Israel: first permit for uranium exploration.
Israel’s Energy and Water Ministry on April 3 granted Gulliver Energy the first ever uranium exploration permit. The Israeli oil and gas exploration company is headed by former Mossad intelligence agency director Meir Dagan. In a statement dated April 3, Gulliver said the permit is for a year and covers 1,200 acres in Israel’s northern Negev Desert region near the town of Arad. The area to be explored extends to the Dead Sea. Gulliver requested the permit after radioactive material was discovered at shallow depths of less than 100 meters during oil exploration testing last year. A feasibility study conducted in the past year concluded there was a high probability of finding uranium there. Initial tests were conducted to a shallow depth but further tests at various depths are planned in order to assess the prospects for finding uranium.
Arad Mayor Tali Peloskov said the town will not allow any mining in the area. He has requested a meeting with Deputy Health Minister Yakov Litzman on the matter in order to assess the health risk of mining in the area. Local residents who are opposed to mining operations have also set up a lobby to oppose efforts to mine for uranium as well as phosphates near the town. The land involved is near large phosphate reserves. Israel conducted a national uranium survey in the late 1980s, and the region near Arad was found to have potential for uranium. In the past Israel attempted to extract uranium from phosphates. The Weizmann Institute of Science, a multidisciplinary research institute in Rehovot, Israel, developed a technique that was costly and the project was dropped. Neither the company nor the ministry has said whether the uranium would be used in Israel or exported.
NuclearFuel, 16 April 2012
Myanmar: no longer pursuing nuclear program.
Myanmarese President Thein Sein said on May 14, the country had given up its plan to develop nuclear programs in cooperation with Russia in the mid-2000s. Sein told visiting Korean President Lee Myung-bak that Russia offered to build two 10 megawatt nuclear reactors for civilian, not military, use. But the country’s military junta did not pushed the project due to its inability to manage it, he was quoted as saying by Lee’s security aide Kim Tae-hyo. In 2007, Russia's atomic energy agency and Myanmar signed a deal to build nuclear research reactor. Reports said the reactors would use low enriched uranium consisting of less than 20 percent uranium-235. The plans to buy a nuclear reactor from Russia have been in the pipeline for years, and were met with suspicion. (See for instance Nuclear Monitor 657, 21 June 2007: Myanmar: a new Iran in the making?)
Asia News Network (The Korea Herald), 15 May 2012
Brazil shelves plans to build new nuclear plants.
Brazil announced on May 9, it has abandoned plans to build new nuclear power stations in the coming years in the wake of last year's Fukushima disaster in Japan. The previous government led by former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva had planned to construct between four and eight new nuclear plants through 2030. But the energy ministry's executive secretary, Marcio Zimmermann, was quoted as telling a forum May 8, that there was no need for new nuclear facilities for the next 10 years. "The last plan, which runs through 2020, does not envisage any (new) nuclear power station because there is no need for it. Demand is met with hydro-electrical power and complementary energy sources such as wind, thermal and natural gas."
Brazil has two PWR in operation. The Angra I was the first Brazilian nuclear reactor, which has been hampered by problems with corrosion in the steam generators due to a metal alloy used by westinghouse, which forced the recent replacement of both steam generators.
The Angra II reactor was completed after more than 20 years of construction, as costs soared from initial estimates of 500USD/kW in 1975 to over 4000USD/kw.
The total cost of Angra III, whose completion has been delayed for years, will be around 10 billion Brazilian reais (US$5.9 billion, 4.7bn euro).
AFP, 9 May 2012 / www.enformable.com, 9 May 2012
Used parts sold for new in South Korea.
On May 11, a South Korean businessman has been jailed for three years for supplying potentially defective parts to the country's oldest atomic power plant Gori, near Busan. The man, identified only as Hwang, was sentenced for selling recycled turbine valve parts. He cleaned and painted used parts stolen from the plant's dump by an employee. He then sold them back to the plant, on three occasions since 2008, disguising them as new products. Hwang pocketed some three billion won (US$2.6 million) through the fraud, according to the court. The plant employee who stole the scrapped parts was sentenced to three years in prison in April.
There have been previous scandals over potentially defective parts in nuclear power plants. In April the nuclear safety watchdog launched an investigation at Gori and another plant, after they were found to be using components developed by a local company but based on illegally obtained French technology. The Gori-1 Reactor at the plant was also at the centre of a scare in February when it briefly lost power and the emergency generator failed to kick in. Several officials and engineers have been punished for covering up the incident.
AFP, 16 may 2012
Nigeria proposes two reactor sites. In the category ‘uhh, sorry?’ the following:
Nigeria’s Kogi and Akwa Ibom states are being put forward as proposed areas for nuclear reactors, pending approval of the federal executive council, the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) has said. Chairman of the commission, Dr Erepamo Osaisai, said it would submit the two locations for the siting of nuclear power reactors in the country soon to the Presidency. Dr Osaisai made the disclosure in a lecture to the fellows of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering in Sheda, Abuja. He said the preliminary sites' survey and evaluation project investigated a number of technical, environmental, security, social and economic issues. The two locations are within Geregu and Ajaokuta local governments in Kogi State and Itu Local Government in Akwa Ibom.
Nigeria is planning to generate 1000 MW of electricity through nuclear energy by 2020 and gradually increase it to 4000 MW by 2030. Osaisai expects that NAEC will apply for the licensing of the approved sites by the end of 2013. He said a draft law for the implementation of the national nuclear power program has been developed and has been subjected to detailed scrutiny by all major stakeholders with technical input of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), according to the news report.
The Nigerian Voice, 28 May 2012 / Nuclear Energy Insider, Policy & Commission Brief 24 – 30 May 2012
Tanzania: uranium mining threat to World Heritage site.
The Unesco World Heritage Committee (UWHC) will break the deadlock in June when it will decide whether or not to allow mining of uranium in Selous Game Reserve, one of the largest remaining wilderness areas in Africa, harboring the largest elephant population on the continent. The Mkuju River Uranium Project is planned by Russian ARMZ, a subsidiary of Rosatom and Canada-based UraniumOne. A decision on whether to change the boundary of the World Heritage site Selous Game Reserve and thus 'pave the way' for uranium mining - or not, will be made by the World Heritage Committee at its June 2012 session in St. Peterburg, Russia.
According to deputy minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, any move by the committee to halt uranium extraction would be a big blow to Tanzania which has been insisting that its extraction is critical to funding the country’s development programs and driving its economy. Some international as well as local environmentalists and politicians, including a handful of MPs, have strongly opposed the mining plans. They have maintained that the mining project would have a devastating impact on the economic and social fronts, and would deal a major blow to the ecology of the region. However, Tanzania went ahead and applied to the Unesco World Heritage Committee for permission to mine uranium at the 5-million hectare game reserve in the south of Tanzania.
The Citizen (Tanzania), 18 May 2012