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In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#483-484
19/12/1997
Article

US: "Not safe to breathe".

(December 19, 1997) On September 30, 1997, a gravel truck tipped over and dumped its entire load -- 25 tons of raw uranium ore -- onto Interstate 25, Colorado Springs, Colorado, US. The highway was closed for six hours. Hazardous materials response team members chose not to evacuate households near the freeway, but did warn the residents that if the wind picked up, it was "not safe to breathe dust particles in the area". The government reported that at least 10 of these shipments pass through the city of Colorado Springs every week. Citizens for Peace in Space, taken from Nukewatch Pathfinder, Winter 97-98

UK: What does that second siren signal mean? The British Nuclear Navy has a nuclear submarine base and refit yard in the middle of the most populated area southwest of Bristol (Southwest England). At a community meeting held at Devonport, Plymouth, the Navy outlined its plans to help the victims of a nuclear accident. Two hundred military personnel will hand out potassium iodate tablets (to block the retention of radioactive iodine-131) and 50 sailors wearing paper face masks will run around city streets posting tablets and leaflets. City councilors worried that many inhabitants would not be able to read the leaflets. When asked about the masked sailors, the Navy told the audience that the paper masks would be worn only if a release of radiation occurred. The masked men would know of releases because a second alarm would sound. Unfortunately, residents have been told that hearing a second siren would signal the "all clear". While the Navy said evacuation was the responsibility of the local authorities, the local authorities said it was the police's job and the police inspector had no comment. Plymouth Nuclear Information Group, UK, taken from Nukewatch Pathfinder, Winter 97-98

New UK waste body proposed. The parliamentarian office of Science & Technology said that the management of radwaste in the UK should be taken over by a new commission, independent of nuclear industry and answerable to government and parliament. It should be funded through a levy on the nuclear industry and be responsible for selecting a waste disposal site. Its decisions will be open for public scrutiny and it has to take into account the concerns of all stakeholders. A separate organization should take over the job of designing, financing and operating a waste disposal facili- ty. This means Nirex, owned by the nuclear industry, would be broken up; it already had laid off almost half of its 200 staff. Nirex is being criticized for lack of openness in the past and is being viewed by some as being too close to the nuclear industry. At present Nirex is still responsible for all aspects of radioactive waste disposal. (see also WISE NC 480.4769: Nirex life extension) Nature, 27 November 1997

Egypt started testing a 22 megawatt nuclear reactor in the northern Delta town of Inshass. Egypt bought the research reactor from Argentina and built it with the institutional CNEA (Comision Nacional de Energia Atomica) and technical support of 70 Argentian technicians. The plant will be used for research, mainly in the fields of agriculture, industry, medicine and other "peaceful" uses. The reactor, which costed US$100 million will be officially inaugurated during a visit to Egypt later in December by President Carlos Menem of Argentina. In May, the head of the center Hisham Fuad said he expected the reactor to be operational in October. Egypt and Argentina agreed the sale of the reactor in 1993. Egypt already has a 2-megawatt reactor in Inshass which was bought from the former Soviet Union. Argentina wants to get a share of the international market showing its comptetence. AFP, 2 December 1997

Latvia: N-research reactor preparing for retirement. A reactor built in 1961 in the town of Salaspils, some 20 km from Riga, will cease operations in December. The reactor will be closed for lack of nuclear fuel. The International Atomic Energy Agency has advised Latvia to close old reactors if safety is at risk. Dismantling the reactor will cost an estimated US$50 million. The nuclear research center and nuclear reactor employs 115 people. Of these, 48 would lose their jobs after the closure of the reactor. The Baltic Times, 4-10 December 1997

IAEA: delay in radwaste storage solution 'non-technical'. In its presentation to the Kyoto COP3 conference, the IAEA pointed to the fact that nuclear energy is the only readily and commercially available option for electrical generation other than hydro that makes a positive contribution of any magnitude to avoiding CO2 emissions. The IAEA called for political commitment to address the hurdles faced by nuclear which are not of technical origin, including excessively long lead times for plant construction and the delay in building long-term waste repositories. UI News Briefing 97.49; 3 - 9 December 1997

US: Connecticut Yankee. Connecticut Yankee is trying to locate thousands of concrete blocks and other materials given to workers over the past twenty years or so, which may have minor contamination. The blocks were offered to Connecticut Yankee employees who used them in home projects such as step-building and landscaping. Now traces of radioactivity have been discovered on some blocks and the company is trying to find and replace all the blocks taken off site. Nucleonics Week, December 4, 1997

Japanese pro-nuclear leaflet disguised as UN document. The Japanese government has scandalized environment groups by producing a million leaflets promoting the construction of 20 new nuclear power plants under the auspices of a greenhouse gas reduction program. Costing Japanese taxpayers 8 million yen (US$6.1 million), the leaflets are made to look as if they are official UN documents. The front page uses the official name and logo of the COP3 Kyoto conference, with the Japanese government identified as the source in small type at the bottom of the last page. Safe Energy [UK], November 1997-January 1998