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In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

Russian-Ukraine nuclear agreement?

(November 13, 1998) On October 20, the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS reported that an intergovernmental nuclear agreement between Russia and Ukraine might be signed at the end of the year. The agreement includes joint producing of nuclear fuel and cooperation in the field of nuclear safety. First Russian Deputy Minister of Minatom Bulat Nigmatulin told ITAR-TASS that both countries were discussing a loan of several hundreds of millions of dollars for K2/R4. The two countries also want to set up a joint team to work on upgrade programs for VVER-440 reactors in Eastern Europe. Such a program should be announced soon.WISE Kaliningrad

New German book on reactor safety.The People's Initiative for Environmental Protection (BIU) in Hannover, Germany, has published a new book: "Nuclear Power Plants - Unsafe and Unlawful".It deals with the dangers of a nuclear meltdown in German nuclear power plants and with the protection of constitutional rights. Therefore official scientific results were examined. The outcome: In German nuclear power plants meltdown accidents with early destruction of the containment can happen. The consequence would be contamination over a range of several 100 kilometers. Protection measures against catastrophes, such as evacuation and relocation, would only have minor safety effects. The consequences of a meltdown accident therefore represent a violation of basic rights fn protection of life and physical integrity for the affected population. These rights do have priority over the rights of nuclear power plant operators.The authors prove that the European Pressurized-Water Reactor (EPR) planned by Siemens and Framatome doesn`t offer technical protection against a nuclear meltdown either.The protection of basic rights of affected citizens as laid down in the atomic law has been reduced considerably during the last years. It is urgent that these rights be restored and secured.This book offers good arguments for civilian initiatives and politicians during discussions about nuclear policy in the near future.Atomkraftwerke, Unsicher und grundrechtswidrig ("Nuclear Power Plants - Uncertain and Unlawful"), (272 pp; ISBN 3-922883-21-4), is available only in German language at a cost of 14 DM (including postage) at:
BIU Hannover, Stephanusstr. 25
30449 Hannover, Germany Tel: +49-511- 443303.

Gas clear winner over nuclear, says OECD. Nuclear power has lost its cost edge for new power plants in nearly all countries, says the pro-nuclear OECD in its latest, third survey of Projected Costs of Generating Electricity, published together with the International Energy Agency. Cost estimates of gas-fired generation declined up to 54% compared to similar earlier studies in most countries. Gas "has become an attractive near-term option" in many of those countries, due to its low-cost construction and maintenance, lower-than- projected fuel costs and its low emissions. The trend towards deregulation and privatization and the consequent emphasis on risk minimization favor gas for new generating plants. At a 10% discount rate, gas is beating coal by a margin of at least 10% in nine of the 18 countries that reported data to the OECD. Coal is least expensive in one country and "nuclear is never the winner in any country". Nucleonics Week, 15 October 1998

THORP discharge authorizations. The UK Environment Agency has approved new radioactive discharge authorizations for the THORP reprocessing plant at Sellafield. The agency has ordered reduced discharges for technetium-99 and four other radionuclides; imposed conditions for the development and application of new abatement techniques to reduce discharges further; ordered the cleanup of more of the stored liquid waste on the site; and finally imposed extra regulatory control by applying overall site limits for carbon-14, rutherium-106 and iodine-129. N-Base Briefing 155, 7 November 1998

Cancer link to nuclear plants. A major study has found a new link between childhood cancer and where the mother lived during pregnancy. The children of mothers who lived near Dounreay and Sellafield were more likely to contract cancer. There were similar findings for other industrial sites where there were large-scale environmental discharges. The work was carried out by a team led by Professor George Know, former professor of public health and epidemiology at Birmingham University, and was funded by the Medical Research Council in the UK, and the Three Mile Island Fund which was set up by the US government after the 1979 accident at the nuclear power plant of the same name.The researchers studied 22,000 children from all over the UK who had died of cancer, including all children under 16 who had died over a 15-year period. Further study was carried out on 9,000 families who had moved house after the child was born. The study, details of which have been published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Public Health, found a link between childhood cancers and mothers who had lived near the UK's two reprocessing plants at Dounreay and Sellafield. Not only was there an increase in cancer cases among children born in the area, but also among children who moved away after birth. N-base briefing 115, 7 November 1998

Switzerland will be nuclear free in 2012? Switzerland's Energy Minister Moritz Leuenberger and the Federal Council have stated that the Swiss government wants to phase out nuclear power.... after the existing licenses for the six power plants expire, that is, by 2012 at the latest. Meanwhile, the plants are allowed to increase the electric output a bit, just to increase the decommissioning funds a bit. Although this is not as good a news as was believed, Switzerland now has a clear government directive. And it is another country phasing out nuclear energy. Certainly, the stated intentions of the new German Red-Green coalition did help this development and gave some courage to the politicians to stand up to the nuclear industrial complex. Andi Nidecker, IPPNW Switzerland, 27 October 1998