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In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Info request on US waste management company WASTEC Inc.

(April 21, 1992) There are several nuclear waste dumps on the Kola peninsula in the former Soviet Union which are in a sorry condition. I just read that the US company Wastec inc. is interested in taking part in the cleanup process. The company is small and relatively unknown, I have heard, but they claim they have the know-how for such clean-ups.
Is there anoyone out there which has any experience with this company? If so, please send information to the address below. Contact: Bjorn Bore, Nature and Youth Norway, Torggt 34, 0183 Oslo 1, Norway; E-mail: pns:bbore


Leukaemia kills Czechoslovakian children at waste site. For years, in the village of Crossen, Czechoslovakia, local children have played in the old "désaffectées" mines where the Czech army has stocked radioactive waste without any protection. These mines are still wide open. The children died of leukaemia. Some sources, quoted by the French journal Courrier International (28 Nov. 1991) speak of several thousand victims. Silence (France), Mar. 1992


Cantal, France: No to waste. After reading the Desgraupes report published in July 1991, the inhabitants of Saint-Pierre, near Saignes in Cantal, France, learned that the Total Mining Company had left 570,000 tonnes of mining residue containing 7.9 million becquerels of radium-226 at the site. The Cantal mining site was closed in 1986. The Cantal Greens are asking for the inventory of these residues, the levels of emitted radon, and a clean-up of the site. Contact: Les Verts, Salilhes, 15800 Thiezac, France. -Silence (France), Mar. 1992


Second largest fine for polluter/US. Rockwell International has agreed to pay the second-largest fine ever levied by the US federal government against a polluter. The fine of US$18.5 million is for illegal activities at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons production plant. Rockwell pleaded guilty to 10 crimes (five of which are felonies) covering the period 1987-1989, including storing mixed radioactive/ hazardous wastes without a permit and failing to contain those wastes. Rockwell, however, charged that the Department of Energy (DOE) essentially approved of those activities with its emphasis on weapons production and by refusing to provide sufficient funds for Rockwell to deal properly with environmental problems. Rocky Flats has been permanently closed as a production center by the DOE, but clean-up activities are expected to take decades and the plant will continue to need security. The DOE states that savings of US$300 to $400 million - 30% of the $1.3 billion DOE environmental restoration program budget - could be made annually by cutting back on security. Currently, at Rocky Flats, there is a 40% to 60% overhead for security and administrative operations. The Nuclear Monitor (US), 6 April 1992, p.6; Nucleonics Week (US), 5 March 1992, p.3


Karlsruhe experiment fails/FRG. During a long-lasting research program to improve the safety of nuclear reactors, an accident occured at the nuclear research center at Karlsruhe, Germany. The experiment, carried out on 23 March, involved a test to improve the quality of the concrete shield which is supposed to keep the radioactive material inside the reactor building in the event of a meltdown. A concrete box was filled with liquid metal with a temperature of 2,500 ?C. The metal used had the same properties as the material which would be involved in a meltdown, with the exception of the radioactivity. The scientists were monitoring the destruction in an attempt to learn some lessons from it. In an attempt to decrease erosion of the concrete by lowering the temperature, they put water on the outside of the concrete box. Unfortunately, the destruction of the concrete occurred much faster than expected, and when the liquid metal came in contact with the water, water vapour arose and an explosion followed. Nobody was hurt (though there were perhaps some wounded egos), but the damage at the lab was considerable, and it will be closed for some time. Die Tageszeitung (FRG), 24 Mar. 1992


Again, transport irregularities at Lingen/FRG. For the third time in five years, irregularities in fuel transport control were found at the KWU/Siemens plant at Lingen (FRG). On 18 February a container that had been loaded with two bundles of BWR fuel rods at Lingen was sent to Karlstein. Upon arrival at Karlstein, the container was declared to be empty and sent back to the Avanced Nuclear Fuel plant at Lingen. There, however, the container was inspected and found to have 50 fuel rods, half the number originally loaded. Most likely the other half was unloaded at Karlstein. The transport from Karlsein to Lingen had, of course, no license. All transports from Karlstein and Lingen were stopped at 20 February, but only a month later (16 March) they where allowed to begin again, after the factories took some measures to improve the safety and control of the transports. [In 1990 fuel rods containing 129.5 kg Low Enriched Uranium were lost. They were discovered back in Richland (US) six days later. They had also been transported in containers that had been declared `empty'. The result of this was the decision by the EC to order Euratom to monitor nuclear materials security at the ANF-plant in Lingen for four months. And earlier, in 1987, a fuel container that workers had forgotten to empty two years earlier was found elsewhere on the site.] Die Tageszeitung (FRG), 26 May 1990; Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung (FRG), 2 Aug. 1990; Nuclear Fuel (US), 2 Mar. 1992; Die Tageszeitung, 17 Mar. 1992.


Giant opium poppies at Chernobyl. The 30 km wide "unfit for habitation" zone around the Chernobyl accident site is being used to grow opium and marijuana, according to two private drug monitoring groups. "Mountains of radioactive poppies have been seized, but the police are so frightened they are burning the stuff as quickly as they can" according to Jama Agalakova, spokesperson for a Moscow association monitoring the drug problem. She claims some of the poppy heads appear "abnormally large", up to twice their normal size. The International Association to Combat Drug Trafficing and Abuse plans aerial surveys of the area this May. If they find narcotics they are proposing seeding the contaminated zone with land minds to stop growers. International Herald Tribune (US), 30 Mar. 1992, p.1


Appropriate aid? Before the recent Sosnovy Bor accident there had been much talk (but not much action) about western aid to countries with reactors of Soviet design. The French and Germans have been considering a joint approach reportedly designed to retrofit the newer designs (VVER-1000) while closing "more doubtful" older reactors (VVER-440 and RBMK). But, France at least recognizes some political problems with this approach. One French offical said that it will be difficult for western benefactors to "explain the money is being reserved for nuclear safety" in societies where people are starving or badly in need of medical assistance. Nucleonics Week (US), 12 Mar. 1992, p.1


Kozloduy stopped by trembling turbine. Speaking of VVER's, one of the 1000 Mw reactors at Kozloduy in Bulgaria was shut down on 23 February when perso-nnel discovered a strange vibration in one of the turbi-nes. According to an announcement by Radio Sofia, the reac-tor was restarted the next day, after technici-ans took care of the problem. Die Tageszeitung (FRG), 25 Feb. 1992


Germany okay's wiretap and mail reading law. The German parliment has approved a law which gives part of the Ministry of Finance (MOF) the legal ability to tap the phones and open the mail of individuals and groups suspected of exporting nuclear materials illegally. This controversial legislation, which took over a year to pass, is even being criticized by an export control official: "Wiretaps might be authorized by MOF against suspected tax-evaders or others, even though the new law makes it clear that they can be justified for suspected export violations only', one source said. Nucleonics Week (US), 30 Jan. 1992, p.9


Problems with Sweden's reactors. The Swedes, who were so critical of the lack of fire protection at the Ignalina and St. Petersburg plants, turn out to be experiencing exactly the same problems at their own Ringhals and Barsebaek plants. Sweden's Nuclear Power Inspectorate (SKI) recently discovered problems in its Barsebaeck plant, which located 23 km from Copenhagen. According to SKI, the sprinkeler system does not conform to the plant's own safety specifications. This has brought renewed calls from Denmark to shut the plant down. While the Danish newspaper Politiken ran a front page story calling this report "critical and shocking", Kenneth Zander, director of Safety and Quality at Barsebaeck said "None of these criticisms are new to us". Indeed, just the previous month a January SKI inspection at Ringhals discovered an inadequate sprinkler system, live cigarette butts in cable ladders and on valves in the turbine hall, in cable relay rooms, cable tunnels, and in the emergency power room. Nucleonics Week (US), 13 Feb. 1992, p.9; "Chernobyl Day Media Kit", John Hallam, FOE-Sydney, 16 Apr. 1992


23-25 April 1992: Actions in Slovakia to Commemorate Chernobyl. Organized by Friends of the Earth-Slovakia. 23-24 April: Walk from Bratislava to Piestany, together with the Austrian Mothers and Women against Nuclear Energy. 24 April: Meeting and videofilm "Nuclear Energy, a Bad Alternative" in Trnava. 25 April: Meeting in Trnava center, including concert, large-screen video, vegetarian buffet. 25 April: Cycling Against Nuclear Energy, from Trnava to the Jaslovske Bohunice nuclear plant. Contact: Marek Suchomel, Okresny Koordinacny Vybor SZOPK-Trnava, Pribinova 2, 921 01 Piestany, Czechoslovakia; tel: +42-838-22031, 838-21261 or 838-22892.


26 April 1992: Chernobyl Commemoration Day, Sydney, Australia.Anti-Nuclear Rally and Wreath Laying outside the offices of the Australian mining company Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. (ERA). Organized by Movement Against Uranium Mining (MAUM) and Friends of the Earth-Sydney. The focus is shared by a tribute to the victims of Chernobyl and a warning of what could come now that ERA is making plans to try to sell uranium to the Indonesian nuclear power plant which is to be built with Australian government cooperation. Speakers include long-time Australian activist John Hallam. Contact: FOE-Sydney, Suite 8, 134 Broadway, Sydney NSW 2007, Australia; tel: +61-2 281 4070, fax: 281-5216. MAUM, tel: +61-2 212 4538.


May 8-10: The 4th International Baltic Ecological Symposium, Gdansk, Poland. The program is: first day, socio- and philisophical aspects of ecology; second day, chemical pollution; third day, the Chernobyl catastrophe and its aftermath. The organizers of the symposium cannot cover travel costs but will provide free room and board (in a student hotel or private homes). For more information contact: Jerzy Jaskowski, Symposium Secretary, 80-215 Gdansk, Suwalska 6, Poland; tel: +48-58-47 94 90; fax: 58-47 69 01.


July 4 & 5: "Getting at the Truth", the 8th International Conference on Radiation and Health, University Medical School, Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. Issues include: monitoring radiation and health, radiation hazards at home and work, and coping with nuclear accidents. Workshop sessions will provide specialist information on radiatio and monitoring, cleaning up after Chernobyl, radiation hazards including VDUs and food irradiation, and safeguarding nuclear waste. Also included: skill sharing around getting compensation, information technology, statistics, lobbying, international networks and using the media. For full details and booking: Send a stamped addressed envelope to: The Administrator, 8th International Conference on Radiation and Health, Home Farm, Bridle Path, Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE3 5EU England; tel: +44 91 284 4250; fax: 91 261 1182 (attn: John Urquhart); E-mail: gn:mfrisch.