You are here

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

In late March 1990 approximately ten Mongolian protest groups demanded that the Mardai uranium mine,

(April 6, 1990) in northeast Mongolia near the Siberian border, be closed and all uranium export be stopped. A major concern is health effects from radiation in the area of the mine. The mine, which was opened by the Soviet Union in the early 1980's, is believed to now employ about 5,000 Soviet workers. Existence of the mine was a closely held secret up until last year when Mongolian authorities confirmed its location. For many Mongolians the mine is a symbol of 60 years of Soviet neo-colonialism. Svenska Dagbladet (Sweden), 28 March 1990.


A Belauan group, Citizens for Belau Integrity, has launched a drive calling for a three-year moratorium on efforts to resolve the Compact of Free Association issue. The group has begun to collect thousands of signatures throughout Belau, according to Senator Minoru F. Ueki, Chair of the Belau Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and one of the petition drive's organizers. The petition, addressed to the Belau and US governments and the UN Trusteeship Council, says "the time has come for the governments of Belau, the United States and the Trusteeship Council to put the political status issue to rest for a time while we (Belauans) attempt to address the problems that are crippling the credibility and capability of our government." The petition states that Belauans need "an opportunity to rationally consider the alternatives in a relaxed and non-coercive atmosphere." Meanwhile, President Etpison of Belau has wasted no time in securing the vote of 12 of Belau's 16 members of the House of Delegates for a motion which makes way for an amendment to the Constitution. Before it would become effective, the motion would have to be passed by a 75% majority in the senate and be put to the people in a referendum, winning a simply majority in three quarters of Belau's 16 states. The motion is expected to be put to the senate at its next session in the second week on April. Senator Ueki suggests that 75% of the current senators will vote for an amendment referendum. Pacific News Bulletin (Australia), 3 March 1990


Czechoslovakia will end uranium mining by the end of the decade, CSSR officials have said. Uranium production has already been halved over the last three years. The reasons for this phase-out are the lower uranium needs of the Soviet Union, and low prices on the uranium world market and the decreasing uranium yields at many of the major uranium mines of the country. Nuclear Fuel (US), 5 Feb. 1990


The Swedish Nuclear Fuel & Waste Management Company (SKB) has transferred its rights to reprocessing of 550 metric tons heavy metal of spent fuel at Cogema's La Hague plant to eight FRG utilities. In consequence of the abandonment of the Wackersdorf reprocessing plant, West German utilities are negotiating with France and Britain for reprocessing German spent fuel in La Hague and Sellafield. Nuclear Fuel (US), 5 Feb. 1990


Six people, among them two Iraqi, have been arrested in the UK for attempting to smuggle ignition mechanisms for nuclear rockets to Bagdad. It is presumed that Iraq is preparing nuclear loads for the Condor-II rocket which they developed jointly with Egypt and Argentina. The ignition mechanisms are produced by the US concern EC&G in Boston. Leonard Spector, former advisor of the US Senate commission on nuclear proliferation, said that the most important conclusion to be drawn from this affair is that it is now clear that Iraq has a nuclear weapons program, possibly in an advanced stage of development. Warning that Iraq will now possibly try to get hold of ignition mechanisms produced by the USSR, China, or the FRG, Spec- tor criticizes especially the FRG for being unwilling to tighten its export laws in this field. De Volkskrant (Netherlands), 27 March 1990


Last November the US Department of Energy, forced to admit problems at its planned Yucca Mountain site for storage of high-level radioactive waste, delayed the opening date to 2010. Now the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission's own "Waste Confidence Review Group" has raised questions about the need for a high-level dump at Yucca Mountain. The report concludes that the US nuclear power plants have above-ground storage capacity on site with enough space to last until 2025. CCHW Action Bulletin (US) (via Land Leaf, March 1990)


Only one week after the Ontario (Canada) government authorized the "limited sale of tritium to help establish a self-powered lighting industry in Ontario and for certain other specified purposes," workers removed the tritium-powered lights from Toronto's SkyDome stadium. Stadium officials ordered the removal of the lights after a series of television reports featured comments by Dr. Rosalie Bertell of the International Institute of Concern for Public Health. Dr. Bertell expressed concern over improper monitoring of the lights for leakage of tritium. A damaged exit sign at the University of Colorado leaked 23.7 curies of tritium and required a massive decontamination procedure. During the television series, electrical workers at the stadium said that they had voiced their concern over installation and handling of the radioactive lights but were ignored. The tritium lights used at SkyDome were apparently returned to the manufacturer, Self-Powered Lighting Inc., a US company currently being investigated by the US Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for an apparent loss of 2.5 grams of tritium, which disappeared after shipment from Oak Ridge, Tennessee (US). Tritium is a triggering device for nuclear warheads. A hydrogen bomb requires only 4 grams. Health 2000 (Canada), Dec. 1989


On 15 September, citizen and peace groups in Nagasaki, Japan staged protest actions against the port call of the Rodney M. Davis, a US 2,750-ton nuclear capable frigate. The frigate visited the port of Nagasaki in disregard of the opposition of the city's citizens and mayor, Hitoshi Motoshima. On 16 September, some 50 citizens, including atomic-bomb survivors, held an intense protest at Nagasaki Peace Park against the offering of flowers by Commander Roberts and sane crew members of the frigate. Carrying the portraits of atomic-bomb victims, they showed a banner saying "We cannot accept your offer of a wreath from one hand, while you keep your other hand on the trigger of nuclear weapons." Three days before the ship called, Motoshima had sent a note to the US Consulate stating that he would not permit the frigate to call at Nagasaki if it did not submit a certificate verifying that the ship was not carrying nuclear weapons. His statement was based on the resolution adopted by the city council opposing the port calls of nuclear-armed warships and also on the Nagasaki Citizens' Peace Charter established in March of this year, affirming the pledge of Nagasaki citizens to observe the Three Non-Nuclear Principles. Motoshima requested, for the second time, that the prefectural authorities have foreign vessels submit a non-nuclear certificate. He also made a firm request to the government of Japan that "from the point of observing the Three Non-nuclear Principles, which is Japanese national policy, prompt and proper actions to be taken at the US frigate's visit at Nagasaki, in order to clear the doubts of Nagasaki citizens on the introduction of nuclear weapons." The Kobe City government of Japan, with its Port of Kobe, has since 1975 instituted measures to have foreign warships calling at Kobe Port present non-nuclear verification since 1975. After the city's decision, no further visits have been made by the US warships, which used to make frequent port calls. Pacific News Bulletin, Feb. 1990


The US DOE Fiscal Year 1991 budget will include about US $135 million for work on a high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR), which DOE says is necessary as a backup tritium production plant. The money will thus come from DOE's weapons budget, rather than its commercial nuclear energy budget, but, DOE says that a primary reason for building the HTGR is to give a boost to the commercial nuclear industry. The primary tritium production plant would be a heavy water reactor located at the Savannah River Plant, which would be unsuitable for commercial use. The HTGR would be a four-unit modular reactor located in Idaho. The need for a second tritium production reactor is highly debatable; thus DOE is stressing the commercial benefits of building the HTGR. DOE also said its construction schedule for building the plant has been reduced from 16 years to 10-12. This has been accomplished by deciding to build all four modules at once, rather than wait for testing to occur on the first one. Nuclear Monitor (US), 26 Feb. 1990


A growing number of US utilities and industry analysts say they are concerned that the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO), which evaluates all US commercial reactors, in its "zeal" to push nuclear plant operators to "strive for excellence", is contributing to escalating production costs and shoving the nuclear industry toward non-competitiveness. Several utility officials and experts who study nuclear operating and maintenance (O&M) costs said in recent interviews with Nucleonics Week that they now consider INPO, like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, to be one of many cost drivers behind spiraling O&M costs, which have escalated on average about 10% a year over the last decade. While they stressed the value in INPO (so diplomatic, they are), they also said that increasing production costs threaten to make nuclear non-competitive and raise the issue of whether the industry can afford to continue to strive for excellence... Nucleonics Week (US), 15 Feb. 1990


In a letter to members of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), Public Citizen, a Washington DC based research and advocacy organization, urged the agency to close the six nuclear power plants which the NRC designated as "problem plants" on 15 February. The six reactors are: Nine Mile Point-1 and 2 in Scriba, New York; Calvert Cliffs-i and 2 in Lusby, Maryland and; Surry-1 and 2 in Gravel Neck, Virginia. Public Citizen also urged the NRC to develop and publish action plans for correcting safety shortcomings at those reactors it designates as "problem plants". Further, the NRC should make known, publicly, the rules governing the circumstances under which it will suspend a utility's operating license for a nuclear reactors. (The NRC has never developed objective criteria for assessing whether a plant poses a serious enough threat to public health and safety to warrant being closed). And finally, Public Citizen stated that because continued operation of "problem plants" represents a significant risk, the NRC should switch the burden of proof so that "problem plants" do not operate unless their owners can prove them to be safe. Contact: Cleo Manuel or Ken Bossong, Public Citizen, 215 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003, tel: (202) 546 4996 Public Citizen News Release (US), 15 Feb. 1990


Plans for the first radiological study of the entire Marshall Islands have been made following the first meeting of an independent panel of scientists advising the Nuclear Claims Tribunal and the government on radiation matters and nuclear claims. Dr. Steve Simon has been hired to direct the independent radiological monitoring of the Marshalls spelled out in the Compact's Section 177, which provides US $3 million for the work. An international scientific panel will be advising the Claims Tribunal on issues relating to claims filed for compensation. The panel will consult with Simon on the radiological survey which he is responsible for conducting. The group of scientists is defined as an unbiased advisory panel that has no connection with the US Department of Energy. Simon said the survey would focus attention on all the islands, not just the northern islands where the DOE has concentrated its research program. Be expects to begin soil, food and other sampling for laboratory analysis early next year and said his objective is to complete all the survey work in one year's time. However, 14 Marshall Islands senators are calling on the panel to halt the plans which they say will mislead people because there is not enough funding to conduct a thorough study on each of the islands involved. Instead, the senators, who represent close to half the Parliament, are urging the scientists to first obtain all US DOE documents relating to radiation exposure so that the panel can conduct an independent review to be able to specify areas where additional radiation study is needed..."It is becoming more and more obvious to us that we are being asked to fund...a project which could actually prove worse than nothing at all if it results in misleading the people of the Marshall Islands about the true extent of radiation contamination that has resulted from the fallout. This we consider is irresponsible." Pacific News Bulletin, Feb. 1990; Marshall Islands Journal (via Pacific News Bulletin, Mar. 1990)


"Halting Global Warming", by Dr. PM Kelly, published by Greenpeace. According to Dr. Kelly, a researcher at the Climatic Research Unit, School of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, a 30% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by the year 200 is an essential first step towards stabilizing greenhouse gases by 2030. His "stabilization strategy" is an action program for the next 30 years, broken down into decades. He concludes that if emissions are cut in line with this strategy, global warming will be cut almost 60% by 2050, compared to a situation in which no emission cuts are made. He further concludes that every five years of delay in cutting pollution will lead to a 10% increase in global warming, whereas his strategy will result in a stable climate subject only to natural variability by the end of the 21st century. Existing technology can be used to achieve the cuts needed in the decade to the turn of the century. During this period, Greenpeace believes lifestyle changes and technological development would lead to the further reductions required in the early 21st century. Between 2000 and 2010 a further cut of 30% in global CO2 emissions would be needed, with a final 10% cut between 2010 and 2020. At the end of this period, CO2 emissions would have been cut by 70% from present levels. Remaining emissions would be offset by extensive reforestation. To achieve an equal global emission standard (ie. per person), cuts would need to be weighted, meaning more drastic cuts in industrialized countries, where most CcY2 emissions are generated. Contact: Greenpeace UK, 30-31 Islington Green, London NI 8XE, UK, tel: +44-1-359 7396.


European Group for Ecological Action (ECOROPA), a non-political, non-profit-making European group based in Wales, UK, produces helpful information sheets (or leaflets) on various topics. Although some dated from 1981/82, we still find them of interest and value. They are: No.5 Nuclear War - The Facts You Should Know; No.6 Atomic Energy and Nuclear Weapons - The Intimate Connection; Nuclear Power - The Facts They Don't Want You To Know, and; No.16 More Facts You Should Know. Most recently, they have published No.17 Tropical Forests - The Facts You Should Know To Save Them. Prices for No.17 are: (25) UK 3.50 pounds; (50) 6.50; (100) 12.00; Leaflet No.5-14 (100) UK 2.00 pounds and Leaflet No.16 (25) 2.75 and (50) 4.75 pounds. Not all quantities/prices have been listed here. For the full listing contact: ECOROPA, Crickhowell, Powys, Wales NP8 1TA, UK.


"Developing Wind Energy for the UK", by Marcus Rand of the Energy and Environment Research Unit at the Open University (UK), published by Friends of the Earth UK. An investigation of the environmental impacts of wind energy to evaluate their significance. As it is intended for national policy-makers, windf arm developers, local planners, national and local interest groups, local communities where windfarms are proposed, it also looks at mechanisms for involving communities more in the proposed developments so as to establish acceptance within the community. Contact: Friends of the Earth, 26-28 Underwood Street, London N1 7JQ, UK. Cost: UK 3 pounds.


April 23-27: International seminar on "Alternative energetics and energy saving: European experience and Ukraine", Kiev, USSR. Contact: Zelenyi Svit, Secretariat, Kirov Street 51. SU-252021, Kiev, USSR, fax: 7444 2286992, telex: 131453 kobza su (write: "for Zeleni Svit").


April 25-29: 4th East-West consultation, Berlin. Organized by the Dutch Foundation for East-European Environmental Contacts (a coalition of WISE, Friends of the Earth and the Dutch National Environmental Forum). The theme will be "Urban Environment". The first day will be an introduction into East-West networking. Some excursions are planned as a preparation for the discussion on campaigning activities. Organizers are looking for participants working on environmental campaigning within the European environmental movement who are willing to contribute to an active exchange of views and knowledge. Most participants will originate from Eastern European countries. Contact: Dutch Foundation for East-European Environmental Contacts, P0 Box 5627, 1007 AP Amsterdam, The Netherlands, tel: +31-20- 853857, fax: 838955.


April 28: Dutch-German Action to commemorate Chernobyl, to begin at the 11:00 am at the border crossing at Gronau (FRG). Organized by AKU Gronau to unite anti-nuclear efforts in both The Netherlands and the FRG in voicing protest against the expansion of nuclear development and nuclear transport. From 11:55 to 12:05 there will be a border blockade. There will also be information stands, cultural programs, etc. For those individuals or organizations interested in supporting this action, please take up contact with the organizers by April 15. Contact: W. Leuders, Tannenbergstrasse 61, 4432 Gronau, tel: 02562/24837; W. Neumann, tel: 05971/66837 or 12341.


July 24-27: European Meeting Of North American Indian Support Groups, Gelbenholzen near Munich, FRG. The intention of the meeting is to focus on coordination and development of support work strategies, elaboration of actions, and methods of attracting public attention to the problems of Indigenous Nations in North America. A special reader providing information on the cases to be dealt with will be sent to all people who register and pay the conference fee in advance. Proposals are welcomed on new issues as long as information can be provided in advance for inclusion in the conference reader. Workshops are expected to include the struggles of the Lubicon Cree in Canada, and the Lakota and Western Shoshone in the US, as well as generally on uranium mining and Indigenous people. Participants are expected from throughout Eastern and Western Europe. The conference language is English. The conference fee is US $30. Donations to help cover transport costs of Native participants will be deeply appreciated. For more information and to register, contact the meeting hosts: Big Mountain Aktionsgruppe e.V., Franziskanerstr. 36, 8000 Munich 80, West Germany, tel: 089-448 9358.


August 9-12: 6th General Conference of the World Council of Indigenous Peoples (WCIP), Tromsö, (Norway). The main themes center around looking at intergovernmental actions for a better awareness and control of the accelerating collapse of the global environment, and the intention, on the part of indigenous peoples, to identify and define themselves as an integral part of the world. The session will conclude with a 7-day long post-conference tour through Samiland along the Arctic coast and through inland areas. Contact: Nordic Sami Council, SF-99980 Ohcejohka, Finland, tel: +358-9697 71351 or 9697 71276.


EARTH DAY is approaching: Individuals and groups planning activities in connection with Earth Day 1990 on 22 April are asked to please contact the International Coordinators to let them know what their plans are. Contact: Teresa McGlashan and Mark Dubois, International Coordinators, P0 Box AA, Stanford University, California 94309, USA, tel: (415) 321 1990, fax: (415) 321 2040, Eec-net: Intlearthday.