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Nuclear Monitor Issue: 

61% of Americans think nuclear power is too costly and too far in the future.

(December 15, 2006) While a special working group, installed by President Bush (the National Economic Council which is, more accurate but unofficially called the 'nuclear accelerator working group') oversees the expansion of nuclear power, a national survey, done by the Civil Society Institute, found that 61% of Americans think nuclear power is too costly and too far in the future to address climate change, and favour renewables and increased energy savings. According to the survey, 75% 'would be concerned if nuclear power was focused on at the expense of renewable, clean and safe alternative energy solutions'.
Renew, the NATTA newsletter, Nov/Dec 2006


Chernobyl officials nearing decisison on shelter bid.

(December 15, 2006) French joint venture Novarka appears likely to get the contract to build the long-awaited protective shelter (the New Safe Confinement) over Chernobyl's nuclear reactor No. 4. Novarka's bid came in lower than that of the runner-up, CH2M Hill, a US-Ukrainian venture, which bid US$584 million for the contract, said Ihor Gramotkin, the station's general director. Novarka appears to be the frontrunner because officials must consider the least expensive bid first under tender rules established by The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which is funding the arch's construction, Gramotkin said.
Plant manager Gramotkin in September declared invalid a preliminary decision awarding the work to Novarka and unilaterally cancelled the tender. A western official said, however, that last October the Assembly of Donors backing the Shelter Implementation Plan had unanimously supported the EBRD's position that procurement should proceed on the basis of precontract discussions with Novarka. If they are successful, then Novarka will get the contract; if not, discussions will begin with the US-led consortium, he said. Technical and administrative delays have prevented Chernobyl officials from choosing a contractor for the project, which they hoped will be completed by 2010. According to Chernobyl station management, 90% of planned operations for strengthening the sarcophagus (completed in November 1986) are already completed, thanks to activity within the last two years.
Kyiv Post, 1 December 2006 / Platts, 27 November 2006

Austrian protesters block Czech border.

(December 15, 2006) On December 3, about 200 Austrian anti-nuclear demonstrators blocked the Czech border at Dolny Dvoriste with tractors to protest against the notorious Czech nuclear power plant at Temelin. "This is the longest blockade since the year 2000," said Roland Egger, spokesman for "Atomkraftfrei Leben" ("Life without nuclear power"). The demonstrators want the Austrian government to voice an official protest against the Czech authorities' recent validation of the Temelin plant. They say the validation violates the Melk agreement signed by the two countries in 2000, as security measures required by the document have not been met. The protesters, whose gathering was sanctioned by the Austrian authorities, gave out yellow balloons, stickers and mulled wine to nearby residents who had turned up at the border crossing, which was decorated with banners reading "Stop Temelin". The neighbouring border crossing at Gmuend was also blocked for about an hour by about thirty protesters on Sunday afternoon. The demonstrators said they were prepared to organise as many blockades as necessary until their demands were met. Ever since Temelin opened in 2000 (being built in 1987), it has been plagued by a series of problems, especially on its second unit, which have forced the plant to shut down its two reactors on several occasions.
AFP, 3 December 2006

US Senate approved US-India nuclear deal.

(December 15, 2006) The much criticised bill on nuclear trade with India was approved by US Senate in the early hours of December 9, following similar action by the House of Representatives the previous evening. The bill now goes to President George W. Bush for his signature. In India, politicians from opposition parties criticized the bill, saying the conditions it imposes on New Delhi are excessively restrictive. But in a December 9 statement, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the bill was "fully consistent" with two joint statements by Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Under the policy laid out in those statements, the Bush administration promised to work to lift US and international bans on major nuclear trade with India, in return for certain nonproliferation steps by New Delhi. NGO's worked hard to prevent this trade-bill with India. India did not sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, has developed nuclear weapons illegally, and therefor international law does not approve nuclear trade with India.
Nuclear News Flashes, 11 December 2006

Sweden: Ringhals not only troubled by burned transformer.

(December 15, 2006) Four weeks after a fire destroyed a transformer and electrical equipment 70 meters from the nuclear reactor itself the Ringhals-3 nuclear power plant resumed production again on December 10. Why it took so long? Because personnel of the Vattenfal owned reactor discovered another problem while fixing the non-nuclear related one outside the reactor. A 'saltwater pump' was not functioning and had to be repaired. So it took two weeks longer than expected to get the plant running again. Ringhals management also used the forced outage to prepare the reactor for the change-out of the high pressure turbine, expected next summer. Costs of the troubles; 1.2 million Euro a day that the reactor was not on-line.
Nuclear News Flashes, December 12, 2006 / N24 (German news-tv), December 11, 2006

Piketon enrichment plant: costs significantly higher

(December 15, 2006) USA: The cost of building a proposed uranium-enrichment plant at an old atomic weapons plant near Piketon in southern Ohio is running higher than previously estimated, raising questions about the future of the project, the Dayton Daily News reported November 14. The American Centrifuge project would be used to produce fuel for nuclear reactors by 2011. USEC Inc., the company that wants to build the plant, said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission early November that costs are running "significantly higher" than a prior estimate of US$1.7 billion (Euro 1.27 bn). "These cost increases could make the project uneconomic," USEC said in its filing. "We cannot assure investors that efforts that we take to mitigate cost increases will be successful or sufficient, and cost increases could jeopardize our ability to successfully finance and deploy the American Centrifuge project."
Associated Press, 14 November 2006

Japan's Rokkasho reprocessing plant has produced it's first MOX.

(December 15, 2006) The Rokkasho MOX, a mix of uranium and plutonium oxide, was recovered from spent fuel during commissioning tests, the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum said November 2. The amount of MOX produced was not specified; the plant is designed to avoid proliferation issues by producing MOX rather than pure plutonium. Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., which owns and operates the plant, plans to start producing MOX in powder form in mid-November, JAIF said. Rokkasho, with an annual design capacity of 800 metric tons heavy metal, is scheduled to begin commercial operation in mid-2007. The plant is operated for Japan's nuclear-owning electric utilities.
Nuclear News Flashes, 2 November 2006

Howard doesn't care about own population being anti-nuclear.

(December 15, 2006) The Australian Prime Minister John Howard has dismissed a poll which shows only 17 per cent of Australians back nuclear power while almost 50% think solar power is the best way to tackle climate change. Mr Howard, who has been promoting a nuclear energy industry for Australia, derided solar power as a soft answer which would never be able to replace coal-fired electricity. He said he would not back away from his support for nuclear power because of one opinion poll. "This is going to be a long debate, but I am going to continue to argue reason. I can't have a policy on something like this dictated by an opinion poll," Mr Howard said. "In the end I've got to call it as it is and in the end I have to say that solar and wind will not replace conventional power stations." The ACNielsen poll in Fairfax newspapers published November 7, found that nine out of 10 people believe global warming is a problem and 62 per cent are unhappy with the Howard Government's response. Almost half of those questioned cited solar power as the best weapon against climate change, while 19 per cent supported a carbon tax on fossil fuels and 17 per cent backed nuclear power.
The Australian, 7 November 2006

Poland eager to join Baltic nuclear energy plans.

(December 15, 2006) Poland has proposed to take a 25% stake in a Baltic nuclear plant at Ignalina, in parallel with the agreement last week to build a 400-kiloVolt connection between the Polish and Lithuanian power grids. Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski and his Lithuanian counterpart, Gediminas Kirkilas, signed the "energy bridge" agreement December 8 in Vilnius. The direct-current connection is expected to cost about 304 million euros and to be completed by 2011, with partial financing by the European Union. Poland is proposing to co-finance the plant, which would be between 800 MW and 1,600 MW, with Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The latter countries earlier this year agreed on a tripartite nuclear project to replace Ignalina-2, which Lithuania must close by the end of 2009. However, a Lithuanian energy official said the three Baltic countries must first agree to let the Polish Grid Company, PSE, join the project and decide how the project should be structured and financed.
Nuclear News Flashes, 11 December 2006

UK: NDA responsible for geological disposal

(December 15, 2006) Following the announcement on October 25, by U.K.Environment Secretary David Milliband that 'the responsibility for securing geological disposal of waste should fall to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority', local pressure group CORE has branded the decision as 'plain stupid and probably unworkable'.
The NDA, whose initial remit of clean- up and decommissioning work at nuclear sites around the country was welcomed by most, now adds nuclear waste disposal to a portfolio to which has already been added Sellafield's commercial reprocessing and MOX fuel business.
CORE spokesperson Martin Forwood said: "By operating Sellafield's reprocessing plant, the NDA is a nuclear waste producer - a mantle hard to reconcile with its clean up remit. Its new role as underground waste dumper as well is bound to lead to conflicts of interest and, as the NIREX report suggests, to accusation of 'done deals' which could lead to successful legal challenges from NGO's. CORE has never supported the NDA's role as waste producer and is wholly opposed to its new role which, with no clear separation of responsibilities, we believe will be unworkable ".
CORE Press release, 26 October 2006


UK: 21% support building reactor within 65 miles of their home. Only 34% of the UK public support new nuclear construction, according to a poll conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the Financial Times newspaper. The "skepticism" about nuclear power "suggests that the (UK) government faces a significant challenge in persuading the country that fresh investment in nuclear energy is needed," said the FT November 20. The public was questioned immediately after the October 30 publication of the Stern Review on the economics of tackling global warming. The opinion poll found that 33% of people in the UK "were either somewhat or strongly opposed" to new nuclear construction. Another third was neutral. Just 21% said they would be prepared to support having a nuclear station built within 65 miles (104 kilometers) of their home, according to the Financial Times. Doubts about building new nuclear stations "are matched by reluctance to accept a high price for fighting climate change". People "are worried about the potential effects of climate change but are dubious about changing their lifestyles to prevent it," the FT reported. Nuclear News Flashes, 20 November 2006

USA: Yucca Mountain

(December 15, 2006) According to Edward Sproat, director of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM), the Yucca Mountain repository will "most probably" not open before September 2020. The Department of Energy said earlier in 2006 that the "best achievable date" for opening the repository was March 2017. Sproat said that the 2020 date takes into account possible program delays from lawsuits that are likely to be filed. He also said that the DOE still plans to submit a licence application for Yucca Mountain to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by June 2008 as planned.
In late 1982 the US Congress established a firm plan for burying used nuclear fuel, and Yucca Mountain was mandated in 1987 with the planned first shipment to the repository in 1998! I guess, we can now safely say they haven't met that deadline!
WNA News Briefing, 5 December 2006 / Science, 11 October 1985

China: experimental reprocessing plant opened

(December 15, 2006) China has opened its first experimental reprocessing plant for used nuclear fuel. The plant at China National Nuclear Corp's (CNNC's) site in Jiayuguan, Gansu Province, will be used for research and development before construction of a large, commercial reprocessing plant. Construction of the experimental plant, which has a capacity of 50 tonnes of uranium per year, began in 1998. The plant - which uses the Purex process - is expected to begin industrial operation in 2008. The capacity of the plant can increase to a maximum of 75-100 tU per year.
WNA News Briefing 18-24 October 2006