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In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#404
17/12/1993
Article

 

Campaigns

Nuclear power in space:

(December 17, 1993) A national organizing meeting and protest has been called by the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. Place and date: University of New Mexico, Albuquerque NM, USA; 9-10 January, 1994. The particular focus of this event will be upon the continued testing and intended deployment of the Russian Topaz space reactor by US space agencies. Contact the Global Network at P. O. Box 2486, Orlando FL 32802, tel. +1 (407) 422-3479.

No uranium for Indonesia: A campaign has begun to prevent Australia from selling uranium to Indonesia for their planned nuclear program. The Queensland Greens are appalled that the Keating government would seek to excuse General Suharto's human rights record (especially the genocide in East Timor) in developing the nuclear program of Indonesia's military government. Further, they point out that Indonesia, with its abundance of oil, coal, and geothermal energy, does not need nuclear; that Java (the proposed site for the reactors) is one of the world's most active seismic and volcanic regions; and that Indonesia has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty. A petition seeking worldwide support is available from WISE-Amsterdam or letters of concern can be sent to Sen. Cristabel Chamarette, P.O.Box 137, West Perth WA 6872, Australia.

Resolution for a plutonium-free world

WISE has recently received a resolution from the US organization "Plutonium-Free Future, located in Berkeley. The sea transport of plutonium from France to Japan in 1992-3 has raised global awareness of the danger of plutonium to the environment and the world population. Now, with respect to Japan's standing order for reprocessed plutonium from European countries, Plutonium-Free Future (PFF) aims at establishing an international ban on production and use of plutonium.

PFF secretary Kazuaki Tanahashi points out that "This is not an impossible dream." Even in the United States, which has led in nuclear technology for half a century, the House of Representatives passed a policy statement on September 13, calling for a global ban on Pu production (H.R. 2401).

To support their campaign, you will find enclosed a copy of their resolution. Plutonium Free Future asks you as an individual or as an organization to sign the resolution for a worldwide halt on production of plutonium and to take an important step towards nuclear disarmament and safeguarding the global environment.

The organization plans to have the Resolution introduced to the United Nations General Assembly in 1995. This would mark the 50th year since the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the founding of the United Nations, which in its first resolution called for the abolition of atomic weapons. By 1995, Plutonium Free Future hopes to have ten nations, a hundred cities, and a thousand organizations sign on in support of this resolution.

PFF calls your attention to the fact that it takes only one person to propose the Resolution to a community or organization _ a city council, citizens' group, church, political party, or parliament. Its organizers advise you to review the series of action steps in the sample Resolution, and they offer further information and technical support to those who carry the petition.

Contact: Plutonium-Free Future, 2018 Shattuck Ave., Box 140, Berkeley CA 94704 USA; tel. +1 (510) 540-7645, fax +1 (510) 540-6159.

In brief

Deadly legacy: Josef Stalin was without doubt a dangerous man, and the personality cult built around him was not made of cardboard. Even today, long after his death, he has left a dangerous legacy to people and the environment. In the warehouse of the Museum of the Revolution in Moscow, an image of Stalin engraved in metal has been found which was plat-ed with radium to give it a constant mysterious glow. Instruments have given a reading of 200,000 micro-roentgens/hour, or 10,000 times nor-mal. After the danger was noticed, radiation authories discovered that the mask, made in 1944 on a state farm in Soviet Asia, had been kept at a nuclear reactor site Die tageszeitung [Germany], 19 Nov. 1993.

Island reactor for Japan: Iwaï-Kuma, a Japanese Island 100 kilometers south of Hiroshima with 12 kilometers of coastline, is threatened by a planned nuclear station. The 950 inhabitants live from fishing and farming. They have bought a hectare of land right in the middle of the proposed reactor site and have refused to allow meetings to take place. WRITE in support of the islan-ders to the reactor's promoter, Power Reactor and Nuclear Fuel Development Corp., Sankaido Building, 1-9-13 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo 107, Japan. The Ecologist, Nov/Dec 1993

Entombing Russian subs: Russia wants to entomb the submarine Komsolomets that sank off the coast of Norway in 1989, taking the lives of 42 crew members. Environment Minister Viktor Danilov-Danilyan said raising the submarine would be too dangerous, but that the boat could be filled with a hardening gel that would absorb radioactive material. The gel contains a substance called chitosan that absorbs heavy metal salts. Cesium and plutonium are already leaking from the sub, and serious plutonium leaks from the two nose torpedoes are expected to begin within a year into an area that provides 80 percent of the fish caught in the Norwegian Sea. Under the guidance of an international team of American, Dutch, and Norwegian specialists, the gel application could become a standard method for disposing of nuclear submarines St. Petersburg Press, 8 Nov. 1993.

Containers for Russian bomb materials: The US Defense Nuclear Agency has awarded a $40 million contract to the Scienti-fic Ecology Group (SEG) to supply 32,968 containers to store plutonium and HEU from dismantled Russian warheads. The container project is part of the $800 million Nunn-Lugar program, which is named for two influential senators who established the federal fund to pay for the dismantling of the former Soviet arsenal. SEG, a Westinghouse sub-sidiary, will construct the containers at Carlsbad, New Mexico, site of the discontinued WIPP underground waste facility being developed by Westinghouse Nuclear Safety & Cleanup Report [US], Nov. 1993.

Kozloduy startup: Bulgaria plans to resume operation of all six reactors at its Kozloduy site by the end of January. Bulgaria is heavily dependent on Kozloduy's 3,760 mega-watts, which provide 40 percent of the country's power New York Times [US], 28 Nov. 1993.

Power cuts in Ukraine: Officials in Ukraine's 25 districts have been told to reduce up to 90 percent of natural gas transmissions to chemi-cal, steel, and other types of industry. Russia has also cut Ukraine off the joint electrical grid at the end of November, causing rotating power cuts in Kiev and other cities. The gas supply is expected to be gone by February. Even coal mines are feeling the energy shortage, and badly needed coal production is declining. Uncontrolled blackouts are expected in the coldest winter in decades Wall Street Journal Europe, 6 Dec. 1993.

North Korea and the IAEA: North Korea will allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conduct inspections in a part of their nuclear facilities. This decision was arrived at after a December 3 meeting between North Korea and US government officials. Inspection of a few of the facilities is still to be negotiated. The complex offer is now carefully controlled by the US, the IAEA, and South Korea. South Korea sees the results of the negotiations as an occasion for optimism although they are not totally satisfying. North Korean refusal of IAEA inspections has led in the past to an international crisis in which the US reacted with a mixture of harsh-ness and readiness to compromise Die tageszeitung, 6 Dec. 1993.

Thorp PU to South Korea? BNFL, owner of the THORP repro-cessing plant, is "hoping to provide" reprocessed plutonium to South Ko-rea, even though the country is on the UK's danger list for exports causing "strategic and proliferation concerns." Jeong Wu Kil, a senior fellow at Seoul's Institute for National Uni-fication, has said that South Korea is very reluctant to buy MOX fuel from BNFL but if North Korea developed a bomb "we would not have any other option" NuclearFuel, 22 Nov.

Reviving Iran's NPP Program: At Marghera harbor near Venice, Italian authorities have confiscated eight steam condensers built in Genoa for shipment to Iran. Iran has one nuclear plant at Busher which war partially completed by KWU-Siemens before it was damaged by bombs in the Iran-Iraq War. The Wall Street Journal (14 Oct. 1993) reported that secret talks took place between KWU officials and the Iranian Secret Service about the comple-tion of Busher. One result of the talks was a plan to send fresh fuel rods from the Greifswald reactor (which according to the WSJ are "temporarily stored" in the Czech Republic) to Iran. KWU said however that their 1991 decision not to complete Busher was still their current policy. Footnote: in May of this year Russia was named as the contractor for a new Iranian reactor and a location for it seems to have been chosen; the 450MW plant should be finished in 7 to 8 years Die tageszeitung, 12 Nov. 1993; International Power Generation, May 1993; Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FRG), 16 Oct. 1993; NRC Handelsblad (NL), 26 Jun. 1993.

Resources

A nuclear weapon-free world: Desirable? Feasible?
(A Pugwash monograph edited by Joseph Rotblat, Jack Steinberger, and Bhalchandra Udgaon-kar)
It's often been said that dismantling the machinery of the arms race will be as dangerous as its original creation and escalation. The particular danger identified by these authors is the continued spread not so much of the equipment as the knowledge of how to build nuclear weapons. The authors recommend the maintenance of an institutional reservoir of technical expertise that could be used against a rogue state that begins a weapons program. 228 pages, $40 from Westview Press (US).

Natural analogues for HLW disposal
Nagra, the Swiss National Cooperative for the Disposal of Radioactive Waste, has published an amazing full-color brochure on geochemical investigations at the Poos de Calda uranium mining site in Brazil. According to Nagra, the intention is not to prepare for dumping of nuclear waste at the site, but to study the mine's geochemistry for comparison purposes.

In their effort to assure the isolation of High Level Waste from the biosphere for hundreds of thousands of years into the future, scientists are looking into mined uranium deposits which reveal the past movements of radionuclides. The Poos de Calda site is located in volcanic rock of the Late Cretaceous age. Twenty-seven institutions and laboratories from around the world are involved in the project.

The study concentrates on the redox fronts (chemical reduction-oxidation zones) that have moved away from the ore deposit, since similar fronts are expected in the vicinity of nuclear waste repositories. The influence of heat from HLW on radionuclide trans-port could also be studied at an analogue in the uranium mine where breccia pipes containing containing high mineral concentrations have been formed by hot springs.

"Poos de Caldas: Nature's Experiments," Nagra Bulletin No. 1/1993, 52 pp. (in German, English, or French), is available free of charge from Nagra, Hardstr. 73, CH-5430 Wettingen, Switzerland.

Information resources in the WISE network

Just as increasing numbers of safe-energy activists are using e-mail and computer network conferences, more and more offices are gathering years of printed materials into electronic database form for online use on the Internet. (An excellent recent handbook for Internet users is Paul Gilster, The Internet Navigator, John Wylie Publishers, $US 35 paperback).

Within the WISE relay system, WISE-Paris now has 1,500 documents in a main database. Over the years, OOA/WISE-Copenhagen has built a library of 21,000 books on energy/environment issues that is now functioning as a part of the Danish library system; an OOA project is underway to produce a conputer-accessible catalogue of this extraordinary collection. OOA is also involved in a project that will make all 17 years of the excellent Scottish publication Safe Energy available in computer-accessible format.

At Amsterdam, we have installed a textbase program called IZE which will allow both freeword and keyword searches of back issues of the News Communiqué, and WISE-Tokyo has created an indexed computer archive of all the back issues of the NC from 1980 to 1993--using manual data entry!

A few e-mail addresses may be useful for making these contacts. OOA: [email protected]. WISE-Paris: [email protected]. Also, a full-service Bulletin Board System (BBS) at Abalone Alliance in San Francisco has been cited at times as a source for NC articles (see "Global Strategies," this issue).

The WISE network publishes its international information in four lang-uages. WISE-Amsterdam publishes the WISE News Communique in English 20 times per year. Selected articles are then translated into Spanish, Japanese, Finnish and Ukrainian, and can be obtained through the WISE-Tarragona, WISE-Tokyo and WISE-Helsinki relays and Unicorn Environmental Publishers in Kiev.

WISE-Tarragona publishes its own newsletter, Energia 2.000, which includes WISE material along with other articles relating to energy and is published 25 times per year. WISE-Helsinki runs its translations in the Finnish Environmental magazine Vaihtoehto ydin-voimalle, which is published by Energiapolittinen yhdistys-Vaihtoehto ydinvoimalle (Energy Political Association-Alternative for Nuclear Power), along with other articles on environmental issues. Summaries are available in English and can also be obtained through WISE-Helsinki.