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Nuclear News - 11/28/2011
PGS Nuclear News, November 28, 2011
Compiled By: Michael Kennedy

A.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. U.N. Nuclear Watchdog Official to Visit South Korea Next Week, Yonhap News Agency (11/25/2011)
    2. Russia to Lend Vietnam $8 bn for First N-Plant, Indo-Asian News Service (11/24/2011)
    3. Russia Threatens to Withdraw From Arms Control Deal With U.S., Los Angeles Times (11/23/2011)
    4. Seoul Seeks to Become World's Top 3 Nuclear Reactor Exporter, Yonhap News Agency (11/23/2011)
    5. Czech PM Offers Germany Talks on Nuclear Plans, Robert Muller, Reuters (11/23/2011)
B.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. Activists Dub Report on Kudankulam as Flawed, The Hindu (11/28/2011)
    2. EU Nuclear Stress Tests at Early Stage, Barbara Lewis and Ilona Wissenbach, Swissinfo (11/24/2011)
    3. S. Korea Delivers New Assurance on Safety of Nuclear Plants, Steve Herman, Voice of America (11/21/2011)
C.  Nuclear Energy
    1. U.A.E.’s Nuclear Power Program Said to Cost $30 Billion, Ayesha Daya and Stefania Bianchi, Business Week (11/28/2011)
    2. Poland Plans Its First Atomic Power Plant on Baltic, Agence France-Presse (11/25/2011)
    3. Nuclear Power 'Gets Little Public Support Worldwide', Richard Black, BBC News (11/24/2011)
    4. Swiss Decommissioning Costs Rising, World Nuclear News (11/24/2011)
    5. Political Shift for Spanish Nuclear, World Nuclear News (11/23/2011)
D.  Iran
    1. Bushehr Nuclear Plant to be Launched at Full Capacity: Nuclear Chief, Tehran Times  (11/23/2011)
E.  Links of Interest
    1. What's the Harm in Selling Uranium to India?, Al Jazeera (11/25/2011)
    2. India Faces People Power Against Nuclear Power, BBC News (11/22/2011)

A.  Nuclear Cooperation

U.N. Nuclear Watchdog Official to Visit South Korea Next Week
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

A senior official from the U.N. nuclear agency will travel to South Korea next week for a visit during which he will discuss the safety of nuclear power plants, the foreign ministry said Friday.

Herman Nackaerts, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency's safeguards department, will arrive in Seoul Sunday and visit several nuclear power plants in South Korea, the ministry said in a statement.

During his six-day visit, Nackaerts will also meet with senior officials, including Lim Sung-nam, Seoul's chief envoy to the six-nation talks on ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, according to the statement.

It will be the first time for Nackaerts to visit South Korea since he took the position in 2009, it said.

South Korea is a global atomic energy leader that gets about 40 percent of its electricity from nuclear power generation. It currently has 21 nuclear reactors in operation and several more under construction.

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Russia to Lend Vietnam $8 bn for First N-Plant
Indo-Asian News Service
(for personal use only)

Russia would provide Vietnam a loan of $8 billion to build its first nuclear power plant, Russia's first deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov has said.

The construction of the power plant will be completed in 2020, he said Wednesday.

Shuvalov recently met his Vietnamese counterpart Hoang Trung Hai in Moscow. During their meeting, they signed an inter-governmental agreement on creation of a centre for nuclear studies and technologies in Vietnam, Xinhua reported.

Vietnam plans to build up to eight nuclear power plants by 2030.

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Czech PM Offers Germany Talks on Nuclear Plans
Robert Muller
(for personal use only)

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas has proposed talks with Germany over his country's plans to build two new nuclear reactors, an olive branch he said was aimed at ensuring good relations between the neighboring nations.

In a letter obtained by Reuters, Necas told German Chancellor Angela Merkel the Czechs would hold discussions even though European law does not require them to do so for nuclear expansion plans that have raised concern in Germany and Austria.

"The government of the Czech Republic and I personally will inform you in the most transparent and open way about each step in the completion of the Temelin nuclear power plant," Necas said in the letter dated earlier this month.

"It is in my personal interest and in the best interest of the Czech Republic that the issue of Temelin has no negative impact on our excellent mutual relations."

Majority state-owned utility CEZ plans to build two additional units at its Temelin plant and then potentially up to three other units in Slovakia and at its Dukovany plant.

Toshiba Corp unit Westinghouse, an alliance of Russia's Atomstroyexport and Czech company Skoda JS, and France's Areva, are bidding to build the units in the biggest-ever Czech procurement deal.

A government policy paper has also proposed to build a string of new atomic plants in the central European country, including boosting reliance on nuclear to 80 percent of all energy needs by 2060.

The nuclear push has stirred opposition in Austria - whose border lies some 50 km (30 miles) from CEZ's Temelin nuclear plant - as well as in Germany which announced a retreat from nuclear following Japan's Fukushima disaster in March.

Opponents cite Fukushima as reasons why nuclear power is unsafe while Czechs see nuclear as a key plank in ensuring future energy security for the former Soviet block nation that gets most of its gas supplies from Russia.

Necas' letter acknowledged some of these concerns but also reiterated the Czech view that the central European nation would decide its own energy policy.

The centre-right prime minister also did not give any specific details on how or when such a public discussion of the Czech nuclear expansion would take place.

"Although we feel the pressure of part of the German public on your government to be proactive in the case of the construction of two new nuclear units in the Czech Republic, I would like to emphasize that the Czech Republic is not obliged to make this step under European law," Necas wrote.

"However, I am convinced that such an approach can help deepen mutual trust and transparency of the whole process of building new nuclear power sources in the Czech Republic."

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Russia Threatens to Withdraw From Arms Control Deal With U.S.
Los Angeles Times
(for personal use only)

Russia threatened Wednesday to withdraw from the New START nuclear arms control deal with the United States and deploy missiles aimed toward U.S. defense installations in Europe in a harsh sign of the tension between the two countries.

In a prime-time televised speech, President Dmitry Medvedev, visibly upset over missile defense consultations with Washington, said that an early warning radar system immediately would be put on red alert close to the Russian border with Poland and that missiles and other weapons would be positioned in the country’s west and south to target U.S. sites in Europe.

“These measures will be adequate, effective and low cost,” Medvedev said in his speech. “If the above measures prove insufficient, the Russian Federation will deploy modern offensive weapons in the west and south of the country ensuring our ability to take out any part of the U.S. missile defense system in Europe.”

Medvedev rebuked the United States and other NATO partners for not supporting Russia’s plan to work together on “a joint sector-based missile defense system” he offered at a NATO-Russia Council summit in Lisbon a year ago.

Medvedev said that the Kremlin will continue its dialogue with Washington on the issue. “There is still time to reach an understanding,” he added.

The New Start deal signed by Medvedev and President Obama called for both countries to reduce their nuclear weapons capabilities.

U.S. officials in Washington on Wednesday reiterated that the missile defense plan in Europe was going well and did not call for aiming weapons at Russia.

Analysts in Moscow said Medvedev’s tough talk was at least partially motivated by politics inside Russia, where elections are scheduled Dec. 4.

“All this anti-American rhetoric is meant for the internal consumption and even if Medvedev really means those measures they are completely unrealistic and in the end may harm Russian interests even more than those of the United States,” Alexander Golts, a defense analyst with Yezhednevny Zhurnal, a popular liberal online publication, said in an interview.

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Seoul Seeks to Become World's Top 3 Nuclear Reactor Exporter
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

South Korea on Wednesday unveiled a plan to become the world's third largest exporter of nuclear reactors in 2030, seeking to create nearly 1 million jobs and earn 16 trillion won (US$13.9 billion).

The "Nu-Tech 2030" plan aims to expand the country's global market share of nuclear reactors to 20 percent. Seoul exported its first and thus far only nuclear power plant to the United Arab Emirates in 2009.

The move comes as the first phase of the Nu-Tech 2012 plan will be completed late next year, under which Seoul will develop three key nuclear technologies -- a man-machine interface system, reactor designs and a reactor coolant pump -- that can give the country its first indigenous nuclear reactor. At present, South Korean-made reactors are built using foreign technology and components in a few key areas.

"To make sure our nuclear reactors are most sought after in the global market, we will develop a safe and reliable system with the best performance, and thus become the world's third largest nuclear energy operator following the United States and France in the target year," the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said in a press release.

South Korea is currently in the process of developing a new "advanced power reactor" by late next year. Under Nu-Tech 2030, the country will develop another reactor named the "Innovative, Passive, Optimized, Worldwide Economical Reactor," or I-Power.

"Under this roadmap, the safety of our nuclear reactors will be strengthened to 100 times the levels recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency," the ministry said.

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B.  Nuclear Safety & Security

Activists Dub Report on Kudankulam as Flawed
The Hindu
(for personal use only)

The People's Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) on Sunday slammed the report of the Government-appointed expert committee on Kudankulam as being extremely flawed, premised on obsolete demographic data and opaque on the risks from sub-volcanic activity near the site or health impact on the local population.

The PMANE also released a letter to Chief Minister Jayalalithaa seeking her intervention in scrapping the project.

In the letter to the Chief Minister–copies of which were circulated to media – PMANE leaders flayed the Expert Group for ignoring valid questions on liability and declining to give specific or scientific information on nuclear waste or the fresh water needs of the KKNPP. The Expert Group had not talked to any section of the public nor tried to allay the fears and concerns of the people.

The letter also took exception to the Central government's “campaign of canards” about the anti-nuke activists receiving foreign funds, support and guidance to drive a wedge in the movement and sought to reassure the Chief Minister that there was not an iota of truth in these charges.

Addressing the media, PMANE leaders said the Expert Group's report only confirmed the worst fears of the people that the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd had “cut corners, compromised on safety and failed to perform statutory due diligence” in pushing the nuclear energy project.

PMANE will submit its own point-by-point rebuttal of the report to the Governments at the Centre and State in a couple of days, besides tabling it before the people.

M. G. Devasahayam, former bureaucrat and convenor of the PMANE panel, called the Central Expert Group's report extremely flawed on fundamental grounds as it relied on 2001 Census figures instead of the 2011 data and claimed environmental impact assessment and CRZ clearances in 1989 when such norms did not exist.

He also questioned the contention that enough resources would be raised in three to four decades of selling energy at 2 paise per unit to meet the costs of decommissioning the plant – though the resources would add up only to about Rs. 640 crore over this period as against the Rs. 1 lakh crore estimate prepared for decommissioning the Fukushima plant in Japan.

V. Suresh, national secretary, People's Union for Civil Liberties, too flayed the Central Experts Group for submitting a report that not merely contained half-truths, but “appeared to be completely founded on falsehoods”.

V. T. Padmanabhan, scientist, said the official reassurance about adequate freshwater reserves to cool the reactors for a period of ten days if any desalination plant malfunctions was on a shaky base as the downtime to restore these plants using complex Israeli technology could be much longer and failure to cool tonnes of spent fuel could be catastrophic for the entire region.

According to PMANE leaders, the Kudankulam site was prone to small-volume volcanic eruptions and mega-tsunamis arising out of the presence of The East Comorin slump and the Colombo slump (agglomeration of loosely-bound sediments that can trigger tsunamis) in the seabed of the Gulf of Mannar.

They even produced a piece of lava rock collected from Abhishekapati, less than 100 km northwest of Kudankulam, that they claimed established the presence of sub-volcanic intrusions of the very kind that prompted the US government to abandon the Yucca Mountain as a possible waste storage site fearing its structural integrity.

The PMANE panel said: “Under the circumstances, the KKNPP is not merely illegal but patently unsafe and not worthy of the confident statements on safety issued by atomic energy officials and their agents.”

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EU Nuclear Stress Tests at Early Stage
Barbara Lewis and Ilona Wissenbach
(for personal use only)

European stress tests on nuclear power plants are still preliminary but have the potential to evolve into clear, objective standards valid for years to come, Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said.

Green groups and politicians have strongly criticised the EU's response to Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster earlier this year, saying they have not assessed multiple reactor failure or the threat of crashes by large aircraft.

Oettinger told Reuters the EU stress tests included floods, earthquakes, human or technical error and loss of power supplies, as well as plane crashes.

He also said they were still at an early stage.

"I can answer to the Greens, be relaxed, wait and see, wait for Christmas and have a happy new year," said Oettinger.

A progress report to be delivered on Thursday will be tentative, with final contributions from member states expected by the end of the year under a first voluntary reporting phase.

After that, the EU will begin work on a peer review, drawing together all the findings.

The achievement so far, Oettinger said, was that all EU nations with operating nuclear plants were involved.

"The first success maybe is all 14 member states who have operating plants are taking part. Some neighbouring states are taking part," he said in an interview.

"At the moment, my ambition is to have the first objective and successful stress test. If we come to clear conclusions, then maybe this stress test is enough for the next 5-to-10 years."

Environmental groups have said the EU tests are so lax, all nuclear plants would pass them.

"The EU stress tests will completely fail to assess risks in core areas that would be essential in terms of preventing nuclear accidents," Green Group EU lawmaker Rebecca Harms said in a statement.

Officials outside the Commission, as well as within it have said the testing process has exposed serious issues.

The head of the OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency Nuclear Development Decision said nuclear reactors older than 40 years might have to shut down and the head of the French nuclear safety agency said France needed to improve protection of safety mechanisms.

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S. Korea Delivers New Assurance on Safety of Nuclear Plants
Steve Herman
Voice of America
(for personal use only)

Despite this year's nuclear reactor meltdowns in Japan, its neighbor South Korea is moving ahead with an expansion of its civilian nuclear industry. Not only is South Korea building more atomic power plants on its own, it is also increasing exports of its indigenous technology.

The disastrous setbacks to Japan’s nuclear industry and moves by other nations, such as Germany, to shutter all nuclear power plants have not dissuaded South Korea from expanding its atomic energy capabilities.

The country currently relies on domestic nuclear plants for about one-third of its total electrical output. It hopes to increase that to 59 percent in less than 20 years.

Meanwhile, after recent deals with such countries as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Vietnam -- cumulatively worth tens of billions of dollars -- South Korea could become a major exporter of nuclear energy technology and expertise. It is looking at striking deals for additional nuclear plants in China, Romania and Turkey.

After the meltdown of three reactors in March at Japan's Fukushima-1 nuclear plant, following a huge earthquake and tsunami, South Korea carried out a quick safety review of all of its reactors. Nineteen are online, two are offline for maintenance and seven more are under construction or planned.

The country's oldest nuclear power facility, built in 1978 was under special scrutiny earlier this year. The Gori-1 reactor, near the port city of Busan, was off line for two months after a fire in April destroyed one of the circuit breakers.

Gori-1, with an output of 578 megawatts, had originally been set to end operations in 2008, but was given an extended lease on life.

South Korea's Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Lee Ju-ho, says the public should be assured Gori-1, despite its age and previous problems, is not a hazard.

Lee says safety experts concluded after this year's incident it was still safe to operate the plant so the ministry decided to follow their advice and re-start the reactor.

South Korea says, in wake of the Japan disaster, it is enhancing safety measures at the existing nuclear plants in the unlikely event there could be a radiation leak resulting from a natural disaster, such as an earthquake or a tsunami. The one billion dollars worth of upgrades will be done over the next five years.

Both South Korea and Japan are poor in natural resources and have mainly relied on imports of fossil fuels to power their economic development in the past decades.

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C.  Nuclear Energy

U.A.E.’s Nuclear Power Program Said to Cost $30 Billion
Ayesha Daya and Stefania Bianchi
Business Week
(for personal use only)

The United Arab Emirates’ nuclear- power program, a joint venture between state-owned Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. and Korea Electric Power Corp., will cost about $30 billion, according to two people with knowledge of the project.

Financing will be split into one-third equity and two- thirds debt, the people said, declining to be identified because talks are confidential. Fahad al-Qahtani, a spokesman for Emirates Nuclear, said the financing strategy has yet to be decided. Korea Electric declined to comment about the cost of the project.

Emirates Nuclear is going ahead with plans to develop four nuclear reactors in the U.A.E. even as other countries halt atomic programs after the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan caused radioactive material to be released from its Fukushima plant. Korea Electric, the country’s biggest electricity producer, won a contract in 2009 to complete the plants from 2017 to 2020, which will make the U.A.E. the first Gulf Arab nation with atomic power.

Abu Dhabi will provide most of the $10 billion equity, and $10 billion of the debt is likely to come from export-credit agencies, mainly from South Korea, one of the people said.

The remaining $10 billion will be a mix of bank financing and sovereign debt, the person said. Abu Dhabi may consider a government-debt issue and Emirates Nuclear may raise debt backed by the government, the person said. A financing agreement will probably be reached by the end of 2012, the second person said.

“It’s a work in progress,” al-Qahtani said by phone from Abu Dhabi yesterday. “We haven’t yet finalized the finance strategy and we are still looking at different options.”

The U.A.E. will decide on the financing structure by the end of March, al-Qahtani said earlier this month.

The cost of construction was expected to be $20 billion when it was first announced two years ago. In addition to the construction, South Korea planned to participate in the operation, maintenance and fuel supply, earning a further $20 billion, JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported at the time.

Korea Electric beat General Electric Co. and Areva SA of France for rights to build the U.A.E.’s first nuclear reactors. This is Korea Electric’s first international nuclear power project.

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Poland Plans Its First Atomic Power Plant on Baltic
Agence France-Presse
(for personal use only)

Poland's first nuclear power plant, due to come on line by 2020, is set to be located near the Baltic Sea, Polish energy group PGE said on Friday.

Three potential sites near the coast, at Zarnowiec, Choczewo and Gaski, were picked from around a hundred proposed locations, PGE chief Tomasz Zadroga told reporters.

The final choice is due to be announced in around two years, when the winner of the bidding race to build the plant will also be revealed, he said.

State-controlled PGE, which is in charge of Poland's atomic power programme, is set to launch the tender process before the end of this year.

Poland, a nation of 38 million people, currently relies on its plentiful coal reserves to generate 94 percent of its electricity.

The ex-communist country, which joined the European Union in 2004, aims to construct two 3,000-megawatt reactors.

The cost of the nuclear programme is estimated at 100 billion zloty (22.1 billion euros, $29.4 billion)

Three international consortia have already expressed an interest in the project: France's EDF and Areva, US-Japanese Westinghouse Electric Company LLC, and US-Japanese GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy Americas.

The nuclear option is strategic for Poland.

One goal is to meet EU quotas for cutting the country's carbon dioxide emissions, a tough task in a coal-fired economy.

The government's energy policy also involves reducing the role of energy imports.

Poland currently relies on Russia to cover 40 percent of its gas needs, for example, while other importers supply 30 percent and its own resources account for 30 percent.

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Nuclear Power 'Gets Little Public Support Worldwide'
Richard Black
BBC News
(for personal use only)

There is little public appetite across the world for building new nuclear reactors, a poll for the BBC indicates.

In countries with nuclear programmes, people are significantly more opposed than they were in 2005, with only the UK and US bucking the trend.

Most believe that boosting efficiency and renewables can meet their needs.

Just 22% agreed that "nuclear power is relatively safe and an important source of electricity, and we should build more nuclear power plants".

In contrast, 71% thought their country "could almost entirely replace coal and nuclear energy within 20 years by becoming highly energy-efficient and focusing on generating energy from the Sun and wind".

Globally, 39% want to continue using existing reactors without building new ones, while 30% would like to shut everything down now.

The global research agency GlobeScan, commissioned by BBC News, polled 23,231 people in 23 countries from July to September this year, several months after an earthquake and giant tsunami devastated Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power station.

GlobeScan had previously polled eight countries with nuclear programmes, in 2005.

In most of them, opposition to building new reactors has risen markedly since.

In Germany it is up from 73% in 2005 to 90% now - which is reflected in the government's recent decision to close its nuclear programme.

More intriguingly, it also rose in pro-nuclear France (66% to 83%) and Russia (61% to 83%).
Fukushimaicken Japan, however, registered the much more modest rise of 76% to 84%.

In the UK, support for building new reactors has risen from 33% to 37%. It is unchanged in the US, and also high in China and Pakistan, which all poll around the 40% mark.

Support for continuing to use existing plants while not building new ones was strongest in France and Japan (58% and 57%), while Spaniards and Germans (55% and 52%) were the keenest to shut existing plants down immediately.

In countries without operating reactors, support for building them was strongest in Nigeria (41%), Ghana (33%) and Egypt (31%).

Although the survey cannot determine definitively whether the Fukushima disaster was responsible for changes of opinion, it appears likely.

"The lack of impact the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has had on public views towards nuclear power in the UK and US is noteworthy," said GlobeScan chairman Doug Miller.

"This contrasts with significantly increased opposition to nuclear new-build in most countries we've tracked since 2005."

Other pollsters have also found continuing support in the UK for nuclear energy.

The BBC/GlobeScan poll is broadly consistent with other global polls as well.

In June, both Ipsos-Mori and the Japanese Asahi Shimbun newspaper found drops in support for the technology in most countries, with support continuing in a number including the US.

The Ipsos-Mori poll found that nuclear enjoyed the lowest support of any established technology for generating electricity, with 38%.

Coal fared not much better, at 48%, while solar, wind and hydro all found favour with more than 90% of those surveyed.

"That renewable energy combined with efficiency can replace coal and nuclear is not only a majority popular belief, but a fact supported by a growing number of authoritative reports," commented Jan Beranek, who leads the energy team in Greenpeace International.

"Nuclear power is a relatively tiny industry with huge economic, technical, safety, environmental, and political problems.

"And the Fukushima accident reminded the world that all reactors have inherent risks."

But bodies such as the International Energy Agency see a continuing role for nuclear power, as the global demand for energy grows and governments struggle to control greenhouse gas emissions at a reasonable cost.

John Ritch, director-general of the World Nuclear Association, said that Fukushima was the first significant nuclear incident in 25 years, and has not caused a single fatality.

"Policymakers must respect public opinion, but they must also respect facts; and the facts still favour nuclear power," he told BBC News.

"Those facts warrant a better educational effort from industry, from governments and from journalists.

"Nuclear power will be even safer after Fukushima, and will continue to mature as the world's premier non-carbon technology."

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Swiss Decommissioning Costs Rising
World Nuclear News
(for personal use only)

Switzerland will face costs of CHF 20.654 billion ($22.455 billion) to close down and decommission its nuclear power plants according to newly released figures. The amount is 10% higher than earlier projections.

The estimates were released through the Swiss Federal Energy Office (SFOE) and prepared by swissnuclear, a specialist technical section of the Swiss electricity suppliers' organisation swisselectric. Updated every five years to reflect the current state of knowledge and technological developments and adjusted for inflation, they provide the basis on which the charges levied against the country's nuclear operators to provide funding for decommissioning and waste management are calculated.

Costs for a five-year post-operational phase immediately after a plant is closed, during which fuel elements are removed and decommissioning preparations are made, are estimated to total CHF 1.709 billion ($1.857 billion), 2% up on the previous estimate. This phase is funded entirely by plant operators and is not covered by the Swiss decommissioning and nuclear waste management funds.

The rest of the costs are down to plant decommissioning including the removal of used fuel to the central Zwilag interim waste management facility at Würenlingen, and final management of radioactive waste. These are financed through the two separate funds.

Plant decommissioning has seen the largest relative increase, with total costs for decommissioning all five of Switzerland's operating nuclear plants now estimated at CHF 2.974 ($3.231 billion), 17% up on the CHF 2.541 billion projected in 2006. According to the SFOE, this figure takes into account experiences in German decommissioning projects that have incurred significant additional decommissioning costs. As of the end of 2010, the decommissioning fund stood at CHF 1.331 billion ($1.444 billion). This will increase through ongoing operator contributions and returns on capital.

Radioactive waste management costs make up the major part of the total, and are now projected to be CHF 15.970 ($17.330 billion), 10% up on the 2006 estimate. Of this, the Swiss waste management fund, which currently stands at CHF 2.821 billion ($3.061 billion), will cover CHF 8.447 billion ($9.167 billion) with the nuclear operators paying the rest directly. These costs have increased to reflect experiences from geological tunnelling work and tougher nuclear construction standards.

The projections have been provisionally approved by the commission for the decommissioning and disposal funds as the basis for determining provisional contributions. The study will now undergo a review by the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI) prior to definitive approval by the Swiss Federal Council, which is expected by the end of 2012. Costs will be estimated again in 2016.

The estimates are based upon a presumed plant operating life of 50 years. Switzerland's five nuclear reactors generate some 40% of its electricity, but following the nuclear accident at Fukushima earlier this year the Swiss parliament resolved not to replace any reactors at the end of their lives, which would effectively see nuclear phased out by 2034.

BKW, operator of the Mühleberg plant, noted that the new estimates mean it will be required to pay about CHF 10 million ($11 million) more per year, while Alpiq, which co-owns the Gösgen and Leibstadt plants, said that the increases would cost it an extra CHF 30 million ($33 million) per year.

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Political Shift for Spanish Nuclear
World Nuclear News
(for personal use only)

The environment for Spanish nuclear power appears to be changing with the election of a People's Party government and publication of a study on the country's new-build capabilities.
Mariano Rajoy took the conservative People's Party to a memorable victory on 20 November, claiming around 44% of the vote and ending seven years in opposition to José Luis Zapatero's Socialist Workers Party.

Rajoy had been subdued on the subject of nuclear power during his campaign and has said nothing about energy since the election. However, the party's manifesto included a commitment to use an energy mix including all sources without sacrificing any of them, in contrast to the Socialists who had maintained an anti-nuclear stance.

The country gets about 20% of power from eight nuclear reactors built as part of a long-term program that ended in 1984 with the imposition of a moratorium on new build. At that time, four large reactors were scrapped mid-construction, while Trillo was completed as Spain's newest unit in 1988. A further political bind developed for nuclear operators in a requirement for ministerial approval - on top of regulatory approval - each time a ten-year extension is granted to a reactor's operating licence. Until February this year, these decisions took place against an assumption of 40 years as a typical lifespan.

This 40-year assumption was used by ministers to refuse a ten-year extension to the Garoña plant in 2009, giving just four years instead. The People's Party has previously said it would maintain that decision but for technical reasons rather than political ones, notwithstanding the regulator's opinion that the plant would be safe for continued operation given certain technical improvements.

As if anticipating a new debate on energy policy and nuclear power, the Strategic Nuclear Research and Development Committee (CEIDEN) has now released a report on the capabilities of the Spanish nuclear industry to support a program of new reactors.

At the height of the Spanish nuclear program in 1980 there were ten reactors under construction simultaneously, and in 1988 at the end of that build phase Spanish companies had an 85% share of the financial value of the Trillo reactor project. CEIDEN believes Spanish industry could take 77% of a new reactor project, some 23 years later. Five years into a new-build program the figure could reach 83%, it said.

This capability is thanks in large part to a strong program of uprates at existing power plants and good success in exporting nuclear goods and services over the years.

"The world's economic and social development cannot do without nuclear power," said CEIDEN. It also noted the economic benefits to Spain from a positive return to nuclear "would be huge, owing to both the creation of highly qualified technical jobs... and the boost of the nuclear sector as a driver of the country's economy" with direct and indirect effects.

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D.  Iran

Bushehr Nuclear Plant to be Launched at Full Capacity: Nuclear Chief
Tehran Times
(for personal use only)

The director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said on Wednesday that hopefully the Bushehr nuclear plant will be connected to the national grid at its full capacity in two months.

“After solving technical problems of the power plant, I hope that it will be launched during the Ten-Day Dawn and operate at its full capacity,” Fereydoun Abbasi said.
Ten-Day Dawn celebrations (February 1-11) marks the anniversary of the victory of the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

On September 12, Iran celebrated the initial launch of the power plant, and on September 13, the plant was temporarily connected to the national grid and reached 40 percent of its capacity.

After operating for two weeks with 50 percent of its power generation capacity, the Bushehr nuclear power plant was temporarily disconnected on October 16 from the national grid to undergo technical checks and tests.

Abbasi also rejected claims that the Russians have deliberately put off the launch of the Bushehr plant. “During the eight months that I have been in charge of the Atomic Energy Organization, the Russians have fully cooperated (with Iran) to launch the power plant.”

All nuclear power plants across the world were launched after undergoing many tests, he said, adding that the Bushehr power plant should also pass many tests to assure that no problem would arise.

He said some countries are impatiently awaiting to see Iran’s failure in its nuclear program and said, “That is why we are not hurrying to launch the power plant.

“We are trying to carry out all the necessary tests in order to ensure that the final launch of the Bushehr plant takes place without any problem and the plant connects to the national grid efficiently.”

He also condemned the resolution issued recently against Iran by the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors, adding that Iran’s nuclear program has never diverted from peaceful purposes.

The IAEA Board of Governors adopted a resolution against Iran over the country’s nuclear program by a vote of 32 to 2, with one abstention, on November 18.

According to the official website of the Iranian Majlis, MP Fatemeh Alia said on Wednesday that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin or President Dmitry Medvedev will participate in a ceremony which will be held to mark the inauguration of the power plant in the near future.

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E.  Links of Interest

What's the Harm in Selling Uranium to India?
Al Jazeera
(for personal use only)

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India Faces People Power Against Nuclear Power
BBC News
(for personal use only)

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