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In brief

Nuclear Monitor Issue: 
#718
29/10/2010
Shorts

Argentina reactivates enrichment plant.
Argentina has formally reactivated its gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment plant at Pilcaniyeu over two decades after production there halted. The plant is expected to become operational in September 2011. Plans to recommission the Pilcanyeu plant, which operated from 1983 to 1989, were announced in 2006 and form part of Argentina's ambition to build a self-sufficient nuclear fuel cycle. Work has been underway to refurbish and upgrade the plant, which uses gaseous diffusion, using Argentina's own technology. The first stage of the refurbishment has involved the construction of an advanced prototype of 20 diffusers, and the plant is expected to be able to produce its first enriched uranium for nuclear fuel use by September 2011 according to the CNEA. President Fernandez said that in reactivating the plant, Argentina was recovering lost time. She described uranium enrichment as "a right that we should never have resigned." The project was "a source of great pride" for the country, she said. The original Pilcaniyeu plant had a modest enrichment capacity of 20,000 SWU per year, although plans call for the upgraded plant ultimately to reach a capacity of some 3 million SWU.
Source: World Nuclear News, 26 October 2010


INES 20 years old.
Jointly developed by the IAEA and the Nuclear Energy Agency (of the OECD) in 1990, in the aftermath of the Chernobyl accident, the International Nuclear and radiological Event Scale (INES) helps nuclear and radiation safety authorities and the nuclear industry worldwide to rate nuclear and radiological events and to communicate their safety significance to the general public, the media and the technical community. INES was initially used to classify events at nuclear power plants only, but since 2008, INES has been extended to any event associated with the transport, storage and use of radioactive material and radiation sources, from those occurring at nuclear facilities to those associated with industrial use. INES has mainly become a crucial nuclear communications tool. Over the years, national nuclear safety authorities have made growing use of INES, while the public and the media have become "more familiar with the scale and its significance". According to the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency "this is where the true success of INES stands, having helped to foster transparency and to provide a better understanding of nuclear-related events and activities".
Source: Nuclear Engineering International, 22 October 2010


International Uranium Film Festival 2011 in Brazil.
For the first time in history Brazilians will be able to see international independent Nuclear-Energy and Uranium-Documentaries in cinema. The film and video festival Uranio em Movi(e)mento - 1st International Uranium Film Festival 2011 will help to bring the Uranium- and Nuclear question into the national and international public. The deadline  for entries is January 20, 2011. The Uranium Film Festival wants to inform especially the Brazilian and Latin American societies and stimulate the production of independent documentaries and movies about the whole nuclear fuel cycle, about the dangers of radioactivity and especially about the environmental and health risks of uranium exploration, mining and processing. The Uranium Film Festival will be held from May 21 to 28, 2011 in the city of Rio de Janeiro and from June 2 to 9 in the city of Sao Paulo.

Until today most of the documentaries about uranium and the nuclear risks are mainly in English, German or French - but not in Portuguese. So the second advantage of our Uranium Film Festival is to subtitle the films to create the so called Yellow Archives. Yellow is the color of Uranium and for that a symbol for the whole nuclear industry.

The Yellow Archives will be the first-ever film library in Brazil and Latin America dedicated to films about the whole nuclear fuel chain organized by the Uranio em Movi(e)mento Festival. Believing that awareness is the first step in making positive changes to better our environment, the Yellow Archives hopes to increase public awareness especially in Brazil and in other Portuguese speaking countries like Portugal or Angola and Mozambique. The DVDs will be used for non-profit, educational and research purposes. Especially schools, universities, environmental groups and other grass root movements will have access to the Yellow Archives.
Contact  and source:  [email protected] / Website: www.uraniumfestival.org


India: antinuclear activists arrested.
On October 6, eleven activists of "Paramanu Bidyut Birodhi Prachar Andolan" (Campaign against Nuclear Power) were forcefully seized by the local police while distributing leaflets opposing the proposed Haripur nuclear power plant, in the vicinity of Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kolkata, where Dr. Srikumar Banerjee, the Atomic Energy Commission Chairman, had arrived to preach the merits of setting up of a 'nuclear park' at Haripur. The handful of activists present had not even entered the institute campus and were distributing leaflets on the road outside. First one activist was forced into a police jeep and hauled away to the local police station. The rest were pushed away from the immediate vicinity of the Saha Institute. But when the activists continued distributing their leaflets, a police van was brought in, the police suddenly pounced, herded the activists into a police-van and taken to the local station. The activists were held for over 6 hours in the name of interrogation. However, no actual interrogation was conducted. For the real reason for detention, which the officers divulged off-the-record, was to keep the activists away from the site (where the vast benefits of nuclearisation was being preached). That, in their minds, was the ideal way of handling critics and criticism.
Source: Radicalsocialist.in, 7 October 2010


Vermont Yankee tritium leaks into aquifer.
The leaking radioactive tritium from Vermont Yankee has now leaked into the aquifer that drinking water is pulled from in and around the town of Vernon, Vermont. Entergy Louisiana, the corporate owners of Vermont Yankee, could do more to contain the contamination but are refusing. The Vermont Department of Health and the Agency of Natural Resources are doing nothing to require Entergy to increase the cleanup effort. More is needed to pressure the state agencies into action. When the Oyster Creek Nuclear Reactor in New Jersey contaminated the ground water with radioactive tritium the NJ Department of Environmental Protection took enforcement action. When the Braidwood Station Nuclear reactor in Illinois contaminated the ground water and then the drinking water aquifer of the local community the Illinois EPA took enforcement action. Entergy Vermont Yankee, likely leaked radioactive materials into our state's ground water for two or three years and now it is clear that at least some of that contamination has also gotten into the local drinking water aquifer. Continued pumping, at deeper depths, should be able to keep hundreds of thousands if not millions of gallons of contaminated water from migrating further into the aquifer and yet there has been no talk from your agencies about requiring even this simple step.  Instead Entergy Vermont Yankee is planning on ending all of their pumping in December. Ultimately, the contaminated soil needs to be removed and that can't happen until the plant is retired and cleaned up.

Vermont Yankee is scheduled to close in March of 2012. It is one of the oldest reactors in the country but its owners, Entergy Corporation, want to run it for 20 years past its expiration date. Poor management and old age have lead to a string of accidents and safety concerns.
Entergy has refused to add money to the reactor's clean-up fund, potentially leaving Vermonters with most of a $1 billion dollar clean-up bill in addition to the nuclear waste that is being stored on the banks of the Connecticut River.
On February 23, 2010, and by a margin of 26 to 4 the Senate voted to retire the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant as scheduled. This historic vote marks the first time a state legislature has been able to deny a nuclear plant a 20-year life extension. In March, fifteen towns voted on town meeting to close Vermont Yankee as scheduled. That combined with the 36 towns that voted in 2009, a total of 51 towns, have spoken -- they want Vermont Yankee to close as scheduled.

The public sentiment expressed by the town meeting votes this year and last show overwhelming opposition to continued operation of Vermont Yankee after 2012 and very strong support for requiring Entergy to fully fund the cleanup and for safe, clean and renewable sources of electricity.

The resolution calls for the plant's closure in 2012 and for Entergy-- the owner of Vermont Yankee-- pay for the full cost of decommissioning the plant. A vast majority of Vermonters know Entergy cannot be trusted.
Source: www.vpirg.org


U.S.A.: Hanford cleanup; new deadlines.
Washington state and federal officials have agreed on a new schedule for the cleanup of the Hanford nuclear reservation. The good news is that the federal government could no longer ignore cleanup deadlines with impunity. The bad news is that the agreement would push the deadlines forward by more than two decades. Under the new cleanup schedule, 53 millions gallons of radioactive waste stored in 177 underground tanks near the Columbia River would not have to be emptied until 2052. That's a 24-year delay from the existing timetable. (see more on the Hanford tanks, Nuclear Monitor 696, October 23, 2009). Thirty-five of those tanks are double-walled and considered 'reliably safe'.  All of the 142 single-walled tanks would have to be emptied by 2047 under this new schedule. And the tanks of most concern — the 67 single-walled tanks known to be leaking — would be emptied by 2014. It's estimated that more than 1 million gallons (1 US gallon is 3.787 liter) of radioactive waste already have leaked. Some of that waste has made it into the groundwater and is slowly moving toward the nearby Columbia River.

The state has long sought to make Hanford cleanup deadlines enforceable in court. Until now, the federal government has steadfastly refused to do so and now the government finally agreed to the court-enforceable deadlines. This accountability has become critical. Without it, there can be little confidence that the government would adhere to any cleanup schedule. The federal government has failed to meet numerous deadlines established in the 1989 Tri-Party Agreement signed by the Energy Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Washington. It's not as though the state has refused to be flexible. Washington has agreed to more than 400 changes in the Tri-Party Agreement. Yet as recently as last year, the government missed 23 project deadlines.
Source: The Daily News Online (tdn.com), 19 October 2010


South Africa: six reactors up and running in 2023.
On October 7, The department of Energy of South Africa published an ambitious plan to reduce SA reliance on coal by almost half by 2030 and to more than double the use of nuclear energy The proposals, which are part of the department's draft integrated electricity resource plan (IRP), show the government's preferred energy mix for the next 20 years. They provide prospective investors with an indication of the shape of South African future energy industry. The integrated resource plan is a 20-year electricity capacity plan that gives an outcome of projected future electricity demand, how the demand would be met and at what cost.

In the draft IRP, the department is proposing that coal contribute 48% to the energy mix by 2030, followed by renewable energy (16%), nuclear (14%), peaking open cycle gas turbine (9%), peaking pump storage (6%), mid-merit gas (5%) and baseload import hydro (2%).  Coal currently accounts for over 90% of electricity generation. Eskom's two nuclear reactors at the Koeberg power station supply 1800MW or 6% of SA's electricity needs. The renewable energy industry is yet to take off in SA. The draft plan envisages average gross domestic growth of 4,6% on over the next 20 years, which would require 52 248 MW of new power generation capacity to be brought on line. The government plans to build six new nuclear power stations which are expected to be up and running by 2023. Only  a few months ago, the government stopped the PBMR-nuclear project after it poured billions in it over the last decades.
Source: Eastcoast radio, 8 October 2010 / Engineering News (SA), 8 October 2010


CEZ delays Temelin reactors.
CEZ AS, the Czech Republic's largest power producer, will delay the construction of two  additional reactors at its Temelin nuclear power plant, Hospodarske Noviny reports, citing Industry and Trade Minister Martin Kocourek. The construction could be delayed by as much as several years, the newspaper said,citing an unidentified person from the company. The main reason is uncertain demand for electricity after 2020, according to the report. CEZ selected Westinghouse Electric Co., Areva SA and a Russian-Czech consortium led by ZAO Atomstroyexport as the three bidders for the contract.

This is good news for the whole CEE region. Until recently, CEZ has been agresivelly pushing construction of 5 new reactors in the region (2 in Czech Republic, 1 in Slovakia,  other 2 to be determined). But now the plans are put to ice, citing less demand and lower  prices on electricity markets, as well as less optimistic rating outlook of the utility. But there are more interesting details in original Hospodarske Noviny article: Quoting for example an internal CEZ document: "The expansion plans were based on increasing of our [CEZ] debt. But we are not anymore sweetheart of the markets, we are not considered as a stable and growing corporation, we are getting first signals from rating agencies..."

Similarly to EdF, CEZ already had to reduce its investment program by 2015 from 425 to 333 billion CZK [ca 13 billion EUR], and this is not enough - it admits the cuts will have to be deeper.
Source: Email: Greenpeace International, 13 October 2010


New press for reactor pressure vessels.
A major new facility has been commissioned in Germany for the production of large reactor components. The 12,000 ton press installed at Völklingen by Saarschmiede GmbH Freiformschmiede can handle ingots of up to 370 tons - enough to make all but the largest reactor pressure vessels. The time for construction was only two years. Due to its geometrical dimensions," the company said, the press is "able to deal with all parts of the AP1000." It estimated that some four to six sets of heavy forgings for AP1000s could be made annually at the facility, given certain other expansions. Westinghouse has sourced forgings from South Korea's Doosan Heavy Industries for the four AP1000s under construction in China as well as the four forthcoming units at Vogtle and Summer in the USA.
Source: World Nuclear News, 14 October 2010


Chernobyl 1986-2011
Next year April marks the 25th anniversary of the disaster in the Chernobyl nuclear power station, in the Ukraine. For sure there will be many commemorative activities taking place all over the globe. WISE will, starting next issue, try to cover relevant developments and news on Chernobyl in the Nuclear Monitor, and we would like to start listing as much as possible activities, publications, actions, official reports, meetings and conferences on this issue.

With several other NGO’s in different parts of the world we are preparing a joint call for action. You will hear from us soon, we hope to hear from you aswell; please send in anything you have heard about activities on the coming Chernobyl Day. In the meantime; join the Virtual March on Washinton, for April 26, as part of an International Radioactive Waste Action Day. Go to http://www.nirs.org/radwaste/actionday/dayhome.html