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Nuclear News - 5/10/2011
PGS Nuclear News, May 10, 2011
Compiled By: Eli Ginsberg

A.  Iran
    1. Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant Starts Operation, Fars News Agency (5/9/2011)
    2. US Warns Turkey Against Trade With Iran, PressTV (5/5/2011)
    1. Lee To Offer 'Advanced Proposal' On North Korean Nuclear Standoff, Yonhap News Agency (5/9/2011)
    2. North Korea Exported Nuclear Materials To Libya: VOA, Song Sang-ho, The Korea Herald (5/8/2011)
    3. U.N. Condemnation Of North Korea Uranium Crucial Before Six-Way Talks, Lee Haye-ah, Yonhap News Agency (5/8/2011)
C.  Japan
    1. Workers Measure Large Radiation Drop After Replacing Surface Soil With Deeper Dirt, The Mainichi Daily News (5/9/2011)
    2. Japan To Shut Nuclear Plant On Quake Fears, Chikako Mogi and Risa Maeda , Reuters (5/9/2011)
    3. Japan Detects Radiation Up To 700 Milliserverts At Fukushima Nuke Plant, Xinhua News Agency (5/9/2011)
D.  Nuclear Safety
    1. China To Boost Atomic Safety Standards, AFP (5/9/2011)
    2. EU Nuclear Safety Sweep Accused Of Soft-Pedalling, Christian Spillmann, Physorg (5/9/2011)
    3. France To Test 58 Reactors for Surviving Earthquakes, Not Terrorist Attack, Tara Patel, Bloomberg, Bloomberg (5/9/2011)
E.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Japan, U.S. Plan Nuclear Waste Storage In Mongolia, Kiyoshi Takenaka, Reuters (5/9/2011)
    2. Jaitapur Plant, A 'Dangerous Version Of Dhabol', The Hindu (5/9/2011)
    3. Nuclear Power 'Cheaper Option Than Offshore Wind Farms', The Telegraph (5/9/2011)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. Hundreds Evacuated After Fire At Trawsfynydd Former Nuclear Plant, The Daily Post UK (5/6/2011)

A.  Iran

Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant Starts Operation
Fars News Agency
(for personal use only)

Iran's first nuclear power plant in the Southern port city of Bushehr officially started work on Sunday after months of testing and safety precautions.

FNA dispatches from Bushehr said that Iranian and Russian experts finished loading fuel into the heart of the power plant and that nuclear fuel consumption has started in the power plant, meaning that it is now running activity.

The plant will continue working for two weeks before it generates electricity.

The power plant will join the national grid by the next two months.

Iran signed a deal with Russia in 1995, according to which the plant was originally scheduled for completion in 1999. However, the project was repeatedly delayed by the Russian side due to the intense pressure exerted on Moscow by the United States and its western allies. Russia finally completed construction of the plant last summer.

On October 26, Iran started injecting fuel into the core of the Bushehr nuclear power plant in the initial phase of launching the nuclear reactor.

The facility operates under the full supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Later in March, Iran unloaded fuel from the heart of the Bushehr reactor, and washed and triple-checked the fuel rods in a move to further boost the safety of the plant.

US officials announced the same month that the disruption was due to a US spyware attack against Iran's nuclear facilities through a malicious software known as Stuxnet, but Iranian officials dismissed the claim.

Iran then started reloading fuel into the core of the reactor, and Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi announced that the reactor would enter sensitive phases of operation from May 5 to 10.

The remarks by Salehi came a day after Russia's Atomstroiexport Company, which oversaw the plant's construction, said in a statement that the refueling operation started after the plant had been rechecked.

"The loading of fuel-rod assemblies into the core started at the Bushehr nuclear power plant on April 8," the statement added.

Despite the propaganda campaign launched by the US-led West against the safety of Iran's nuclear facilities, Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Fereidoon Abbasi had underscored that all Iranian nuclear installations in different parts of the country enjoy the necessary safety standards.

"The important point in any given country's nuclear industry is the high safety level of its installations compared with the other facilities and installations of that country," Abbasi said, addressing a festival dubbed 'National Resistance and Civil Defense' in Tehran in mid March.

Meantime, the UN nuclear watchdog agency as the sole specialized world body has repeatedly approved the high quality of Iran's nuclear safety standards.

The Nuclear Safety and Security Department of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had also in a visit to Iran in March 2010 approved the standard safety levels of all Iranian nuclear sites and installations, and lauded the country's measures and special efforts in this regard.

"We realized that Iran's safety system responsible for inspecting Iranian nuclear facilities and installations acts very well and is strong," Head of the IAEA's Nuclear Safety and Security Department Olena Mykolaichuk said at the time.

"I, as the head of the (inspection) team, assure the Iranian society that Iran's installations are safe…," Mykolaichuk added.

She also stressed that her team has visited the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Southern Iran and inspected the safety and security control system at the installations.

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US Warns Turkey Against Trade With Iran
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Washington is pressuring Turkey to limit its trade transactions with the Islamic Republic of Iran, a senior official in the US Treasury has said.

“I have urged the Turkish government to assist Turkish banks in protecting themselves from Iran's attempts to abuse its existing trade and financial relations with Turkey,” US Treasury's Acting Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen said on Thursday.

Cohen recently visited Turkey to discuss implementing the US-engineered sanctions imposed against Iran and Libya.

The UN Security Council adopted a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran in June 2010, under intense pressure from the US, which claims Iran's nuclear program may have potential military applications.

Shortly after the UN sanctions, the United States imposed fresh unilateral sanctions on Iran's financial and energy sectors and persuaded Europe to follow suit. Washington also urged other countries to abandon investment in the Iranian market.

Iran maintains that as a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, it has a right to peaceful nuclear energy and the technology required for electricity generation and medical research.

The US attempts to mar Tehran-Istanbul ties continue while trade volume between Iran and Turkey has reportedly increased by more than 70 percent, surpassing USD 2.1 billion in the first two months of 2011.

According to a report released by the Turkish Statistical Institute, the volume of trade between the two neighboring states hit USD 963.5 million in February, showing a 43.65 percent increase compared with the same period last year.

In mid-February, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad underlined the Islamic Republic's firm determination to increase the value of annual trade ties with Turkey to USD 30 billion.

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Lee To Offer 'Advanced Proposal' On North Korean Nuclear Standoff
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak plans to make an "advanced proposal" on North Korea's nuclear programs at a joint news conference Monday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, a presidential official said.

The official declined to provide further specifics on the planned offer.

Lee arrived in Berlin on Sunday for a three-day trip for talks with Merkel and German President Christian Wulff.

South Korea has urged the North to demonstrate its denuclearization commitment through action before reopening the six-nation talks on the nuclear standoff involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the U.S.

On Sunday, Lee called for eliminating the North's nuclear programs, stressing that making the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free is an important step toward unifying the divided states.

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North Korea Exported Nuclear Materials To Libya: VOA
Song Sang-ho
The Korea Herald
(for personal use only)

The nuclear materials found in Libya in 2004 were highly likely to have been produced by North Korea, U.S.-funded broadcaster Voice of America said Saturday, citing an interview with a former senior official of the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

In the interview, Olli Heinonen, the former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said uranium hexafluoride, or UF6 ― used in uranium enrichment in Libya ― was very likely to have been made by the communist state.

Heinonen made the allegations based on North Korea’s purchase of parts to develop nuclear capabilities, information provided by Pakistan and other pieces of evidence.

To the question of whether there is any connection between the North and Syria with regard to nuclear technology developments, he said that that should be further investigated. He added that a nuclear reactor in Syria, which Israel destroyed, was very similar to North Korean reactors, indicating the possible connection between the two states.

The former deputy director general also said there was a good chance that North Korea has uranium enrichment facilities in areas other than the Yongbyon nuclear complex, stressing that IAEA inspectors should visit those facilities, provided they are allowed to do so.

Touching on the possibility of the North abandoning its nuclear programs, Heinonen said that the North could renounce them if the abandonment would lead to its economic development and security assurance.

The six-party talks aimed at denuclearizing the North have been suspended since 2008. China, the host of the multilateral talks, has been seeking to establish a mood for the dialogue while the South is apparently reluctant to see the resumption of the talks immediately as inter-Korean issues, including two deadly attacks last year, have yet to be addressed.

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U.N. Condemnation Of North Korea Uranium Crucial Before Six-Way Talks
Lee Haye-ah
Yonhap News Agency
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Drawing condemnation from the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) for North Korea's uranium enrichment program (UEP) is the most important task before reviving the six-way talks to address the North's denuclearization, a senior government official said Sunday.

"The best thing before the six-party talks is to have the Security Council confirm the UEP's illegality. This is the most important task," the official told reporters at a seminar in Hongcheon, 102 kilometers east of Seoul. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because talks are still under way among the six-party nations to bring back the roundtable that's been in limbo for more than two years.

The multilateral talks involving the two Koreas, host China, Japan, Russia and the United States aim to dismantle North Korea's nuclear programs through economic and political incentives.

However, without a clear denouncement from the UNSC, North Korea will continue to argue that its UEP is used only to generate electricity and not as a second way to build atomic bombs in addition to its existing plutonium-based program, the official said.

"The six-party talks should remain as a useful tool for denuclearization, but without going through such a (denouncement) process with the Security Council, there are concerns about whether that will be possible," he said.

South Korea and the United States are pushing for a presidential statement from the UNSC that clearly defines the UEP as a violation of U.N. resolutions and a 2005 six-party agreement that bans the North from running any type of nuclear facility. The allies have faced strong opposition from China, North Korea's last remaining ally and a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council, which insists that the issue be dealt with at the six-party negotiations instead.

"This is not a subject for negotiation," the official said, referring to the Chinese approach.

His remarks came amid reports that the UNSC will meet on May 17 to hear a regular briefing from a U.N. committee in charge of implementing sanctions imposed on North Korea after its first nuclear test in 2006. Diplomatic sources in Seoul have said the meeting may be an opportunity for South Korea to push for UEP condemnation.

"Everyone knows that the UEP is illegal. China knows and Russia knows," the official said. "It's just that if the Security Council were to make such a judgment, there are worries about how we're going to handle North Korea making another fuss."

The Pyongyang regime has often protested against international sanctions through unprovoked attacks and provocations. It drastically raised tensions on the Korean Peninsula last year after torpedoing a South Korean warship in March -- an allegation it denies -- and shelling a South Korean border island in November, killing a total of 50 South Koreans.

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C.  Japan

Japan Detects Radiation Up To 700 Milliserverts At Fukushima Nuke Plant
Xinhua News Agency
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Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) on Monday detected radiation levels in the building housing the faltering No. 1 reactor that far exceeded expected levels reaching as high as 700 millisieverts per hour, the utility firm said.

The latest readings for the troubled reactor has lead Japan's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency to embark on new radiation shielding measures so that work to bring the crisis under control can go ahead with risks of massive doses of deadly radiation poisoning hopefully being lessened for the TEPCO workers and their affiliates as they attempt to embark on a massive project to install a nuclear fuel cooling system.

TEPCO is currently mulling ideas to protect its workers -- some who have only had a single medical check since the March 11 triple disasters and many who have been exposed to levels of radiation far exceeded legal levels -- such as constructing a metal tunnel for people to walk through, or using lead sheeting to provide increased protection against radioactive substances and increase safer mobility for the workers moving around in high-radiation areas.

An area with a double-digit millisievert level, let alone three-digit figures, is quite tough as a working environment. So we have to do the work by using some shielding,'' Hidehiko Nishiyama, a spokesman for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, told a press conference.

TEPCO during the press conference were unable to confirm whether the latest measures would be a success and could not say unequivocally whether Asia's largest utility's well-publicized schedule to stabilize the plant's troubled reactors by October would be met.

TEPCO said that as 10 to 70 millisieverts per hour were detected in areas where workers would be expected to spend prolonged periods of time inside of the No. 1 reactor, restoration work is possible.

But the utility firm opened the main access points to the reactor and in doing do freely released 500 million becquerels of radioactive substances into the atmosphere, where it had gathered in the upper part of the reactor following a massive hydrogen explosion on March 12.

Seven TEPCO representatives and two from the nuclear agency entered the reactor in the early hours of Monday morning and measured radiation, working and safety conditions inside the reactor for roughly 30 minutes.

Following the reconnaissance mission, the nine people involved were exposed to radiation ranging from between levels of 2.7 millisieverts and 10.56 millisieverts, according the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency.

The installation of such cooling equipment is likely to be hampered by high radiation, as the group found several radiation " hot spots," especially around pipes suspected to be clogged with highly radioactive material.

The nuclear agency and the Environment Ministry on Monday also began taking readings from highly contaminated rubble from the vicinity of the stricken No. 1 nuclear plant and remove some of the debris and bring it back to laboratories in Tokyo for further tests.

The radioactive rubble continues to emit radiation into the atmosphere, the ministry said.

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Japan To Shut Nuclear Plant On Quake Fears
Chikako Mogi and Risa Maeda
(for personal use only)

Japanese power firm Chubu Electric Monday agreed to shut a nuclear plant until it can be better defended against the type of massive tsunami that in March triggered the worst atomic crisis in 25 years.

The temporary shutdown of Hamaoka, which supplies power to central Japan -- home to many manufacturers including Toyota Motor Corp -- has added to concerns about power shortages following the crisis at another plant in northeast Japan that was crippled by the March 11 quake and tsunami.

Chubu's decision was in response to an unprecedented request by Prime Minister Naoto Kan last week to halt all reactors still operating at Hamaoka, citing the high risk that a powerful earthquake would hit the region in coming years.

In an announcement that could add to public concern in the quake-prone country, another operator -- Japan Atomic Power -- said it had plugged a tiny radiation leak at its Tsuruga plant on the west coast, the first since it started operations in 1987. It said the leak had no impact on the environment.

Japan's trade and industry minister Banri Kaieda said the shutdown of Hamaoka, 200 km (120 miles) from Tokyo, was a special case because of its location, and reiterated that other plants would not be singled out for closure.

A close aide to Prime Minister Naoto Kan -- who pushed for the shutdown -- said further action would be taken if other plants were judged to pose immediate risk, but added the government had yet to review its long-term energy policy.

"We stood on the safe side and decided to seek a halt at Hamaoka," Goshi Hosono, told reporters. "Long-term debate on nuclear power and energy policy will take place after this."

Officials have acknowledged that the nuclear crisis at Tokyo Electric Power Co's (TEPCO) Fukushima Daiichi plant requires a review of a target to increase nuclear power's share of electricity to 50 percent by 2030 from about 30 percent now.

Chubu Electric said the shutdown, which could last about two years until safety steps are completed, would cause short-term trouble for both customers and shareholders. It canceled its annual profit forecast and warned that it could fall the red due to the cost of procuring alternative fuels.

"But firmly implementing measures to strengthen safety would become the cornerstone to continue safe and stable nuclear power in the long-term and in the end lead to the benefit of our customers," Chubu President Akihisa Mizuno told a news conference in Nagoya, where Japan's third-biggest utility is based.

Chubu Electric said it would look to buy more liquefied natural gas and oil to make up for lost capacity, and would make efforts, including procuring energy from another utility in western Japan, to avoid disruptions to its power supply.


While any power shortfalls may not be large enough to delay Japan's expected economic recovery later this year, the failure of the government to articulate a clear plan for energy policy could exacerbate a hollowing out of the manufacturing sector, analysts said.

The Hamaoka plant provides power to half of the 18 plants that make Toyota vehicles in Japan and all four of Suzuki Motor Corp's domestic car and motorcycle factories.

The coverage area also includes auto plants of Honda Motor Co and Mitsubishi Motors Corp, as well as Sharp Corp's Kameyama LCD factory and Toshiba Corp's Yokkaichi semiconductor plant.

The power issues could give exporters another reason -- in addition to a strong yen and cheaper labor abroad-- to shrink production volumes in Japan.

"We can rely on thermal power in the short term, but this raises costs and emissions," said Yasuo Yamamoto, senior economist at Mizuho Research Institute.

"In the future, we're not sure what the government wants to do. The longer that uncertainty about the power supply continues, the more companies will start thinking about manufacturing overseas."

Experts questioned whether the Hamaoka closure marked a turning point in Japan's nuclear power policy following the March 11 disasters, which left nearly 26,000 people dead or unaccounted for and triggered the world's biggest nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986. The plant is still leaking radiation.

The nuclear power industry has considerable political clout with most political parties, including Kan's Democratic Party and its biggest rival, the Liberal Democrats.

"The decision to halt the Hamaoka plant is not based on a clear or legal standard and thus raises concerns about the risk of other plants being asked to halt operations," said Tomomichi Akuta, senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting Co in Tokyo.

"The central Japan area has long been said to be prone to big earthquakes but will the government do the same if it finds another location as equally quake-prone? That is not clear. Kan's decision lacked a decision-making process to call it a policy turning point," he added.

Government experts put the chance of a magnitude 8.0 quake hitting the Hamaoka area in the next 30 years at 87 percent, which has raised questions over why it was built there in the first place.

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Workers Measure Large Radiation Drop After Replacing Surface Soil With Deeper Dirt
The Mainichi Daily News
(for personal use only)

Workers measured a drop of over 90 percent in radiation levels after replacing irradiated surface soil with deeper dirt here on May 8.

Since the trouble at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant began, higher than normal radiation levels have been detected in the soil of a school ground and other locations, raising safety concerns that led the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) and other institutions to test the effectiveness of exchanging soil layers.

At a Fukushima University-affiliated kindergarten, around 20 workers from the Japan Atomic Energy Agency were present. After digging two holes in the playground around 80 centimeters wide and 50 centimeters deep, they moved the soil of one hole to the other, moving soil that had been at the top to the bottom, and soil that had been at the bottom to the top. Before the work, the radiation levels of the surface soil measured between 2.1 to 2.3 microsieverts per hour. After the work, they measured 0.2 microsieverts per hour.

In locations including the kindergarten's sandbox and the adjacent Fukushima University-affiliated junior high school's athletic field, the workers investigated the differences in radiation level by soil depth. They found that the radiation levels were 1.7 to 2 microsieverts per hour in the surface soil but only 0.1 to 0.2 microsieverts per hour at a depth of around 20 centimeters.

MEXT plans to analyze the measurements in detail and make a decision on whether it can support the exchanging of soil layers as an effective method for lowering radiation levels.

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D.  Nuclear Safety

China To Boost Atomic Safety Standards
(for personal use only)

China will improve emergency procedures and construction standards at its nuclear power plants, state media said Monday, two months after a quake and tsunami in Japan triggered an atomic crisis.

"We have to raise our standards to deal with complicated situations, like what happened in Japan," Liu Hua, a nuclear safety official at the environmental protection ministry, was quoted by the China Daily saying.

"The lesson of Fukushima is that we need to improve emergency procedures, especially coordination among government departments."

Authorities are also considering installing power generators inside nuclear power plants and setting higher standards for flood control measures and for the construction of exterior walls of reactors, Liu said.

China ordered safety inspections of its nuclear plants and suspended approval of new projects after the March 11 disasters in northeast Japan sparked the world's worst atomic crisis since Chernobyl 25 years ago.

Japan's Fukushima nuclear facility was rocked by a series of explosions, fires and radiation leaks after the 9.0-magnitude quake and monster wave cut power to the plant and caused reactor fuel rods to heat up dangerously.

Entire towns were destroyed by the disasters, which left almost 25,000 people dead or missing along the shattered Pacific coast.

Liu said his department aimed to complete the nationwide safety inspection by August and it would then issue a safety plan, the report added.

China operates 13 nuclear reactors and is building more than two dozen others -- estimated at 40 percent of all reactors being built worldwide.

More are on the drawing board as China struggles to meet soaring energy demand to feed its booming economy. Despite the Japanese calamity, Beijing has insisted that atomic energy will remain a key part of its energy mix.

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EU Nuclear Safety Sweep Accused Of Soft-Pedalling
Christian Spillmann
(for personal use only)

Europe on Wednesday will draw up stress-test parameters for a safety sweep of its nuclear power reactors, promised after Japan's Fukushima No.1 disaster, but already the focus of bitter disputes.

For experts stand accused of turning a blind eye to the risk of terror attacks or aircraft accidents -- and of being in thrall to the powerful industry lobby governing their career prospects.

The European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) has been entrusted with the job of checking whether ageing power plants can withstand the sort of natural disaster that triggered the meltdown in Japan.

It was the EU's 27 heads of state and government who opted to hand the design of the tests to their domestic regulators. ENSREG will meet in Brussels on Wednesday to agree on the criteria.

But the meeting comes as anti-nuclear politicians and campaigners object that the industry lobby, backed by the biggest players in France and Britain, have secured an easy ride.

The EU's energy commissioner Gunther Oettinger has also made it clear he will not settle for a watered-down set of tests.

"I will not put my signature to a stress test which does not live up to my expectations nor to those of the broader public," Oettinger, of Germany, warned in an interview with the German weekly Spiegel.

"I do not agree with the fact that man-made disasters should be tested on a voluntary basis only," he added.

But Oettinger insists he is prepared to lodge new legislative proposals this year in a bid to force a tougher safety regime.

The commissioner drew the ire of the industry after the March quake and tsunami in Japan when he claimed the world was staring at a nuclear safety "apocalypse."

On Tuesday, he plans to meet with pressure groups and European Parliament figures seeking backing for that position.

If Oettinger spoke out it was partly because lobby group the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA) wants to exclude plane crashes and deliberate attacks from the test criteria.

Opponents fear they will manage to push through testing criteria that while raising test limits for plants' resistance to earthquakes, floods or severe systems failures breakdowns, exclude these kinds of man-made catastrophes.

WENRA members Italy and Sweden, which have abandoned nuclear energy, and Germany, which is going to, are among those backing their western partners on the issue.

But France and Britain, which between them account for more than half the 143 nuclear power plants in service in the European Union, are thought to be leading the charge.

Paris and London "are refusing the idea of including a deliberate plane crash, because no European plant would be able to stand up to that and therefore they would all have to close," said European Greens energy expert Michel Raquet.

The French authorities have dismissed the criticism: one of their officials in Brussels insisted that every eventuality would be covered in the stress tests, including the failure of the cooling system which proved so catastrophic at Fukushima.

Other EU countries however, share the fears of anti-nuclear campaigners.

In anti-nuclear Austria, Environment minister Nikolaus Berlakovich has openly criticised European plants' exposure to cyber-attacks.

And Belgium's energy minister Paul Magnette sparked weekend headlines when he argued in a debate with trade unionists that plants there could be mothballed ahead of schedule.

Lithuania, meanwhile, is anxiously looking over its shoulder at non-EU neighbour Belarus as the latter builds a new plant. The Baltic state wants its EU partners to develop national evacuation strategies in the event of a worst-case scenario, Brussels officials say.

"Based on the current plans for these tests, the European Union is falling well short of the necessary rigour," Greens EU lawmaker Yannick Jadot warned.

"If this is a success for the authorities in London and France, who have pulled this off through intensive lobbying to strip down the tests' specifications, it's a failure for all our citizens," he warned.

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France To Test 58 Reactors for Surviving Earthquakes, Not Terrorist Attack
Tara Patel, Bloomberg
(for personal use only)

Safety reviews at Electricite de France SA’s 58 atomic reactors in France will cover their vulnerability to earthquakes and floods and exclude terrorist attacks, the nation’s atomic regulator said.

“We don’t think there could be a serious study,” of risks caused by terrorism nor could it be done transparently, the head of the Autorite de Surete Nucleaire, Andre-Claude Lacoste, said at a briefing in Paris today. “This will be discussed at the end of the week in Brussels. It’s not a dogmatic position.”

Prime Minister Francois Fillon had asked the regulator to evaluate whether French plants can withstand earthquakes, floods, power outages and cooling-system failures. The European Union is also planning to carry out “stress tests” in the second half of the year in response to the Japanese atomic accident caused by a March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

The EU aims to reveal the criteria for tests on its 143 atomic plants on May 12, the same day that national regulators in Europe are due to give their approval to the plans, European Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger has said.

Lacoste said France’s criteria may differ from the EU’s. “There is no assurance of a total convergence” between what France announced today and what the EU will decide later this week. He said the French have based their decisions “as much as possible” on what is known now about the European process and that of other countries.

Testing 58 Reactors

Nuclear power stations owned by companies including state- owned EDF and Germany’s RWE AG (RWE) produce about a third of the electricity in the EU, which wants to draw up common safety criteria after the Japanese crisis triggered public protests in Europe against atomic power.

The French watchdog is preparing the stress tests, which also will exclude fuel-transport mishaps, on EDF’s 58 existing reactors that produce more than 75 percent of the nation’s electricity as well as one being built at Flamanville in Normandy. Lacoste has raised the possibility of a construction halt at Flamanville in the coming months if lessons learned from Fukushima require changes to improve safety.

“We will take any measures that are necessary,” he said when asked whether any EDF reactors could be shut down as a consequence of safety issues or whether the operator may be obliged to build containment facilities over spent fuel pools at plants.

Fukushima was a “massive event” that is being taken more seriously in Europe than in Russia and the U.S., he said. “There is clearly a before Fukushima and an after Fukushima.”

About 15 nuclear facilities that are related to reactors also will be reviewed, including waste storage and treatment plants, the ASN said.

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E.  Nuclear Energy

Jaitapur Plant, A 'Dangerous Version Of Dhabol'
The Hindu
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The All India Power Engineers' Federation (AIPEF) and the National Confederation of Officers' Associations of Central Public Sector Undertakings (NCOA) have come out strongly against the proposed Jaitapur nuclear power plant.

Terming it a “dangerous nuclear version of the Enron's Dhabol fiasco,” they said the Centre agreed to the French reactor even without design and safety features being presented to and approved by the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

The Jaitapur plant would cost upwards of Rs. 22 crore a MWe against Rs. 8 crore in an indigenous equivalent nuclear plant, the two organisations said.

In a joint statement, AIPEF president Padamjit Singh and NCOA president K. Ashok Rao, said: “While the Dhabol power plant left losses of a few thousands of crores, the Jaitapur nuclear power plant will in addition leave behind a few lakhs dead, injured and displaced.”

Rationale questioned

They also questioned the rationale behind the government's plans to increase the installed capacity of nuclear power in the country from 3.8 GWe to 655 GWe in the next four decades.

“Such a large expansion would be impossible without compromising quality and safety.”

It also meant a “summary rejection” of the three-stage development plan conceived by Homi Bhabha, founder and prime architect of the Indian atomic energy programme. “No sane power engineer, anywhere in the world, would envisage an almost 200 times increase in nuclear power within 41 years.”

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Japan, U.S. Plan Nuclear Waste Storage In Mongolia
Kiyoshi Takenaka
(for personal use only)

Japan and the United States plan to jointly build a spent nuclear fuel storage facility in Mongolia to serve customers of their nuclear plant exporters, pushing ahead despite Japan's prolonged nuclear crisis, the Mainichi daily said on Monday.

A Trade Ministry official said Japan, U.S. and Mongolia officials, at a meeting shortly before Japan's March 11 earthquake, informally discussed possible construction of a nuclear waste storage facility for countries with nuclear power plants but no spent fuel storage capability of their own.

He said there were no concrete plans at this time but the ministry would consider such a project if Mongolia were interested.

The Mainichi said the facility would allow Japanese and U.S. nuclear plant exporters, which include joint ventures and units of General Electric , Hitachi and Toshiba , to better compete with Russian rivals that offer potential nuclear plant customers spent fuel disposal in a package.

Mongolia plans to have its first nuclear power plant by 2020 and to build nuclear fuel production capacity to tap its rich uranium resources, undeterred by the crisis at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power complex, a senior official at the state-owned MonAtom LLC said in April.

MonAtom represents the Mongolian government in mining and developing the country's uranium resources.

The trade ministry official denied the Mainichi's report that the three countries had originally planned to sign a deal on the spent fuel disposal project in February but it was postponed as Japan's Foreign Ministry opposed the schedule, citing a lack of consensus among Japanese ministries.

The Mainichi said a new date had not been set in the wake of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan, which triggered cooling system malfunctions at Tokyo Electric Power Co's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant and led to radiation leaks into the atmosphere and the sea.

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Nuclear Power 'Cheaper Option Than Offshore Wind Farms'
The Telegraph
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Nuclear power should be favoured over plans to build thousands of offshore wind turbines, the Government's climate advisers have indicated.

The Committee on Climate Change said nuclear would be the most cost–effective way of providing low–carbon electricity into the 2020s, and called for about 14 new plants by the end of the next decade.

It would mean extending plans to build 12 reactors on seven sites by 2025.

The committee also said the "very aggressive pace" of government plans to build offshore wind turbines over the next nine years should be "moderated" because of its expense.

Incentives to boost offshore wind projects over the next decade will add about £50 to the average household electricity bill by 2020.

David Kennedy, the committee's chief executive, said more support could be given to cheaper options, including air and ground–source heat pumps and onshore wind farms, to help Britain meet its EU target of providing 15 per cent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.

The Government expects more than 3,600 turbines to be installed in British waters by 2020, providing a capacity of 13 gigawatts.

Mr Kennedy said: "Offshore wind is a very promising technology and one we should support. It has a lot of resource potential and is becoming competitive over time. However, it will not be competitive with other low carbon technologies in the next decade or so."

He said this meant the Government had to be flexible on its plans for offshore wind this decade.

The committee also said the Government should invest heavily in offshore wind in the 2020s because of its long–term importance to British energy.

It said 40 per cent of electricity should eventually come from renewables and 40 per cent from nuclear.

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