishara said. These studies are expected to be completed before the end of the year, and then the KNNEC will make the decision if Kuwait is to go nuclear, he said.

It sounds that even in a country where absolutely no civil society exits, there is still opposition to nuclear power.
AFP, 23 September 2010

Greenpeace takes radioactive waste to the European Parliament.
On October 7, Greenpeace delivered radioactive waste to the door of the European Parliament to remind MEPs in their last plenary session before considering a new nuclear waste law, that there is no solution to nuclear waste. Two qualified Greenpeace radiation specialists delivered four radioactive samples in two concrete and lead-lined containers. Dozens of trained Greenpeace volunteers zoned off areas with tape before handcuffing themselves in rings around the containers to ensure their safety.

Four samples of radioactive waste were collected from unsecured public locations: Sellafield beach in the UK; the seabed at la Hague in France; the banks of the Molse Nete River in Belgium; and from the uranium mining village of Akokan in Niger. Despite their danger, the materials are not classified as radioactive waste when discharged or left in the open environment as they stem from so-called 'authorised emissions' or from uranium mining. Yet, when collected and put in a container, the samples are classified as radioactive waste that needs to be guarded for centuries until decayed. Other nuclear waste, such as that waste from decommissioning and spent nuclear fuel, is even more dangerous and must be stored for hundreds of thousands of years. There is no way of securing this waste over such long time periods with guaranteed safety, and it continues to pile up all over the world.

Parliament will consider a nuclear waste law for Europe in November. But early drafts exclude the type of radioactive waste Greenpeace delivered. Immediately upon arrival, Greenpeace informed the Belgian national waste authority, which is responsible for containing such waste.
Greenpeace press release, 7 October 2010

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Russia to invest heavily in Namibia.
Russia is ready to invest US$1-billion in uranium exploration in Namibia. "We're ready to start investing already this year," the head of state corporation Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, told journalists. Rosatom seeks to compete for projects with global miner Rio Tinto in the African country. Earlier in May, Russia and Turkey signed a US$20-billion project for Moscow to build and own a controlling stake in Turkey's first nuclear power plant.

Namibia, the world's fourth-largest uranium producer, is home to the Rossing mine operated by Rio Tinto, which together with Paladin Energy's Langer Heinrich mine accounts for about 10% of global output. Other firms have been joining the exploration drive, with several new mines due to come on stream in the next five years.

Although Russia plans to spent a lot of money on foreign nuclear projects, it is clear that there is not enough money to realize its domestic nuclear program. As described in Nuclear Monitor 707 the number of reactors planned to be built by 2015 will be cut by 60%. And even that number will be hard to build.
Reuters, 20 May 2010

UK: Decommissioning black hole.
The new U.K. Government will have to find an extra £4 billion for decommissioning and waste management at the UK civil nuclear. Energy minister Chris Huhne said: "as you can imagine, this is a fairly existential problem. The costs are such that my department is not so much the department of energy and climate change, as the department of nuclear legacy and bits of other things." He added that there were "genuine safety issues" so the costs could not be avoided. As a result, the Government is considering extending  the life of some of the UK's oldest reactors as a way of raising extra income for decommissioning. Extending the life of the reactors owned by the NDA would raise extra income. The Wylfa reactor on Anglesey, for example, is due to close at the end of the year, but extending its operating life for another two years would mean £ 500 million (US$ 736 million or 598 million euro) in new revenue. The NDA is also considering extending the life of the Oldbury reactor, first opened in 1968. Any application to extend the life of reactors would have to be approved by safety regulators.
N-Base Briefing, 9 and 16 June 2010

France: Subcontractors not in epidemiological surveys.
French antinuclear network 'Sortir du nucléaire' supports nuclear industry subcontractor and whistleblower Philippe Billard. As a spokesperson of the organisation 'Santé / Sous-traitance' (“Health and Subcontracting”), he has undergone some retaliation measures after having denounced workers exposure to radiation. As a  whistleblower, he’s now treated as persona non grata in nuclear power  plants. His employer refuses to re-instate him at his previous job, in  contradiction with the Labour Inspectorate’s recommendations.

The French antinuclear network “Sortir du nucléaire”, considers Philippe Billard’s ousting as a means to put pressure on whistleblower workers. “Sortir du nucléaire”  decided to bring its support to the workers who, just like Philippe Billard, suffer from the unbearable working conditions imposed by the nuclear industry and undergo irradiation without even receiving appropriate health care.

To protect its corporate image, EDF chose to give subcontractors the most dangerous tasks. These people working in the shadows have insecure jobs and are mostly temporary and/or nomad workers. Every year, 25,000 to 30,000 of them are made to carry out tasks where they are exposed to radiations. This system allows EDF to cover up a huge health scandal, since these subcontractors, who get 80% of the annual collective dose from the whole French nuclear park, are not taken into account in epidemiological surveys! (See: Annie Thébaud-Mony, « L’industrie nucléaire organise le non-suivi médical des travailleurs les plus exposés », Imagine, May-June 2007)

EDF is shamelessly multiplying talks on transparency while hushing up workers whistle blowing about the imminent catastrophe. In the ageing French nuclear park, the accident risk is increasing, all the more since maintenance periods are shortened in order to save time and money. However, the official motto remains “Nothing to report” and short-term profits are more important than common safety and security.
Press release 'Sortir du nucleaire', 31 May 2010

Switzerland: Thousands march against nuclear power.
More than 5,000 people gathered in Goesgen, canton Solothurn, in northern Switzerland on May 24, for a peaceful protest against the continuing development of nuclear energy in the country. The protest had participants from 83 groups in Switzerland, France, Germany and Austria. One of their key points was that Switzerland’s nuclear power plans are preventing the rapid development of alternative energy programs. The demonstration was one of the largest in last years.

Another subsidy for Areva in the U.S.
"As part of a broad effort to expand the use of nuclear power in the United States and reduce carbon pollution," the U.S. Department of Energy has approved a US$2 billion loan guarantee for French nuclear power developer Areva S.A. (owned for about 93 percent by the French State). The loan guarantee will support Areva's Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility near Idaho Falls, Idaho, which will supply uranium enrichment services for the U.S. nuclear power industry. Areva's US$3.3 billion nuclear enrichment facility will use centrifuge technology instead of gaseous diffusion technology that is more common in the U.S. but uses more energy. Areva had filed its application for the guarantee with the Department of Energy in September 2008.

The group can tap the guarantee once its Idaho Falls project has received full approval by the authorities. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is expected to decide sometime next year on a licence for the facility. Areva plans to have the plant in operation in 2014. 

The United Stated Enrichment Corporation (USEC) is also seeking a loan guarantee for its American Centrifuge Project under development at Piketon, Ohio. Following DOE's announcement the consensus would seem to be that 'd be bad news for USEC. But according to USEC spokesman Paul Jacobson that is not the case. Jacobson said USEC was encouraged that DOE recognizes the need for more enrichment services to supply the nuclear needs of the future. He also noted that DOE, as noted in the federal agency's press release, still has another US$2 billion in loan authority available. At one time, USEC was going head to head with Areva for the loan guarantees, and USEC played up the foreign-owned company versus domestic company, etc., but now the company -- on the public front at least -- seems to be focused on the nuclear renaissance and the idea that there's enough demand in the U.S. and abroad to support multiple new ventures in the enrichment arena.
U.S. DOE, 20 May 2010 / Reuters, 20 May 2010 / Atomic City Underground, 21 May 2010

EC: investigation non-compete clauses Areva, Siemens.
The European Commission has opened an antitrust case to determine whether non-compete clauses in civil nuclear technology arrangements between Areva of France and Germany's Siemens violate EU competition rules. The opening of antitrust proceedings on June 2, means that the EC thinks the case merits investigation. EC competition spokeswoman Amelia Torres said an investigation was triggered by a complaint from Siemens after Areva took full control last year of reactor construction and services company Areva NP, a joint venture originally set up by Framatome (which later became Areva) and Siemens in 2001. But non-compete clauses between the two companies remain, even though Siemens sold its 34% stake to Areva last year.

The shareholders' pact between Areva and Siemens for Areva NP is not public, but a French official familiar with it confirmed that it forbids either party from competing with the other in businesses covered by Areva NP for eight years after a potential divorce.

Siemens said in January 2009 that it intended to exercise its option, to sell its 34% stake in Areva NP to Areva and leave the joint venture. A few weeks later, Siemens said it had signed a memorandum of understanding on a nuclear power business partnership with Rosatom, a Russian state-owned nuclear conglomerate. After bilateral discussions failed to produce an agreement on the price at which Areva would buy the 34% stake in Areva NP, the erstwhile partners last year asked an arbitration court to decide the matter.

EC competition spokeswoman Amelia Torres said the investigation would be carried out by the EC at EU-level, rather than by national governments. There is no timescale for the investigation as this depends on the complexity of the case and the extent to which the parties cooperate. Torres said she was not able to prejudge whether a fine would be imposed if the arrangement were found to be in breach of competition rules.
Platts, 2 June 2010

U.K.: Waste costs 'not acceptable' for industry.
The nuclear industry has been heavily lobbying to change proposed charges for managing wastes from nuclear reactors. Papers released under Freedom of Information show how the French company EDF pressed the previous government to change the proposed 'high fixed cost' for managing wastes and the timetable for handing the management of wastes to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority. The previous government made significant changes to the way it proposed changing companies for managing their wastes. It also agreed that responsibility for wastes should pass to the NDA after 60 years instead of the original 110 years. This would reduce the financial liabilities and costs for companies.

EDF told the government the original proposals were "non-acceptable" and made it uneconomic to develop new reactors.
N-Base Briefing 665, 9 June 2010

Chubu delays Hamaoka-5 restart after earthquake.
Japan: The Chubu Electric Power Company has extended the closure of its 1,380-megawatt Hamaoka No.5 reactor by a further two months to the end of July. Chubu Electric said the decision had been taken because the company is still analyzing why the impact of the August 11, 2009 earthquake on the reactor was greater than for other nuclear units. The company explained that, based on this measure of earthquake ground motion, the impact of the tremor was significantly higher than for other reactors. Chubu Electric will report its findings to the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry. It hopes to restart the reactor after METI and other government  agencies have agreed the report and local communities have consented to the restart of the reactor. The restart of the No. 5 reactor was originally planned for the end of December 2009, but pushed back several times.
Power in Asia 555,  27 May 2010

Bangladesh: cooperation agreement with Russia.
The government of Bagladesh has increased momentum for the installation of the country’s first nuclear power plant. The US$1.5-billion project will be built at Rooppur, about 300 kilometers from the capital Dhaka. A committee headed by the state minister for science and information and communication technology, Yafes Osman, has been constituted to implement the project. The 22-member committee, which has the chairman of the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission as its member secretary, will examine funding issues and assess the risks associated with the fiscal arrangements. It will also study nuclear waste management issues. Bangladesh plans to install the 2,000-megawatt plant (for US$1.5billion?) at Rooppur from 2017. It signed a five-year framework cooperation agreement with the Russian atomic energy company Rosatom in May, with the final agreement due to be signed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to Moscow later in 2010.
Power in Asia 555, 10 June 2010

Go-ahead for Urenco's Eunice plant.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has authorized the operation of the first cascade at Urenco's Louisiana Energy Services (LES) gas centrifuge enrichment plant at Eunice, New Mexico. LES is a wholly owned subsidiary of URENCO Ltd. Urenco said the process to bring the plant from construction status to fully operational will begin later in June. The Urenco USA plant (formerly the National Enrichment Facility)  will be the first commercial centrifuge enrichment plant to become operational in the USA. Urenco formally inaugurated the plant in early June. "At full capacity, the facility will produce sufficient enriched uranium for nuclear fuel to supply approximately 10% of the electricity needs for the US", according to the Urenco press release.
Urenco Press release, 11 June 2010

'Uranium is the new asbetsos': Union ban on nuclear work

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
Nat Wasley, Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC)

"We are sending a clear message to the industry and the wider community that vested interests in the uranium and nuclear industries are trying to hoodwink us about this dangerous product and industry,". Strong wording in a press release of the Australian Electrical Trades Union (ETU) who has banned its members from working in uranium mines, nuclear power stations or any other part of the nuclear fuel cycle.

The Australian Electrical Trades Union says uranium is the new asbestos in the workplace. "Corporate interests, and their political supporters in the Labor and Coalition parties, are also trying to buy working families off with high wages, while denying the true short-term and long-term health risks of such jobs". Australia has about 20 per cent of the world's known uranium deposits and the largest known deposits of high-grade uranium ore. The ban will apply to ETU members in Queensland and the Northern Territory and, according to ETU’s Queensland secretary Peter Simpson, other unions will follow its lead and join the campaign against the uranium and nuclear industries.

The Australian Uranium Association says to “be puzzled about the ETU position. Uranium mines are safe workplaces. Mine operators and mine employees work together, using the right equipment and designated procedures, to ensure that radiation exposure is kept to the minimum. That is standard practice in our industry”.

But the ETU seems to be passionate about their move. Simpson; “We are campaigning to have a national anti-uranium policy re-introduced, as in the past. We will take this to the union's National Council and beyond. We don't want nuclear waste, nuclear power or any part of the nuclear cycle.”

The campaign against the nuclear industry is an important renewal of support for the Australian anti-uranium movement by the Australian unions. During the 1970s and 1980s Australian unions were heavily involved actions against uranium mining including the refusal by Australian Railways Union (now the Rail, Tram and Bus Union), Transport Workers Union and the Waterside Workers Federation (now the Maritime Union of Australia) to transport uranium ore.

However this campaign was undermined by the decision by the Hawke Labor government to sharply increase the penalties for unions engaging in industrial activities around social issues. In this context the ETU’s move to ban members working in the uranium industry is both a significant strengthening of the movement and an innovative approach to taking action to support a social movement. It remains  to be seen if the move has any practical consequences for the mining industry. The union has 14.000 members in Queensland and the Northern Territory. The later is home to the Ranger mine, operated by Energy Resources of Australia (ERA), owned by Rio Tinto.

The mine has recently been plagued by several incidents an accidents. Millions of liters of radioactive water from the Ranger uranium mine have flowed into internationally acclaimed and World Heritage-listed wetlands in Kakadu National Park. Traditional owners say they will oppose plans for a huge expansion of the 30-year-old mine by ERA, unless the company upgrades outdated environmental protection procedures. ERA has tried to play down an alarming and unexplained spike in contamination in water flowing from the mine into Kakadu's Magela Creek between April 9 and 11, 2010

About 40 Aborigines live downstream from a site where a measure probe recorded up to five times the warning level of electrical conductivity, which is a measure of contaminants including uranium, sulphate and radium. Environmental group Environment Centre Northern Territory has been shown evidence showing the spike, which ERA representatives said had originated upstream from the mine and was not ERA's fault. But, asked about the contamination, ERA admitted the source ''could not be determined and investigations are continuing''. ''It is possible that these have come from the Ranger operations,'' it said. ERA's handling of the spike and other environmental concerns about the mine have strained its relations with the Gundjeihmi Aboriginal Corporation, which represents the Mirrar traditional owners.

In another unreported mishap at the mine, in December 2009 a poorly engineered dam collapsed, spilling 6 million litres of radioactive water into the Gulungul Creek, which flows into Kakadu.

Justin O'Brien, the Gundjeihmi corporation's executive officer, said unless the company changes its environmental procedures, the Mirarr will not support any expansion of the mine - that includes a heap leaching plant, a tunnel under flood-plains, a 1000-person accommodation village, 650 evaporation ponds and a one-square-kilometre tailings dam. The expansion, costing hundreds of millions of dollars, would extend the mine's operation to at least 2021.

How much members of the ETU actually do work in the Ranger mine is un-known. But at least the Unions move has sparked a new debate over health issues connected to uranium mining. The campaign of ETU was welcomed by many environmental organisations all over Australia but also by the Northern Territory Branch of the Public Health Association of Australia (NT PHAA) who endorsed the call by the Electrical Trades Union for workers to shun uranium mining. “The ETU Queensland/Northern Territory Branch’s advice to its members that this is an inherently dangerous industry to work in is an honest and correct call. From a health and safety point of view the ETU Branch is doing the right thing by its members."

Radiation unsafe at BHP’s Olympic Dam.
Workers at BHP Billiton’s Olympic Dam are being exposed to unsafe levels of radiation, according to a company whistleblower. The whistleblower produced documents that show BHP uses manipulated averages and distorted sampling to ensure the figures are below the maximum exposure levels set by government. The company had managed to manipulate the sampling by transferring workers, whose exposures were escalating, to a different area, according to South Australian Upper House Greens MP Mark Parnell.

Although he’s been aware of the situation for some years, Mr Parnell said until the whistleblower, who works in the plant, came forward late last year there was no evidence of the practices. When BHP released its environmental impact statement for its planned expansion, Mr Parnell said it showed it was ‘‘business as usual’’ and the company was not proposing any improvements to occupational health and safety standards.
Sydney Morning Herald, 4 June 2010

Sources: / Brisbane Times, 31 May 2010 / / / / The Age, 24 May 2010
Contact: Nat Wasley, Arid Lands Environment Centre (ALEC).


WISEWise Uranium

Argentina: court halts open-pit uranium mine

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

An Argentine high court halted the project of a foreign company to mine uranium in an open-pit mine in Quebrada de Humahuaca in the northern part of the country, declared a World Heritage of Humanity site in 2003, according to local press reports. One year ago, on May 7, 2009, 2000 persons held a protest march from Juella to Tilcara against uranium exploration in the Quebrada de Humahuaca area. It was the second demonstration in a year in the aera, because on July 8, 2008, also two thousand residents of several localities demonstrated against the proposed uranium mine.

After losing their case against the mining exploration permits in the Quebrada de Humahuaca area before the administrative court, the NGO Los Vecinos Autoconvocados de Tilcara filed an appeal with the Superior Court of Justice in San Salvador de Jujuy on May 7, 2009. The decision of the Supreme Court of Jujuy province, handed down in February but made known to the interested parties in April, favored the suit for protection filed by inhabitants and environmentalists of the town of Tilcara, which is near Quebrada de Humahuaca.  It denied an April 2009 ruling by a court of appeals favorable to the interests of the mining company Uranios del Sur, and also obliges the company to show that its project would not contaminate the environment.

“The sentence changed the judicial paradigm in bringing environmental law into mining activities,” Alicia Chalabe, attorney for the inhabitants of Tilcara, told a Buenos Aires daily. She said that “there are many cases” that have been brought in the Argentine provinces “against the negative influence of mining, but the courts always refer to the Mining Code and give no hearing to environmental law.”
The Supreme Court of Jujuy, a province bordering on Bolivia, halted the mining project “until it is shown that there is no possibility or certain danger that the work carried out in the area will cause contamination or environmental damage,” according to the court ruling published in the Buenos Aires newspaper.

The court said that “it is the duty of judges” to immediately “make effective the judicial protection of the reserve and of the collective interests” of the villages near the Quebrada de Humahuaca. In that sense, the ruling said that what must be protected is “the fundamental human right to a healthy, uncontaminated environment, doing whatever is necessary” to secure it.

“It is an absurd contradiction to allow further exploitation, such as open-pit mining, in a reserve declared a World Cultural and Natural Heritage of Humanity site” by UNESCO, it said. The court also warned that the title of World Heritage of Humanity “can be revoked” and if that happened “it would surely damage the tourism infrastructure now in place” in the Quebrada de Humahuaca, a deep, narrow ravine between peaks of the Andes.

Uranios del Sur is a subsidiary of Switzerland-based Uranio AG, the majority shareholder of Canadian mining company Rome Resources Ltd., according to the suit brought by environmentalists and local inhabitants.

Sources: Latin America Herald Tribune, 24 April 2010; WISE Uranium at:
Contact: WISE Argentina

Wise Uranium

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Finland: building nukes for electricity export?
On April 21, the Finnish government proposed two new nuclear power plants. The parliament will make the final decision on the issue earliest in the summer, but most likely in the autumn. On both reactors will be voted separately - there are possibilities to have 2, 1 or 0 new nuclear plants. Building twe nuclear power units would lock Finland's energy consumption to unrealistic, artificially high levels, and are clearly aimed for electricity export. However, Parliament has taken the line that it opposes the construction of generating capacity for export purposes.

Minister of Economic Affairs Mauri Pekkarinen (Centre Party) insisted on April 21, that Finland would adhere to this principle of opposing the construction for export. But the Greens are accusing Pekkarinen of turning his coat on the matter by endorsing two new reactors just a year after saying that Finland’s need for new nuclear energy units was “zero, or one at the most”. “Now he is proposing two units on the basis of the same electricity consumption estimates. This certainly shows how poorly founded Pekkarinen’s proposal is”, Sinnemäki says. The Greens also point out that the forest company UPM, a part owner of TVO, has put forward the idea of electricity exports. “Nobody in Finland -not even the forest industry- has proposed such a fantasy in electricity production that this proposal would not mean export. It becomes clear even in all of the most daring consumption estimates. We simply cannot consume this much electricity.”

Environmental organisations are organizing a large anti-nuclear demonstration in Helsinki on May 8.
Helsingin Sanomat (Int. edition) 22 and 24 April 2010

Japan: Restart Monju expected in May.
The Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor, which was shut down in December 1995 after sodium leaked from the cooling system, is set to resume operations in May.  Fukui Governor Issei Nishikawa signaled his willingness to approve reactivation of the experimental reactor, located in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, during a meeting with science and technology minister Tatsuo Kawabata and industry minister Masayuki Naoshima on April 26. In the 1995 incident, the reactor operator was heavily criticized after it was found to have concealed information about the accident. During the past 14 years or so that Monju has been in limbo, the operator has come under fire for delaying reports on alarm activation incidents and flawed maintenance work.

Under the government's plan, the next stage in the fast-breeder project will be the construction of a demonstration reactor, which is larger than Monju, around 2025. It would be followed by the development of a commercial reactor around 2050. But the outlook for the plan is bleak, to say the least.

Some 900 billion yen (US$ 9.6 billion or 7.3 billion euro) of taxpayer money has already been spent on the construction and operation of the Monju reactor. It will require additional annual spending of about 20 billion yen (US$ 215 million / 162 million euro).

More on the history and current status of Monju and Japan's fast breeder programm: Nuclear Monitor 702, 15 January 2010: "Restarting Monju – Like playing Russian roulette"
The Asahi Shimbun (Japan), 27 April 2010

Belene contruction halted until investors are found.
Belene construction was halted in search for Western strategic investors after Bulgaria dismissed an offer from Russia to finance the coming two years of construction with an option for a complete Russian take-over of the project. The Bulgarian government has opened a tender for a financial consultant to work out a new financial model for the project. This consultant is expected to be chosen in June 2010. On the basis of this new financial model, strategic investors will be invited for participation. After EU Energy Commissioner Günther Öttinger warned Bulgaria for the dependency that a fully Russian Belene project would create, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borrisov made it clear that Belene only will be continued if it can pay for itself and if it is developed under participation of European and/or US partners. Russia was not to expect more than a 25% participation, if any at all. In his straightforward way, Borissov characterised Belene as either a  European project or no project.

On 16 April, it was also announced that the Bulgarian Energy Holding, which was set up in 2008 to create a pool of assets that could lure possible lenders to the Belene project, will be dismantled before summer. Deputy Minister for Economy, Energy and Tourism Maya Hristova said that BEH was set up to the secure the construction of Belene by the assets generated in the holding, "but this is no longer feasible." She told the Bulgarian press agency BTA that the assets of all state-owned energy companies are of lower value than the estimated value of  Belene. Daily Dnevnik announced that there is currently a discussion to bring the electricity  assets of BEH, including the Kozloduy nuclear power plant and the Maritsa East power station under in state utility NEK and the gas assets in a seperate holding.
Email Jan Haverkamp, Greenpeace EU Unit, 26 April 2010

U-price low: "explosive growth in nuclear power hasn't yet happened". 
The spot price of uranium has dropped below US$42/lb (1 lb = 453.59 grams) through in April, down almost US$4 from the 2009 average of US$46 as, according to, weakening demand has depressed transaction pricing. Lyndon Fagan, an analyst at RBS in Sydney Australia, tells Bloomberg that spot prices indeed have weakened in recent months because the explosive growth in nuclear power hasn't yet happened. Current uranium prices are well down from the levels reached in 2007, when the prices spiked to nearly US$140. Supply concerns drove the price up at that time, and while there's no guarantee that prices could once again reach those levels, such past performance does imply that the potential for such dramatic price moves is possible.

Meanwhile, Admir Adnani, CEO of US-based UraniumEnergy, tells Reuters that a renewed focus on nuclear energy and current mining shortfalls are likely to drive prices of uranium, higher in the coming years. "In the next two to three years, we will see a period of rising uranium prices," Adnani says. "There is absolutely no doubt that the nuclear renaissance and the construction of new reactors plus the existing reactor requirements will bring growing demand... and we need uranium prices to be higher for new mines to be built." But in the Canadian province of New Brunswick, for instance, only two companies have done exploration work over the past couple years, a notable drop from the 10 or so firms that were searching for uranium back in 2007, according to the Canadian Department of 

Natural Resources., 14 April 2010 / Telegraph Journal (Canada), 21 April 2010

Regulators investigating Olkiluoto piping.
Nuclear safety authorities in Finland, France, the UK and US are assessing the significance of undocumented welding on primary circuit piping for the EPR reactor under construction at Olkiluoto, Finland. However, Petteri Tiippana, director of the nuclear reactor regulation department at the Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority STUK, told Platts in an interview on April 8, that regulators from those four countries are not preparing a joint statement on the piping quality issue. He reacted on a statement made by a commissioner of French nuclear safety authority ASN,

The piping was manufactured by Nordon, a subcontractor to Areva, the French vendor which is supplying the nuclear part of the Olkiluoto-3 unit under a turnkey contract to utility Teollisuuden Voima Oy. Nordon, based in Nancy in eastern France, is a unit of the Fives group and has long been a major supplier of piping for nuclear power plants. In October 2009, STUK found that small cracks in piping made for the main coolant lines of Olkiluoto-3 had been repaired with welding procedures that were not documented. Tiippana said the piping is still in France and that analysis of the significance of the undocumented welding could be finished within several weeks. STUK will then do final inspections, probably before summer, he said. Until the piping is approved by STUK, it cannot be transported to Olkiluoto.The design of Areva's EPR reactor is under regulatory review for construction in the UK and the US.
Platts, 8 April 2010

Australian uranium for India?
Not that long ago, Australia took a firm stand against selling uranium to India (or any Non-Nuclear proliefration Treaty signatory for that matter): in January 2008, Australia’s new Labor government outlawed uranium sales to India. Stephen Smith, Australian foreign minister emphasizes that in saying in October 2009: “We have had a long-standing principal position which is not aimed at India, it is the long-standing position that we do not export uranium to a country that is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,”

Now, just over a half year later, Australia is planning to change its domestic rules to allow India to import uranium from the country.

India is signing the Indo-US civilian nuclear agreement and many other civil nuclear agreements with different countries. The 46-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) has also granted a waiver to India in September 2008 allowing nuclear fuel from other nations. However, Australia being a member in that group, didn’t allow India to import nuclear fuel from the country. Now, South Australia’s Department of trade & economic development director Damian Papps said Australia would like to amend the current regulations to enable uranium export to India.
Press TV, 14 October 2009 / Spectrum, April 26, 2010

Further increase heavy forging capacity.
Known as a leader in the ultra-heavy forgings required for the highest capacity nuclear reactors, Japan Steel Works set about tripling its capacity and has completed its second press for ultra-large nuclear forgings. It has now completed the ¥50 billion (US$530 million, 390 million euro) first phase of the expansion with the installation of a new forging shop complete with heavy cranes, heat treatment facilities and the necessary 14,000 ton press.

JSW told World Nuclear News that the new shop was the core of the first investment phase and that the second ¥30 billion (US$320 million, 235 million euro) investment round should be completed in 2011. At that point, JSW said, it would have tripled the nuclear capability that it had in 2007 - enough for about 12 reactor pressure vessels and main component sets per year. The increase in capacity should be felt by mid-2012 as new components are planned to emerge from the factories. Muroran also manufactures generator and steam turbine rotor shafts, clad steel plates and turbine casings for nuclear power plants.

While JSW may be the current leader in the global market for large nuclear components, there are several other (Russian, Chinese and South-Korean) manufacturers tooling up to the same levels for domestic supply. Britain's Sheffield Forgemasters and India's Bharat Forge will join JSW as global ultra-heavy suppliers around 2014.
World Nuclear News, 1 April 2010

Switzerland: Canton slams radioactive waste plans.
Plans for a radioactive waste disposal unit in the canton of Schaffhausen has come under fire in a study published by the local government. The National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste outlined two possible sites for the unit: one in Zurich Weinland and one near Sudranden in the canton of Schaffhasusen. That’s just a few kilometers from the city of Schaffhausen, where 80 percent of the canton’s population live and work. The report published on April 21 says a disposal centre would have a detrimental effect on the town of Schaffhausen, and on the development of both the canton’s economy and population. The report estimates it would lose between 15 and 33 million francs in tax revenue a year and the population would drop by up to 5,000 people.
World Radio Switzerland, 21 April 2010

U.K.: Low-level radwaste in a landfill.
Five bags of radioactive waste from the Sellafield nuclear processing facility were dumped in a landfill site after a faulty scanner wrongly passed them as safe. Environment Agency inspectors have found one of the bags but is still searching for the other four at the Lillyhall landfill site near Workington, Cumbria. The bags contained waste collected in restricted areas of Sellafield where disposal of all items, including protective clothing, is strictly controlled because of the risk of radioactive contamination. The error was discovered by a member of staff who became suspicious when a scanning machine declared as safe a bag that had come from the restricted area. Staff checked the machine's records and found that five other contaminated bags had been passed as safe and sent to the nearby landfill site, which handles a mixture of household and industrial waste. A Sellafield spokeswoman was unable to say for how long the machine had been malfunctioning. The waste should have been sent for storage in concrete vaults at the Low Level Waste Repository near Drigg in Cumbria.

The incident may undermine the nuclear industry's plan to save billions of pounds by adopting lower safety standards for thousands of tonnes of low-level radioactive waste from decommissioned reactor sites. Several landfill sites have applied for permits to handle low-level waste.
Times online (U.K.), 26 April 2010

U.K. political parties and nukes.
The political party manifestos for the General Election show no surprises concerning nuclear policies - and they reveal the fundamental difference on nuclear issues between the Liberal Democrats and both the other two main parties. These difference will make for some tough bargaining in the event of a hung Parliament in which no political party has an outright majority of seats.

The Conservatives commit themselves to "clearing the way for new nuclear power stations - provided they receive no public subsidy". The party is also committed to the new Trident nuclear submarine system.

Under the heading 'Clean Energy' the Labour manifesto says "We have taken the decisions to enable a new generation of nuclear power stations" and the party is also committed to the Trident replacement.

The Scottish National Party wants Trident scrapped, rejects nuclear energy and the deep geological disposal of radioactive wastes.

The Liberal Democrats don't want a "like-for-like" replacement for Trident and promise a review of the proposals. They also reject new reactors "based on the evidence nuclear is a far more expensive way of reducing carbon emissions" than renewable energy and energy conservationAccording to the LibDem spokesperson on energy and climate issues, Simon Hughes, the curent government plans for a new fleet of nuclear reactors are based on a "completely foolish delusion". And he added; "they are too costly, wil take too long to build, will require government subsidy and will drain investment away from the renewable energy sector".  He says the party will not soften anti-nuclear stance.

General elections in the UK will be held on May 6.
N-Base Briefing 649, 21 April 2010 /, 26 April 2010

Rand Uranium: no super dump tailings in Poortjie area.
South-Africa: following a successful protest march on April 23 by emerging black farmers and the Mhatammoho Agricultural Union, and the potentially affected landowners against the proposed super dump (centralized tailings storage facility -TSF) Rand Uranium decided to abandon the project. The protest march, the second in a few weeks, took place at the offices of Rand Uranium in Randfontein. Soon after the protest, Rand Uranium, which had proposed to establish the TSF within the Poortjie area on high agricultural land, issued a statement. The last paragraph of the document reads:  "Through the assessments, and in consideration of planning requirements of the City of Johannesburg, Area 45 is not considered appropriate for the long term TSF." The protest was against Site 45 (Poortjie area).  This means, Rand Uranium has abandoned its intention to establish a super dump in the Poortjie area. 

The proposed super dump would contain 350 million tons of uraniferous tailings and will be established on 1 200 hectares of land. The farmers and landowners claim that the public participation process was fatally flawed and that they were not consulted. It would have impacted the Vaal Barrage Catchment, a highly compromised Catchment. In terms of the Water Research Report No 1297/1/07 (2007) only 21% of the Vaal Barrage showed no evidence of cytotoxicy (i.e. toxic to human cells).  The Report suggests that the underlying problems of this catchment are largely due to heavy metals.  It furthermore states:  "It is clear that mining operations, even after they have been discontinued, are still having a major impact on water quality in the Vaal Barrage catchment, to the extent that it can no longer be compared with other natural water systems."
Emails Mariette Liefferink, 21 and 24 April 2010

U.A.E.: First nuclear site named. Braka has been named as the site for the United Arab Emirate's first nuclear power plant. Limited construction licence applications and environmental assessments for four reactors have been submitted.
The Braka site is in a very sparsely populated area 53 kilometers from Ruwais and very close to the border with Saudi Arabia. It is closer to Doha, the capital of Qatar, than to Abu Dhabi about 240 kilometers to the east. Dubai is another 150 kilometers along the coast. The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (Enec) said Braka was selected from ten shortlisted sites, all of which were suitable for nuclear build, on the basis of its environmental, technical and business qualities.

Two requests have been made to the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR). One is for a site preparation licence for the four-reactor power plant to allow Enec to conduct non-safety related groundwork at Braka such as constructing breakwaters and a jetty. The other is for a limited licence to "manufacture and assemble nuclear safety related equipment."  In addition, a strategic environmental assessment for the project has been submitted to the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) addressing environmental impacts and mitigation including for construction work.

But since there is no civil society whatsoever, there will be no independent scrutiny of those documents.
World Nuclear News, 23 April 2010

Contract for ITER buldings.
The Engage consortium has been awarded the architect engineer contract for the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) buildings and civil infrastructures. The contract, worth some €150 million (US$200 million), was signed by the Engage consortium and Fusion for Energy (F4E) on 13 April. F4E is the European Union's (EU's) organization for Europe's contribution to ITER. The Engage consortium comprises Atkins of the UK, French companies Assystem and Iosis, and Empresarios Agrupados of Spain. The architect engineer will assist F4E during the entire construction process, from the elaboration of the detailed design to the final acceptance of the works. The contract covers the construction of the entire ITER complex, including 29 out of a total of 39 buildings, site infrastructure and power supplies.

Seven parties - China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the EU - are cooperating to build ITER, a 500 MWt tokamak, at Cadarache. The partners agreed in mid 2005 to site Iter at Cadarache. The deal involved major concessions to Japan, which had put forward Rokkasho as a preferred site. The EU and France will contribute half of the €12.8 billion (US$18.7 billion) total cost, with the other partners - Japan, China, South Korea, USA and Russia - putting in 10% each. Site preparation at Cadarache began in January 2007. The facility is expected to be in operation around 2018. As part of the reactor's phased commissioning, it will initially be tested using hydrogen. Experiments using tritium and deuterium as fuel will begin in 2026. Much later than expected a few years ago.
World Nuclear News, 15 April 2010