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Nuclear News - 10/9/2012
PGS Nuclear News, October 9, 2012
Compiled By: Pia Ulrich


A.  Iran
    1. Iran Vows Not to Back Down on "Peaceful" Nuclear Program, Xinhua News Agency (10/9/2012)
    2. Iran 'Could Make Nuclear Bomb Within 10 Months', The Telegraph (10/9/2012)
    3. Iran Critical of IAEA Inspectors, UPI (10/8/2012)
    4. Ahmadinejad Cameraman Hands Nuclear Tapes to CIA, Israel's Debka Reports, RT (10/5/2012)
B.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Japanese Minister: Reactors Can Restart if Watchdog Gives OK, Reuters (10/5/2012)
    2. Ukraine Begins Construction of First Nuclear Fuel Manufacturing Plant, Ukrainian Journal (10/4/2012)
C.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Areva's Temelin Bid Dismissed, World Nuclear News (10/8/2012)
    2. Vendors Find More Partners for Potential Polish Nuclear Project, Nuclear Engineering International (10/8/2012)
    3. Aus, India Likely to Ink Uranium Deal During Gillard's Visit, One India (10/8/2012)
    4. IAEA Hails Progress Achieved by Belarus in Developing Nuclear Infrastructure, RTT News (10/6/2012)
    5. UK: Horizon Nuclear Joint Venture Reduced to Two Bidders, Power Engineering (10/5/2012)
D.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. Confusion Over Reactor Restart Approvals, World Nuclear News (10/5/2012)
    2. Nuclear Operators Must Act Now on Safety: EU, Barbara Lewis, Reuters (10/4/2012)
E.  Links of Interest
    1. South Korea Eschews Enrichment of Uranium, but Chafes at U.S. Effort to Restrict its Options, The Japan Times (10/8/2012)
    2. Nuclear Power Puts European Integration to the Test -- Again, David Henry, Bloomberg (10/8/2012)
    3. Thorium a Game Changer for India’s Power Needs?, Kumar Chellappan, The Daily Pioneer (10/7/2012)



A.  Iran

1.
Iran 'Could Make Nuclear Bomb Within 10 Months'
The Telegraph
10/9/2012
(for personal use only)


Iran could produce enough weapons-grade uranium to make an atom bomb within two to four months and then would need an additional eight to 10 months to build the device, experts said on Monday.

The authors of a new report on Iran's nuclear programme say Tehran has made progress in its uranium enrichment effort but that the United States and UN weapons inspectors would be able to detect any attempt at a "breakout" – at least for the moment.

The report, released by the Institute for Science and International Security, offers estimates on uranium stockpiles and enrichment rates based on figures from inspections of Iran's programme by the UN watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

To amass the 25 kilograms of highly-enriched uranium needed for one nuclear weapon, Iran "would require at least 2-4 months," the report said.

To reach that goal, Iran would have to draw on its uranium enriched to 3.5 per cent as well as stocks of 20 per cent enriched uranium, it said.

The report appears roughly in line with the US government's view that once Iran made a decision to make a bomb, Tehran could be months away from generating sufficient amounts of weapons-grade material and then additional months would be required to construct a device.

The findings confirm comments made to AFP last month by one of the authors, David Albright, a leading expert on Iran's nuclear project.

Once Iran had generated enough highly-enriched uranium, it could take about eight to 10 months to construct a nuclear weapon, Albright told AFP on Monday.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said on September 11 that the United States would have about a year to take action if Iran decided to build a nuclear weapon.

The time needed for Iran to quit the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and "dash" or "break out" to make the bomb would give the United States and its allies time to react if necessary, the report said.

"Although Iran's breakout times are shortening, an Iranian breakout in the next year could not escape detection by the IAEA or the United States.

"Furthermore, the United States and its allies maintain the ability to respond forcefully to any Iranian decision to break out. During the next year or so, breakout times at Natanz and Fordow (facilities) appear long enough to make an Iranian decision to break out risky," it said.

But as Iran's supply of 20 per cent enriched uranium increases, the time needed to produce enough material for a bomb or bombs will decrease, it said.

Iran's expanding network of centrifuges could make it increasingly difficult for inspectors to spot Tehran's progress, it said.

"Iran may be seeking the ability to produce sufficient WGU (weapons grade uranium) faster than the IAEA inspectors could detect it," the authors wrote.

Despite repeated accusations from Western countries and critical findings from UN inspectors, Iran insists its nuclear programme is designed purely for peaceful purposes.

The United States is under pressure from Israel to set a precise deadline for military action but prefers for now to pursue a course of ever tighter sanctions to try to force Tehran to the negotiating table.

Iran denies it is seeking atomic weapons, maintaining that its nuclear program is for civilian energy purposes.

Once Iran possesses enough weapons-grade material for a bomb, it would be extremely difficult for UN monitors or outside countries to determine if Tehran had built a nuclear device, the report said.

"If Iran successfully produced enough WGU for a nuclear weapon, the ensuing weaponisation process might not be detectable until Iran tested its nuclear device underground or otherwise revealed its acquisition of nuclear weapons," it said.

"Therefore, the most practical strategy to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is to prevent it from accumulating sufficient nuclear explosive material."

Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/iran/9595505/Iran-could-make-nuclear-bomb-within-10-months.html


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2.
Iran Vows Not to Back Down on "Peaceful" Nuclear Program
Xinhua News Agency
10/9/2012
(for personal use only)


Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said that the Islamic republic will not back down on its "peaceful" nuclear program, Press TV reported Tuesday.

Mehmanparast emphasized that the Iranian nation will not back away from its "inalienable right to a peaceful nuclear energy program under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)," according to the report.

He also criticized the British Defense Secretary Philip Hammond for his recent comments on the Iranian nuclear program, said the report.

Hammond said on Sunday, that the western sanctions over Iran's sensitive nuclear program are necessary to pressure Iran to end its nuclear activities.

"We can definitely make the pain much greater. Nobody wants to cause the Iranian people to suffer unnecessarily but this mad scheme to build a bomb has to be brought to an end," Hammond told the Guardian.

Hammond's comments only reveal the anger of the British government at Tehran's progress, said the Iranian spokesman, adding that such remarks indicate that London's all-out efforts to block Iran's path to development and prosperity have failed.

West accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons under the cover of civilian nuclear program. Iran rejects the claims and insists on its "peaceful" nature

Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-10/09/c_131895910.htm


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3.
Iran Critical of IAEA Inspectors
UPI
10/8/2012
(for personal use only)


Iran is ratcheting up criticism of international nuclear regulators in what diplomats say may be a precursor to tossing out the last remaining inspectors.

Iranian officials accused inspectors at the International Atomic Energy Agency of spying and tampering with equipment. In response, Iran has threatened to limit access to the United Nations inspectors who visit the nation's most sensitive nuclear laboratories.

Last month, Iran accused IAEA inspectors of being directly involved in an attack on an electricity grid that powers one if its nuclear facilities, The Washington Post reported. The IAEA labeled Iran's accusation "absurd" and said it cannot even verify that the attack took place. One unidentified diplomat described Iran's threats as trying to incite a "climate of intimidation" for the nuclear inspectors.

Available at: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2012/10/08/Iran-critical-of-IAEA-inspectors/UPI-79191349723848/


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4.
Ahmadinejad Cameraman Hands Nuclear Tapes to CIA, Israel's Debka Reports
RT
10/5/2012
(for personal use only)


The Iranian cameraman assigned to document President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent trip to the UN has defected, and new reports claim that with his exit he has handed the US a trove of never-before-seen footage of his homeland’s nuclear facilities.

Hassan Golkhanban, a journalist for the Iranian News Network, was among the 140-people that accompanied President Ahmadinejad to the United Nations headquarters in New York last week. Unlike the rest of the Iran head’s entourage, however, the videographer vanished before returning home and has since asked the US State Department to grant him political asylum.

Now Israel’s Debka news agency reports that with his application for asylum, Golkhanban has made good with America’s request for information on a rumored nuclear warhead program being ramped up overseas.

According to Debka, the trusted member of President Ahmadinejad’s crew took with him to the States two suitcases full of “the most complete and updated footage” that US intelligence has ever been offered of Iran’s top secret military facilities and other related structures, something the site claims to include “exclusive interior shots of the Natanz nuclear complex, the Fordo underground enrichment plant, the Parchin military complex and the small Amir-Abad research reactor in Tehran.”

On their part, Iran has not yet commented on either Golkhanban’s defection or the rumored footage reported to have since been delivered to American authorities, but his lawyer confirms that the cameraman has indeed cut ties with Ahmadinejad.

“He was being threatened because of what he thought would happen when he went back,” New York-based attorney Paul O’Dwyer tells Jewish News One in a sit-down interview this week.

“There were demands made on him by the presidential detail while he was here,” O’Dwyer says, “to do things that he did not want to do, and he was obviously very, very concerned about what the repercussions to him would be when he went back to Iran for disobeying those orders.”

Commenting on his client to CNN, O’Dwyer adds of Golkhanban, “He’s perceived as not being a supporter, or being an opponent of the Iranian regime… somebody who has betrayed the regime and who can no longer be trusted by them.”

The United States has been eager to get to the bottom of Iran’s nuclear program, a project that Ahmadinejad attests is for peaceful purposes. If Debka’s report checks out, however, US intelligence may finally be able to hold Iran accountable for proved attempts towards procuring a nuke.

According to the source, “Some of the film depicts Revolutionary Guards and military industry chiefs explaining in detail to the president or supreme leader the working of secret equipment on view.”

During his own recent address before the UN General Assembly, US President Barack Obama called a nuclear-armed Iran “not a challenge that can be contained” that has the potential to “threaten the elimination of Israel, the security of Gulf nations, and the stability of the global economy.”

“That is why a coalition of countries is holding the Iranian government accountable. And that is why the United States will do what we must to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon,” President Obama told his audience.

Available at: http://rt.com/usa/news/nuclear-cameraman-ahmadinejad-iran-747/


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B.  Nuclear Energy

1.
Japanese Minister: Reactors Can Restart if Watchdog Gives OK
Reuters
10/5/2012
(for personal use only)


Economics Minister Seiji Maehara said on Friday nuclear reactors can be restarted if a new regulator deems them safe, throwing into confusion how the dozens of units idle since the Fukushima disaster could be used in future energy plans.

Maehara, whose ministry had led debate in the cabinet on energy policy, said a new law empowered the regulator to endorse bringing reactors back on line. He said the idle reactors could be a key source of power generation for now, a notion certain to anger Japan's growing ranks of opponents of nuclear power.

"If safety is approved, such reactors would be considered as an important power source," Maehara, who also oversees national strategy, told a news conference.

"We should rely on nuclear as an energy option for the time being."

But procedures for going ahead with restarts remain unclear.

The new nuclear watchdog, the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA), said this week it does not hold ultimate responsibility to authorize reactor restarts and is concerned solely with safety.

All 50 working commercial reactors in Japan were taken off line for safety checks following the earthquake and tsunami that triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in the worst nuclear accident in a quarter of a century.

Two units were brought back on line after receiving an endorsement from now defunct regulatory bodies, but the final decision on restarting them was taken by Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and three other ministers.

The restart of those reactors at the Ohi station in western Japan, to fend off possible summer power shortages, galvanized anti-nuclear protesters, leading to mass demonstrations in Tokyo and other cities.

Any further restarts would not come until next year. The NRA has said it will compile a blueprint of new standards to govern restarts by next March and subject to public discussion.

Noda's cabinet last month took account of anti-nuclear sentiment in devising a new energy policy that sought to end reliance on nuclear power by the 2030s by fostering renewable energy sources and supporting energy conservation.

But powerful industry lobbies have called for a rethink of policy and within days, ministers appeared to waver on the commitment, saying other factors had to be considered before moving towards abandoning nuclear power within that time frame.

Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/05/us-energy-japan-idUSBRE8940A720121005


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2.
Ukraine Begins Construction of First Nuclear Fuel Manufacturing Plant
Ukrainian Journal
10/4/2012
(for personal use only)


Ukraine on Thursday began construction of its first nuclear fuel manufacturing plant in what Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said is the most ambitious energy project since 1991.

The construction, which is carried out jointly with Russian state-owned nuclear fuel producer TVEL, is expected to take three years and the plant is supposed to be launched in operation in 2015.

“I am very happy we have started realization of such a grandiose project on securing energy independence of our country,” Azarov said in remarks released by his press service. “This is probably the largest such project put on the map of Ukraine” since 1991.

Azarov, along with Sergei Kiriyenko, the head of Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear power and nuclear fuel producer that incorporates TVEL, joined the plant’s ground-breaking ceremony at Smolino, the Kirovohrad region.

Available at: http://www.ukrainianjournal.com/index.php?w=article&id=15301


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C.  Nuclear Cooperation

1.
Areva's Temelin Bid Dismissed
World Nuclear News
10/8/2012
(for personal use only)


Czech utility CEZ has informed Areva that its bid for the contract to construct two more units at the Temelin nuclear power plant has been disqualified as it "failed to meet statutory requirements." Areva said it will appeal the decision, which leaves Westinghouse and a consortium led by AtomStroyExport vying for the contract.

CEZ has told Areva that its bid did not meet all the statutory requirements under the Czech Republic's Public Procurement Act and that the company "has not fulfilled some other crucial criteria defined in the tender."

CEZ spokesman Ladislav Kriz said: "CEZ has informed Areva in detail about the specific grounds for excluding their bid; the reasons are of both commercial and legislative nature and concern crucial requirements." He added, "Since the bidder has a right to object to this decision, the public may be informed about the specific reasons only when all options for potential appeals have been used so that the award procedure is conducted in a correct and fair manner. Other bidders have not yet been found to have failed to fulfil the awarding entity's requirements."

Areva said that it will "file an objection according to the rules stipulated in the tender conditions." The company said that it "is determined to understand the reasons for this announcement. Areva firmly believes it has met all the tender criteria."

Areva added that it "is confident its offer to CEZ is the most competitive one and its commitment to the Temelin completion project remains absolute."

The tender process for the new Temelin units was launched in August 2009. In November 2011, CEZ released detailed tender documentation defining the full scope of the public contract, including commercial and technical requirements for the supply of two complete nuclear power plant blocks on a full turn-key basis, including the nuclear fuel assemblies for nine years of operation. At the same time, it formally invited three candidates - Areva; a consortium between Škoda JS, AtomStroyExport and OKB Gidropress; and Westinghouse - to submit their bids for Temelin units 3 and 4.

At that time, CEZ said that all bids and plans must comply with the relevant legislation of the Czech Republic as well as applicable EU requirements and safety requirements defined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Western European Nuclear Regulators' Association (WENRA). CEZ also stipulated that the plans must also be licensed in the vendors' home countries or in one of the EU Member States.

Areva put forward its EPR design, as licensed in Finland and France, and undergoing licensing in the USA and UK. The AtomStroyExport consortium's bid is based on Gidropress' MIR-1200 third generation VVER model under construction at Leningrad Phase II and Novovoronezh Phase II. Westinghouse's AP1000 has design certification in the USA and has interim approval in the UK.

All three contenders submitted documentation supporting their respective bids in late June 2012. Each vendor submitted a commercial proposal, a technical proposal and a proposal for the supply of nuclear fuel.

CEZ expects to select the reactor supplier and sign the construction contract by the end of 2013. The three candidates have all formed partnerships with Czech companies to ensure a high level of localization.

The Temelin site is already home to two VVER-1000 reactors, in operation since 2000 and 2003 respectively. Four earlier VVER models have also been in operation at Dukovany since the mid-1980s. Original plans for two further VVER units to be built at Temelin were put on hold by the Czech government in 1990.

Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-Arevas_Temelin_bid_dismissed-0810124.html


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2.
Aus, India Likely to Ink Uranium Deal During Gillard's Visit
One India
10/8/2012
(for personal use only)


Australia is close to finalise a uranium safeguards agreement with India that would allow it to sell the yellowcake to the Asian giant, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said today.

His comments came ahead of Prime Minister Julia Gillard's maiden visit to India next week. "Yes we are, and the Indians are happy with the progress on this.

And we always - where there's a sale of Australian uranium, we always have a treaty that governs it and puts in place all the safeguards we'd require, IAEA and the rest, non-proliferation references," Carr said when asked to comment whether Canberra was close to ink a deal with New Delhi on the sale of uranium.

"The relationship's in good working order and the thing the Indians wanted out of us most was a decision to sell them uranium for the peaceful development of nuclear power which is a major strategic goal for them and I think an environmental plus for the planet," the minister told a local TV channel.

However, he refrained to comment if the deal was part of Gillard's visit due on Oct 15. "I'm not in a position to announce what the Prime Minister's going to announce. But the relationship is in quite good working order," he said, adding, "The Prime Minister's headed there, let's leave it to that."

Indian High Commissioner to Australia Biren Nanda also said, "I can confirm that a civil nuclear cooperation deal was on the agenda of cooperation between the two sides." Australia's known uranium resources are the world's largest - 31 per cent of the world total.

In 2011-12 Australia produced 7,700 tonnes of uranium oxide concentrate. It is the world's third-ranking producer, behind Kazakhstan and Canada, according to the World Nuclear Association. Carr further stressed that Canberra has been working hard to develop ties with India and that it has not been ignored by his government.

Available at: http://news.oneindia.in/2012/10/08/ausindia-likely-to-ink-uranium-deal-during-gillardsvisit-1081167.html


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3.
Vendors Find More Partners for Potential Polish Nuclear Project
Nuclear Engineering International
10/8/2012
(for personal use only)


Two reactor vendors–AREVA and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy–have announced new memoranda of understanding with Polish organisations in preparation for the country’s first nuclear power plant project. Both agreements have an important focus on training and skills development.

Polish utility PGE seeks to build Poland’s first nuclear power plant by 2025. Last month the utility signed a letter of intent with three other state-owned firms to potentially collaborate on the project.

GEH said 4 October, that its cooperation agreement with Warsaw University of Technology focuses on ‘future nuclear workforce development and other innovation opportunities.’

It is the latest in a series of MoUs with Polish universities, which are aimed at developing a pool of nuclear engineers and skilled workers to build and operate future Polish nuclear plants. GEH has also lined up various other companies to participate in a potential Polish project including Fluor Corporation as EPC partner, engineering firm Energoprojekt Warszawa, and potential component manufacturers Stocznia Gdansk and RAFAKO.

AREVA and EDF also signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Energoprojekt on 4 October. Their cooperation will mainly focus on delivering knowledge and expertise as well as promoting skills and development to build a robust Polish nuclear supply chain.

The French team has already confirmed that a significant part of the new power station works would be open to Polish suppliers. The anticipated supply chain market would represent at least 50% of the total value of the investment, and possibly even more, depending on the level of Polish companies’ nuclear qualification, AREVA said in a statement.

Tarik Choho, AREVA vice commercial chief officer, declared: "The signature of this agreement with Energoprojekt will help to strengthen the supply chain set up by AREVA and EDF, and enable us to make the best possible offer for the construction and operation of nuclear reactors in Poland. At the Olkiluoto 3 construction site in Finland, 25 Polish companies are already involved in the project. This constitutes a solid base on which to build to realize a significant part of the future reactor project work in Poland."

Available at: http://www.neimagazine.com/story.asp?sectionCode=132&storyCode=2063155


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4.
IAEA Hails Progress Achieved by Belarus in Developing Nuclear Infrastructure
RTT News
10/6/2012
(for personal use only)


In its report titled 'The Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR), the IAEA made 16 recommendations to the Government of Belarus, including revising its nuclear legislation to adequately address issues like radioactive waste, strengthening the regulatory body and framework for licensing, and developing comprehensive management systems for the nuclear project.

The report also made specific suggestions about Belarus' infrastructure development activities, based on guidance contained in the IAEA Milestones in the Development of a National Infrastructure for Nuclear Power publication.

"The report acknowledges Belarus' strong expertise in radiation protection and environmental monitoring and recognizes that good coordination in the development of Belarus' nuclear power program is beneficial," IAEA's Deputy Director General, Alexander Bychkov, said after delivering the report to the country's Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Tozik.

"Belarus has already implemented some of the recommendations that we shared with them in June, and the Government plans to implement all the remaining ones. This shows that the country is taking the report seriously," he added.

Belarus, which has been considering nuclear power since the 1980s, recently renewed its efforts in this regard. Incidentally, the Concept of Energy Security of the Republic of Belarus, promulgated in September 2007, called for commissioning two nuclear power plant units by 2020.

This year's INIR mission to Belarus was the seventh of its kind conducted by the IAEA. Notably, Belarus has already utilized two other IAEA services -- an energy planning analysis from 2007 to 2010, and a nuclear energy system assessment from 2010 to 2011-- to help prepare its national nuclear program.

Available at: http://www.rttnews.com/1978525/iaea-hails-progress-achieved-by-belarus-in-developing-nuclear-infrastructure.aspx?type=gn&utm_source=google&utm_campaign=sitemap



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5.
UK: Horizon Nuclear Joint Venture Reduced to Two Bidders
Power Engineering
10/5/2012
(for personal use only)


The deadline for bids to take over the Horizon nuclear joint venture - September 28, 2012 - came and went with just two of the three consortia still in the race. At stake is the Horizon project, which includes plans to build 6GW of capacity at two nuclear power stations at Wylfa on Anglesey (Wales) and Oldbury (Gloucestershire). Horizon owns the two nuclear sites but the German partners in the joint venture, E.ON and RWE, pulled out in March 2012. The consortium that has opted out is French-Chinese, led by French Areva and the China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group (CGNPC). The consortium had signaled its interest in making a bid in July 2012. No official commentary has been issued by Areva to explain the withdrawal but press reports indicated that it was due to a lack of backing from CGNPC. However, Areva and CGNPC know each other well and have worked closely together in the past, with

Areva having built new generation European Pressurized Reactors for CGNPC in Taishan, southwest China.

The two remaining consortia include one led by the US firm Westinghouse (owned by Toshiba), and a Japanese consortium led by Hitachi in partnership with the Canadian company SNC-Lavalin. Other bidders were rumored to have been interested in Horizon, including the Russian nuclear conglomerate Rosatom; however, the withdrawal of Areva is a big blow to the UK government as the bid was perceived to be serious. Of note is the absence now of Chinese investors in the Horizon bid: CGNPC was part of the Areva consortium and China's State Nuclear Baoti Zirconium was part of the Westinghouse/Toshiba bid. Thus Areva's withdrawal from the Horizon bid is more significant than it initially appeared. It is a signal that foreign investors, in this case major Chinese investors, perceive the risk/return ratio in nuclear generation in the UK to be unfavorable enough to cause them to "wait and see." The government has estimated that GBP110bn of investment is required for electricity generation, but the Horizon bid begs the question that if the Chinese are not interested, who will be able to make such large commitments in a relatively capital-constrained market? Fortunately for the UK, Japan, like Germany, has eschewed nuclear generation, meaning that firms like Hitachi and Toshiba need new export markets for their nuclear technology. The Areva withdrawal is a signal to the government that the instruments in its electricity market reform are insufficient to inspire investor confidence in low-carbon generation. In particular, the price that will be received by generators in low-carbon generation under the feed-in tariffs with Contracts for Differences is clearly a crucial element and one that will need to be transparent when the Energy Bill is introduced into the UK parliament in the autumn. The decision on the Horizon bid is expected in early November. If all goes to plan, the two sites could be operational by 2022-23.

Available at: http://www.power-eng.com/news/2012/10/05/uk-horizon-nuclear-joint-venture-reduced-to-two-bidders.html


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D.  Nuclear Safety & Security

1.
Confusion Over Reactor Restart Approvals
World Nuclear News
10/5/2012
(for personal use only)


Japan's newly established Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) aims to have a new safety legal framework in place by July 2013 to enable the country's idled nuclear power reactors to restart. However, it is currently unclear who will ultimately be responsible for authorizing restarts.

An initial set of criteria will be drafted by the NRA by March 2013. These criteria will then be open for public consultation after which they will be redrafted. The NRA aims to have these safety requirements written into law by July 2013.

The NRA said that utilities will be able to apply for inspections prior to July 2013, although the NRA would not give its final conclusion on those inspections until after the legislation has been passed.

However, there appears to be confusion as to who will ultimately be responsible for granting approval for reactors to restart. The authority has previously lain with the government, but this now looks likely to pass to the NRA.

Permission was granted by prime minister Yoshihiko Noda in June for two reactors to resume operation. After a meeting with Edano and two other cabinet colleagues, Noda announced that the two units at Kansai Electric Power Company's (Kepco's) Ohi plant in Fukui prefecture had been given clearance to restart in order to prevent power shortages in the region. Both units were back at full power by the end of July.

Last week, industry minister Yukio Edano said that reactors would be permitted to resume operation "if the Nuclear Regulation Authority has given the green light to safety and if local governments have shown their understanding." This suggested that once clearing safety checks by the NRA, utilities would need to seek permission from local governments for the restart of their reactors. The central government, Edano said, "is in no position to declare that they are safe."

However, chairman of the NRA Shunichi Tanaka said on 3 October that the regulator's responsibility is purely to assess whether a reactor is safe to restart and not to give authorization for their restart. Permitting units to resume operation "is a major decision that must be made by somebody, and I believe that our safety assessment plays an important role in making that judgement," Tanaka was quoted a saying by The Japan Times. "But to reactivate the reactors, there are various issues to consider, including gaining permission from local residents and municipal officials, and that is beyond the bounds of our authority."

On 4 October, chief cabinet secretary Osamu Fujimura reiterated Edano's stance that the final decision to allow reactors to restart does not rest with the central government. "As I have repeatedly stated, confirming the safety of reactors is the most important thing when considering a reactivation, and the NRA is in charge of making a decision over their safety as an independent entity." He added, "The government has decided to utilize nuclear reactors that have been confirmed as a safe source of power."

Clarifying the position, Fujimura said, "In terms of giving approval, that duty has shifted from the trade minister and the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) to [the NRA] that is now in charge of authorizing" reactor restarts.

In response to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in March 2011, the Japanese government ordered all of the country's nuclear plants to undergo two-phase 'stress tests' to verify their ability to withstand extreme events. The first phase of these tests was to be carried out while the reactor was shut down for a scheduled outage. This resulted in the idling of Japan's entire reactor fleet in May 2012.

Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Confusion_over_reactor_restart_approvals-0510124.html



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2.
Nuclear Operators Must Act Now on Safety: EU
Barbara Lewis
Reuters
10/4/2012
(for personal use only)


Regulators and operators should act now to improve safety at nuclear power plants, the EU energy commissioner said on Thursday, following inspections across the European Union.

The stress tests, carried out in the aftermath of the Fukushima disaster, found safety improvements costing between 10 billion ($12.90 billion) and 25 billion euros were necessary in European plants, a draft seen by Reuters showed this week.

"Nearly everywhere there is major potential for improvement," Energy Commission Guenther Oettinger told reporters.

"We therefore think that we should talk together with operators and regulatory authorities to act rapidly so that the highest possible standards can be guaranteed very soon."

One of the lessons of Fukushima was that two natural disasters could strike at the same time and knock out the electrical supply system of a plant completely, so it could not be cooled down.

The stress tests sought to avert any repeat of that series of events by establishing whether nuclear plants can withstand natural disasters, aircraft crashes and management failures, as well as whether adequate systems are in place to deal with power disruptions.

Among the findings were that on-site seismic instruments should be installed or improved in 121 reactors.

In addition, 24 reactors did not have a back-up emergency room in case the main control room became uninhabitable.

Because EU authorities do not have power to determine the energy mix of member states, the stress tests were voluntary, but Oettinger said they would not just be "put in a drawer".

"We are at the beginning of a new European safety dynamic," he said.

He confirmed the Commission would follow up with legislative proposals early next year to enhance safety.

The proposals would include insurance and liability, but Oettinger said it was not yet clear what that might mean for electricity bills.

Austria, which banned nuclear plants in 1974, said the stress tests were "good, but not good enough".

"Our demand is very clear: retrofit nuclear plants or shut them down," Austrian Environment Minister Niki Berlakovich told reporters in Vienna, referring to the possibility of adding safety measures.

Rebecca Harms, a Green member of the European Parliament, told Reuters Television the stress tests report had dodged the tough questions, but said they had still served to highlight the problems.

"Mr Oettinger has done the debate on lacking security standards a great favor," she said.

She added that the tests had "produced a handsome list of deficiencies, showing that there is a large deficit of security standards in every country that runs nuclear power plants".

ASN, the nuclear regulator in France, which relies on atomic energy for about 75 percent of its power, was highly critical of the report, saying "some important recommendations had been ignored".

It has already said France needs to invest billions of euros.

The chief inspector of Britain's nuclear plants, Mike Weightman, who also made recommendations for improvements after Fukushima, said: The stress test process was a valuable exercise, reinforcing the conclusions we had reached here in the UK".

Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/04/us-eu-nuclear-idUSBRE8930WO20121004


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E.  Links of Interest

1.
Nuclear Power Puts European Integration to the Test -- Again
David Henry
Bloomberg
10/8/2012
(for personal use only)
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-08/nuclear-power-puts-european-integra..


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2.
South Korea Eschews Enrichment of Uranium, but Chafes at U.S. Effort to Restrict its Options
The Japan Times
10/8/2012
(for personal use only)
http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/eo20121008a4.html


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3.
Thorium a Game Changer for India’s Power Needs?
Kumar Chellappan
The Daily Pioneer
10/7/2012
(for personal use only)
http://dailypioneer.com/nation/100059-thorium-a-game-changer-for-indias-powe..


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