1. IAEA Seen Giving More Detail on Iran Atom Bomb Fears
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The U.N. atomic watchdog is expected to spell out in more detail soon the reasons for its growing concern that Iran may be working covertly to develop a nuclear missile, diplomats say.
Such a move by the International Atomic Energy Agency, possibly in a new quarterly report on Iran due early next month, could raise pressure on Tehran and offer more arguments for Western powers to tighten sanctions on the major oil producer.
The United States and its allies have urged IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano to declare plainly whether he believes that there have been military aspects to Tehran's nuclear activities and whether such work may still be going on.
It remains to be seen whether the report's conclusion will be sufficiently clear-cut to prompt the agency's 35-nation board of governors to take action at a November 17-18 meeting, possibly by reporting Iran once again to the U.N. Security Council.
"Many countries have called on Amano to give his best possible assessment of the possible military dimension of Iran's nuclear program," one Western envoy said.
But it is hard to know now what Amano will say and it is "much too early to make a judgement" on whether it could provide the basis for referring the issue to the Security Council in New York, as happened in 2006, the diplomat added.
A divided board decided in June to report Syria, Iran's ally, to the Security Council for stonewalling an IAEA probe into a suspected reactor site that was bombed by Israel in 2007.
Russia and China opposed the U.S.-led diplomatic crackdown on Syria, highlighting big power rifts that the West would want to avoid in any similar IAEA board vote on Iran.
"Russia and China appear to be in no mood for imposing additional pressure on Iran without a pressing reason for concern," said Ali Vaez, an Iran expert at the Federation of American Scientists think-tank.
Iran says it is enriching uranium solely for peaceful electricity generation. But its history of concealing sensitive nuclear activity, continued restrictions on access for IAEA inspectors and its refusal to suspend work that also can also yield atomic bombs have drawn four rounds of U.N. sanctions, as well as separate U.S. and European punitive steps.
Western analysts and diplomats say Iran has no logical civilian use for the enriched uranium it is stockpiling because it would take many years for it to launch even one of a series of nuclear power stations it says it is planning.
Iran's only existing nuclear power plant, at Bushehr, was built by Russia and is fuelled by Russian enriched uranium.
Pierre Goldschmidt, a former IAEA deputy director general, said Iran's "nuclear-related activities and uncooperative behaviour make more sense if their objective is to become a nuclear threshold state rather than developing an exclusively peaceful nuclear program."
Amano said last month that he was "increasingly concerned" about possible activity in Iran to develop a nuclear payload for a missile and that the agency continued to receive information adding to those fears.
The veteran Japanese diplomat, who has taken a more pointed approach to Iran than his predecessor Mohamed ElBaradei, said he planned to "set out in greater detail the basis for the agency's concerns," in order to keep member states informed.
For several years, the IAEA has been investigating Western intelligence reports indicating Iran has melded efforts to process uranium, test explosives at high altitude and revamp a ballistic missile cone to accommodate a nuclear warhead.
Nuclear expert Greg Thielmann said he hoped the IAEA would provide more clarity about the timeline of the information it has received, and also about the number of sources.
A controversial 2007 U.S. National Intelligence Estimate assessed with "high confidence" that Iran halted a nuclear weapons program in 2003 and with "moderate confidence" it had not been restarted as of mid-2007.
Many conservative foreign policy experts criticized the 2007 report as inaccurate and naive, and U.S. intelligence agencies now believe Iranian leaders have resumed closed-door debates over the last four years about whether to build a nuclear bomb.
Thielmann said he suspected that any military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program were "quite compartmentalized" and that not even all those contributing to any such an effort would know about the ultimate purposes of their work.
"But the most difficult intelligence challenge is getting into the mind of the Supreme Leader," Thielmann said, referring to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's highest authority.
"He would be the one to make the critical decisions and my guess is that he has approved development of a nuclear weapon breakout option, but has not yet decided to go all the way," said Thielmann, of the U.S.-based Arms Control Association.
Available at: http://uk.reuters.com/article/2011/10/10/uk-nuclear-iran-iaea-idUKTRE7993RD20111010
Ahead of the G20 summit of emerging and developed economies, French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe comes to India next week for talks that will focus on the shifting international financial situation and civil nuclear cooperation between the two countries.
Juppe will be here Oct 20-21 on a working visit, during which he will hold talks with External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna and call on Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the French embassy said here Thursday.
Juppe will also interact with Indian industrialists and members of the French community in Delhi.
The French foreign minister comes here weeks ahead of the G20 summit his country will host in early November.
The summit is expected to focus on reforms of the international financial architecture and a host of global issues, including the festering economic crisis in Europe and the developed world. These issues will be discussed during bilateral talks Juppe will hold with Indian leaders.
The talks are also expected to push plans for bilateral civil nuclear cooperation between France and India. Issues relating to India's civil nuclear liability regime, seen as onerous by many countries, will also figure in the discussions.
Juppe's visit comes amid mounting concerns in India over nuclear safety and protests against the Russia-built Kudankulam nuclear plant. The French minister is expected to assure his Indian interlocutors about stringent safety standards followed by French nuclear giants like Areva which is in the middle of discussions to build two 1,650 MW reactors in Jaitapur in western India.
France was the first country to sign a bilateral civil nuclear accord with India September 2008 after the Nuclear Suppliers Group amended global rules of nuclear commerce in India's favour.
Unfazed by the Fukushima nuclear radiation leak, France, a leader in civilian nuclear technology, is in the middle of negotiating nuclear deals with a host of European countries and emerging economies.
Available at: http://zeenews.india.com/news/nation/india-france-to-hold-talks-n-deal-on-agenda_736366.html
According to a classified annual report by the Czech counterespionage and intelligence agency BIS, a Russian consortium has better chances than US firm Westinghouse of winning the bid to build new reactors at the Temelín nuclear power plant, an anonymous source who claims to have sen the BIS report told Czech news server aktualne.cz. Of the three expected bidders, the French firm Areva is reportedly “out of the game.”
“[The Russians] are offering know-how and are planning on maximum participation of our [Czech] firms. However, security concerns play against [the Russians winning the contract,” the source told aktualne.cz.
The government’s commissioner for the Temelín expansion, Václav Bartuška, confirmed the tender documentation will be delivered to the three consortiums which have said that they will participate in the tender. Offers are to be submitted next summer and the winner selected in 2013. The contract is expected to be worth somewhere in the region of Kč 500 billion.
“The Russians have taken the initiative. Therefore, the Americans have invited Nečas and plan to do the same as them,” aktualne.cz’s source said referring to Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas’ (Civic Democrats, ODS) visit to the US at the end of this month.
“If American politics are effective in one [particular] area, it’s the tradition of effectively supporting American industry [abroad],” aktualne.cz cited expert with advisory firm ENA, Jiří Gavor, who nevertheless says the Russian offer promises to be “objectively the best.”
“Cooperation between the Czech and Russian nuclear energy sectors has the firmest foundations. The reactors that operate here are Russian, but have a high level of Czech know-how and Czech elements. They were complimented with modern components of western origin, mostly control systems, but the fundaments are Russian-Czech technology,” Gavor said.
The Russian consortium named MIR. 1200 comprises the Russian nuclear engineering firm Atomstroyexport, Russian reactor manufacturer Gidropress, and the Russian-owned Czech nuclear engineering firm Škoda JS. ‘From the point of view of Czech industry, the Russian offer will have the best starting credentials.’
“Škoda JS may not be in Czech hands, but it’s a subject that pays taxes here, and it would be one of the major contractors. So no surprise here: from the point of view of Czech industry, the Russian offer will have the best starting credentials,” Gavor said.
In order to improve their chance, Areva and Westinghouse will have to pledge a solid transfer of know-how and/or commitment to include Czech companies in major projects in third countries, Gavor adds.
However, Aktualne.cz’s source who cited the classified BIS report says Areva of France is practically out of the running: “They’re out of the game. What’s more, the French are probably not all that interested because they have plenty of orders elsewhere,” the source said.
Nevertheless, Václav Bartuška, who in the past has stated in unequivocal terms that he would not like to see the Russians win the contract, claims that to date Škoda JS has gained practically nothing from Russian ownership. “Škoda JS was acquired by a Russian concern in 2004, and since then it hasn’t received a single contract in Russia. It only receives orders from the French.”
Available at: http://www.ceskapozice.cz/en/news/politics-policy/russians-%E2%80%98closer%E2%80%99-winning-temelin-tender-czech-intelligence-agency-says
3. Crossait Nuclear Pact to Focus on Safety, Emergency Notification: AEC
Huang Chiao-wen and Lilian Wu
Focus Taiwan News Channel
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A nuclear cooperation agreement between Taiwan and China will focus on safety and emergency notification, but the details have not yet been finalized, the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) said Wednesday.
The signing of the pact, scheduled during the next round of cross-Taiwan Strait talks in Tianjin Oct. 19-21, will be based on the principles of equality, dignity and reciprocity and the content is focused on two areas -- nuclear safety and notification in case of emergency, the council said.
The AEC did not divulge any other details of the agreement, saying only that the process of notification and cooperation in various areas will be decided before the signing.
Further discussion is required on some aspects of the agreement such as nuclear safety regulations, technology and exchanges, it added.
AEC Chairman Tsai Chuen-horng said earlier in the day at a legislative hearing that Taiwan's exchanges with Japan and the United States have yielded good results, and the same is expected when the agreement with China is concluded.
However, he noted that while Taiwan is trying to reduce the percentage of nuclear power in its total energy supply, the opposite is happening in China.
The safety of the Taiwan people will be a priority in the crossait talks, he said.
"We hope the pact will conform to the principles of equality, dignity and mutual benefit and we'll move towards that goal," Tsai said
The nuclear pact will be important to Taiwanese businessmen in China, he said, noting that there are many nuclear power plants in the coastal areas of China where a large percentage of Taiwanese entrepreneurs are based.
The AEC will be able to give them first-hand information and inform residents there of contingency plans in the event of emergencies, he said.
Available at: http://focustaiwan.tw/ShowNews/WebNews_Detail.aspx?Type=aALL&ID=201110120031
4. Lithuania’s Planned Nuclear Power Plant to Boost Economic Growth
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France Spokesperson
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Lithuania’s planned new nuclear power plant would give a boost to the country’s economic growth, said Finance Minister Ingrida Simonyte.
“Projects of this size give a substantially strong boost to gross domestic product,” Simonyte said in an interview yesterday. “There’s strong potential for other businesses as well.”
Lithuania picked Hitachi Ltd. together with its Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy Ltd. as a strategic investor and technology supplier to construct a nuclear power plant in the Baltic country by the end of 2020. The government is seeking to cut its dependence on energy imports after closing the Soviet-era Ignalina facility at the end of 2009.
“Strong interest from the investor is the best indicator that the project is viable” financially, Simonyte said. “The strategic investor is not only supplying the technology, it’s also seeing benefit in the project.”
Hitachi offered its ABWR reactor technology with a proposed capacity of 1,300 megawatts in output at the projected plant in Visaginas, about 160 kilometers (100 miles) northeast of the capital.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-12/lithuania-s-planned-nuclear-power-plant-to-boost-economic-growth.html
5. Olkiluoto 3 Nuke Plant May Be Delayed Further –TVO
Ritsuko Ando and Marie Maitre
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Finnish utility firm Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) blamed supplier Areva for further delays to the construction of its Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant which may further push back operations to 2014.
The 1,600 megawatt plant Olkiluoto 3, Finland's fifth nuclear reactor, was originally scheduled to start operations in 2009 but delays and soaring costs meant TVO revised its start date to 2013.
TVO said its plant supplier, a consortium originally formed by France's Areva and Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE), had informed it of delays in building the reactor's automation system and in installing piping and electrical systems.
TVO and Areva-Siemens disagree over who is responsible for the delays and have taken a dispute over payment to the International Chamber of Commerce. Siemens has withdrawn from the consortium.
Areva on Wednesday denied the delay was its fault, saying it still plans to load nuclear fuel at Olkiluoto 3 by the end of next year and that the exact timing depends on authorisation from TVO and Finland's nuclear safety authority.
Areva Chief Executive Luc Oursel said he was surprised by TVO's announcement.
"We are at this moment working with them on the details of the schedule," Oursel told reporters. "I am surprised by this premature statement that doesn't correspond to the spirit of the partnership and cooperation that I wish to see on this construction site."
On Tuesday, Oursel said it was well positioned to build more nuclear reactors in Finland after learning lessons from delays and cost overruns on existing projects.
TVO and Finnish nuclear consortium Fennovoima are planning to build Finland's sixth and the seventh reactors in the next decade and are expected to choose contractors in the next few years.
Areva blamed TVO's "inertia" in validating technical documents before passing them to the Finnish nuclear safety authority. But it has also encountered engineering issues.
The reactor is the first of its kind, with a double containment building, a compartment isolating the molten core, six back-up diesel generators and four back-up cooling systems which Areva says would have withstood the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan's Fukushima plant in March.
TVO said it wants an updated project schedule.
"The plant supplier is responsible for the time schedule. TVO is continuing to provide support to the plant supplier to complete the project as soon as possible without compromising safety and quality," TVO's project director Jouni Silvennoinen said in a statement.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/12/finland-nuclear-idUSL5E7LC0M620111012
6. Belarus Agrees to Russian Building of Nuclear Station
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Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko agreed on Tuesday that Russia should build the country's first, $9 billion nuclear power station.
"It is only today that I've signed the resolution and agreed to sign a contract with the Russian Federation to build our first nuclear power station," he told a meeting with a Russian governor.
"The decision is costly for Belarus, and we are very grateful to the Russian authorities for keeping their word despite pressure from everywhere."
Belarus has already started working on the site, Lukashenko said.
Nuclear power has once again become a controversial issue after an earthquake and tsunami damaged the Fukushima station in Japan in March. Germany has said it will hasten its exit from nuclear energy and Italy has announced a one-year moratorium on plans to restart atomic power projects.
Many people died of radiation-related diseases in Belarus following the 1986 Chernobyl atomic station disaster in neighboring Ukraine, in the world's worst nuclear disaster.
Russia now says it has a full arsenal of advanced technology to ensure accident-free operations at power stations it builds. Rosatom, Russia's nuclear station building corporation, says it now builds more nuclear plants than anyone - 14 of the 62 reactors under construction worldwide, including projects in China, India and Iran and has orders for 30 more.
Available at: http://en.ria.ru/world/20111011/167566775.html
1. Support Nuclear Plant or Suffer: PM Tells Jayalalithaa
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As protestors stepped up anti-Kudankulam nuclear power plant agitation, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has cautioned Tamil Nadu chief minister Jayalalithaa that the state's development plans would be hit in absence of power from it.
The Prime Minister also said that he looked forward to Jayalalithaa's continuing support for the Kudankulam project in Tamil Nadu.
In a letter to the chief minister, Singh apprised her of his meeting with an all-party delegation from the state last week during which demands for stoppage of work on the 2000 MWe Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project, being built in collaboration with Russia, were made.
"Apart from the safety and livelihood aspects, where the Government and the people are on the same side, I also took the opportunity to mention that Tamil Nadu is one of the most industrialised states of the country whose power requirements are growing constantly," he said.
"Of the 2000 MWe power to be generated by Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project Units 1 and 2, the allocation of power to Tamil Nadu is 925 MWe. In case the prospects of availability of this power are suddenly withdrawn this would impact on the state's development and industrialisation plans," Singh said in the letter.
The Prime Minister's letter comes in the backdrop of protestors' plans of intensifying the agitation by launching an indefinite fast to press their demand for scrapping the Indo-Russian project.
Singh said that his Government will not compromise on safety in the pursuit of the nuclear energy programme, be it is in terms of technology, regulation, skilled manpower or emergency preparedness.
Singh said that the central government attached the highest importance to ensuring that the use of nuclear energy in the country met the highest safety standards.
"The government fully shares the concerns of the people of the area and will take all steps to allay their fears," he said.
Singh said that he had told the delegation that nothing would be done that would threaten the safety or livelihood of any section of society, particularly those living in the vicinity of a project.
He said he had offered to the delegation to set up a small group of experts to interact with the representatives of the people of the region to satisfy their legitimate concerns and this would suitably involve the Tamil Nadu government.
"I have separately directed the Department of Atomic Energy to maintain close liaison with the local people, the local authorities and the state government," Singh said.
This is Prime Minister's second letter to the Tamil Nadu chief minister with regard to the Kundankulam project in a span of eight days. The previous letter was written on October 4.
Available at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/News-Feed/tamilnadu/Support-nuclear-plant-or-suffer-PM-tells-Jayalalithaa/Article1-756375.aspx
2. Project on Nuclear Research Reactor to be Presented to Azerbaijani Gov't
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The Institute of Radiation Problems under the Azerbaijani National Academy of Sciences together with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will submit "Economic justification of nuclear research reactor construction in Azerbaijan" to the government during the first half of next year, director of the Institute of Radiation Problems Adil Garibov told Trend on Monday.
He said that the importance of constructing a reactor will be stressed in the project.
"First of all, the necessity of the reactor will be reflected in the project," he said. "If we can convince state bodies in the effectiveness of the project, then we can talk about the decision or the order regarding the construction of the reactor. But there is no concrete decision on the construction of a nuclear reactor."
Available at: http://en.trend.az/news/society/1942867.html
3. UK Nuclear Programme Gets Go-Ahead Despite Fukushima Disaster
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The Fukushima disaster provides no reason to restrict UK nuclear reactors or stop building new ones, the official nuclear regulator has concluded.
Dr Mike Weightman, the UK's chief nuclear inspector, found no fundamental weaknesses in the current licensing regime or safety principles.
But "continuous improvement" should be sought, he said in his report.
The government commissioned the report after the March tsunami damaged Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Dr Weightman released a set of preliminary conclusions in May, including recommendations that plant operators should review issues such as ventilation, electrical backup systems, storage of spent fuel rods, and flood protection.
His final report expands on those recommendations, but finds no reason to curtail the new build programme that the government wants to fulfil energy and climate change targets.
"I remain confident that our UK nuclear facilities have no fundamental safety weaknesses," he said.
"But we are not complacent. No matter how high our standards, the quest for improvement must never stop.
"Action has already been taken in many cases, with work under way to further enhance safety at UK sites."
A priority, he said, was to press ahead with clean-up plans for "legacy" sites such as Sellafield.
Earlier this year, Dr Weightman led a fact-finding mission to Japan under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
He said that his findings on this trip, and the conclusions contained in a separate Japanese government review, had fed into the new report.
But, the report warns: "The detailed circumstances of the accident in Japan are not yet fully known, and some may not be possible to determine given the loss of control and of certain instrumentation."
This point was picked up by critics of the nuclear industry including Greenpeace, whose campaigner Louise Hutchins described the report as "rushed".
"It's designed with one objective - to give the green light to a new generation of nuclear power stations, irrespective of the safety, environmental or rising financial costs of those nuclear stations," she said.
And Paul Dorfman from Warwick University, a member of the NuclearConsult academic grouping, described it as "complacent".
"That the report says that our UK nuclear facilities have no fundamental safety weaknesses is a clear abrogation of regulatory responsibility," he said.
"An accident is by definition accidental; and when things go wrong, as we've learned in Fukushima and Chernobyl, the human and environmental impact can be very, very great."
Dr Dorfman pointed to the interim report's conclusion that flooding risks remained to be completely evaluated by regulators.
However, Dame Sue Ion, a long-time nuclear engineer and now Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said the report endorsed nuclear new build, with some enhanced safety features.
"Mike Weightman points out that the industry and others have responded constructively and responsibly to the recommendations made in the interim report and instigated, where necessary, significant programmes of work," she said.
"This shows an on-going commitment to the principle of continuous improvement and the maintenance of a strong safety culture."
The government will press ahead with plans to establish the Office of Nuclear Regulation (ONR) as a self-standing entity.
Dr Weightman intends to produce a further report in a year's time, to evaluate how far the industry has moved on the recommendations he has made.
Chris Huhne, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, thanked the chief inspector for his work.
"The report makes clear that the UK has one of the best nuclear safety regimes in the world, and that nuclear power can go on powering homes and businesses across the UK, as well as supporting jobs," he said.
"We must however continue to improve where we can, not just with operating power stations and new sites, but by dealing with our nuclear legacy in a robust and effective manner too."
Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-15256981
Republic of Korea (ROK) President Lee Myung-bak promised "flexibility" on Monday in his policy on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), in a possible sign of a softer approach toward Pyongyang aimed at easing longstanding tensions.
Lee made the comments a day before he was to leave for Washington for a summit later this week with US President Barack Obama. "The government will exercise flexibility for the peaceful resolution of North Korea's (the DPRK's) nuclear problem while pursuing principled dialogue," Lee told parliament in a budget speech read by his prime minister.
He also offered humanitarian aid to the DPRK.
In August, Lee appointed Yu Woo-ik as unification minister in charge of cross-border ties, replacing a hardliner. Yu has also promised "flexibility", but the president is not thought to have used the term in the past.
"The government will make efforts to put inter-Korean relations on a normal footing and continue to prepare for peaceful unification," Lee said.
Lee's decision to send a message about policy flexibility shows the various pressures that are mounting on him, said Piao Jianyi, director of the Center of Korean Peninsula Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The pressure from Washington policymakers and Lee's own determination for a decent ending to his presidency are among the factors behind his promise for "flexibility", Piao said.
Relations between Pyongyang and Seoul soured after Lee took office in early 2008 and linked major aid to progress of the DPRK's nuclear disarmament, a policy which enraged Pyongyang.
Ties turned icy after Seoul accused Pyongyang of torpedoing a warship in March last year, killing 46 onboard. The DPRK denied involvement.
Available at: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2011-10/11/content_13865997.htm
1. 10,000 Protesters Lay Siege to Tamil Nadu Nuclear Plant Site
Daily News & Analysis India
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The agitation against Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant near Tirunelveli reached a feverish pitch on Thursday with more than 10,000 activists laying siege to all the entry points to the project site.
More than 700 scientists and technicians who reached the KNPP for their morning shift could not enter the reactor premises which brought routine works to a grinding halt.
“The maintenance works were carried out by the staff on overnight duty who could not come out of the plant because of the road block,” a senior executive of the KNPP told DNA.
This is the first time in the history of the country that the works in a nuclear reactor were affected following agitation by the local residents.
The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy intensified their agitation within 12 hours of the Prime Minister’s letter to chief minister Jayalalithaa reached the Fort Saint George.
In his letter Manmohan Singh asked Jayalalithaa to help the union government to implement the project as scheduled. He also offered to depute a group of experts to address the legitimate concerns of the people in Kudankulam.
But Pushparayan, the second-in-command to Udaya Kumar , who heads the PMANE, declared that the agitation would continue in a peaceful manner till the reactor was shut down.
“Today morning’s road block is an indication that our agitation has entered into a critical phase.
We will not allow anyone to enter the KNPP premises. Today’s blockade has instilled a moral fear in the minds of the KNPP staff,” said Pushparayan.
The road block which began at 8 am in the East Coast Road was shifted to vantage points near the KNPP. “Ours is a Gandhian style agitation and we do not want to create any inconvenience to the people. But this agitation will continue till the government orders the closure of the plant. We do not want the nuclear reactors,” he said.
Even N K Balaji, project director, KNPP could not go inside the plant. “I was asked by the district administration to stay put in my house since the roads have been blocked by the agitators,” he said. Both the Tirunelveli collector and superintendent of police were unavailable. “Both of them are busy with election duties and conferences ,” said the personal assistant to the collector.
Balaji feigned ignorance when asked whether the unit 1 of 1000 MW of the KNPP could be commissioned in October as scheduled. The Prime Minister in his letter had told Jayalalithaa that Tamil Nadu is entitled for 925 MW power once both the units are commissioned.
Intelligence officials said that the agitators resorted to road block because Jayalalithaa was campaigning in the district in connection with the election to the local bodies. “Though she has declared that her support was with the agitators, we are not giving any significance to it. Let her walk the talk for us to believe her assurances,” said Pushparayan.
Meanwhile, a former top intelligence bureau official expressed apprehensions over the agencies behind the agitation. “The possibility of some invisible forces working in a systematic manner to undermine national interests is quite likely. It will, however, require an intensive probe, for which one only wonders how much the present government has the capacity, time and commitment,” he told DNA.
Available at: http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_10000-protesters-lay-siege-to-tamil-nadu-nuclear-plant-site_1598354
2. Czech Nuclear Stress Test Post Sparks Mixed Fall-Out
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One of the top managers at the Czech state nuclear watchdog has been given a key role in preparing the decisive phase of European “stress tests” for nuclear power plants in a move that has been widely welcomed by those with pro-nuclear positions.
Vice president for management and technical support at the State Office for Nuclear Safety (SÚJB) Petr Krs has been named the number two on the European committee which will review existing nuclear plants’ safety provisions, the daily Hospodářské noviny reported Thursday, citing the office’s head, Dana Drábová. She said the decision had been taken in Brussels at the start of the week.
“The whole project will in fact be administered by Krs, the organizational aspects and of individual evaluations and coordination process over the following six months,” the paper added, pointing out that the head of the committee is French atomic power expert Phillipe Jamet.
France has Europe’s largest number of nuclear plants with a long-term energy strategy being drafted at the Czech Ministry of Industry (MPO) envisaging the Czechs relying on nuclear for a similar 80 percent of electricity production. Over recent years, governments in Paris and Prague have marked themselves out as Europe’s biggest nuclear power lobbyists.
‘This is a great victory for Czech diplomacy when a Czech representative will take part in an important decision about European nuclear energy.’
“This is a great victory for Czech diplomacy when a Czech representative will take part in an important decision about European nuclear energy,” commented the government’s special representative overseeing the expansion of the Temelín nuclear power plant, Václav Bartuška.
However, the report of a Franco-Czech tandem taking the lead in the nuclear stress tests has been greeted with derision in Czech environmental circles. “It would have been interesting if they had nominated a German and an Austrian,” former Green Party Environment Minister and Green Party leader, Martin Bursík told Czech Position, referring to the anti-nuclear stance of both countries.
“I have been skeptical about the stress tests along with most environmental NGOs and Green parties in Europe from the start,” Bursík added, speaking in the margins of a Prague conference about whether renewable or nuclear would have a bigger role in future energy production.
“I saw the first Czech report that was submitted for the stress tests, just a couple of pages, and I do not understand how the subject could be so underestimated in such a document,” the two-times environment minister said. “The fact that the Dukovany nuclear plant has no concrete containment and could be the subject of an aerial terrorist attack is a serious factor but it is not covered in the report because terrorist threats are not covered under the safety review,” Bursík added.
Backers of Czech nuclear power have been concerned that the stress tests could pick on the aging Dukovany power plant, the biggest single power source in the Czech Republic, with pressure exerted by Germany and Austria to close it down.
SÚJB head Drábová admitted such pressure had been exerted last month but described it as an emotional and not reasoned reaction following the nuclear accident at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant. Dukovany’s operator, state-controlled electricity company ČEZ is seeking to extend the plant’s operating life for at least another 10 years, when current permits at the four reactors start to expire in 2015.
Initial reactions to national evaluations of nuclear plants should be given by the end of the year with the final EU reports due out in April 2012.
Former minister Bursík told the conference “Green Energy and Nuclear Power: which belong in the Future?” that a real debate on Czech energy policy had not taken off in the country. He argued that Germany’s decision to phase out all nuclear power by 2020 should act as an inspiration for the Czech Republic.
Germany planned to increase renewable to make up for some of the power production loss from nuclear and renewable power was already the second most important industrial sector in the country following the auto industry. Recent research showed that various types of renewable could combine together to form a balanced production base and that wind and solar power should not be earmarked as disruptive energy sources because of the power surges they created in the grid, Bursík added.
The bill for constructing two new nuclear power plants in Finland and France were currently 100 percent in excess of the original budget and had long ago failed to meet building deadlines, he pointed out, yet ČEZ was still pressing ahead with plans for two new reactors at its existing Temelín site. “What makes ČEZ believe that it can do better than France, one of the most experienced countries regarding nuclear technology, and Finland?” Bursík added.
The three companies lining up for the massive Temelín contract, US-based Westinghouse, France’s Areva and the joint venture of Russia’s Atomstroyexport and Czech Škoda JS should get their tender documents from ČEZ laying out its conditions and the terms for bids by the end of the month.
Available at: http://www.ceskapozice.cz/en/business/companies/czech-nuclearess-test-post-sparks-mixed-fall-out
3. Japan Mayor Wants Reactor Near Tokyo Decommissioned
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A Japanese mayor has called on the government to decommission the nuclear reactor in his village, 110 km northeast of Tokyo, the first local leader to urge scrapping a reactor as Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda tries to rehabilitate the tarnished nuclear sector to help meet the nation's power needs.
The reactor at Tokaimura, where Japan's commercial nuclear power industry was born in the late 1950s, has been shut since a devastating earthquake and tsunami struck northeast Japan on March 11. It entered routine maintenance in May and is not due to restart until August 2012.
Only 10 of Japan's 54 commercial reactors remain operating seven months after the March disaster triggered a crisis at Tokyo Electric Power's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, as safety fears have left local authorities wary of restarting reactors once they go offline for routine maintenance.
But Tokaimura Mayor Tatsuya Murakami was the first local official to call for scrapping a reactor altogether, warning that, if the wave that struck his village on March 11 had been slightly higher, the Tokai Daini reactor could have posed far graver danger than the Fukushima plant, as 1 million people live within a 30-km radius and it is much closer to Tokyo.
A Tokaimura official said Wednesday that Murakami made his plea at a meeting the day before with nuclear disaster minister Goshi Hosono.
"Shouldn't the plant be decommissioned?" he was quoted as telling the meeting.
The 33-year old reactor still has seven years before its operating license expires and Tokyo Electric Power Co had been counting on the 1,100-megawatt facility to help it make up for the 4,700 megawatts of lost power from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant.
Prime Minister Noda has said that offline reactors under maintenance should restart once local authorities confirm they are safe, taking a softer line than his predecessor Naoto Kan, who concluded in March that nuclear power was no longer worth the risk after the world's worst nuclear accident in 25 years.
Japan's nuclear plant operators are preparing to report the results of reactor stress tests to the country's nuclear watchdog, the first step in a lengthy process that would ultimately require local authorities' approval for restarts.
Since the onset of the Fukushima crisis, Murakami has called on Japan to better care for residents who were forced to leave Fukushima prefecture because of the crisis and to stop operating old reactors given lax safety rules and a lack of contingency plans.
Murakami was Tokaimura's mayor in 1999 when a criticality accident at a Tokaimura uranium reprocessing facility resulted in two deaths, the worst nuclear accident in Japan until the Fukushima crisis.
Japan Atomic Power, in which Fukushima plant operator Tokyo Electric Power is a major shareholder, brought its sole reactor at the Tokai Daini plant in Ibaraki prefecture to a state of cold shutdown on March 15.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/12/us-nuclear-japan-idUSTRE79B2KV20111012
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