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Childhood leukemias near nuclear power stations

Radiation biologist Dr. Ian Fairlie has written important recent articles and web-posts about the links between childhood leukemias and nuclear power plants.

Fairlie notes that "world-wide, over 60 epidemiological studies have examined cancer incidences in children near nuclear power plants (NPPs): most (>70%) indicate leukemia increases."

Data from four European countries reveal "a highly statistically significant 37% increase in childhood leukemias within 5 km of almost all NPPs in the UK, Germany, France and Switzerland. ... So the matter is now beyond question, i.e. there's a very clear association between increased child leukemias and proximity to NPPs. The remaining question is its cause(s)."

Fairlie's explanation is as follows: "First, the cancer increases may be due to radiation exposures from NPP emissions to air. Second, large annual spikes in NPP emissions may result in increased dose rates to populations within 5 km of NPPs. Third, the observed cancers may arise in utero in pregnant women. Fourth, both the doses and their risks to embryos and to fetuses may be greater than current estimates. And fifth, pre-natal blood-forming cells in bone marrow may be unusually radiosensitive."

EU state aid decision looming

The European Commission may soon reach a decision on whether the UK government's subsidies for proposed Hinkley Point reactors in the UK breach EU state aid rules. Shearman & Sterling legal firm expects the decision in September or October this year – before the current Commissioner leaves office. EC guidelines for state aid in energy (applicable from 1 July 2014) do not extend to cover aid for nuclear energy, so the Hinkley Point C decision will set an important precedent for all EU nuclear projects.

An analysis by Shearman & Sterling lawyers concludes: "Ultimately, projects such as Hinkley Point C are unlikely to be prohibited on State aid grounds. Nevertheless, the eventual outcome may well mean less advantageous terms for the project. This could be with regard to a number of features of the support package, including: the duration of the Contract for Differences, the level of the guaranteed revenue under the Contract for Difference (its "strike price"), sharing any benefits with the UK in the post-Contract for Differences period, or the level of fee for the credit guarantee. While the Commission's decision can be appealed to the Court of Justice of the European Union, such an appeal is unlikely due to the political nature of State aid decisions and, in any event, would take a long time.1

Steve Thomas, Mycle Schneider and Antony Froggatt have recently written a detailed paper2 about the Hinkley Point C saga and we covered the issue in detail in Nuclear Monitor last year.3

1. Nicholas Buckworth, James Webber and Geroge Borovas, 13 Aug 2014, 'United Kingdom: State Aid – Impact On Nuclear New Build In The EU'

2. Steve Thomas, Mycle Schneider, Antony Patrick Froggatt, 21 Aug 2014, 'The saga of Hinkley Point C: Europe's key nuclear decision'

3. UK nuclear power deal − much ado about nothing?

Sweden: Breeder reactor proposal

Sweden will have general elections on September 14. On August 14, the Liberal Party leader and Minister of Education Jan Björklund announced that he had forwarded plans to establish a nuclear reactor for research purposes to the Swedish Research Council for evaluation. The announcement, made in an interview with Sweden's leading business newspaper, came out of the blue.

The Liberal Party has in recent years emerged as the most active campaigner for renewal of Sweden's nuclear power park. Otherwise, nuclear energy has been conspicuously absent in the election campaigns. It is a highly divisive issue for the parties; the larger the party, the deeper the divide.

The reactor in question is 'Electra' (European Lead Cooled Training Reactor), a breeder reactor of Swedish design. It is said to be unique in that the cooling element is unadulterated lead. The fuel is processed nuclear fuel waste and contains plutonium. The estimated cost: 1.5 billion SEK (US$210m, €160m), which all regard as a minimum.

The proposal is two years old. It originated with three universities but has apparently lain dormant in the minister's desk drawer until this past May. The Council has been asked to publish its evaluation by October 1.

Björklund's announcement provoked sharp reactions from other parties including Center, a fellow member of the ruling coalition. The Center Party leader, who seldom criticizes her colleagues, said the proposal has never been discussed in Cabinet: "We'll have to see if it lands on our table, and if it does, Center's position is clear. We will give research on green, renewable energy sources priority. They are the future."

The Social Democrats − not least the current party leader − have long been hard to pin down on the nuclear issue. But, speaking with a business reporter for Svenska Dagbladet, the Social Democrats' group leader in Parliament Michael Damberg wondered where the financing would come from, and added: "If we [the Opposition] win the election and form a new government, new nuclear power reactors will not be a priority."

− Charly Hultén, WISE Sweden

Sweden: Shutting down two reactors economically viable, study finds

Thomas Tangerås and Erik Lundin from the Research Institute of Industrial Economics in Stockholm have calculated the cost to Scandinavian and Finnish households if two of the nuclear power reactors at Oskarshamn, Sweden's oldest and smallest, were to be taken off line. The calculated increment would be SEK 320 (US$46, €35) per year for an electrically heated household using 25 MWh per year. That represents a rise of 3.6% overall.

A rise of 3.6% is greatly outweighed by a steady fall in prices due to overproduction of electricity in the region during the same interval.

The method used to calculate the price is unique. The researchers removed the hour-by-hour production of the two reactors from Nord Pool Spot data for 2011−2013 and then recalculated hour-by-hour market prices based on the output of the reactors that remained. The database does not support calculations for each country, only the region as a whole.

The Oskarshamn reactors (O1 and O2) have poor records, with high costs of maintenance and uncertain reliability. Whenever 'phase-out' is discussed in Sweden, these two, plus one reactor at Ringhals, are generally mentioned. Taking a third reactor such as Ringhals 1 off line would have a greater impact, however, raising the consumer price by about 10% or 1300 SEK (US$186, €142) per year.

Accentuated price peaks during winter months are a prime factor in the calculations. Higher spot prices during one-tenth of the period studied explained one-half of the increment overall.

− Charly Hultén, WISE Sweden

Finland's Olkiluoto 3 reactor delayed again

Finland's Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor will be delayed until late 2018, construction consortium Areva-Siemens said, prompting a disgruntled statement from its client Teollisuuden Voima (TVO). Areva-Siemens said construction, which started in 2005, would not be completed before mid-2016, and that operations were not expected to start until late 2018. Olkiluoto 3, which will be Finland's fifth nuclear reactor, was originally due to start operating as early as 2009, but it has been hit by repeated delays and soaring costs. TVO and Areva have traded accusations about who is to blame for delays and extra costs, and the International Chamber of Commerce's arbitration court is processing a dispute on cost overruns between the consortium and TVO. Areva said the updated schedule would not have an impact on project losses that totalled €3.9 billion (US5.1b) as of the end of June.

Nuclear Resister

The August 2014 issue of the Nuclear Resister is out now, with information about anti-nuclear and anti-war related arrests and peace prisoner support. Stories featured in the latest issue include:

* Four protesters forced a train pulling 50 uranium containers to stop in Hamburg, Germany. They were locked together inside tubes placed under the rails. The train was stalled for over four hours.

* During another action camp in Germany, participants blocked three gates at the Büchel air force base, where U.S. nuclear weapons are stored and maintained. Three were charged with coercion, and others received notices from the police in the mail.

* Tents were pitched for the War Starts Here action base camp on August 17, just outside the boundaries of the European Battle Simulation Center at Altmark, Germany. Despite a large military presence, over the next week groups of campers entered on three different days. On the last day, 60 people embarked on a colourful parade under the eyes of police, and established a peace village inside the war games area. It took police until the next day to remove them all from the grounds.

* Three people were arrested at a protest "dead-ication" of a new Kansas City nuclear weapons parts plant.

* Hiroshima and Nagasaki Day arrests across the US: Three members of the Atlantic Life Community were arrested outside the Pentagon for protesting outside a police-designated protest zone. Anti-nuclear activists blocked an entrance to California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and about 30 were arrested. Seven activists crossed the property line of Lockheed Martin in Pennsylvania; they were arrested and cited for disorderly conduct. Thirty Catholic Workers and friends held a vigil and nonviolent direct action at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California − five were arrested. Peace activists in Washington state rolled out a 60-foot-long scarf ('Wool Against Weapons') at a nuclear weapons base in a demonstration against the Trident nuclear weapons system − six were arrested after walking on entrance lanes to the base.

To read more and to subscribe to the Nuclear Resister e-bulletin or the print edition, visit:

Czech Republic: New Atomic Act

The Czech State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB) has prepared a bill for a new Atomic Act. This bill is subject to amendment and will be submitted to the Government later this year. NGO Calla, which has long followed legislation on nuclear power, has fundamental problems with the bill:

* It maintains the ČEZ's disproportionately low level of limited liability for nuclear damage.

* The bill ignores the efforts of the municipalities, in whose territory the State is seeking final deep geological repository for high-level radioactive waste, to strengthen their rights.

* The bill prevents municipalities and the public from expressing and defending their rights in permitting the location and construction of nuclear facilities. The applicant is the only participant in an administrative proceeding under the Atomic Act.

Calla, media release, 25 Aug 2014, 'New Atomic Act: advantages for nuclear energy last'

Hibakusha Worldwide poster exhibition

The International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW) has created a poster exhibition called "Hibakusha Worldwide". It is dedicated to the millions of people whose lives have been affected by the nuclear industry: Indigenous people whose homes were turned into nuclear wastelands by uranium mining; downwinders of the nuclear weapons tests; the survivors of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; and the people affected by radioactive fallout from civil and military nuclear accidents and nuclear meltdowns. The exhibition consists of 50 posters which can be ordered for temporary display or viewed online.
Contact Alex Rosen, IPPNW Berlin,

USA: Nuclear whistle-blower wins reinstatement order

The US Labor Department ordered the reinstatement of an environmental specialist at the former nuclear weapons complex at Hanford, Washington, saying she had been wrongfully fired. Shelly Doss, an employee of Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS), was fired in October 2011 after she had reported federal and state environmental violations. Doss is one of a number of employees who have been fired, driven out or harassed for raising safety concerns at the facility, according to Hanford Challenge, a watchdog group. The Labor Department found that "every time complainant voiced an environmental or nuclear safety concern, respondent took her off of that project until she hardly had any work assignments left. Complainant was slowly stripped of her job duties."

US Navy kicks out 34 for cheating

At least 34 sailors are being kicked out of the Navy for their roles in a cheating ring that operated undetected for at least seven years at a nuclear power training site, and 10 others are under criminal investigation, the admiral in charge of the Navy's nuclear reactors program told The Associated Press. The sailors were seeking to be certified as instructors at the nuclear training unit at Charleston, South Carolina. Students there are trained to work on the Navy's 83 nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers. Unlike an Air Force exam-cheating scandal that came to light in January at a Montana base that operates land-based nuclear-armed missiles, the sailors involved in the Navy cheating had no responsibility for nuclear weapons.

Muslim engineer banned from entering French nuclear plants

A Muslim engineer was banned from entering French nuclear power stations where he was working without explanation, his lawyer claims. The 29-year-old engineer's pass for the Nogent-sur-Seine nuclear plant was removed without explanation in March 2014. Despite the ban being overturned once in court, he was stopped from entering another nuclear plant in July. He is challenging this.