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In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

French Minister: nukes not necessary for reducing greenhouse gases.

(December 4, 1997) France's environment minister and the country's electricity boss clashed on November 30 over whether to plead for nuclear energy or energy savings at the Kyoto conference as the best response to global warming. Environment Minister Dominique Voynet said cutting energy waste and consumption, and diversifying energy sources was the best way of limiting both the risks of nuclear energy and the emission of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. Voynet, leader of the Green party, said this would allow France, which has the world's highest amount of nuclear-produced electricity, to dispense with nuclear energy. Reuter, 30 November 1997

Volunteers to succeed Greenpeace? In a very peculiar ruling, a Dutch judge forbade Greenpeace to block the transport of spent fuel from the Dodewaard nuclear reactor to the Sellafield reprocessing plant. Dodewaard was finally shut down in May, after 28 years of operation. In March Greenpeace blocked a transport to Sellafield. Now the judge has warned the organisation that it faces a fine of US$50,000 for each day it prevents the movement of the waste. Who's next?AFP, 27 November 1997

Hanford: according to studies reported on November 25 in US newspapers, radioactive waste from leaking underground tanks at the Hanford nuclear reservation has reached groundwater. Two reports by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, an agency of the US Department of Energy, conclude that waste from at least five of Hanford's two dozen tank repositories (in total 177 waste tanks) has reached water below the tanks. Sixty-seven of the 177 waste tanks are thought to be leaking. The tanks contain about 54 million gallons (230 million liters) of waste, byproducts of four decades of production of plutonium for nuclear weapons at the reservation near Richland in the state of Washington in the northeast of the US. The groundwater beneath the tanks already contains contaminants from more than 1350 billion liters of waste water that was pumped into the ground from 1945 up to recent times. Until recently, Hanford officials had thought (or hoped?) it was unlikely that contamination from the 177 underground waste tanks had reached groundwater. They believed (hoped?) Hanford's dry soil had a tendency to soak up the pollution and suspend it far above the aquifer. AP, 25 November 1997

In the next issue: UK Taxpayer may face huge costs! A study into the decommissioning costs of the nuclear industry has revealed that the UK taxpayer may have to meet up to more than GBP29 billion of the industry's liability costs. The study was conducted by the Science Policy Research Unit at Sussex University and commissioned by Nuclear Free Local Authorities, Friends of the Earth, the Consortium of Opposing Local Authorities and the Economic and Social Research Council. The report urges an urgent government review of how decommissioning liabilities will be met and the current reprocessing and waste strategies in the UK.

French nuke and oil-industry battle over TV commercial. The French oil industry association, l'Union Française des Industries Petrolieres (UFIP), sued Electricité De France over a tv-commercial because it contained computer-generated images showing Paris being invaded by oil tankers and oil wells. From a comfortable living room the scene shifts to show oil wells under the Eiffel Tower and petroleum tankers on the river Seine in front of Notre Dame Cathedral. The court ruled in favour of UFIP. EDF was fined 20,000 francs and withdrew the spot, which had run for five days. Reuter, 24 November 1997

Germany: Still no public participation in Wismut cleanup. On October 2, 1997, the Federal Parliament of Germany turned down a motion of the Social Democrats proposing to submit the cleanup of Wismut's uranium mining sites in Eastern Germany to environmental assessment legislation. This means that the decommissioning of the Wismut sites is the only large scale project without opportunities for public involvement, continuing a sad history of secrecy that has accompanied Wismut's activities from its beginning in the Cold War era. Woche im Bundestag, No.16, 7 October 1997

Another Nikitin? On November 23, Grigori Pasko, a Russian navy officer was arrested in Vladivostok (in the Russian Far East) by the Federal Security Service (FSB), the former KGB. Pasko has had problems with the FSB since 1993 when he sold video material of the dumping of nuclear waste by the Russian navy to the Japanese TV. He was arrested when he returned from a trip to Japan. He was charged with high treason on November 28. This looks like another Nikitin case. Alexandre Nikitin was arrested February 1996 on the same charge when he was working on a bublication about nuclear polution in the Murmansk region. He is released in December 1996, but not allowed to leave St. Petersburg (see WISE NC 476.4727: New charges laid against Nikitin) Trouw, NL, 29 November 1997