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Nuclear News - 8/23/2011
PGS Nuclear News, August 23, 2011
Compiled By: Michael Kennedy

A.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Inter-Govt Deal with Russia Later This Year, M. Azizur Rahman, The Financial Express (8/23/2011)
    2. Japan-Jordan Nuclear Pact to Clear Parliament, The Mainichi Daily News (8/22/2011)
    3. Russia Bids for More Iranian Nuclear Plants, Mail & Guardian Online (8/21/2011)
    4. Romania Seeks Chinese Boost for Nuke Plant, United Press International (8/19/2011)
    5. Uzbekistan Seeks Joint Uranium-Producing Project with China, RIA Novosti (8/19/2011)
B.  Iran
    1. Iranian Pleads Guilty to Scientist Assassination, Robin Pomeroy, Reuters (8/23/2011)
    2. Iran to Try Assassin of N-Scientist, Press TV (8/21/2011)
C.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Nuclear Shutdown Slowing Economy, The Local (8/20/2011)
    2. Seismic Survey Ordered at Vietnam's Proposed Nuclear Site, Thanh Nien News (8/18/2011)
    3. World’s First Floating Nuke Plant at Centre of Bankruptcy Scandal, Project Foundering, Charles Digges and Maria Kaminskaya, Bellona Foundation (8/18/2011)
D.  Nuclear Oversight
    1. N-Plants to Shut Automatically in Case of Earthquakes, Deccan Chronicle (8/23/2011)
    2. UN Nuclear Watchdog Visits Iran Sites –Report, Robin Pomeroy, Reuters (8/23/2011)
    3. NRC Sets Out Timeframe for Nuclear Safety Review, Matthew Daly, Business Week (8/19/2011)
E.  Links of Interest
    1. Pulling Back from the Nuclear Abyss: Kazakhstan Secretary of State Kanat Saudabayev Talks of His Hopes for Global Nuclear Disarmament, Kostis Geropoulos, New Europe (8/21/2011)
    2. Where to Put Spent U.S. Nuclear Fuel, Robert Bryce, Politico (8/18/2011)

A.  Nuclear Cooperation

Inter-Govt Deal with Russia Later This Year
M. Azizur Rahman
The Financial Express
(for personal use only)

Bangladesh is set to enter into an Inter Governmental Agreement (IGA) with Russia for construction of the country's first nuclear power plant at the cost of US$ 1.5-2.0 billion by 2018, a top government official said Monday.

The IGA agreement might be signed during a proposed visit by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Russia later this year, said an official at the Science and Information Communication Technology (ICT) ministry.

The cabinet has already approved signing of the deal between Bangladesh and Russia early this month to build the nuclear power plant at Rooppur in Pabna.

The government has planned to build the Rooppur nuclear power plant as part of its mega plan to generate 20,000 megawatts (mw) of electricity by 2021.

"We look forward to constructing two nuclear power plants having the capacity of 1,000-1,200 MW each by 2017-18," said Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC) chairman Md Mozammel Haque.

The IGA will help inking the final deal for construction of the planned nuclear power plant, he said.

Bangladesh has planned to build the nuclear power plant utilising the latest available technology focusing on safety and security as the topmost priority, Mr Haque said.

"We are planning to build the plant with pressurised water reactors, instead of age-old boiled water reactors," he said pointing to the technology to be used in the plant.

"We have visited Russia in June this year and saw several nuclear power plants to gather ideas before going ahead with the plan for setting up the nuclear power plant," said the BAEC top official.

Earlier in February this year, Bangladesh and Russia initiated an agreement to install the country's first nuclear power plant.

Deputy Director General of Russian State Nuclear Company (Rosatom) Nikolay Spasskiy and Secretary of the ministry of Science and ICT Md Abdur Rob Howlader have signed the deal on behalf of their respective countries at BAEC.

Bangladesh also signed a framework agreement with Russia in May, 2010, following a memorandum of understanding (MoU) reached in 2009 for building the Rooppur nuclear power plant.

Under this deal, Rosatom will supply necessary fuel for the reactors during its life-time and take back the spent fuel.

Russia will also manage nuclear waste and help decommissioning of the nuclear power plant in the future under the deal.

Science and ICT Ministry of Bangladesh will act as the Competent Authority of the government, while BAEC will act as the 'customer' of the nuclear power plant project on Bangladesh's part.

For Russia, Rosatom will act as the Competent Authority to implement the project.
Both Bangladesh and Russia have agreed to set up a joint coordinating committee that will include representatives nominated by Rosatom and the Russian Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology, and those appointed by Bangladesh's Commission on Nuclear Energy and the Ministry of Science and ICT.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) allowed Bangladesh to install nuclear power plants in 2007 along with seven other developing nations for peaceful use of nuclear energy, a ministry official said.

Bangladesh's serious electricity supply problem has prompted the country to go after installation of its 'first' nuclear power plant around the half-a-century-old mostly incomplete Rooppur project.

Officials said Bangladesh's plan to set up a nuclear power plant at Rooppur in the country's northwestern Pabna region was conceived during the country's pre-independence period in the early sixties.

Before 1971, when Bangladesh was a part of the then Pakistan, different companies from the
United States, the then Union of Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR), the United Kingdom (UK) and Switzerland conducted a number of feasibility studies on the project.

Some 105.30 hectares of land were subsequently acquired for the project site and 12.15 hectares for residential buildings, a BAEC official said.

But after the emergence of Bangladesh through a Liberation War in 1971, no significant headway was made in setting up of the nuclear power plant at Rooppur.

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Japan-Jordan Nuclear Pact to Clear Parliament
The Mainichi Daily News
(for personal use only)

A Japanese-Jordanian pact on the civilian use of nuclear power is set to clear parliament by the month-end closing of the current session, with executive members of a House of Representatives panel deciding Friday to put it to a vote next week.

The pact would be Japan's first nuclear deal since the start of the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi power plant in March, but the move, which would lead to nuclear reactor exports from Japan, may be criticized for conflicting with Prime Minister Naoto Kan's announcement that Japan will wean itself off nuclear power due to safety concerns.

The pact has already been approved by the House of Councillors and it will clear the lower house on Aug. 26 with overwhelming support from the ruling Democratic Party of Japan as well as the opposition Liberal Democratic Party and the New Komeito party.

While the Japanese government is hoping to reach similar deals with Vietnam, Russia and South Korea, it is likely to give up on doing so during the current parliamentary session, which ends on Aug. 31.

Such pacts lay the legal foundations for Japanese corporations to supply and transfer nuclear reactor equipment, materials and technology to other countries.

In Jordan, a consortium of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and French nuclear power company Areva is competing with Russian and Canadian companies for nuclear power contracts.

The lower house panel had originally planned to put the pact to a vote on April 13, but the vote was postponed after both ruling and opposition lawmakers voiced concern about voting on the pact so soon after the nuclear disaster.

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Russia Bids for More Iranian Nuclear Plants
Mail & Guardian Online
(for personal use only)

Russia has put forward "proposals" to build new nuclear power plants in Iran after the completion of the Bushehr project, local media reported on Sunday -- quoting the Islamic republic's atomic chief.

"We have held negotiations with the Russians regarding the construction of new nuclear power plants. They have put forward some proposals," Fereydoon Abbasi Davani was quoted as saying by Resalat newspaper.

"The exchange of ideas and proposals will continue until a clear result is reached," Abbasi Davani added.

Russia has built Iran's only nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr against the backdrop of a series of delays with Tehran hoping to link the facility to the national grid in late August.

Abbasi Davani meanwhile insisted that any future deals with Moscow would be clinched "in a manner that would safeguard the interests of both parties".

He did not give details about the number of future power plants or their locations.

He also did not specify whether the proposals were made during talks with Russian officials earlier this week in Tehran on how to resume negotiations between Iran and world powers on the country's controversial nuclear programme.

Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was in Moscow earlier this week to discuss a Russian proposal aimed at solving a stalemate in the talks.

Iran, the oil cartel Opec's number two oil exporter, has repeatedly denied allegations that its nuclear plans have a military dimension amid fears in the west that Tehran seeks to develop an atomic weapons capability.

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Romania Seeks Chinese Boost for Nuke Plant
United Press International
(for personal use only)

Romania says it is courting investments from China for its plans to restart a stalled $5.8 billion expansion of its only nuclear power plant.

Romanian Prime Minister Emil Boc this week told a Chinese audience at the Romanian-Chinese Economic Forum in Beijing he wants to turn his country into a "gateway for China into the European market," asserting it has important economic advantages.

Romania, he said, wants to be part of "the new modern Silk Road," in which political and trade relations between the two countries could be strengthened.

He also said he's hoping to persuade Chinese investors to look at 20 public-private infrastructure projects in Romania, including the stalled building of two new reactors at the Cernavoda nuclear power plant, Units 3 and 4.

There's already Chinese interest in it, said Romanian Economy Minister Ion Ariton, who said last week the China Nuclear Power Engineering Co. will sign a confidentiality agreement in October as part of a due diligence look at a possible investment in Cernavoda.

In May the government said consortium of two South Korean companies led by KEPCO International had also shown interest in the nuclear plant.

The government had hoped to have the new reactors online by August 2017 but has moved the completion date to 2019 after the German energy company RWE, Spain's Iberdrola and GDF Suez of France all exited the project.

The companies sold their stakes in the Cernavoda project to the state owned Nuclearelectrica for $5.8 million in January, citing "economic and market uncertainties surrounding this project, related for the most part to the present financial crisis."

The state owns 85 percent of the project but is seeking to diminish that stake to 40 percent after a private investor is found, the Romanian online business news publication reported.

Cernavoda's two existing reactors have an installed capacity of 720 megawatts which would be doubled with the addition of Units 3 and 4, the government says.

Boc is also seeking Chinese investment in other critical Romanian infrastructure projects.

While in Beijing, the prime minister pitched potential investors on new two new coal-fired power plants (a $1 billion project) as well as new highway and subway lines and bridge over the Danube River, the Romanian news portal Web site ACTMedia reported.

The government is also seeking to sell a 15 percent stake of Transelectrica, the state-owned electric utility, with the State Grid Corp. of China reportedly interested.

Boc in Beijing touted Romania's relatively low levels of sovereign debt at a time when Greece, Portugal, Ireland and other European countries are dealing with financial crises.

"The prudence of budget and fiscal policies, maintaining the public debt in an absolutely reasonable limit and the executive's commitment not to allow budget slippages through populist economic policies affecting the country's macro-economic stability, are important arguments for the security of investments in Romania," he said.

Chinese President Hu Jintao for his part said Beijing is ready to collaborate with Romania on economic, commercial, scientific and other areas, the state-owned Chinese news agency Xinhua reported.

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Uzbekistan Seeks Joint Uranium-Producing Project with China
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

Uzbekistan plans to attract Chinese companies to uranium production projects on its territory, the Prime news agency said on Friday.

The cooperation plan was approved during Uzbek President Islam Karimov's visit to China in April. Uzbekistan's Geology and Mineral Resources Committee is currently preparing a list of possible uranium deposits.

A committee spokesman declined to name the Chinese companies which were invited to take part in the project.

In August 2009, China's CGNPC Uranium Resources Co and Uzbekistan's Geology and Mineral Resources Committee set up the Uz-China Uran joint venture on a parity basis, with a charter capital of $4.6 million to prospect for uranium in the Kyzyl Kum Desert.

Uzbekistan's uranium reserves are estimated at 185,800 metric tons. According to the most recent uranium production report released in 2007, about 2,270 metric tons were produced in the country that year.

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B.  Iran

Iranian Pleads Guilty to Scientist Assassination
Robin Pomeroy
(for personal use only)

An Iranian man pleaded guilty on Tuesday to the murder of a scientist that prosecutors said was an assassination ordered by Israel to halt Tehran's race for nuclear technology.

Majid Jamali-Fashi, a man who looked in his mid-20s, appeared in court to confess the murder of Massoud Ali-Mohammadi in January 2010, the first of several attacks on scientists which Iran has blamed on foreign agents, state television said.

Ali-Mohammadi, an elementary-particle physicist, was leaving his Tehran home to go to work on January 12, 2010, when a bomb hidden in a motorcycle exploded and killed him.

Two similar attacks on one morning in November killed nuclear scientist Majid Shahriyari and wounded another, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, who has since become Iran's atomic energy chief.

Iran blamed Israel and the United States for the attacks, saying the aim was to derail its nuclear program. Tehran denies Western accusations it is seeking nuclear weapons.

Intelligence Minister Heidar Moslehi told state TV the prosecution was a blow to Israel, which has not ruled out military action against Iran to stop it getting the bomb.

"We managed to make a good penetration into Mossad's intelligence system which bore very good results for us," he said, referring to the Israeli spy service.

"We will soon have good news to inform the public in connection to the large number of (Iranian) Mossad spies whose covers have been blown."

Tehran's chief prosecutor told reporters earlier this week that Jamali-Fashi had been trained and paid by Israel.

"The defendant had travelled to Israel to receive training from Mossad and had agreed to assassinate Dr Ali-Mohammadi in return for $120,000 dollars," Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi told a news conference, according to the Tehran Times daily.

Some people have expressed doubt over Tehran's version of events.

Shortly after his death, an Iranian opposition website said Ali-Mohammadi, was an opposition supporter who backed moderate candidate Mirhossein Mousavi in the disputed June 2009 presidential election, suggesting there may be other possible motives for his murder.

Western analysts said the 50-year-old Tehran University professor had little, if any, role in Iran's sensitive nuclear work. A spokesman for Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, said at the time he had not played a role in the body's activities.

Jamali-Fashi could face the death penalty as he has been charged with "war against God" as well as cooperating with Israel and possession of drugs, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

He told the court he was supposed to kill five other people but did not because: "I was by nature not a criminal person."

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Iran to Try Assassin of N-Scientist
Press TV
(for personal use only)

A top Iranian judiciary official says the assassin of Iranian nuclear physicist Massoud Ali-Mohammadi is scheduled for trial in the capital city of Tehran.

Identifying the assassin as Ali Jamali Fashi, Tehran Prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi said on Sunday that the accused, who was apprehended following the assassination of Dr. Ali-Mohammadi, will appear before court on Tuesday, Mehr News Agency reported.

Following “extensive investigations,” the defendant was charged with Moharebeh (waging war on God), Dolatabadi added.

“The suspect had traveled to Israel to receive special training from Mossad, and after receiving USD 120,000, he agreed to assassinate Dr. Ali-Mohammadi,” he further said.

Dolatabadi stressed that the trial would reveal how the Zionist regime overtly and covertly supports acts of terror in Iran.

Professor Ali-Mohammadi, a lecturer at Tehran University, was killed by an explosive-laden motorbike in the Iranian capital on January 12, 2010. The bombing took place near the professor's home in the Qeytariyeh neighborhood of northern Tehran.

Ali-Mohammadi lost his life when the motorbike was blown up with a remote-controlled device.
Also on November 29, 2010, unidentified terrorists detonated bombs attached to the vehicles of university professors Majid Shahriari and Fereydoun Abbasi. Professor Shahriari was killed immediately, but Dr. Abbasi and his wife survived the attack with minor injuries.

Upon comprehensive investigations, Iran's Intelligence Ministry said it had dismantled an Israeli network comprising of Israeli-trained spies and terrorists, and arrested the main perpetrators in connection with the assassination of Ali-Mohammadi.

The Iranian Intelligence Ministry revealed that the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, had used bases in certain European and non-European countries as well as Iran's neighboring states in an attempt to achieve its inhuman and non-Islamic goals.

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C.  Nuclear Energy

Nuclear Shutdown Slowing Economy
The Local
(for personal use only)

The Munich-based Institute for Economic Research (IFO) said on Saturday that the decision to close Germany's nuclear reactors was one of the reasons why the economy's growth was down in the second quarter of the year.

One of the institute's top economists Kai Carstensen told the Bild newspaper that the economy would have grown by an estimated 0.2 percent more than it did, had the government not decided to shut down seven nuclear reactors earlier in the year.

Germany's Gross Domestic Product grew by only 0.1 percent between April and June compared to the first quarter of the year.

"The mini-growth is not stagnation, but caused by turning off the nuclear power stations," he said.

The German government declared a three-month moratorium on nuclear power following the disaster in Fukushima, Japan, where a nuclear power station suffered a massive radiation leakage following an earthquake and tsunami. The decision led to a 50-percent reduction in energy output in Germany.

The government subsequently decided to close seven nuclear reactors permanently, and the rest by 2022.

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Seismic Survey Ordered at Vietnam's Proposed Nuclear Site
Thanh Nien News
(for personal use only)

Vietnam's technology ministry has asked that a seismic study be undertaken at the proposed site of the country’s first two nuclear power plants in the central province of Ninh Thuan, the Institute of Geological Sciences said Wednesday.

The Ministry of Science and Technology asked for the study after scientists warned about tsunami and earthquake risks to the project's location, according to the institute under the Vietnamese Academy of Science and Technology.

On Tuesday, the ministry met with related agencies, scientists and experts to review the location, according to the institute assigned to conduct the study.

Vu Van Chinh from the institute’s Tectonics Department said so far Vietnam is yet to have an official study on fracture zones, so this one needs the cooperation of leading experts and scientists.

The study is scheduled for completion in early 2013.

Last October, Vietnam signed a multi-billion-dollar deal with Russia to build its first nuclear power plant, which is expected to go open in 2020. Vietnam also plans to cooperate with Japan on two other nuclear reactors.

Eight nuclear plants are slated to be in operation here by 2031.

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World’s First Floating Nuke Plant at Centre of Bankruptcy Scandal, Project Foundering
Charles Digges and Maria Kaminskaya
Bellona Foundation
(for personal use only)

Russian environmentalists have been fighting to keep the world’s first floating nuclear power plant (FNPP) off the seas, citing catastrophic emergencies and possible terrorist attacks aboard such vessels of a scale that could rival Fukushima and Chernobyl.

Recently, they got what seemed to be a reprieve with the help of an all too common Russian bank meltdown and the ensuing ripple effects.

A court has impounded the floating nuclear power plant, under construction at the Baltiisky Zavod in St. Petersburg, following the collapse of the International Industrial Bank, which owns a majority share in that shipyard.

But construction of the environmentally dangerous and security compromising floating plant – dubbed the Academician Lomonosov (Project 20870) – apparently continues.

"Work is continuing as normal, and I think it should be commissioned on schedule by 2012," a spokesman of Rosatom, the Russian State Nuclear Corporation, told Bellona by telephone Wednesday.

This was also confirmed by a worker reached by phone at Baltiisky Zavod, who, with some irritation, told Bellona that, “The vessel is under construction, damn it.”

Baltiisky Zavod is scheduled to finish the plant in 2012, according to the contract. The 70-megawatt plant is then expected to be towed to the extremely tsunami-prone area of Kamchatka Region in the Russian Far East.

In late July, a St. Petersburg court seized the new building at Baltiisky Zavod after Rosenergoatom – Rosatom’s nuclear power plant operating wing that commissioned it – demanded recognition of its right of ownership to the unfinished vessel.

Rosatom is reportedly worried that the floating nuclear power plant might be counted as one of the ailing shipyard’s assets when Baltiisky Zavod undergoes bankruptcy proceedings - something that Rosatom considers a likely prospect - and is hedging its bets.

The July 26th court order, reported by Russian business daily Kommersant last Thursday, gave the go-ahead for the seizure on the basis of "significant risk" that Rosenergoatom could lose its investment in the 9.8 billion rubles ($334 million) vessel if another claimant seized Baltiisky Zavod's assets during liquidation.

Kommersant, citing the documents of the lawsuit, reported that Baltiisky Zavod has in fact registered its right of ownership to the vessel.

Baltiisky Zavod’s general director, Andrei Fomichev, told the paper that the seizure had come as "a surprise" and that the company would challenge it in court.

Fomichev told Kommersant it is customary in commercial shipbuilding for a yard to register a vessel under construction as its own property until the ordering party takes delivery of the finished newbuilding.

An industry source also told the paper that in such cases the shipbuilder also takes out insurance on the vessel.

The shipyard, which is 88.3 percent owned by former Tuva governor Sergei Pugachyov's United Industrial Corporation, is facing litigation from numerous vexed creditors, said the Russian news wire Interfax.

Claimants include insurance firm Sogaz, which is demanding a 51.1 million rubles in missed premium payments for the insurance on the floating plant, Khanty-Mansiisky Bank, which is seeking 128.75 million rubles, and an unnamed local Gazprom subsidiary, which wants 36 million rubles, Interfax reported.

International Industrial Bank, known under the Russian moniker of Mezhprombank, had its operating license revoked when it declared itself bankrupt in November.

And according to Kommersant, United Industrial Corporation's stake in Baltiisky Zavod has been pledged to the Central Bank since last fall as collateral for an unreturned loan to Pugachev's International Industrial Bank.

Kommersant reported that credit to be in the amount of 32 million roubles.

In January prosecutors also launched a criminal case against International Industrial Bank for intentional bankruptcy, the Moscow Times reported.

Prosecutors claimed at that time that the bank had intentionally run out its assets to make its bankruptcy claim. The bank also declared its own insolvency, which is not recognized under Russian bankruptcy statutes: Сourt-appointed auditors must determine that a business is unable to meet the demands of its creditors.

But Rosatom, understandably, is concerned over the fate of its brainchild, hostage as it is to the morass that sank Baltiisky Zavod’s majority holder.

Last fall, the advance payments that Baltiisky Zavod received from Rosatom toward the ongoing construction got trapped in Mezhprombank’s accounts, which were frozen when the bank’s license was revoked, Kommersant reports.

As of last October, that amounted to 1.7 billion roubles out of the total 5.7 billion roubles that Rosatom had paid Baltiisky Zavod by that point (or 66 percent of the contract’s value), Kommersant said.

According to Leonid Andreev, an expert on nuclear economics who collaborated on Bellona’s 2011 report “Floating Nuclear Power Plants,” the issue of the advance payments that has triggered the court’s seizure order is “quite painful for Rosatom,” which devised the FNPP as a “demonstration project” - a pilot model showcasing the Russian nuclear industry’s capabilities in engineering and operating such sites.

“The problems with Baltiisky Zavod is bad publicity for both the FNPPs as such and any sophisticated industrial projects in today’s Russia in general,” Andreev told Bellona.
He pointed out that the main criticism of floating nuclear power plants has always been the steep price of electricity they would produce. Since the project was first envisioned, its total costs soared from 5.5 billion to 16.5 billion roubles, making it “unprofitable for any conceivable purpose,” Andreev said.

The uncertainty surrounding the 1.7 billion in advance payments will drive the project’s costs even higher, according to Andreev, not to mention the financial losses caused by the disrupted construction schedule.

“It’s unlikely that the [contract for] the plant will [...] be transferred to some other yard for completion, but Baltiisky Zavod needs turnover funds to continue the works, and Rosatom is the only source of those that there could be,” Andreev said. “The seizure of the unfinished vessel doesn’t change anything in that sense.”

Incidentally, this most recent debacle is not the first to have hit Rosatom's plans to build a generation of floating nuclear power stations to serve remote coastal communities in Russia's north and Far East.

Rosatom originally commissioned Sevmash shipyard, in the far northern town of Severodvinsk, in 2006 to build the first floating nuclear plant. Rosatom envisioned to build at least seven in a series of FNPPs in order, by Rosatom’s head Sergei Kiriyenko’s own admission, to even make the project commercially justifiable. But in 2008, the nuclear corporation, citing lagging schedules and alleged diverting of funding to an overload of military contracts at Sevmash, ripped up that agreement and re-awarded the FNPP contract to Baltiisky Zavod.

Given the Rosenergoatom seizure of the Academician Lomonosov and the impending debt meat-grinder Baltiisky Zavod could face thanks to its associations with Pugachev, the contract, an unidentified source told Interfax on Thursday, might be assigned to another shipbuilder.

Another Rosatom spokesman reached by telephone Wednesday declined to comment on whether another contractor would be appointed.

Bellona and other environmental organizations have long been opposed to floating nuclear power plants, a controversial project that has become one of the most costly and extravagant nuclear baubles in Rosatom’s history.

The dangers that are inherently present in land-based plants - as witness Fukushima and Chernobyl - are all the greater once a reactor is put on a boat and hauled to distant regions, environmentalists say.

Additionally, the scarcity of safety infrastructure in remote areas will hamper any mitigation efforts should an accident happen.

The vessels themselves, unprotected as they are with the same fortifications of land-based nuclear power plants, may also be attractive targets for terrorists seeking to obtain uranium and other radioactive materials.

Added to these are the usual hazards associated with operating a marine vessel, all the worse in Kamchatka’s rough waters and weather conditions.

It also remains unclear whether Rosatom has any customers ready to buy the FNPPs when - or if - the project goes commercial. For the time being, the nuclear corporation is eyeing customer countries in regions known to lack the political stability needed to ensure the security of such a site, such as Africa and Southeast Asia.

The Moscow-based expert Vladimir Slivyak, who co-chairs the environmental organization Ecodefense!, believes the impounding of the unfinished floating nuclear power plant is “indisputably good news.”

Slivyak said the prevailing mood in the Russian nuclear industry toward the floating nuclear power project was that of broad scepticism, with some doubting that the vessel will even see the light of day over the next five years at best.

“The project is very dangerous, and there [have been] plans to deploy [the FNPP] in an area extremely prone to tsunamis [...],” Slivyak told Bellona. “There is [little] hope that anyone in Rosatom would heed any criticism at all. So thank god the circumstances have turned out this way.”

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D.  Nuclear Oversight

N-Plants to Shut Automatically in Case of Earthquakes
Deccan Chronicle
(for personal use only)

Indian nuclear reactors will get a facility that automatically shuts them down in case of a devastating earthquake, as part of the ongoing upgrade of safety features that is being implemented after the nuclear disaster in Japan.

The other safety features include providing different options for power sources for cooling the plant, harnessing solar power and use of nitrogen gas from liquid nitrogen tanks to control pressure. There will also be shore protection structures to protect nuclear power plants from tsunamis. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) is reinforcing safety features of nuclear reactors to face natural calamities like earthquakes and tsu-namis. The time frame for the upgradation is about one year. This follows the recommendations of the task forces set up by the NPCIL. Though the interim reports were submitted in April, the final reports are yet to be ready.

The NPCIL says the Indian scenario is different from that of Japan. The location of tsunamigenic faults in the Indian context and seismic map shows that there will not be simultaneous occurrence of earthquake and tsunami. “The safety features are designed for earthquakes with a return period of 10,000 years. The effects of earthquake, cyclone, storm surge and tsunami have been considered while designing the plants. But in view of the task force recommendations, safety measures are being upgraded,” said the NPCIL report on safety. Officials have developed computer simulations to predict the height of sea waves if an earthquake of magnitude 9 strikes at the Makran or Sumatra faults. If an earthquake hits Makran, it may trigger a tsunami on the west coast. If it occurs in the Sumatra region — like the one in December 2004 —the east coast is at risk.

Nuclear plants located on the coast are linked to the Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services in the city. If a quake of 9.2 magnitude in the Sumatra region triggers a tsunami, it will take at least three hours to reach, for instance, the Madras Atomic Power Plant.

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UN Nuclear Watchdog Visits Iran Sites –Report
Robin Pomeroy
(for personal use only)

A senior United Nations official visited all of Iran's main atomic sites last week, an Iranian news agency reported, as the Islamic Republic looks to restart talks with world powers about its nuclear programme.

Herman Nackaerts, the head of the "safeguards" department of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), spent five days in Iran on a rare visit that coincided with a new push by Russia to re-start diplomatic talks.

The trip also happened as Iran started to move some of its uranium centrifuges to an underground bunker that would be less exposed to any strike by Israel or the United States.

Both countries say military action is a possible last resort to stop Iran getting the bomb. Tehran says its nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful.

"During this trip, the delegation visited Bushehr nuclear plant, enrichment facilities in Natanz and Fordow, nuclear sites in Isfahan ... and also the Arak heavy water reactor," the semi-official Fars news agency quoted Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, as saying.

Nackaerts, whose department is responsible for ensuring that nuclear material is not used for weapons, met Iran's nuclear chief Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani.

"There were talks on how to expand cooperations with the Agency and how to answer some of the Agency's questions," Soltanieh said.

Iran is subject to four rounds of U.N. sanctions, as well as much tighter U.S. and European Union measures, due to its refusal to halt enriching uranium, a process that produces fuel for power stations but can also make nuclear bombs.

The IAEA was not immediately available to comment.

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NRC Sets Out Timeframe for Nuclear Safety Review
Matthew Daly
Business Week
(for personal use only)

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is moving forward on sweeping safety changes for the U.S. nuclear industry triggered by the crisis in Japan.

The commission directed its staff Friday to decide within 45 days what actions the agency should take in response to the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that crippled a nuclear plant in Japan.

An NRC task force recommended a series of changes last month to increase protection at the 104 U.S. nuclear reactors, including better response to prolonged power blackouts or damage to multiple reactors

The commission set an Oct. 3 deadline for staff to recommend action on 11 of 12 task force recommendations. Staffers were given 18 months to consider a broader recommendation to revamp the agency's overall approach to regulation and safety.

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E.  Links of Interest

Pulling Back from the Nuclear Abyss: Kazakhstan Secretary of State Kanat Saudabayev Talks of His Hopes for Global Nuclear Disarmament
Kostis Geropoulos
New Europe
(for personal use only)

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Where to Put Spent U.S. Nuclear Fuel
Robert Bryce
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