Cracks found in 13 U.S. reactors.
(December 21, 2001) After an investigation in 69 pressurized water reactors, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has identified 13 reactors that are developing small cracks in metal alloy nozzles in the control rod mechanism on top of the reactor vessel. The Union of Concerned Scientists pleaded in August for further investigations after the discovery of cracks in the Oconee-3 reactor in South Carolina (see WISE News Communique 553.5309: "US: NRC ignores widespread safety flaw for decade"). Reuters, 12 December 2001
US: FFTF to remain shut down.
(December 21, 2001) U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced on 19 December that the Fast Flux Test Facility will not be restarted. The FFTF, a sodium-cooled reactor with a capacity of 400 MW-thermal, was constructed by Westinghouse in the 1970s as part of the US fast breeder program and started operation in 1982. From 1982 to 1992 the FFTF tested "advanced" nuclear fuels, materials and safety designs. It also produced many different medical isotopes and tritium for the U.S. nuclear fusion program. In 2000, the Clinton Administration decided to keep the reactor permanently closed (see WISE News Communique 539: "In Brief"). That decision was rescinded by the present Bush Administration, which studied the possibility of producing medical isotopes in the reactor. The Department of Energy has now decided not to restart the FFTF. AP, 19 December 2001
Germany: Philippsburg-2 restarts.
(December 21, 2001) Philippsburg-2 has restarted following approval by federal environment minister Jürgen Trittin. It had been shut down since an incident in which three out of four emergency shutdown systems were non-operational (see WISE News Communique 556.5325, "Germany: two reactors remain shut down after safety rules broken") which was classified as Level 2 on the 7-level International Nuclear Event Scale (INES). WNA News Briefing, 12-18 December 2001
German Parliament approves phase out law.
(December 21, 2001) The German Bundestag, the Lower House of the Parliament, approved on 14 December the Law on Nuclear Phase Out. The law is a result of the consensus agreement between the German government and the nuclear electricity utilities (see WISE News Communique 532.5186: "Germany: government and utilities reach agreement on phase out"). The Law stipulates that each reactor has in principle a lifetime of 32 years and can produce a fixed amount of electricity until they have to close. Older reactors however can be closed earlier and transfer their "credits" to newer reactors, which then can remain open for a longer time. The law also forbids reprocessing from 1 July 2005. AFP, 14 December 2001
Romania: demolition workers exposed to radiation.
(December 21, 2001) Nine workers have been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation from cobalt-60 while dismantling a smelting plant in western Romania, which was closed in 1989. The men have been hospitalized since June but the incident was kept secret. According to the National Commission for the Control of Nuclear Activities (CNCAN), that was due to an ongoing police investigation. CNCAN Director Anton Coroianu stated that the men could have been killed. A 100m2 area around the affected furnaces have been closed off except for authorized personnel. Reuters, 13 December 2001
Slovak Supreme Court: withholding safety report Bohunice-V1 unjust.
(December 21, 2001) Greenpeace Slovakia has won a court case against the Slovak nuclear regulatory authority UJD on the release of the safety report on upgrading the Bohunice V1 reactors. UJD refused to release the report because Bohunice operator SE claimed it contained "business secrets". The Supreme Court decided that UJD had not checked sufficiently whether the business secrecy claim was really correct. UJD must now either provide the report or give a legally valid reason for their refusal. Email from WISE Slovakia, 18 December 2001