Radiation can pose bigger cancer risk for children − UN study
Infants and children are at greater risk than adults of developing some cancers when exposed to radiation, according to a report released in October by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) and presented to the UN General Assembly.
Children were found to be more sensitive than adults for the development of 25% of tumour types including leukaemia and thyroid, brain and breast cancers. "The risk can be significantly higher, depending on circumstances," UNSCEAR said.
"Because of their anatomical and physiological differences, radiation exposure has a different impact on children compared with adults," said Fred Mettler, chair of an UNSCEAR expert group on the issue.
USA: Bad record keeping hindering clean-up of nuclear sites
The US government's decades-long effort to rehabilitate hundreds of sites around the country where nuclear weapons development and production has taken plan has been hampered by sloppy record-keeping. Documentation has been so uneven that the Energy Department says it lacks adequate records on several dozen facilities to be able to determine whether they merit clean-up. Additionally, in excess of 20 sites that were cleaned up and announced to be safe ended up needing more rehabilitation after lingering traces of nuclear contamination were found. The final price-tag of the clean-up effort is estimated to cost US$350 billion.
Meanwhile, who − and what pot of money − would drive clean-up after a nuclear power plant incident is a question still left unanswered by the federal government, New York state officials said in a recent legal filing with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Under the Price-Anderson Act, the nuclear power industry's liability in the event of a catastrophe is limited, and in any case NRC officials said in 2009 that Price-Anderson money likely would not be available to pay for offsite clean-up − a revelation made public a year later when internal EPA documents were released under the Freedom of Information Act. Another three years have gone by and the federal government has yet to provide a clear answer, the New York Attorney General's office says. In 2012, NRC Commissioner William Magwood acknowledged that there "is no regulatory framework for environmental restoration following a major radiological release."
 NTI Global Security Newswire, 30 Oct 2013, 'Bad Record Keeping Hindering Cleanup of Ex-Nuclear Sites: Report', www.nti.org/gsn/article/cleanup
 Douglas P. Guarino, 25 Sept 2013, 'New York Wonders Where Nuclear Cleanup Funds Would Come From', www.nti.org/gsn/article/new-york-wonders-where-nuclear-cleanup-funds-wou...
Areva signs uranium deal with Mongolian state
French utility Areva has signed a deal with Mongolia's state-owned Mon-Atom to develop two uranium mines in the Gobi desert. A company will be created, 66% owned by Areva, 34% Mon-Atom, and Japan's Mitsubishi Corporation will take an equity interest. Areva said exploration had discovered two uranium deposits with estimated reserves of 60,000 tonnes.
Mongolian protesters had warned before the signing that a deal could lead to the contamination of water resources in the area. Selenge Lkhagvajav, a protest leader, said: "We are not against cooperation with France. But we just say 'no uranium exploration in Mongolia', as not having it is the best way to prevent radioactive pollution and contamination."
Scotland: Dundrennan depleted uranium protest
Campaigners held a walk-on at the Dundrennan range in protest at the test firing of depleted uranium (DU) weapons into the Solway Firth. It was part of an international day of action and followed concerns about serious health issues resulting from the use of such weapons in war zones. The last DU tests at the south of Scotland range were in 2008. DU Day of Action events were also held in Finland, Japan, Norway, Costa Rica and elsewhere.
UK: Inadequate nuclear regulation
The UK government's nuclear safety watchdog has named the five UK sites that need the most regulation because of the safety problems they pose. They are the reprocessing complex at Sellafield in Cumbria, the nuclear bomb factories at Aldermaston and Burghfield in Berkshire, the nuclear submarine base at Devonport in Plymouth and the former fast breeder centre at Dounreay in Caithness.
These sites have been highlighted by the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) in its 2013 annual report as requiring an "enhanced level of regulatory attention" because of the radioactive hazards on the sites, the risk of radioactive leaks contaminating the environment around the sites and ONR's view of operators' safety performances.
Sellafield was rated unacceptable in one inspection because a back-up gas turbine to provide power to the site in emergencies was "at imminent risk of failure to operate" because of severe corrosion. "Failure would reduce the availability of nuclear safety significant equipment, and also potentially injure or harm the workforce," says ONR.
At Aldermaston, corrosion in a structural steelwork was discovered in 2012, resulting in the closure of the A45 building which makes enriched uranium components for nuclear warheads and fuel for nuclear submarines.
In May, AWE admitted one count of breaching the Health and Safety At Work Act 1974 in relation to an August 2010 accident and fire at Aldermaston. A worker was injured when the mixing chemicals in a bucket caused an explosion and a fire which led to the evacuation of staff and nearby residents. Bernard Thorogood, prosecuting on behalf of the Health and Safety Executive, said an investigation into the fire revealed a "constellation of failures" relating to health and safety regulations which put employees at risk.
 Rob Edwards, 5 Nov 2013, www.robedwards.com/2013/11/five-nuclear-sites-with-most-safety-problems-...
 Basingstoke Gazette, 23 May 2013, www.basingstokegazette.co.uk/news/10436305._/
Italy: radioactive waste dumped illegally by Mafia blamed for cancer increase
The Italian Senate is investigating a possible link between buried radioactive waste and a rise of almost 50% in tumours found in the inhabitants of several towns around Naples. The illegal trafficking of hazardous waste came to light in 1997. A Mafia clan had run a profitable operation dumping millions of tonnes of waste on farmland, in caves, in quarries, on the edge of towns, in Lake Lucrino and along the coast.
Radioactive sludge, brought in on trucks from plants in Germany, was dumped in landfills, said Carmine Schiavone, who was involved in the illegal activities before becoming a whistle-blower. "I know that some is on land where buffalo live today, and on which no grass grows," he said.
Hannah Roberts, 1 Nov 2013, 'Toxic nuclear waste dumped illegally by the Mafia is blamed for surge in cancers in southern Italy', www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2483484/Toxic-nuclear-waste-dumped-ille...
UK: Dungeness power lines damaged by storms
EDF's Dungeness nuclear power station has been reconnected to the National Grid after power lines were damaged when storms battered southern Britain. The Kent power plant's two reactors were automatically shut down when electricity to the site was cut off on 28 October. More than 60,000 homes and businesses were left without power.
The Dungeness plant was in the media earlier this year when Freedom of Information documents revealed that ministers rejected advice from the Office for Nuclear Regulation to restrict development near nuclear plants. That advice was overridden when the government approved the expansion of Lydd airport, a few miles from the Dungeness plant. Dungeness was also in the news earlier this year when it was revealed that tritium leaks beyond the statutory limit had occurred.
 BBC, 6 Nov 2013, www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-kent-24838306
 Utility Week, 29 Oct 2013, www.utilityweek.co.uk/news/nuclear-plant-and-60000-customers-still-off-s...
 'Dungeness Airport Threat & Tritium', May 2013, www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo50.pdf