1. Fill Brought to Iran Site IAEA Wants to Inspect: Diplomats
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Iran has been hauling dirt to a military site U.N. nuclear inspectors want to visit, Western diplomats said on Wednesday, saying the findings were based on satellite images and they reinforced suspicions of a clean-up.
They said the pictures, presented during a closed-door briefing for member states of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), suggested Iran was continuing to try to hide incriminating traces of any illicit nuclear-related activity.
The allegations come a few days after the IAEA said in a report on Iran that "extensive activities" undertaken at the Parchin site since early this year would seriously undermine its inquiry, if and when inspectors were allowed access.
Iran has so far denied the agency's request for a visit.
The U.N. agency believes Iran may have conducted explosives tests that could help develop nuclear weapons at Parchin and wants immediate access to investigate the facility. Iran denies this, saying Parchin is a conventional military complex.
The latest satellite image, dated November 7, showed what appeared to be piles of dirt, according to diplomats who attended the briefing by chief U.N. inspector Herman Nackaerts.
"They have been scraping the earth. Now they obviously want to put down new earth. There are piles of them that you can see," one diplomat said, adding a fence had also come down.
"We are wondering whether they are intending to bring down ... the buildings, we don't know yet," he added, referring to a structure believed to house a steel chamber for explosives tests, as well a nearby building.
Iran's mission to the IAEA was not available for comment.
The IAEA report, issued on Friday, listed activities observed at Parchin since February, including the removal of "considerable quantities" of earth at the location in question and its surrounding area, which it said covered 25 hectares (62 acres).
This had been followed by "further removal of earth to a greater depth ... and the depositing of new earth in its place."
Earlier IAEA reports have described the demolition of several smaller buildings at Parchin and other apparent clean-up work. The building where the IAEA believes the tests were carried out has been covered up, it says.
Iran denies Western accusations that it is seeking to develop the capability to make nuclear bombs.
But U.N. inspectors suspect that research and experiments relevant to nuclear weapons development have been conducted in the past, and possibly continues.
IAEA chief Yukiya Amano has pressed Iran to allow his inspectors to go to Parchin, a sprawling facility southeast of the capital Tehran. The IAEA also wants access to other sites, as well as to officials and documents.
"There are lots of activities (at Parchin) since the beginning of this year and some of these activities are quite important," Amano said during a visit to Paris this week, referring to the apparent sanitization efforts.
Tehran says it must first reach a broader agreement with the IAEA on how the Vienna-based U.N. agency should conduct its investigation into alleged nuclear bomb research in the Islamic state before it can possibly be allowed to visit Parchin.
A series of meetings this year between the IAEA and Iran, the most recent in August, has failed to make progress in allowing the U.N. agency to resume its long-stalled inquiry.
The two sides will meet again on December 13 but Western diplomats say they are not optimistic about any breakthrough.
The IAEA's talks with Iran are separate from - but are still closely linked to - efforts by six world powers to diplomatically resolve the decade-long nuclear dispute with Iran that has raised fears of a new war in the Middle East.
In Brussels on Wednesday, the six powers - the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China - said they were committed to holding a new round of negotiations with Iran as soon as possible.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/21/us-nuclear-iran-iaea-idUSBRE8AK12X20121121
2. Iran Nuclear Work at Constant Pace Despite Sanctions -IAEA
Alexandria Sage and Fredrik Dahl
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Iran is enriching uranium at a constant pace and international sanctions aimed at making Tehran suspend the activity are having no visible impact, the U.N. nuclear watchdog chief said in unusually blunt remarks on Tuesday.
The point made by Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, reinforced the view of many analysts that increased Western economic pressure on Iran has failed to make it change its nuclear course.
He spoke a day before senior officials from six world powers were to meet in Brussels to weigh strategy towards Iran amid signs of a renewed push to resolve the dispute diplomatically after U.S. President Barack Obama's re-election.
World powers, which first ushered in U.N. sanctions on Iran back in 2006, are concerned Israel may try to bomb Iranian nuclear sites without a peaceful resolution to the row soon.
The United States and its Western allies have sharply ratcheted up punitive steps on Iran this year to target its vital oil exports, hoping this will convince the country to finally back down in a stand-off that has raised fears of war.
But asked whether sanctions had produced any deterrent effect, Amano told reporters in Paris: "We are verifying the activities at the nuclear sites in Iran and we do not see any effect. They are, for example, producing enriched uranium up to 5 percent and 20 percent with a quite constant pace."
Amano, whose inspectors regularly visit Iran's nuclear facilities, added: "It has not changed. We have observed that the progression of enrichment has been constant. There has been a steady, gradual increase in the amount."
The IAEA, tasked with preventing the spread of nuclear weapons in the world, said in its latest quarterly report on Iran that it had finished installing enrichment centrifuges at its Fordow underground plant.
The report, submitted to IAEA member states on Friday, underlined the tough task facing the powers in seeking to persuade Tehran to suspend work which Iran says is peaceful but they fear is aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability.
It is a "very troubling report", a senior Western official in Vienna, where the IAEA is based, said.
Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, told Reuters that the report proved Tehran's nuclear programme is "exclusively for peaceful purposes".
Refined uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power plants, Iran's stated aim, but can also provide the explosive core of a nuclear warhead, which the West fears is its ultimate aim.
The six powers - the United States, France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China - have failed to achieve a breakthrough in three rounds of talks with Iran since April.
But neither side has been willing to break them off, in part because of concerns that this could lead to a new, devastating conflict in the Middle East if Israel attacked its arch-enemy, which rejects the Jewish state's existence.
The Western official said this week's meeting in Brussels would discuss whether to update the powers' previous offer to Iran and seek to "lay the groundwork" for a new round of talks which could happen before year-end.
"We want to try to give Iran incentives to meet its obligations. But Iran will obviously have to take steps as well," the official said. "It is looking to see what we can do to help bring Iran back to the table to negotiate seriously."
At the meetings earlier this year, the powers demanded that Iran halt its higher-grade enrichment, close down Fordow and ship out its stockpile of the material. In return, they offered limited incentives focused on technology cooperation.
Iran has signalled it may be ready to discuss its enrichment to a fissile concentration of 20 percent - which advances Tehran much of the way towards bomb-grade material, but which it says is meant to provide fuel for a medical research reactor - but wants an immediate lifting of sanctions in return.
That demand has been rejected by the West.
In Tehran, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the powers should recognise Iran's "right to peaceful nuclear activities" - code for uranium enrichment.
"We are always ready for constructive and principled negotiations," Mehmanparast said.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/20/nuclear-iran-idUSL5E8MKA6720121120
3. West Concerned about Fuel Move at Iran Nuclear Power Plant
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Western officials voiced concern on Tuesday about what they described as an unexpected unloading of fuel at Iran's first nuclear energy plant and said Tehran, which has dismissed it as a normal step, must clarify the issue.
The U.N. nuclear agency said in a confidential report on Friday that fuel assemblies were transferred last month from the reactor core of the Russian-built Bushehr plant to a spent fuel pond, but it gave no reason for the move.
The 1,000-megawatt Bushehr plant - whose start-up has been delayed for years - is a symbol of what Iran calls its peaceful nuclear ambitions, disputed by the West, and any new hitch would probably be seen as an embarrassment both for Tehran and Moscow.
"This is not a routine matter or something that's quite ordinary," a senior Western official who declined to be identified said. "So this is of great concern. We need answers."
Another Western diplomat in Vienna, where the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is based, said he did not know what had happened at Bushehr but that the fuel development raised possible safety-related questions.
"It sounds a safety bell and then it potentially sounds a safeguards bell if it is used in a weird way," the diplomat said, referring to the fact that plutonium usable for nuclear bombs could in theory be extracted from spent fuel.
The removal of the fuel came some two months after Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom said the long-postponed plant on Iran's Gulf coast was operating at full capacity.
It was plugged into Iran's national grid in September 2011, a move intended to end protracted delays in its construction.
Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said the fuel transfer was part of a "normal technical procedure" linked to transferring responsibility for the plant to Iranian from Russian engineers.
Iran's ambassador to Moscow, Reza Sajjadi, said there was no reason for concern: "Before the handover of the station to Iranian specialists, the inspection work needs to be completed ... Nothing unforeseen is happening there."
But a senior diplomat familiar with Bushehr said last week about the fuel transfer: "It was certainly not foreseen, that's for sure."
Iran is the only country with an operating nuclear power plant that is not part of the 75-nation Convention on Nuclear Safety (CNS), which was negotiated after the 1986 nuclear disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear plant.
Early last year, Iran said it was having to remove fuel for tests. A source close to the matter then said it was done due to concern that metal particles from nearly 30-year-old equipment used in the reactor's construction had contaminated the fuel.
Russian builder NIAEP - part of Rosatom - was in October quoted as saying Bushehr would be formally "handed over for use" to Iran in March 2013, whereas earlier officials had said that would happen by the end of this year.
Iran, a major oil producer, says electricity generation is the main purpose of its nuclear activity but its adversaries say Tehran's underlying goal is the ability to make atom bombs.
Bushehr is not considered a major proliferation risk by Western powers, whose concern is focused on sites where Iran enriches uranium, which can have civilian and military purposes.
Its construction was started by Germany's Siemens before the 1979 Islamic Revolution that toppled the U.S.-backed shah, and it was taken over by Russian engineers in the 1990s.
Nuclear expert Greg Thielmann said Bushehr did not pose an "acute" proliferation threat as Iran was required to return any spent fuel to the Russian supplier and it did not have a reprocessing plant needed to separate out the plutonium.
But spent fuel from Iranian reactors poses "a long-term proliferation concern, because they would provide material from which fissile material could be derived", said Thielmann, of the Washington-based Arms Control Association.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/20/us-nuclear-iran-bushehr-idUSBRE8AJ16F20121120
1. EDF Nuclear Plants Get Boost From U.K. Low Carbon Funds
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The U.K.’s plan to collect 7.6 billion pounds ($12 billion) for low-carbon projects by 2020 would advance Electricite de France SA’s nuclear plants and add about a third to consumer electricity bills, analysts said.
The sum, announced yesterday by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, will help pay for the 1.1 billion pounds of support a year needed to build two European Pressurized Reactors made by Areva SA (AREVA) for use at EDF sites in England, as well as renewable plants, according to Credit Suisse Group AG.
European nations seeking to meet climate change targets have adopted mechanisms that reward generators of low-carbon power, paid for by consumers on their electricity bills. Leaders from the U.K. to Germany are debating the costs that burden imposes on consumers as they pursue goals to lower emissions. British Energy Secretary Ed Davey tripled the sum utilities can collect from consumers in 2020, which amounts to 9.8 billion pounds after inflation.
“The key uncertainty is, can the capacity be delivered, and will there be a consumer backlash once customers actually realize just how much their electricity bill will be jacked- up,” said Lakis Athanasiou, an independent equity analyst in London.
The cap may add as much as 28 percent to consumer bills if the subsidies proposed were put in place on top of the existing levy and with a planned tax on carbon dioxide emissions, he said by phone. Davey’s announcement, made in advance of publication of energy legislation next week, prompted calls for Britain to monitor the effect on bills.
“The government should ensure that those households and businesses most vulnerable to increased energy prices are protected,” John Cridland, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry, said in a statement.
The issue is particularly sensitive after utilities including SSE Plc (SSE) and Centrica Plc’s British Gas put up their charges for power and natural gas, blaming an increase in wholesale price and government environmental policies.
Davey said the impact of supporting clean technology accounts for 2 percent of customer’s bills and will grow to 7 percent, or about 95 pounds for the average home, by 2020. Savings from energy efficiency will counter part of that.
Credit Suisse said in its note that the levy “effectively allows” for a 150-percent increase in renewable subsidies in the second half of this decade.
“We remain skeptical, as the cost to be passed-through to consumers is high, and a return to economic growth or high fossil fuel prices is still required to keep the consumer impact manageable,” the bank said in a note to clients.
Based in Zurich, the bank said in earlier research that the cost of subsidizing renewables in Europe’s five largest power markets is becoming unaffordable for consumers and utilities who will share the 570 billion-euro ($739 billion) bill, at current values. Those markets are in Germany, France, the U.K., Spain, Italy.
The levy control framework pays for government programs to support renewable energy including the Renewables Obligation, feed-in tariffs and the contracts for difference that come into force from 2017. The “subsidy envelop” should allow the government to reach its goal to get 30 percent or more of its electricity from renewables by 2020, Athanasiou said.
EDF Energy, planning atomic reactors in Somerset, southern England, said the contracts for difference that guarantee a price for power have the potential to unlock significant investment and jobs in U.K. infrastructure projects. Credit Suisse said Davey’s announcement was of particular importance for EDF Energy and Centrica Plc (CNA), which sought the arrangements.
A spokesman for SSE said, “We are pleased to see that the Levy Control Framework means that the U.K. will be building new power stations, including nuclear and renewables.”
The levy will help “diversify our energy mix to avoid excessive gas import dependency by increasing the amount of electricity coming from renewables,” DECC said in a statement. The department said it also will support new nuclear and carbon capture and storage projects.
The levy’s budget is currently 2.35 billion pounds for 2012 to 2013. For 2013 to 2014 it’s 3.18 billion pounds, and it’s 3.87 billion pounds in 2014 to 2015. The cap does not include efficiency measures called ECO and Warm Front.
Available at: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-11-23/edf-nuclear-plan-gets-boost-from-u-dot-k-dot-low-carbon-funds
Kansai Electric Power Co. has presented to potential lenders a business plan that includes reactivating two reactors, in addition to the pair that were brought back online this summer, according to sources.
Kepco, one of the most nuclear-dependent of the nation's 10 utilities, aims to return to profitability in fiscal 2013 if it wins government approval to raise electricity rates in April and gets two more reactors fired up, the sources said Wednesday.
It wants to hike rates by an average of 10 to 15 percent for homes and 15 to 25 percent for businesses. Kepco says it also plans to streamline operations.
However, it remains to be seen if the utility can pull off the reactor plan because the government and the Nuclear Regulation Authority have not yet outlined a road map for bringing reactors back online after they were sidelined by the Fukushima crisis.
It did manage to get two of the reactors at its Oi power plant in Fukui Prefecture online in July following government-mandated "stress tests" quickly put in place after Fukushima.
If Kepco can't restart the reactors it's counting on, it could be forced to seek higher rate hikes.
Targeted for reactivation are units 3 and 4 at the Takahama power plant in Fukui Prefecture. In July, immediately after Kepco rebooted the two Oi reactors, President Makoto Yagi said, "we are thinking Takahama reactors 3 and 4 are most promising" for a next round of reactivation.
"We would like to hold discussions with the government with the view to giving top priority to reactivating them," he added.
The remark drew anger from Yukio Edano, head of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and others in the government because it was made before the September inauguration of the NRA, which is aiming to draw up a new set of safety criteria by next July.
METI's Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, before it was disbanded, released the results of preliminary stress tests for the Takahama reactors. But an NRA official said, "safety will be judged under the new set of guidelines."
Kepco has 11 reactors, all in Fukui Prefecture, and derived 51 percent of its power supply from nuclear sources in fiscal 2010, before the Fukushima crisis.
Tokyo Electric Power Co. raised electricity rates for households by an average of 8.46 percent in September and is counting on further easing the pressure of fossil fuel costs on its bottom line by restarting reactors at its massive Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata in April.
But with no prospects for reactivation in sight, industry watchers are speculating another Tepco rate hike may loom.
Kepco posted a heavy ¥116.7 billion in consolidated net loss for the first half of this business year through Sept. 30 because of increased fuel costs for its nonnuclear power plants.
A Kepco official said that if the two Takahama reactors are rebooted, "fuel costs would be cut by around ¥160 billion per year."
Sharp Corp. said later Wednesday that its costs could grow by ¥1 billion to ¥2 billion annually if electricity rates are increased by 10 to 20 percent.
A senior Sharp official told reporters the company would be dealt a blow if Japan's second-largest power utility raises its rates, as Sharp's major production bases are located in and around Osaka.
The official said it is "difficult to transfer such large facilities," indicating the company would not move its plants outside the Kansai region to avoid rising costs.
The planned power rate hike has not been factored into Sharp's projected largest-ever group net loss of ¥450 billion for fiscal 2012, which ends next March 31, it said.
Available at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20121123a1.html
Russian leaders have affirmed the strategic and economic importance of nuclear technology to the country, announcing that spending will rise and a major development program will be accelerated. Nuclear power was praised extensively by prime minister Dmitry Medvedev at Novovoronezh nuclear power plant yesterday when he chaired a special meeting on economic modernisation and innovation. Nuclear technology is one of Russia's leading industries, said Medvedev, with applications in all spheres of life: "the economy, the power industry, space exploration, aviation, medicine, agriculture, production of composite materials and informatics."
Accordingly, as the state nuclear corporation, Rosatom invests in research and development to the tune of RUB23 billion ($737 million) per year, as part of an annual state budget for nuclear programs of RUB60 billion ($1.9 billion). The head of Rosatom, Sergei Kiriyenko, told the meeting that plans foresee the figure for research and development reaching RUB42 billion ($1.3 billion) in 2020. This is about ten times its value in 2007 when the country began consolidating its nuclear activities within Rosatom.
One key program for the country is being brought forward by a decade. Kiriyenko said the federal target program up to 2020 had been intended to demonstrate incoming fast reactor technology and associated fuel-cycle infrastructure by that date so that it can come into use by 2030. Now, he said, the goal is to have 'not individual elements' being demonstrated, 'but a full range' in operation by 2020.
Two months ago Rosatom confirmed a plan to install the pilot BREST-300 lead-cooled fast reactor at the Siberian Chemical Combine (SCC) at Seversk in the Tomsk region. This would also mean the construction of the first plant to make the reactor's dense nitride fuel elements. Plans would see the construction of this 300 MWe reactor start in 2016 so that it could generate power from 2020. It would be the forerunner of a nationwide series of 1200 MWe versions.
The SCC already hosts a uranium enrichment plant with capacity of 3 million separative work units per year that is able to handle uranium recovered from reprocessing. This is complimented by a mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel plant, while a uranium conversion plant is also being built and planned for operation after 2016 to meet all Russian demand.
'We will gather everything at the site,' said Kiriyenko, referring to the SCC. He added that Rostom would soon ask the government for funding so that it can create an 'experimental circuit to close the nuclear fuel cycle', also to be set up at the SCC.
Rosatom's long-term strategy up to 2050 involves moving to inherently safe nuclear plants using fast reactors with a closed fuel cycle and MOX fuel. The country's federal target program envisages nuclear providing 45-50% at that time, with the share rising to 70-80% by the end of the century.
Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP_Russia_speeds_up_nuclear_investment_2211121.html
PM Manmohan Singh sought to revive with Japan negotiations for peaceful use of nuclear energy, which has remained stalled since the Fukushima nuclear accident in March, 2011, in a meeting with his counterpart Yoshihiko Noda in Phnom Penh last week.
Sources said Singh expressed hope before Noda that Japan would soon share its nuclear technology and expertise with India. The two leaders had met at the recent East Asia Summit in Cambodia after their annual summit in Tokyo this month had to be deferred because of announcement of polls in Japan.
"PM Noda replied by saying that Japan wished to advance consultations in a constructive and cooperative manner,'' Japan's foreign ministry spokesman Masaru Sato told TOI. He added though that it wasn't possible to give any date for resumption of negotiations.
Sato said that Japan welcomed the signing of rare earth pacts between the two nations. It will allow Japan to import rare earth minerals, essential for its hi-tech industry, from India reducing its dependence on China which currently accounts for around 90% of supplies. ``Diversification of supply sources is always a good thing for any country,'' he added.
The two countries had discussed civilian nuclear cooperation as a part of the wider India-Japan Energy Dialogue but formal negotiations have not yet resumed. During the dialogue, Japan also sought some clarifications about India's nuclear liability law that prevents suppliers from making themselves immune to compensation claims in the event of an accident. The two sides had held three rounds of talks over the issue before Fukushima.
Without actually resuming negotiations, Japan has maintained that it remains committed to having civilian nuclear cooperation that was stated during the visit of foreign minister Koichiro Gemba to India earlier this year. Gemba's the then counterpart S M Krishna had said that consultations would resume soon. According to the joint statement issued after the summit meet here last year, the two prime ministers had directed their negotiators to ``exert further efforts towards a conclusion of the agreement, having due regard to each side's relevant interests, including nuclear safety''.
For India, the outcome of the Japanese elections next month will be interesting as nuclear power is likely to be one of the main issues. The ruling Democratic Party of Japan has declared that it will work to bring down the number of all operating reactors to zero by 2040, but the main opposition, Liberal Democratic Party, not just wants those reactors considered safe to reopen but also to use nuclear power policies as a springboard for further economic growth. This is the first time elections are being held after last year's tsunami.
Available at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/PM-revives-nuclear-energy-talks-with-Japan/articleshow/17366179.cms
2. Russia and Kazakhstan to Cooperate in Uranium Enrichment
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Kazakh National Atomic Company Kazatomprom and TVEL, Fuel Company of Russian Rosatom has signed the key legal documents to implement an alternative form of uranium enrichment center project today, Kazatomprom reported on Friday.
"Shareholder's and option agreements signed today between Kazatomprom and TVEL regulate the procedure of executing the rights of CJSC Uranium enrichment center shareholders, the terms of transferring shares and the management procedure of CJSC Uranium enrichment center, and allow the parties to start closing stage of the project," the company said.
The next stage envisages acquisition of 25 percent shares + 1 share of Ural Electrochemical Plant by Uranium enrichment center. Following the acquisition the joint venture will have an access to enrichment services in the annual volume up to 5 million separative work units.
The parties are planning to start deliveries within the Uranium enrichment center's project of implementing an alternative variant, in the second half of 2013.
TVEL, Fuel Company of Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation Rosatom, is a part of vertically-integrated structure of the Russian nuclear industry. TVEL incorporates business and scientific assets for fuel fabrication, separation-sublimate complex as well as the facilities for manufacturing of gas centrifuges and their equipment.
Kazatomprom is Kazakh national operator for import and export of uranium and its compounds, rare metals, nuclear fuel for nuclear power plants, special equipment, technologies and dual-use materials.
The Company's main activities include geological exploration, uranium production, output of nuclear fuel cycle products, construction of reactors and nuclear power plants, non-ferrous metallurgy and production of construction materials, power industry, science, social welfare and personnel training.
Kazatomprom is one of the top uranium world producers.
Available at: http://en.trend.az/capital/energy/2091944.html
Vietnamese and Japanese experts discussed bilateral cooperation on the use of nuclear energy for the purposes of peace, security, and nuclear non-proliferation in Hanoi on November 20.
The seminar was co-organised by the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Industry and Trade, and the Japanese Agency for Atomic Energy.
The event offered an important opportunity for participants to share their experiences in using nuclear energy safely and securely.
In his opening speech, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Le Dinh Tien emphasised that with the country’s modernisation and industrialisation process and ongoing socio-economic development, Vietnam’s demand for energy will continue to surge over the next decade while fossil fuel resources edge towards exhaustion.
Vietnam has therefore decided to develop a nuclear power programme as a means of safeguarding energy security, enabling the diversification and advancement of sustainable energy.
Available at: http://www.energytribune.com/65898/vietnam-japan-cooperate-on-nuclear-energy-use
1. France Looks Deeper at Post-Accident Management
World Nuclear News
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France has published the basic elements of a national doctrine to help the government develop a strategy to address potential health, social and economic impacts in the unlikely event of a serious nuclear accident.
The elements of the doctrine are divided into three "inseparable" objectives: protecting the population against harmful effects of ionizing radiation; providing support to people affected by the consequences of a nuclear accident; and, recovering the economic and social development of areas affected. The elements were established considering nuclear accidents involving the short-term (less than 24 hours) release of radioactive material. They consider the entire post-accident phase: the first few days after the accident; the first month (the so-called transition period); and the few first years after the accident (the long-term period).
Under a mandate issued by an interministerial directive, France's Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN), set up a steering committee in 2005 to establish a doctrine for post-accident management in case of contamination arising from releases from a nuclear facility. Various stakeholders participated in the steering committee, including the main government departments concerned, expert bodies such as the Institute for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety (IRSN) and the Institute for Public Health Surveillance (InVS). It is included associations, politicians and nuclear facility operators. International expertise, especially from countries affected by the Chernobyl accident, was also sought in compiling the doctrine.
ASN said that the publication of the first elements of the national doctrine is an important step in preparing for management of the post-accident phase of a nuclear accident. However, it stressed that the doctrine must go further and deeper to allow ownership by policy makers and stakeholders, particularly at the regional level where local authorities will be the most concerned.
French plans for post-accident management currently call for an evacuation of the area within a 5 km radius of a nuclear facility and that people could be forced to remain indoors within a 10 km radius. However, the ASN says that an accident beyond design could happen and that areas of double or even triple these should be included in such plans. However, it noted that this would depend on the nature of the accident and weather conditions, which can only be assessed when it occurs.
The ASN has proposed that the government continues to provide assistance to the authorities in preparing for post-accident management and to update the basic elements of the national doctrine, particularly taking into account lessons learned from the Fukushima accident in Japan.
Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-France_looks_deeper_at_post_accident_management-2311124.html
2. IAEA Completes Safety Review at Czech Nuclear Power Plant
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An international team of nuclear safety experts, led by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), today completed a review of safety practices at Temelin Nuclear Power Station in the Czech Republic. The team highlighted the Power Plant's good practices and also recommended improvements to some safety measures.
At the request of the Government of the Czech Republic, the IAEA assembled a team of nuclear installation safety experts to send an Operational Safety Review Team (OSART) to the Power Plant, and the mission was conducted from 5 to 22 November 2012. The team was comprised of experts from Brazil, Hungary, Slovakia, South Africa, Sweden, Ukraine and the United Kingdom.
An OSART mission is designed as a review of programmes and activities essential to operational safety. It is not a regulatory inspection, nor is it a design review or a substitute for an exhaustive assessment of the Plant's overall safety status.
The team at Temelin conducted an in-depth review of the functions essential to the safe operation of the Power Plant, which are under the responsibility of the site's management. The review covered the areas of management, organization and administration; operations; maintenance; technical support; operating experience; radiation protection; chemistry; and severe accident management. The conclusions of the review are based on the IAEA's Safety Standards and proven good international practices.
The OSART team has identified good plant practices, which will be shared with the rest of the nuclear industry for consideration of potential application elsewhere. Examples include the following:
The Power Plant has adopted effective computer software to improve the efficiency of the plant to prepare and isolate equipment for maintenance;
The Power Plant undertakes measures to control precisely the chemical parameters that limit corrosion in the reactor's coolant system, which in turn reduce radiation exposure to the workforce; and
The Temelin Power Plant has a Technical Support Centre Manual to establish the decision-making process necessary to support the Control Room Crew in implementing Emergency Operating Procedures.
The team identified a number of proposals for improvements in operational safety at Temelin Nuclear Power Station. Examples include the following:
Management and Plant staff should improve their practices to enable more efficient reporting of minor deficiencies;
Power Plant operators should improve their adherence to existing human error prevention procedures; and
The Power Plant has underway too many temporary modifications to the plant systems, many of which have no specific schedule for completion and could have adverse implications for safety.
Temelin management expressed a determination to address all the areas identified for improvement and requested the IAEA to schedule a follow-up mission in approximately 18 months.
The team delivered a draft of its recommendations, suggestions and good practices to the plant management in the form of "Technical Notes" for factual comments. These notes will be reviewed at IAEA headquarters, including any comments from Temelin Nuclear Power Station and the Czech Republic regulatory body SUJB. The final report will be submitted to the Government of the Czech Republic within three months.
This was the 172th mission of the OSART programme, which began in 1982.
Available at: http://www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/2012/prn201228.html
3. South Korea Urged to Restore Trust in Nuclear Power
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South Korea needs to rebuild public trust in nuclear power by boosting transparency and improving regulation, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said on Friday, after safety scares have closed reactors and threaten to trigger blackouts over winter.
Asia's fourth-largest economy lacks its own energy resources and depends heavily on oil and gas imports while 23 nuclear reactors usually supply a third of its power. The country plans to add 11 more by 2024.
But the nuclear sector has suffered a big blow after an investigation into fake safety documents for parts led to two reactors being shut and after an extended shutdown of another reactor where microscopic cracks were found.
Unveiling a report on South Korea's energy policies, the IEA backed the country's nuclear programme, but said more needed to be done to restore faith in a sector also facing greater global scrutiny after last year's Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan.
"Given the growing demand for energy and Korea's lack of indigenous energy resources, this is a logical policy," Maria van der Hoeven, the IEA's executive director, said in a statement.
"Nonetheless, recent incidents at Korean nuclear facilities should serve as a timely reminder to the government that the nuclear regulatory authority must maintain an enhanced profile, be well-resourced and able to take independent decisions."
The IEA, which advises industrialized nations and represents 28 oil importing countries, last released a report in South Korea in 2006.
There is a lot at stake for South Korea, which also wants to play a growing role in the global nuclear industry, and aims to export 80 nuclear reactors by 2030, which could be worth a total of $300 billion, according to government plans. A $20 billion deal with the United Arab Emirates has already been signed.
Van der Hoeven said the government needed to openly deal with concerns of local communities hosting nuclear facilities.
The South Korean government has been criticized for a lack of transparency over safety in its nuclear programme and for the dual supervisory and promotion roles of its regulators.
The country's public is traditionally seen as pro-nuclear, although an opposition lawmaker has pressed the government to resume publishing polls on nuclear safety after a loss of public confidence in the sector in the wake of Fukushima.
Highlighting the vulnerability of its energy sector, South Korea has warned it may have to bring in rolling power blackouts during the harsh Korean winter due to a lack of nuclear power.
Six reactors are currently offline, with one restarting earlier this week, according to government data.
Van der Hoeven said the country needed to increase competition in its power and gas markets.
"The lack of a clear, long-term vision for electricity and natural gas markets is one of the greatest energy-policy challenges facing the Korean government," she said.
"The IEA strongly urges the Korean government to establish a framework that allows the development of effective competition in the electricity and natural gas markets."
South Korea is the world's fifth-largest crude oil importer and second-largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) buyer.
More consumers should be given the choice of buying gas at market prices from other sources and not just from state-run Korea Gas Corp (KOGAS), the world's largest corporate buyer of LNG and the country's sole gas wholesaler, South Korea's economy ministry quoted the IEA's full report as saying.
"Energy markets are dominated by incumbents and have been slow to open up to competition while consumers face the threat of electricity supply shortfalls."
Another state-run utility, Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO), is the sole electricity transmitter and distributor, buying from six fully-owned power generators.
Both KOGAS and KEPCO are suffering billions of dollars of losses as the government tries to hold down power charges to curb inflation.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/23/us-iea-korea-idUSBRE8AM02J20121123
4. Ukraine to Make Substantial Investment in Nuclear Safety
Power Engineering International
(for personal use only)
The Ukrainian government is to spend around $1bn in improving safety at the company’s nuclear power plants over the next two years.
The news was announced by Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Minister Yuriy Boiko.
"Improving safety at nuclear power plants is a priority in Ukraine's energy independence. Our plants have passed stress tests, we have taken measures, and at the end of the year we will sign a loan agreement with Euratom, and about $1bn will be invested in the next two years in improving the safety of our nuclear power plants," the minister was quoted by the UKRINFORM.
Boiko added that a high-voltage power line from Rivne Nuclear Power Plant to Kiev was currently being built.
When completed the 350-kilometer-long high-voltage line will be one of the largest projects in Europe and provide the country with more than 50,000 jobs.
Available at: http://www.powerengineeringint.com/articles/2012/11/ukraine-to-make-substantial-investment-in-nuclear-safety.html
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