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Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

LES abandons proposed Tennessee site.

(September 12, 2003) The Louisiana Energy Services (LES) has officially abandoned its plans to build a uranium enrichment plant at Hartsville, Tennessee. The plans for the facility in Hartsville had raised major opposition. As a consequence, the Trousdale County adopted tough operating restrictions such as that depleted uranium couldn't be stored on site for more than 90 days (which is very short for an enrichment plant). Other issue which was decisive for LES were tax conditions in Tennessee. LES has now chosen Lea County in New Mexico but opposition is also expected there (see WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor 591.5534: "LES switching to New Mexico?").
Nucleonics Week, 28 August 2003

South African Cape Town stands up against PBMR-project.

(September 12, 2003) In a surprising move, the city of Cape Town decided to appeal the government's go-ahead for the controversial Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) at Koeberg in Western Cape. In June the Department of Environmental Affairs issued a 'record of decision' (ROD) clearing the way on environmental grounds for Eskom's experimental PBMR-project (see WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor 590.5529: "South African government approves Environmental Impact Assessment PBMR"). The statutory 30-day appeal period against the decision closed at the end of July, but, at the request of the city, the environmental affairs minister, Valli Moosa, extended the deadline by another 30 days till 25 August. Following many concerns, raised by residents, the City of Cape Town decided to appeal. The City has consistently raised concerns regarding flaws and omissions from the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) as well as its potential environmental impact.

The issues highlighted in the City's appeal include: full lifecycle financial and environmental costs of nuclear waste storage at Koeberg; the costs to the City of current and future emergency planning and related infrastructure, potential plume dispersal and the impact on spatial planning, land use and housing; health risk assessment, ambient radiation monitoring and health monitoring in surrounding communities; that the decommissioning date and plan, as well as environmental rehabilitation plan, be prepared in consultation with the City. Before building the reactor, Eskom must still obtain other statutory approvals, including a nuclear license.
Press Release City of Cape Town, 25 August 2003; Cape Argus, 25 August 2003


THORP to close by 2010?

(September 12, 2003) Stories in the media have suggested that the THORP reprocessing plant at Sellafield (UK) would close by 2010. Brian Watson, director of the Sellafield site, told the Guardian on 26 August that the company was changing from production into a waste disposal company. "There is 30 billion British Pounds (US$48 billion) worth of clean up work here. We are switching from reprocessing to clean-up", said Watson. In several news sources, the interview was explained as an official statement that Sellafield would stop reprocessing before 2010. BNFL denied such a turn in a press release but there are facts which show that reprocessing indeed might stop before 2010. First of all, existing reprocessing contracts should be completed by 2006, and there are doubts about the few surviving post-contracts. Secondly, no further contracts are being sought. And thirdly, a Nuclear Decommissioning Authority takes over Sellafield operations in 2005, so any closure decision would not be for BNFL.
WANA News, August 2003


Criminal complaint against Sweden's Barsebäck NPP.

(September 12, 2003) On 19 August, the Swedish Nuclear Power Inspectorate (SKI) filed a criminal complaint against the Barsebäck Kraft AB company, saying the company might have broken the law by allowing Barsebäck-2 (600 MW BWR)to operate under abnormal conditions, with decreased safety margins. It is the first time ever that SKI has brought a criminal complaint against a reactor operator. During the summer 2002 outage, "thermal mixers" in the feedwater system were changed. In the fall, operators noted that the feedwater flow was abnormal. A manual adjustment was made on 3 January but the problem worsened until the reactor was shut down on 15 January. It was then discovered that the mixers were broken and that pieces had cone loose. The incident was rated at level 1 of the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES). According to SKI, the reactor should have been shut down on 3 January at the latest. That the reactor was operated for two more weeks had clearly violated the Act on Nuclear Activities and SKI's requirements. SKI has now issued further requirements for the operation and the plant will be put under special supervision for at least a year. Between 1994 and 1997, the plant was under such supervision because of a series of incidents.

Swedish and Danish NGOs have urged a soon closure of the Barsebäck reactor. On 1 September, the Barsebäckoffensiv (BBOFF), a network of Danish, Swedish and German activists/NGOs/political parties, issued a report on the safety of the reactor. The report deals with the consequences of a worst-case accident at Barsebäck. BBOFF concluded that Danish emergency authorities are not sufficiently prepared for a serious accident and are underestimating the consequences of a major disaster. A serious accident could result in radioactive releases comparable to those in the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and exclusion zones up to 100 kilometers could be necessary (instead of the 30 kilometers in emergency plans). The report can be found at
Press release Barsebäck Kraft, 19 August 2003; Nucleonics Week, 21 August 2003; BBOFF press release and report, 1 September 2003


Nuclear waste and ethics.

(September 12, 2003) The Dutch Socialist Party (SP) has published a report called Norms, Values and Nuclear Waste; An up-to-date ethical "No Thanks" to nuclear waste. The report (in English) was written by Herman Damveld in collaboration with Steef van Duin. The 44 page report deals with ethical questions which are important in the debate on what to do with nuclear waste, such as ethics, values, future generations and retrievable waste storage. The report can be ordered from the author through email:
Norms, Values and Nuclear Waste, SP/H. Damveld, September 2003


U.S. electricity crisis and nuclear power.

(September 12, 2003) The Public Citizen Critical Mass Energy and Environment Project released a report on the electricity blackout of 14 August (see WISE/NIRS Nuclear Monitor 591.5532: "U.S. electricity crisis: unfortunate but entirely predictable"). According to CMEP, the blackout was a spectacular demonstration of the vulnerability of NPPs in a deregulated market. CMEP urges the U.S. Congress not to rely on nuclear power and further electricity deregulation. The report can be found at
The Big Blackout and Amnesia in Congress, CMEP, September 2003


Paks-2 won't restart until mid-2004.

(September 12, 2003) The Hungarian Paks-2 reactor will not restart before summer 2004. On 10 April, a serious accident happened in the fuel pool of the reactor when chemical cleaning of fuel elements resulted in the overheating of fuel and a release of radioactivity. Several fuel elements got damaged in the event, which was classfied as level 3 on the INES scale. Recently the IAEA published the results of an expert mission to the plant. The IAEA mission confirmed that the accident was caused by design deficiencies, insufficient oversight of the system and a lack of safety management. The IAEA report can be found at

Nucleonics Week, 4 September 2003