Little support for nuclear power worldwide.
There is little public appetite across the world for building new nuclear reactors, a poll for the BBC indicates. In countries with nuclear programmes, people are significantly more opposed than they were in 2005, with only the UK and US bucking the trend. Most believe that boosting efficiency and renewables can meet their needs. Just 22% agreed that "nuclear power is relatively safe and an important source of electricity, and we should build more nuclear power plants". In contrast, 71% thought their country "could almost entirely replace coal and nuclear energy within 20 years by becoming highly energy-efficient and focusing on generating energy from the Sun and wind". Globally, 39% want to continue using existing reactors without building new ones, while 30% would like to shut everything down now.
The global research agency GlobeScan, commissioned by BBC News, polled 23,231 people in 23 countries from July to September this year, several months after Fukushima. GlobeScan had previously polled eight countries with nuclear programmes, in 2005. In most of them, opposition to building new reactors has risen markedly since. In Germany it is up from 73% in 2005 to 90% now - which is reflected in the government's recent decision to close its nuclear programme. More intriguingly, it also rose in pro-nuclear France (66% to 83%) and Russia (61% to 83%). Fukushima-stricken Japan, however, registered the much more modest rise of 76% to 84%. In the UK, support for building new reactors has risen from 33% to 37%. It is unchanged in the US, and also high in China and Pakistan, which all poll around the 40% mark. Support for continuing to use existing plants while not building new ones was strongest in France and Japan (58% and 57%), while Spaniards and Germans (55% and 52%) were the keenest to shut existing plants down immediately.
In countries without operating reactors, support for building them was strongest in Nigeria (41%), Ghana (33%) and Egypt (31%).
BBC News, 25 November 2011
Short list for Poland's first n-power plant.
Poland's largest utility PGE on 25 November announced a short list of three sites for Poland's first nuclear plant. The utility intends to conduct more studies at Choczewo, Gaski and Zarnowiec over the next two years, with a final decision expected in 2013. Poland has signalled its intention to potentially build two nuclear plants with a combined capacity of up to 3GW. PGE plans to commission the first plant, at a projected cost of 18 billion euro ($23.7bn), in 2020-22.
Meanwhile PGE has withdrawn from nuclear developments in Lithuania and the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad to focus on domestic opportunities. PGE has suspended its involvement in building the Visaginas nuclear plant, near Ignalina, in Lithuania. The move ends hopes that the project will be jointly developed by Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland. PGE said it suspended its involvement after analysing the offer from Lithuanian firm VAE, which is lead investor in the project. VAE plans to build the â‚¬5bn ($6.6bn) plant by 2020 next to the site of the Ignalina nuclear station, which was shut in 2009.
Argus Media, 12 December 2011
TEPCO: Radioactive substances belong to landowners, not us.
During court proceedings concerning a radioactive golf course, Tokyo Electric Power Co. stunned lawyers by saying the utility was not responsible for decontamination because it no longer "owned" the radioactive substances. “Radioactive materials (such as cesium) that scattered and fell from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant belong to individual landowners there, not TEPCO,” the utility said.
That argument did not sit well with the companies that own and operate the Sunfield Nihonmatsu Golf Club, just 45 kilometers west of the stricken TEPCO plant in Fukushima Prefecture. The Tokyo District Court also rejected that idea. But in a ruling described as inconsistent by lawyers, the court essentially freed TEPCO from responsibility for decontamination work, saying the cleanup efforts should be done by the central and local governments. TEPCO's argument over ownership of the radioactive substances drew a sharp response from lawyers representing the Sunfield Nihonmatsu Golf Club and owner Sunfield. “It is common sense that worthless substances such as radioactive fallout would not belong to landowners,” one of the lawyers said. “We are flabbergasted at TEPCO’s argument.” The golf course has been out of operation since March 12, the day after the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami set off the nuclear crisis. Although the legal battle has moved to a higher court, observers said that if the district court’s decision stands and becomes a precedent, local governments' coffers could be drained.
The two golf companies in August filed for a provisional disposition with the Tokyo District Court, demanding TEPCO decontaminate the golf course and pay about 87 million yen ($1.13 million) for the upkeep costs over six months.
Asahi Shimbun Weekly, 24 November 2011
The powers that be.
U.K.: at least 50 employees of companies including EDF Energy, npower and Centrica have been placed within government to work on energy issues in the past four years. The staff are provided free of charge and work within the departments for secondments of up to two years. None of the staff on secondment in the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) work for renewable energy companies or non-governmental organizations, though a small number come from organizations such as the Carbon Trust, the Environment Agency and Cambridge University.
There have also been 195 meetings between ministers from the Decc and the energy industry (and 17 with green campaign groups) between the 2010 general election and March 2011, according to a Guardian analysis of declared meetings with Decc. Centrica met ministers seven times, EDF and npower fives times each, E.ON four times and Scottish and Southern just three times. "Companies such as the big six energy firms do not lend their staff to government for nothing - they expect a certain degree of influence, insider knowledge and preferential treatment in return," said Caroline Lucas. The Green party MP asked under the Freedom of Information Act, several key government departments to tell more about staff secondments - private companies and other organisations sending staff to advise and work with the government.
Secondments also work in reverse, with civil servants going to work in the energy industry, such as a two-year secondment to Shell and another to Horizon Nuclear Power, a joint venture of E.ON and RWE npower that aims to build nuclear power stations in the UK.
Guardian (UK), 5 December 2011
Anti-nuclear protestors take out rally against Koodankulam.
India: about 10,000 anti-nuclear protestors today took out a procession from a temple at nearby Koodankulam to this town and staged a peaceful demonstration, condemning Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement that the nuclear power project would be operationalised in a couple of weeks and resolved to picket the plant if work resumed. Pushparayan, Convenor of People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE), which is spearheading the stir, said the organisation would intensify its agitation from January 1 if their demand for removing the fuel rods loaded into the reactor were not removed by that date. Earlier in the day, PMANE condemned Singh’s ‘anti-people’ and ‘autocratic’ statement on KNPP (Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project), saying it betrayed the fact that the state government’s resolution to halt work was never honoured earnestly or implemented effectively.
One of the 'leaders' of the anti-Koodankulam fight, long-time anti-nuclear activist, Mr Udayakumar is awaiting the consequences of the sedition charges that have been filed against him for his anti-Koodankulam activities. Given the number of charges he is facing ("55 to 60 cases"), Mr Udayakumar said he did not know why he has not yet been arrested. Charges have reportedly been filed against Mr Udayakumar under sections 121 and 124A of the Indian Penal Code, which carry possible sentences of life in prison or even death. But he said he was not particularly concerned. "I haven't done anything wrong or bad or harmful to the country. I am fighting for something just. So no, I am not worried."
Statesman (India), 16 December 2011 / www.Ibnlive.in.com, 18 December 2011
Saudi Arabia not excluding nuclear weapons program.
Saudi Arabia may consider acquiring nuclear weapons to match regional rivals Israel and Iran, its former intelligence chief Prince Turki al-Faisal said on December 5. Israel is widely held to possess hundreds of nuclear weapons, which it neither confirms nor denies, while the West accuses Iran of seeking an atomic bomb, a charge the Islamic republic rejects. Riyadh, which has repeatedly voiced fears about the nuclear threat posed by Shiite-dominated Iran and denounced Israel's atomic capacity, has stepped up efforts to develop its own nuclear power for 'peaceful use.'
"Our efforts and those of the world have failed to convince Israel to abandon its weapons of mass destruction, as well as Iran... therefore it is our duty towards our nation and people to consider all possible options, including the possession of these weapons," Faisal told a security forum in Riyadh.
Abdul Ghani Malibari, coordinator at the Saudi civil nuclear agency, said in June that Riyadh plans to build 16 civilian nuclear reactors in the next two decades at a cost of 300 billion riyals ($80 billion). He said the Sunni kingdom would launch an international invitation to tender for the reactors to be used in power generation and desalination in the desert kingdom.
AFP, 5 December 2011