You are here

In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

OECD: no growth in nuclear capacity forseseen.

(September 11, 1998) Even the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says in its annual 1997 report a global building boom of nuclear power stations is unlikely in the next 10 years. The OECD, which has its own Nuclear Energy Agency, is part of the international nuclear lobby.
Highlighting a cautionary point the OECD said that nuclear safety and regulation was coming under increased pressure as competition in many electricity markets hots up.
But, according to the OECD, increasing public concern about protecting the atmosphere from growing C02 emissiosn may boost nuclear energy's appeal in the long term. Reuters, 5 September 1998

EdF: import to maintain export of electricity. The forced shut-down of five nuclear reactors (Chooz B1 & B2, Civaux 1, Belleville 1 & 2) until year-end will cost the French utility Electricité de France (EdF). Due to these not foreseen closures 6,000 MW is off-line. EdF says it is forced to import electricity to assure continued supply of electricity to their customers in winter time: some 3,500 MW from the UK, Germany and Switzerland. EdF also claims that old coal-fired plants too have to be started up to make up for the loss of power. According to the utility the extra costs of closure, import and restarted old plants, amounts to FF1.5 billion (US$260 million), but that its customers will not have to pay the bill.
At the same time, however, in 1997, EdF exported more than 10,000 MW (the capacity of about 11 reactors of the 900 MW series) to partly the same countries: the UK, Switzerland, Italy and Spain. And the amount of electricity exported this year will not be very different. According to Power in Europe, EDF looses annually more than US$985 million (FF5 billion) on its electricty export. And its customers definitely pay for that!
Apparently, EdF is willing to pay dearly to maintain the image of electricity shortage and the necessity of the new reactors. Power in Europe, 31 May 1996 and AP, 13 August 1998

Cogema closes Cluff Lake U-mine. French owned Cogema Resources Inc. announced on August 20, that it is shutting down its Cluff Lake uranium mine (Saskatchewan, Canada) in December 2000. The Cluff Lake mine opened in 1980 as an open pit mine and has operated many years beyond its original life as an underground facility, corporate vice-president Tim Gitzel said. He said the mine can't support the investment needed to create a new waste tailings facility in the industry's current economic conditions. The new facility would have been required after 2000.

Gitzel also said the closure was due to economics and is not directly related to recent conflicts Cogema has had with the Atomic Energy Control Board (AECB). Cogema was chastised by the AECB for its management at Cluff Lake and its attitude in responding to regulators' requests. The AECB expressed concern about radiation programs and the storage of tailings.
Gitzel says Cogema would continue to explore for uranium in the Cluff Lake area after mine operations are suspended. He says Cogema Resources remains a major player in Saskatchewan uranium industry despite the closure. "We've prepared for this eventuality by investing approximately C$400 million (US$ 262 million) in the McClean Lake project and are partners in Cigar Lake, MacArthur River and Midwest projects," he said. Cogema will operate the mine at McClean Lake, which comes on stream later this year. Saskatoon StarPhoenix (Can.), 21 August 1998

South Africa's HTR plans. South African utility Eskom says its plan to develop a line of small, inherently safe reactors is making progress.
Eskom has formally called for tenders to perform an environmental assessment of its pebble bed modular reactor (better known as the High Temperature Reactor). According to press reports, the company hopes to begin construction of a 100-MWe pilot plant in the second half of 1999, with a possible startup date of 2003. We'll see! (For more information on the HTR, see WISE NC 481.4774; New Generations: The High Temperature Reactor). Currently, Eskom has two 965-MW PWRs in operation at Koeberg: these are the country's only reactors. UI News Briefings, 12-18 August 1998

NIRS to hold second round of grants to Eastern Grassroots groups.
The US Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) is beginning the second round of its project to assist grassroots anti-nuclear groups in Eastern Europe and the Newly Independent States. One part of this project is a direct grant program to grassroots groups based in those countries.

Grants will be in the US$500-US$2,000 range, and the grants will be made this November.

To apply for a grant, please send a one- or two-page proposal including:

  1. Name of organization and contact information.
  2. Brief description of your organization.
  3. Description of the project you wish funded.
  4. Statement describing the importance of this project.

Only anti-nuclear activities will be funded. Preference will be given to action-oriented and organizing projects. We also have some interest in funding activities that address radioactive waste issues. Only Eastern-based groups will be funded; Western groups working in the East are not eligible. Applications must be in English.
The application deadline date is September 30, 1998.
Send your application by e-mail (preferred) to or by fax: +1-202-462-2183 or by regular mail to Michael Mariotte, NIRS, 1424 16th Street NW, #404, Washington DC 20036 USA.

US: Iodine pills against nuclear meltdown
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in the US has recommended the distribution of iodine pills to try to protect people from radiation damage in case of a nuclear accident.
When radioactive iodine from nuclear reactors escape into the atmosphere, it is absorbed by the thyroid glands and can cause thyroid cancer. Stable iodine pills can saturate the thyroid and prevent it from absorbing the radioactive iodine isotope. The Commission has gone against the advice of its own scientists. Peter Crane, a senior lawyer, told a conference at the university of Cambridge that NRC's scientists were too susceptible to pressure from the American nuclear industry. The nuclear industry opposes the use of iodine pills because it fears it creates public concern. Several European countries have already arranged idine pills distribution. New Scientist, 8 August 1998

Ankara: protest against Turkish nuclear plans. On August 28, 11 anti-nuclear activists made a mock announcement in front of the Turkish Ministry of Energy in Ankara and said in a satirical statement that Turkey officially decided to scrap its nuclear power dreams and invest in solar power. They hung a large banner on the top of the ministry's building reading "No Nukes". Other activists chained themselves at the gate of the building and their banner read "Turkey goes solar".
Turkish police detained all the activists. The four Turkish activists were released after seven hours and the seven international Greenpeace crewmembers after more than 14 hours at midnight. Turkish authorities expelled the seven members of the Greenpeace ship 'Sirius'. They were ordered to stay on board the 'Sirius' in Istanbul. Police kept the passports and said they would get them back when the ship left Istanbul.

The Turkish government is due to announce by the end of this year which consortium has won the tender to build the nuclear power plant at Akkuyu Bay. Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) and Siemens of Germany are two leading companies involved in consortia bidding for the project. Press release, Greenpeace, 29 August 1998

U.S.: first MOX test fuel to Canada? MOX fuel containing 150 grams of plutonium will be transported from Los Alamos to Chalk River in Canada, perhaps this autumn. It is the first plutonium from a dismantled US warhead, brought to Canada to be used as MOX fuel. The test at Chalk River starts as soon as there is an export license for the US, which is not yet the case. It could well be that the test would be delayed until early 1999. The reactor at Chalk River is the only Canadian site of 18 sites where MOX is to be tested. The other 17 sites are at different nuclear power plants in the US where private utilities are also bidding for subsidised fuel.

The US has a two-way approach for their plutonium resulting from the dismantling of nuclear weapons:

  • immobilizing Pu in glass or ceramic forms, and
  • using it as fuel in commercial light water reactors.

There is to be tests in Canada if it is possible to use the MOX fuel in CANDUs (heavy water reactors).
Ontario Hydro is hoping for the right to use large amounts of MOX with plutonium from old US nuclear missiles over the next 20 years, subsidized by the US government. If it wins a contract, based on results from the test "burn" at Chalk River, Ontario Hydro would modify a Bruce A reactor on Lake Huron to use 2,000 tons of MOX fuel. Ottawa Citizen (Can.), 30 August 1998