Italian activists continue the anti-nuclear struggle.
“Ready to win again against Nuclear!” With this slogan Italian anti-nuclear activists organized on October 31, a new demonstration in the village of Montalto di Castro against the government, that intends to build eight new reactors in the country. This in spite of the 1987 referendum that succeeded in closing all existing nuclear plants. “In the late 80s Montalto was one of the locations chosen for a nuclear plant” reminds Legambiente, the association that promoted the demonstration, “but thanks to the referendum victory environmentalists managed to stop any project”. Today this little village situated in between Rome and Florence is again under the threat of nuclear. Its name recently appeared together with other 9 sites in an informal list indicating the places suitable for the authorities to host nuclear plants.
Legambiente, 4 November 2009
U.K.: Waste to stay at Dounreay?
The Scottish Government is considering allowing foreign intermediate level reprocessing wastes to remain at Dounreay instead of being return to the overseas customers. Instead vitrified high-level waste from Sellafield, contained in glass blocks, would be returned to the Dounreay customers. Until now Dounreay has insisted the wastes, from reprocessing overseas highly-enriched uranium spent fuel, would be sent back to the country of origin. The wastes have been mixed with concrete, like other wastes at the site, and there are about 500 drums weighting around 625 tonnes. Documents released under Freedom of Information Act show the Scottish Government favours the 'waste substitution' proposals and a public consultation is expected before the end of the year. There has already been a consultation on a 'waste substitution' policy for Sellafield's wastes and this has been approved by the Westminster government. The Dounreay proposal has been criticised as turning Scotland into a "nuclear dumping ground", in the words of Green MSP Patrick Garvie. The future of the overseas low level reprocessing wastes is uncertain, although it will probably also remain at Dounreay. In the past spent fuel from Dounreay has been sent to Sellafield for reprocessing, so the site already holds some wastes from the Scottish plant.
N-Base Briefing 630, 27 October 2009
DPRK: more Pu-production for n-weapons.
On November 2, North Korea’s official news agency, K.C.N.A., announced that the country completed reprocessing the 8,000 fuel rods unloaded from its nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, two months ago and had made “significant achievements” in turning the plutonium into an atomic bomb. In early September, North Korea had told the United Nations Security Council that it was in the “final phase” of reprocessing the 8,000 rods and was “weaponizing” plutonium extracted from the rods. With this announcement North Korea put further pressure on the United States to start bilateral talks. “We have no option but to strengthen our self-defense nuclear deterrent in the face of increasing nuclear threats and military provocations from hostile forces,” the news agency said. North Korea conducted underground nuclear tests in October 2006 and in May this year. In April, it also test-fired a long-range rocket. North Korea has also said it was also enriching uranium. Highly-enriched uranium would give it another route to build nuclear bombs
The figure on this page shows background information on bare critical masses for some key fissile isotopes. A bare critical mass is the spherical mass of fissile metal barely large enough to sustain a fission chain reaction in the absence of any material around it. Uranium-235 and plutonium-239 are the key chain-reacting isotopes in highly enriched uranium and plutonium respectively. Uranium-233, neptunium-237 and americium-241 are, like plutonium-239, reactor-made fissile isotopes and could potentially be used to make nuclear weapons but have not, to our knowledge, been used to make other than experimental devices. (source: Global Fissile Material Report 2009, October 2009)
New York Times, 3 November 2009
U.K. Submarine radioactive wastes.
Up to five sites in Scotland have been considered by the Ministry of Defence for storing radioactive waste from decommissioned nuclear submarines - including Dounreay in Caithness, according to documents obtained by the Sunday Herald. In total 12 possible storage sites in the UK have been considered by the MoD. There are already 15 decommissioning submarines lying at Rosyth or Devonport and a further 12 are due to leave active service by 2040. Rosyth and Devonport will be used to cut up and dismantle the submarines, but the MoD's problem is what to do with the waste, especially the large reactor compartments which are the most heavily contaminated. In Scotland the MoD is apparently considering Dounreay, Faslane, Coulport, Rosyth and Hunterston. Among possible sites in the England are Devonport, Aldermaston and Burghfield.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has warned that use of many of the sites would be "contentious". Highland Council, for example, is opposed to any non-Dounreay wastes being taken to the site and this is included in planning conditions for the new low level facility.
N-Base Briefing 631, 4 November 2009
Austrian courts cannot shut Temelin.
The Austrian region of Oberoesterreich, backed by a number of local landowners, is not entitled to sue for the closure of Czech Temelin nuclear power plant, the European Court of Justice, Europe's highest court, ruled on October 27. The case had been brought under an Austrian law that states a landowner can prohibit his neighbor from causing nuisance emanating from the latter's land if it exceeds normal local levels and significantly interferes with the usual use of the land. If the nuisance is caused by an officially authorized installation, the landowner is entitled to bring court proceedings for compensation.
In a bid to close the Temelin plant, the Land Oberösterreich (Province of Upper Austria) made an application under this law to the Landesgericht Linz (Linz Regional Court), claiming that ionizing radiation and the risk of an accident was spoiling use of its agricultural land. Oberoesterreich owns an agricultural school.
However, the regional court has now been told it has no power over organizations operating in another EU member state, after it sought clarification from the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In a statement, the ECJ said: "Austria cannot justify the discrimination practiced in respect of the official authorization granted in the Czech Republic for the operation of the Temelin nuclear power plant on the ground that it is necessary for protecting life, public health, the environment or property rights."
Reuters, 27 October 2009 / World Nuclear news, 27 October 2009
Iraq Plans New Nuclear Reactor Program.
The Iraqi government has approached the French nuclear industry about rebuilding at least one of the reactors that was bombed at the start of the first Gulf war. The government has also contacted the International Atomic Energy Agency and United Nations to seek ways around resolutions that ban Iraq’s re-entry into the nuclear field.
Iraqi Science and Technology Minister Raid Fahmi has insisted that a new Iraqi nuclear program would be solely for peaceful applications, “including the health sector, agriculture...and water treatment.”
However, many people fear that a nuclear reactor would be a tempting target for those who wish to cause significant death and destruction. Additionally, after widespread looting during the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, much nuclear material remains missing from the site of the Tuwaitha nuclear research center.
The Guardian (UK), 27 October 2009
Covert network UK's nuclear police.
The UK's nuclear police force carries out surveillance on anti-nuclear activity and also uses informers. Details of the work of the 750-strong Civil Nuclear constabulary (CNC) are revealed in documents seen by the Guardian and in reports from the official watchdog released under Freedom of Information. The role of the CNC is to protect the UK's civil nuclear sites and guard nuclear material when it is transported by ship, rail, sea or air - including shipments to Japan and Europe.
However, the CNC has the power to use informers or infiltrate organisations under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA). Access to data such as phone numbers and email address is also available to the CNC. The watchdog for RIPA, Sir Christopher Rose, says the aims of the CNC ares to counter the threat from terrorism and "public disquiet over nuclear matters". He said the level of CNC surveillance was "relatively modest".
N-Base Briefing 630, 27 October 2009
EDF (not) out of U.S.A.?
There were some press-reports (rumours) coming out of France that said the new EDF CEO Henri Proglio wanted an out of the deal with Constellation Energy in Maryland that would solidify there commitment to build a new nuclear power plant in Maryland U.S.A. However, the reports turned out to be no more than rumours, because, the order on the deal was issued on Friday October 30 -approved with conditions- Constellation's board of directors promptly approved the deal and (state-owned) EDF's board followed suit. One of the terms is that EDF will establish a headquarters in Maryland. Looks like they are there to stay -at least for now.
Ratings downgrades nearly pushed Constellation into bankruptcy last year, but the company agreed to merge with MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. Constellation later ended that agreement in favor of the EDF deal, which, many people say, does not represent the best interests of consumers.
Breakingviews, 2 November 2009 / Public Citizen Energy Program, Email 5 November 2009
Increase in cancer for males exposed to above ground N-Tests.
A new study by the Radiation and Public Health Project reveals a 50% increase in cancer rates for boys who were exposed to above ground nuclear tests during the 1950s and early 1960s. More than 100 nuclear bombs were detonated in the atmosphere over the Nevada Test Site between 1951 and 1962, which emitted radioactive Iodine-131, Strontium-90 and other toxic materials. The results are based on analyses for Strontium-90 in baby teeth that were stored for over three decades at the University of Washington in St. Louis. The baby teeth were collected through a program where children were given a little button with a gap tooth smiling boy that said, "I gave my tooth to science", in exchange for their tooth. The Radiation and Public Health Project is a nonprofit educational and scientific organization, established by scientists and physicians dedicated to understanding the relationships between low-level radiation and public health.
The Project said that the study has groundbreaking potential; declaring little information exists on harm from Nevada above-ground nuclear weapons testing. In 1997 and 2003, the federal government produced reports downplaying the human health impacts from exposure to the fallout. In his new book, 'Radioactive Baby Teeth: The Cancer Link,' Mangano describes the journey and how exposure to Strontium-90 increases the risk of childhood cancer. The first chapter may be downloaded at www.radiation.org.
CCNS News Update, 23 October 2009
Restart go-ahead for refurbished Canadian units. Two reactors at Canada's Bruce A nuclear power plant that have been out of service for over a decade have been given regulatory approval for refuelling and restart.
Units 1 and 2 at the Bruce A plant have been undergoing a major refurbishment to replace their fuel channels and steam generators plus upgrade ancillary systems to current standards. The announcement by regulator CNSC that refuelling can go ahead means the project looks to be on line for the projected 2010 restarts.
Units 1 and 2 at the four-unit Bruce A plant started up in 1977, but unit 2 was shut down in 1995 because a steam generator suffered corrosion after a lead shielding blanket used during maintenance was mistakenly left inside. In the late 1990s then-owner Ontario Hydro decided to lay up all four units at the plant to concentrate resources on other reactors in its fleet, and unit 1 was taken out of service in December 1997 with units 3 and 4 in following in 1998. The four units at sister power station Bruce B continued to operate. Bruce Power took over the operations of both Bruce plants from Ontario Hydro in 2001 and restarted units 3 and 4 by early 2004. Bruce A units 3 and 4 are likely to undergo a similar refurbishment once units 1 and 2 are back in operation.
Bruce Power decided to withdraw its application for a third nuclear power station at Bruce in July, saying it would focus on the refurbishment of the existing Bruce plants rather than building Bruce C. It also announced it was scrapping plans for a second new nuclear plant at Nanticoke in Ontario. On June 29, the government in Ontario announced that it has suspended the procurement of two new reactors for the Darlington nuclear site: the bids were 'shockingly high' (see Nuclear Monitor, 691, 16 July 2009)
World Nuclear News, 3 November 2009
US nuclear industry calls for more federal support.
The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), which represents the nuclear industry in the US, is calling for a comprehensive package of federal policies, financing and tax incentives to support a major expansion. The NEI wants to see the creation of a Clean Energy Deployment Administration to act as a permanent financing mechanism for new plants. It is also calling for significant tax incentives to support industry development.
However, the Union of Concerned Scientists says the plans amount to a request for US$100 billion (Euro 67 bn) in new federal loan guarantees on top of the US$110 billion loan guarantees already agreed by Congress. “It is truly staggering that an industry this big and this mature can claim to need so much government help to survive and thrive in a world in which technologies that don’t emit global warming pollution will benefit,” says Ellen Vancko of the UCS. “If the nuclear industry gets its way, Christmas will come early this year – thanks to US taxpayers.”
Energy efficiency news, 2 November 2009