Nuclear activists jailed in Belarus for protesting deal with Russia.
One of the few remaining countries that claims the nuclear renaissance is real is Russia. The renaissance is not so real at home, where the number of planned nuclear power stations always looks impressive, but actual construction slows down. So, Russia looks to the outside world to push new reactors. On July 18 in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, the Russian and Belarusian officials signed a general contract on the joint project that envisions Russia’s Rosatom building a 2,400-MW nuclear power plant in the Belarusian town of Ostrovets in Grodno Region. The contract specified start of operation of Ostrovets unit 1 in November 2018 and unit 2 in July 2020. A price tag of US$10 billion was put on the turnkey project to build the two NPP-2006 model VVER-1200 pressurized water reactors and all associated power plant infrastructure.
Several journalists and environmentalists who are critical of the plan wanted to give him a petition. Even before they were on their way to the Russian Embassy in Minsk to deliver the petition, Russian nuclear physicist and journalist Andrey Ozharovsky and his Belarussian colleague and organizer of the petition Tatjana Novikova were arrested. Both were convicted that same day, Ozharovsky was given 10 days in jail and Novikova five days. They were accused of "hooliganism." The only witnesses called were the police people who arrested them. They said Ozharovsky and Novikova had screamed foul language that was audible further than 50 meters away. Well, "hooliganism" is the new magic word to persecute unwelcome political activism in current Belarus and Russia, just remember the members of punkgroup Pussy Riot who are facing a 7-year jail sentence for playing an anti-Putin song at the altar of one of Moscow's main cathedrals. Furthermore, new legislation in Russia oblige nongovernmental groups that receive funding from abroad to register as "foreign agents" or risk heavy fines and jail time.
Bellona, 13 July 2012 / WNN, 19 July 2012 / Jan Haverkamp, Greenpeace blog, 21 July 2012
Renewables to rescue Areva?
Areva's renewable energy division contributed positive operating cash flow for the first time in the first half of this year, highlighting the emerging importance of green energy to the French group as it looks to improve its cash position and pursue costcutting measures. Revenues from the Renewable Energies division hiked four-fold on the year to Eur253 million (US$308.7 million), on growth in offshore wind, solar and biomass sectors, helping drive up group revenues by 8.3% to Eur4.3 billion. "It's an encouraging sign because we know that renewable energy can contribute to the cash generation objective that we have in general for the group," Chief Financial Officer Pierre Aubouin said July 26 at the company's results presentation. The group has undergone a slim-lining program following costly delays for the construction of third-generation nuclear plants, while the Fukushima nuclear disaster has substantially dented the commercial prospects for nuclear reactor makers. "Ongoing efforts begun in late 2011 to reduce operating costs, with savings measures at the end of June 2012 implemented for nearly 20% of the objective set for the group through 2015, on an annual basis, another 45% of the objective being secured in addition," chief executive Luc Oursel said. The group, which also suffered from major write-downs on its uranium mining assets, still believes that nuclear is to remain a reliable source of energy on a long term, notably in Asia.
Shares in Areva over the past 12 months have lost more than 55% of their value on the worries related to the impact of Fukushima on the group's outlook, as well as the massive write-down on the mining assets.
Areva, press release, 26 July 2012 / www.adr.com, 26 July 2012 / Platts, 27 July 2012
Lithuania: Referendum on new nuclear power plant.
On July 16, Lithuanian Parliament decided that there will be a referendum about Visaginas Nuclear Power Plant project. Text of the referendum will be: "I approve construction of the new nuclear power plant in Lithuania" Yes/No. Sixty-two lawmakers voted in favour of the opposition proposal to hold the referendum, which will not be binding, in tandem with the Baltic state's general election on October 14, while 39 were against and 18 abstained. "Visaginas nuclear power plant will be built on Lithuanian land, with increased danger, therefore we must ask the opinion of the Lithuanian people," said opposition Social Democrat Birute Vesaite. Lithuania's governing Conservatives opposed the referendum plan, accusing the opposition of simply seeking pre-election political gains. The government will not be bound by the results of the referendum, but the vote may add uncertainty to the already-sluggish nuclear project, which lacks strong support from opposition parties that lead the election polls.
At the end of 2009, Lithuania closed its only nuclear power plant, located near Visaginas in the northeast. The shutdown was one of the terms of Lithuania's 2004 admission to the European Union. A referendum on extending the old plant until a new one was ready was held alongside the last general election in 2008, but while 89 percent voted in favour, turnout was only 48 percent, rendering it invalid.
Now a new wave of propaganda and information about nuclear power is expected. But it is impossible to speak of a level playing field for pro and anti-nuclear organizations, considering the differences in financial means.
AFP, 16 July 2012
Olkiluoto-3 delayed indefinitely.
Finnish electricity company TVO says the Olkiluoto 3 EPR nuclear reactor will not be ready by the latest deadline of 2014 and a new timetable has not yet been set. Olkiluoto 3, originally due to be ready by 2009, is being built by French nuclear company Areva and German engineering giant Siemens. In a statement, TVO said it was "not pleased with the situation" although solutions to various problems were being found one by one and work was "progressing". It said it was waiting for a new launch date from Areva and Siemens. Work on the site in south-west Finland began in 2005 but has been hit by repeated delays and has run way over budget. TVO has disagreed with the Areva/Siemens consortium over who is responsible for the delays. On July 16, it cited delays in automation system engineering and installation works.
The International Chamber of Commerce's arbitration court is processing the dispute on cost overruns between the consortium and TVO.
A similar project in Flamanville in northern France is itself running four years behind schedule.
China looks set to be the first country to operate an EPR reactor with one due to enter service in 2013. China is building two such reactors at Taishan in the south-east of the country with the first due to enter service at the end of next year and the second a year later.
On August 11, people are going to block the roads to Olkiluoto nuclear power plant in Eurajoki. Previous years have seen people blocking the roads using banners, drumming, performances and peaceful civil disobedience.
BBC, 16 July 2012 / Reuters, 16 July 2012 / Olkiluotoblockade2012.wordpress.com
Japan: founding Green Party shows strong anti-nuclear feeling.
While a second reactor (Ohi-4) was restarted and resumed supplying to the grid on July 20, anti- nuclear sentiment is still growing. Anti-nuclear campaigners in Japan have launched the country's first green party. Greens Japan, created by local politicians and activists, hopes to satisfy the legal requirements to become an officially recognised political party in time for the general election, which must be held by next summer but could come much earlier. The party said it would offer voters a viable alternative to the two main parties, the ruling Democratic party of Japan and the minority opposition Liberal democratic party [LDP] both supported the nuclear restart. Akira Miyabe, Greens Japan's deputy leader, said voters had been deprived of the chance to support a party that puts nuclear abolition and other green policies at the top of its agenda. "We need a party that puts the environment first," he said at a launch event in Tokyo. Meanwhile, anti-nuclear protest is continuing. The Friday evening demonstration in Tokyo usually attracts over 100.000 people and a human chain against the Diet building on Sunday July 29 again brought ten of thousands to the streets. In a rare move by a former Japanese prime minister, Yukio Hatoyama joined a anti-nuclear demonstration outside his old office on July 19, another sign that the ruling party he once led is fracturing over energy and other policies. Also in other Japanese cities regularly demonstration take place.
ReUters, 20 & 21 July 2012 / Guardian, 30 July 2012 / Website Metropolitans against nukes www.coalitionagainstnukes.jp