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Nuclear News - 6/7/2011
PGS Nuclear News, June 7, 2011
Compiled By: Eli Ginsberg

A.  Iran
    1. US To Press Japan, South Korea On Iran Sanctions, Reuters (6/6/2011)
    2. IAEA Turns Up Heat On Syria, Iran, Agence France-Presse (6/6/2011)
    3. Venezuela Cuts Ties With U.S. Over Iran, Tehran Times  (6/6/2011)
    4. Iran Dismisses IAEA "Baseless" Claims, PressTV (6/6/2011)
    1. U.S. Urges N. Korea To Mend Ties With S. Korea, Yonhap News Agency (6/3/2011)
    2. DPRK Rejects Seoul's Summit Proposal, Xinhua News Agency (6/3/2011)
C.  Japan
    1. Radiation Levels Likely Exceed Safety Standard Outside Evacuation Zone, Asahi (6/7/2011)
    2. Nuclear Safety Agency To Become Independent According To Report For IAEA, Mainichi Daily News (6/6/2011)
    3. TEPCO Faces Prolonged Battle Against Radioactive Debris, Water, Asahi (6/6/2011)
    4. Plutonium Found In Soil At Okuma, Japan Times (6/6/2011)
    5. Japan Nuclear Plant Moves Radioactive Water, Associated Press (6/5/2011)
D.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Energy Minister Announces Date to Shutdown Nuclear Plants, Turkish Weekly (6/7/2011)
    2. Italy Court Allows Nuclear Referendum To Go Ahead-Ansa, Reuters (6/7/2011)
    3. Southeast Asia’s 1st Nuclear Plant Will Start In Vietnam in 2020, The Star (6/6/2011)
    4. Turkey-Japan Nuclear Cooperation To Become Clear After Elections, Platts (6/6/2011)
    5. German Cabinet Passes Nuclear Exit Bill, Agence France-Presse (6/6/2011)
E.  Nuclear Safety
    1. Medvedev Approves Russian-U.S. Plutonium Disposal Deal,, RIA Novosti (6/6/2011)
    2. Former Official Confirms Recent Leak At Nuclear Reactor, Al-Masry Al-Youm (6/6/2011)

A.  Iran

IAEA Turns Up Heat On Syria, Iran
Agence France-Presse
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UN atomic watchdog chief Yukiya Amano turned up the heat on Syria and Iran -- both accused of illicit nuclear activity -- as the body's policy-making board of governors began meeting here Monday.

Tehran and Damascus are both accused of actively blocking the International Atomic Energy Agency's long-running investigations into illegal nuclear activity.

At the end of May, Amano released two new reports in which he said Iran was continuing to stockpile low-enriched uranium, in defiance of multiple UN sanctions, and refusing to answer allegations of possible military dimensions to its contested nuclear programme.

Syria, for its part, is accused of building an undeclared atomic reactor at a remote desert site and has not allowed UN inspectors access to locations, data or individuals who could help clear up the allegations.

Addressing the IAEA's governors on the first day of their traditional week-long June meeting, Amano defended his decision to go public with his assessment that a suspect site in Syria was "very likely" to have been an undeclared nuclear reactor, as alleged by the United States.

"The Syrian government was given ample time by the agency to cooperate fully concerning the Dair Alzour site, but did not do so," Amano said, according to a copy of his speech circulated to journalists.

"Nevertheless, we had obtained enough information to draw a conclusion. I judged it appropriate to inform member states of our conclusion at this stage as it was in no one's interest to let this situation drag on indefinitely," Amano said.

Damascus has always insisted that Dair Alzour was a non-nuclear military installation, but has provided no evidence to back that up. Furthermore, it has repeatedly denied the IAEA access to the site to clear up the allegations for itself.

"I am confident about our conclusion and I look forward to engaging further with Syria to resolve related outstanding issues," Amano said.

He told a news conference later that, a couple of days after his report, Syria wrote to the IAEA promising full cooperation and that officials from both sides had since met for talks.

"But expressing an intention is not good enough. We would like to see concrete results," Amano said.

Syria had still not provided any concrete indication as to what form its full cooperation would take. Nevertheless, the two sides had agreed to meet again following the end of the June session of the board of governors, Amano continued.

The US and its Western allies are expected to propose a resolution at the board meeting to find Damascus in "non-compliance with its international obligations and report it to the UN Security Council in New York.

Western diplomats believe there is sufficient support on the 35-member board for the resolution to be passed, although it would be "naive" to expect it to be carried unanimously, a number of them said.

Asked if a resolution would jeopardise Damascus's willingness to cooperate, Amano replied: "Whether to report it to Security Council or not is the matter of member states, I'm not involved in that."

But even if Damascus were to be reported to New York, "I don't think it changes my work. What is needed... is that Syria is prepared to cooperate with us and I'm looking forward to work with them whatever happens."

The last time a member state was reported to the UN Security Council was Iran in February 2006 and the IAEA is still no closer than it was then to establishing whether the Islamic republic's nuclear programme is exclusively peaceful, as Tehran maintains.

Turning to the IAEA's long-running Iran investigation, Amano said the watchdog "has received further information related to possible past or current undisclosed nuclear-related activities that seem to point to the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme."

The IAEA has long been pressing Tehran to answer the allegations. But Iran has merely dismissed the evidence backing up the allegations as "fabricated" and "baseless", and refused to discuss the matter further.

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Iran Dismisses IAEA "Baseless" Claims
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Iran has dismissed as "baseless" the recent allegations by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), that its nuclear program may have non-peaceful purposes.

Iran maintained that there is no evidence that the country's civilian nuclear activities pursue military aims, and has insisted that over the years it has been cooperating with the Agency way beyond its legal obligations as a signatory to the nuclear non proliferation treaty.

Iran has said the recent statement by the IAEA Director General proves the UN nuclear body is trying to meet Washington's demands.

In his opening statement to the IAEA Board of Governors, the Agency Director General Yukiya Amano urged Iran to take steps towards building international confidence that its nuclear program is indeed peaceful.

The discussions by the 35-member Board of Governors were also dominated by Syria. A recently published IAEA report says that the building that was destroyed by the Israelis at the Al-Kibar site in Syria in 2007 might have indeed been a nuclear facility.

During the inspection of the Syrian site under former IAEA Director General Mohammed El-Baradei, the IAEA found a small amount of uranium particles, which Syria says must have come from the Israeli airike during the destruction of the complex.

By the end of this week the IAEA Board is expected to vote on a US-backed resolution to declare Syria to be non-compliant with its bilateral safeguards agreement, as well as the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

A vote on such a resolution would lead to the referral of Syria to the United Nations Security Council. And that, in turn, would open the door to possible sanctions against Syria as the country insists its nuclear activities are solely for peaceful purposes.

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US To Press Japan, South Korea On Iran Sanctions
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A top U.S. Treasury Department official is set to travel to Japan and South Korea this week to encourage tough implementation of international sanctions aimed at Iran's nuclear program.

Acting Under Secretary David Cohen "will emphasize the importance of continuing robust implementation of international sanctions to prevent Iran from accessing the international financial system to facilitate its illicit nuclear and weapons program," the Treasury Department said in a statement.

The United States and its allies accuse Iran of seeking to develop the means to make a nuclear bomb. Iran rejects the accusation, saying its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity so that it can export more of its oil and gas.

Cohen, who oversees Treasury Department operations on terrorism and financial intelligence, will visit Japan and South Korea from Tuesday to Friday, the department said.

"He will also consult with our partners on next steps to increase pressure by redoubling efforts to target those entities facilitating Iran's illicit activities, especially Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard," the department said.

The head of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency said in a speech on Monday that Iran seems to have carried out nuclear-related activities with possible military activities until recently.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano's remarks were seen as a a warning to Iran to cooperate or face a IAEA report that could lend weight to any renewed Western push to tighten sanctions.

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Venezuela Cuts Ties With U.S. Over Iran
Tehran Times
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According to, Venezuela officially “froze” relations with the United States on Sunday, a top diplomat from President Hugo Chavez's government said.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro also hinted that re-establishing relations with the U.S. would be “impossible.”

On May 24, the U.S. imposed sanctions against Venezuela's giant oil company Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) for providing Iran with gasoline and other refined oil products.

Under the sanctions, PDVSA is denied U.S. government contracts and banned from Washington's export financing.

Maduro had earlier described the sanctions as “illegal, abusive measures taken by this weak government of the United States.”

Venezuela's Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez, who is also the head of PDVSA, said on May 25 that Venezuela would continue to maintain relations with Iran and any other country it wants.

“This is a right we are not going to renounce,” Ramirez said.

Approximately 26 percent of Venezuela's imports are from the United States. Venezuela is one of the United States' main suppliers of petroleum, selling it about 1 million barrels of oil per day.

The UN Security Council adopted a fourth round of sanctions against Tehran in 2010 under intense pressure from the U.S., which claims Iran's nuclear program may have potential military aspects. Iran has repeatedly refuted the allegations.

Shortly after the UN sanctions, the U.S. imposed fresh unilateral sanctions against Iran's financial and energy sectors, encouraging other countries to abandon investment in the Iranian market.

Under the imposed measures, U.S. firms are banned from carrying out trade exchanges, importing from and exporting goods to Iran and making ventures in the country.

Foreign banks and corporations doing business with Iran could be denied access to the U.S. Export-Import Bank, their ability to sell in the U.S. market would be restricted, and would be denied U.S. government contracts.

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

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DPRK Rejects Seoul's Summit Proposal
Xinhua News Agency
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The Democratic People's Republic of Korea says that South Korean officials offered to hold a summit meeting, if Pyongyang would offer an apology for two military attacks that killed 50 South Koreans last year.

A spokesman for the DPRK said the two sides met secretly in Beijing on May 9th, where Pyongyang rejected the proposal.

It's the latest war of words on the Korean peninsula.

The DPRK's National Defense Commission spokesman disclosed that a secret meeting was held, where South Korea had proposed holding inter-Korean summits in late June, August and March next year, as well as ministerial-level preparatory talks in late May this year.

But as a precondition for bilateral talks, South Korea asked the DPRK to apologize first over the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan and the shelling of Yonphyong Island last year.

The DPRK denies responsibility for the sinking of the warship and says it was acting in self-defense in the Yonphyong attack, after the South test-fired shells into nearby disputed waters.

A KRT news reader said, "We have made it clear there would never be a summit meeting as long as the South maintains a hostile policy and insists the DPRK should abandon its nuclear programme and apologize over the two incidents."

The DPRK spokesman says South Korea "begged" for concessions over inter-Korean summit talks.

However, the South Korean Unification Ministry says that Seoul does not need to respond to Pyongyang's "unilateral" claims that "distort real intentions" of South Korea.

Calling Pyongyang's move "very regrettable," the ministry renewed its call on the DPRK to resume inter-Korean dialogue.

At the beginning of this year, both South Korea and the DPRK said they wanted to ease tension and agreed to negotiations, but subsequent military talks broke down quickly without any progress.

Since then, South Korean president Lee Myung-bak has extended the offer of a summit on a number of occasions, but sticking to the precondition that the DPRK apologize for the two attacks.

DPRK leader Kim Jong-il has held summits with former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung in 2000, and with former president Roh Moo-hyun in 2007.

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U.S. Urges N. Korea To Mend Ties With S. Korea
Yonhap News Agency
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Responding to North Korea's fresh military threats against South Korea, the United States called on the communist nation Friday to improve inter-Korean ties.

Earlier in the day, the North's military issued a statement vowing to launch “retaliatory military attacks” against South Korea because its reserve forces used photos of North Korean leaders for target practice.

The threats were the latest in a series of hostile gestures by the North, including the disclosure of a secret meeting with the South in Beijing last month and termination of exclusive contract with a Seoul conglomerate for the Mount Kumgang tourism business.

"It's obviously not the kind of behavior that we are looking for from North Korea," State Department spokesman Mark Toner told a press briefing. "We've said that many times we are looking for North Korea to put its relations with South Korea on a more positive track."

After weeks of overtures for dialogue with Seoul, Pyongyang has been stepping up threats, especially following leader Kim Jong-il's trip to China.

Toner would not be drawn into a question on a possible link between Kim's recent China visit and Pyongyang's tougher stance.

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C.  Japan

Radiation Levels Likely Exceed Safety Standard Outside Evacuation Zone
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Residents outside the planned evacuation zone near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant are trying to lead normal lives, but radiation levels exceeding the safety standard are posing an increasing threat.

A report released June 3 by the science ministry said annual accumulated radiation levels are estimated at 20.1, 20.8, 23.8 millisieverts in the Ishida and Kamioguni areas of the Ryozen-machi district in Date city, and the Ohara area of the Hara-machi district of Minami-Soma, respectively.

The government's safety standard is 20 millisieverts of annual accumulated radiation.

These areas lie beyond the planned evacuation zone, which is just outside the off-limits area within a 20-kilometer radius of the plant.

The ministry's calculation assumes current radiation accumulation rates will remain static over one year.

The central government and the Date city government held meetings June 5. About 80 local residents attended the one held in the Ishida area and asked for supplies of feed for their livestock. But they also expressed concerns about the possible effects of radiation on expectant mothers.

Government officials in charge of nuclear disaster control measures tried to reassure the residents by telling them that the standard of 20 millisieverts is among the lowest in the world.

But when asked by residents to present specific measures to lower the radiation levels, the officials only repeated that they would continue to monitor the situation.

The central government's task force does not plan to designate those areas as part of the planned evacuation zone. The city government will not ask the central government to do so, either.

Shoji Nishida, the mayor of Date, also said the 20-millisievert level does not pose an immediate danger. He said that if the city were included in the evacuation zone, all residents would be forced to leave their homes. He said the decision on whether to leave the area should be left to the residents themselves.

The city government of Minami-Soma is also considering holding a meeting with residents to explain the situation.

The planned evacuation zone, designated on April 11, covers about 10,000 residents in about 3,000 households in Iitate and part of Kawamata town, Namie town, Katsurao village and Minami-Soma.

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Nuclear Safety Agency To Become Independent According To Report For IAEA
Mainichi Daily News
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The government has decided to remove the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) from under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, turning it into an independent body, a report on the crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 Nuclear Power Plant shows.

The report, whose details emerged on June 7, points out that the body in charge of nuclear safety straddled several government agencies and when the crisis unfolded, it was unclear where the responsibility for enduring the public's safety lay. The government will submit the report at an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ministerial conference to open in Vienna on June 20.

Under measures outlined in the report, electric power companies will be legally required to take measures to avoid severe nuclear accidents such as those in which reactor cores are damaged. The report concludes that "fundamental revisions to nuclear safety measures are inevitable."

The paper is divided into 13 chapters. It includes an apology over the accident, mentioning the government's reflection over the fact that the crisis sparked worldwide concerns about the safety of nuclear power and the release of radioactive materials.

The report lists 28 lessons learned from the crisis which appear under such headings as "measures to prevent severe accidents," and "response to nuclear power accidents."

With regard to environmental monitoring, it says that radiation measurements were left up to local bodies at the time of the accident, resulting in an inadequate response. It proposes having the government take responsibility for monitoring in the future.

The report also points out that data from the government's system for the prediction of environmental emergency dose information, known as SPEEDI, was not released quickly and that the system was not used to its potential. It says that in the future, the government will release data from the outset.

Also mentioned in the report were shortcomings in securing a power supply and cooling functions to prevent a serious nuclear accident. It says such measures would be required legally in the future.

The report says the fact that reactor facilities were shared and close together negatively affected the emergency response to the accident. To improve the situation in the future it says that reactors would be made independent, and a system to respond to reactor accidents individually would be set up.

The report also states, "To boost the response to serious accidents, we will promote research with international cooperation, and have the results of that research lead to improvements in nuclear safety throughout the world."

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Plutonium Found In Soil At Okuma
Japan Times
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Plutonium that is believed to have come from the crippled Fukushima No. 1 power plant has been detected in the town of Okuma about 1.7 km away from the plant's front gate, a Kanazawa University researcher said Sunday.

It is the first time plutonium ejected by the stricken facility has been found in soil beyond its premises since the March 11 megaquake and tsunami led to a core meltdown there.

Professor Masayoshi Yamamoto of Kanazawa University said the level of plutonium detected in soil in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, is lower than the average level observed in Japan after nuclear tests were conducted abroad.

The Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has found plutonium in soil on the nuke plant's grounds, but it was believed to have been fallout from bomb tests abroad.

By analyzing the ratio of three types of isotopes in the plutonium, Yamamoto was able to determine that it was emitted by Fukushima No. 1 and not past bomb tests.

The soil samples were collected by a team of researchers from Hokkaido University before April 22.

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TEPCO Faces Prolonged Battle Against Radioactive Debris, Water
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As workers struggle to bring the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant under control, signs are increasing that the eventual cleanup of the disaster will take much longer than previously thought.

Containers of rubble, unwanted and of unknown levels of contamination, line the roadside near the plant. Pools of radioactive water at the plant, a constant problem since the March 11 disaster, may pose even longer-term challenges. And full studies on how to remove nuclear fuel and eventually decommission the four troubled reactors have yet to start.

Tokyo Electric Power Co., the plant's operator, started using remote-controlled, unmanned heavy machinery in late April to put radioactive debris into containers each with a capacity of about 4 cubic meters.

By June 5, 279 containers had been filled.

"We don't know where we can take the containers," said a TEPCO spokesman.

In fact, the spokesman said the company has no idea about the aggregate volume of the debris nor the amount of radiation for each container.

TEPCO planned to complete work to remove the rubble within three months, but officials now say that no end is in sight.

One plausible receiver is Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd., which accepts low-level radioactive waste from electric power companies at its facility in Aomori Prefecture.

But an official said the company cannot decide on whether to accept radioactive debris unless the amount of radiation and the types of radioactive materials are known.

The debris at the Fukushima plant includes concrete fragments of reactor buildings that were blown off in hydrogen explosions as well as rubble washed ashore by the March 11 tsunami.

Radiation levels of some pieces measured more than 1,000 millisieverts per hour, a level that could cause acute disorders if workers are in close proximity for a long time.

While workers at the Fukushima plant may be exposed to an accumulated maximum of 250 millisieverts, radiation of up to 20 millisieverts per hour was observed in the atmosphere around the No. 1 to 4 reactors as of May 27.

What to do with highly radioactive water is also a growing concern for TEPCO. Such water at the Fukushima plant is expected to increase to 200,000 tons in December, nearly double the 105,100 tons as of the end of May.

The water currently contains radioactivity of 720,000 terabecquerels, more than the 370,000-630,000 terabecquerels estimated to have been released into the atmosphere.

The central waste treatment facility, which is capable of holding 14,000 tons of water, is nearly full.

The capacity at the facility and other containers will be increased by 4,300 tons, but the increased space will be filled by June 20.

TEPCO is injecting a huge amount of water to cool the reactors and the storage pools for spent nuclear fuel rods. Radioactive water is believed to be leaking from holes in the pressure vessels and containment vessels of the reactors.

Using technology of France's Areva SA, a system will be completed on June 15 that can reduce the radioactivity of contaminated water to one-1,000th by removing cesium and strontium. The water can then be reused to cool the reactors or be stored at tanks for water with low radioactivity.

But the system is capable of treating only up to 1,200 tons a day.

The water treatment system and another system to remove radioactive materials, developed by Japanese and U.S. companies, are expected to cost a total of 53.1 billion yen ($662 million).

However, it is still undecided how to dispose of the radioactive substances removed from the water.

"We will consider treatment technology and regulations," said Hidehiko Nishiyama, a senior official at the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. "It will take years (to treat radioactive materials)."

Another huge challenge is how to dispose of nuclear fuel that remains in the reactors and the storage pools.

The No. 1 to 3 reactors contained 1,496 fuel assemblies, or clusters of fuel rods, while the storage pools for the No. 1 to 4 reactors held 3,108 fuel assemblies.

An estimated five to 10 years are needed to remove the nuclear fuel from the reactors after they reach a stable cold shutdown state.

TEPCO said it plans to decommission the No. 1 to 4 reactors.

"We have not made full-fledged studies on how to decommission the reactors," said Junichi Matsumoto, acting general manager of TEPCO's Nuclear Power and Plant Siting Division.

Toshiba Corp., which designed the Fukushima plant, announced plans in April to remove fuel in five years and decommission reactors in slightly more than 10 years.

But a paper carried in the online edition of Britain's Nature magazine soon after Toshiba's announcement said decommissioning work would take decades, even 100 years.

The paper quoted "veterans of cleanup operations" as saying that many more years will be needed at Fukushima than the 11 years required to remove fuel after the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant.

It also pointed out that following a fire in 1957 at a nuclear facility in Sellafield, Britain, the reactor remained as it was for 20 years.

But TEPCO will be under pressure to remove the fuel quickly because another major earthquake or tsunami could cause the release of radioactive materials from the reactors.

TEPCO also must come up with new disposal measures because it is difficult to transport damaged nuclear fuel to the reprocessing facility in Aomori Prefecture.

Another problem is how to dispose of the pressure vessels, containment vessels and piping systems that are all contaminated with high levels of radioactivity.

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Japan Nuclear Plant Moves Radioactive Water
Associated Press
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The Japanese utility battling to bring its radiation-spewing nuclear reactor under control says it is moving 1,500 more tons of radioactive water into temporary storage.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Sunday that the move is critical to prevent the spilling of highly radioactive water into the ground and the sea.

More than 100,000 tons of radioactive water have pooled beneath the troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan. TEPCO has said the water could start overflowing about June 20 — or possibly sooner with heavy rainfall.

The cores of three of the plant's reactors melted and sunk to the bottom of the units after the March 11 tsunami destroyed backup generators, damaging crucial cooling systems.

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D.  Nuclear Energy

Energy Minister Announces Date to Shutdown Nuclear Plants
Turkish Weekly
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Turkey has yet begun the construction work for the first of its at least two planned nuclear power plants, but the country’s Energy Minister already has a date to shut them down.

“We will shutdown the nuclear power plants to be built in Akkuyu, Mersin and Sinop in 2071, the 1,000th anniversary of the Battle of Manzikert,” Energy Minister Taner Yıldız told Radikal in the Central Anatolian province of Kayseri, where he tops the parliamentary candidates list for the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP.

The Battle of Manzikert was fought between the Byzantine Empire and Seljuq Turks led by Alp Arslan in August 1071 near Manzikert, modern Malazgirt in the eastern province of Muş. The decisive defeat of the Byzantine army and the capture of the Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes played an important role in undermining Byzantine authority in Anatolia and allowed Turks to gradually populate Anatolia.

Yıldız said all security precautions have been considered for the nuclear power plants and no one should wrongly interpret Germany’s decision to shutdown its nuclear plants in 2022.

“If the nuclear plants are so dangerous, why don’t they shut them down immediately instead of waiting till 2022?” said Yıldız. “The plants to be closed are 30-40 years old and will have completed their economic life. There are 26 nuclear power plants around the world, which I believe all should be shutdown on that date.”

Turkey has agreed with Russia's Rosatom and signed a contract one year ago to build its first nuclear plant, which will have four reactors, in the Mediterranean province of Mersin’s Akkuyu district. The licensing process for the plant, which will cost about $20 billion, is still in progress.

The government is also holding talks on the planned Sinop plant. Before the Japanese earthquake, Japanese companies seemed to be ahead on a possible decision. Turkey and Japan signed a memorandum on civil nuclear cooperation last December, but the plans have been put on hold since the Fukusihima disaster.

Still, the energy minister already has a date in mind to shutdown the two power plants. “You can directly quote me on this; we are planning to shut down our nuclear plants on 2071, on the 1,000th anniversary of the historical victory in Malazgirt.”

Yıldız believes the ruling AKP, the main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, and the Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, agree on the country’s nuclear policies, which are opposed by environmentalists. All three parties defend nuclear power plants in their election manifestos, Yıldız said, adding the CHP leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu voices different ideas when he is on television.

“The CHP is telling the truth in its election manifesto, but Kılıçdaroğlu is saying just the opposite,” said Yıldız. “I do not want to use any bad words; this can be a sign of being tired. Such major mistakes overshadow the dignity of politics. I’m ready to sincerely brief Kılıçdaroğlu and tell him about the fundamentals of nuclear power.”

The energy minister said there is major “con” on nuclear energy, recalling four former executives of the environmental organization Greenpeace who are now working for the nuclear energy sector. “More than half of Turkish people support nuclear energy and we will start a public relations campaign to remove some misunderstandings.”

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Italy Court Allows Nuclear Referendum To Go Ahead-Ansa
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Italy's constitutional court on Tuesday ruled that a referendum on the relaunch of the nuclear power in Italy can go ahead, the Ansa news agency reported.

The referendum, scheduled to be held on June 12-13, will be Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's next big test with voters after his coalition suffered a crushing defeat in local elections last week.

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German Cabinet Passes Nuclear Exit Bill
Agence France-Presse
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The German cabinet signed off Monday on a bill phasing out nuclear power in Europe's biggest economy by 2022, prompted by the disaster in March at Japan's Fukushima plant.

"I am convinced that the government's decision today represents a milestone in the economic and social development of our country," Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen told reporters in Berlin.

The pace of the switch-off is faster than that announced last week by Chancellor Angela Merkel, with the nine reactors currently on line due to be turned off between 2015 and 2022, according to the text of the bill.

Previously Merkel had said that six reactors would shut down in 2021 and the three most modern in 2022. The seven oldest reactors were already shut down following the Fukushima crisis.

A further reactor has been shut for years because of technical problems.

The decision represents a humbling U-turn for Merkel, who in late 2010 took the unpopular decision to extend the lifetime of Germany's 17 reactors by an average of 12 years, keeping them open until the mid-2030s.

The bill focuses on ways to fill the gap left by nuclear power, on which Germany relies for some 22 percent of its energy needs.

This includes building new coal and gas power plants, expanding the production of electricity with renewable sources like solar and wind power, reducing Germany's energy use and improving transmission networks.

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Southeast Asia’s 1st Nuclear Plant Will Start In Vietnam in 2020
The Star
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South East Asia's first nuclear power plant will be operational in Vietnam in 2020 after six years of construction, as demand for nuclear energy remains strong in the region in the post-Fukushima era, a nuclear conference was told Monday.

It will be commissioned two years after Bangladesh completes its Roopur Nuclear Power Project and becomes the latest country in the region to develop such energy.

Tran Chi Thank, of the Vietnam Institute of Energy, said the first plant would be built by Russia while Japan would undertake the construction of the second one beginning 2015 and ready for commissioning in 2021.

Both will be built in the Ninh Thuan province, he said.

"The study towards nuclear energy in Vietnam began 30 years ago but was put on hold due to the Chernobyl (crisis in Russia) in 1986. But it was approved in 2009, " he told the AtomExpo 2011 organised by Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) here.

Besides Vietnam, other South East Asian countries that have declared their intention to develop nuclear energy are Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand.

According to Tran, the biggest challenge facing Vietnam was to develop its nuclear manpower as the number of personnel available now was limited, adding that they were working closely with Russian nuclear institutes to train them.

Shawkat Akhbar from Bangladesh's Nuclear Power and Energy Division said the country was moving into nuclear energy due to limited resources.

"We hope to achieve 20,000 MW of electricity by 2021 from two units. In fact the Roopur site was chosen in 1963," he said, adding that more than 1,600 personnel were involved in the project team.

Both Vietnam and Bangladesh have sent their personnel to undertake intensive training in Russia.

Yury Seleznev, Rector of Russia's training institute CICE& T, said about 1,000 highly trained personnel were required to run a two unit nuclear plant, adding that training must start five years before a plant was commissioned.

"All staff must be already trained two years before the plant starts operation. A training centre that also plays the role of an information centre must be in place five years before the operation," he said. - Bernama

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Turkey-Japan Nuclear Cooperation To Become Clear After Elections
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Turkey and Japan will not take a decision on reconvening talks on the possible construction of a nuclear power plant at Sinop on Turkey's Black Sea coast until after the Turkish general election on June 12, a spokesman for Turkey's energy ministry told Platts Tuesday.

The spokesman said Turkey had acceded to Japanese requests to postpone further meetings between officials of Japanese power company Tepco and Turkey's state generating company EUAS following the nuclear accident at Japan's Fukushima-1 plant.

"Currently it's not clear what will happen, and we have no plans to clarify the situation until after the election," the spokesman said.

The spokesman also confirmed statements made to the Turkish media by Turkish energy minister Taner Yildiz to the effect that Turkey's two planned nuclear power plants would be closed in 2071.

"The plant are expected to come on line in 2020 or 2021 and to operate for around 50 years, so closing them in 2071 is normal," he said, explaining that Yildiz had made the statement in response to queries about whether Turkey should be developing nuclear plants when other countries are closing theirs after Germany decided to shut down all its nuclear reactors by 2022.

Yildiz commented that by 2022 all of Germany's nuclear plants would already be of an age when it would be normal to close them and that if the German government was seriously worried about their safety it would take steps to close them earlier, according to the ministry spokesman.

Turkey last year awarded a contract for the country's first 4.8 GW nuclear plant at Akkuyu on the country's east Mediterranean coast to Russia's Atomstroyexport, although construction remains conditional on the successful submission of safety and environmental impact studies.

Discussions for a second plant of around 5 GW to be built at Sinop on Turkey's Black Sea coast were opened in March last year with Korea's Kepco, but ended in November after Kepco refused to proceed unless the project was offered sovereign guarantees. Subsequent discussions with Japan's Tepco began in December on an exclusive basis but were halted temporarily following the Fukushima disaster.

Turkish officials said earlier this year that they had been approached by a French a consortium of EDF, GDF Suez and Areva which was also interested in constructing the planned Sinop plant but commented that no formal talks could begin until the exclusivity period with Japan had elapsed.

Plans exist for a third nuclear plant, but officials have denied reports in the Turkish media that a site has been chosen at Igneada on Turkey's Black Sea coast, close to the border with Bulgaria.

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E.  Nuclear Safety

Former Official Confirms Recent Leak At Nuclear Reactor
Al-Masry Al-Youm
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The Anshas nuclear reactor, located on the outskirts of Cairo, has leaked ten cubic meters of radioactive water for the second time in a year, according to Samer Mekheimar, the former director of the Nuclear Research Center’s atomic reactions department.

Mekheimar submitted a note to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, saying the leakage took place on 25 May as a result of operating the reactor without taking into account safety precautions.

He also said the Atomic Energy Agency kept the incident secret and threatened to fire the staff if they talked about it.

“The fact that the reactor was by mere chance not operated the next day saved the area from environmental disaster,” he wrote.

“All ministries were changed after the revolution, except the Ministry of Electricity and Energy,” he added. “It still kept the same minister and his deputies from the dissolved ruling party.”

Meanwhile, sources at the Nuclear Safety Authority said they were denied entry to the reactor to conduct an inspection.

Director of the Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed al-Kolaly, said that levels of radiation inside the reactor are normal, and that the International Atomic Energy Agency has praised the reactor.

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Medvedev Approves Russian-U.S. Plutonium Disposal Deal,
RIA Novosti
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Russian President Dmintry Medvedev has approved amendments to an agreement with the United States to dispose of excess weapon-grade plutonium, the Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily said on Tuesday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed in April 2010 a protocol to amend the U.S.-Russian 2000 agreement on eliminating excess weapon-grade plutonium from defense programs.

Under the agreement, Russia and the United States will each dispose of 34 metric tons of excess plutonium, which is enough to create several thousand nuclear weapons. The program is to be launched before 2018.

Russia intends to spend up to $3.5 billion on its program, and the United States some $400 million.

The agreement is a continuation of Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama’s nuclear disarmament efforts launched in April 2010, when they signed the New START treaty replacing the expired START 1 agreement.

The document slashes the Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals to a maximum of 1,550 nuclear warheads, down from the current ceiling of 2,200.

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