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Nuclear News - 1/23/2012
PGS Nuclear News, January 23, 2012
Compiled By: Pia Ulrich

A.  Japan
    1. Nuclear Researchers Receiving Questionable Donations From Industry, Government, The Mainichi Daily News (1/23/2012)
    2. Fresh Radioactive Water Leakage Reported at Fukushima Nuke Plant, RIA Novosti (1/22/2012)
    3. Government not Adding up Nuclear Workers’ Radiation Doses When not at Work, The Mainichi Daily News (1/22/2012)
B.  Iran
    1. EU Iran Sanctions: Ministers Adopt Iran Imports Ban, BBC News (1/23/2012)
    2. Tehran Says EU Oil Sanctions Will Only Increase Crude Prices, not Affect Iran Economy, Al Arabiya (1/23/2012)
    3. Russia Lashes Out at New EU Sanctions on Iran, CBS News (1/23/2012)
    4. IAEA Chief Pledges Cooperation With Iran, Press TV (1/22/2012)
C.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. IAEA Begins Review of Japan’s Nuclear Stress Tests, Reuters (1/23/2012)
    2. Military Discusses Raid on Nuclear Plant Construction Site, Hesham Omar Abdel Halim, Egypt Independent (1/23/2012)
    3. Concern at Continued Closure of French Polynesia’s Nuclear Weapons Test Sites, Radio New Zealand News (1/22/2012)
D.  Nuclear Energy
    1. India’s First Fast Breeder Reactor to Go Critical Early 2013, Deccan Herald  (1/21/2012)
    2. UK ‘Subsidising Nuclear Power Unlawfully’, Richard Black, BBC News (1/20/2012)
    3. State Approves Nuclear Power Plant in Green River, Mori Kessler, STGNews (1/20/2012)
E.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Negotiators Agree to Minimize Civilian Use of HEU Ahead of Nuclear Summit, Yonhap News Agency (1/18/2012)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. Nuclear Weapons 2011: Momentum Slows, Reality Returns, Steven E. Miller, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (1/23/2012)
    2. Sandia Chemists Find New Material to Remove Radioactive Gas From Spent Nuclear Fuel, Insciences (1/23/2012)

A.  Japan

Nuclear Researchers Receiving Questionable Donations From Industry, Government
The Mainichi Daily News
(for personal use only)

Revelations that the government and the nuclear energy industry have donated 10.4 billion yen in total to 11 universities have highlighted the heavy reliance of such high education institutions on outside funds for their research into nuclear energy.

In most cases, the universities, including the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University, received the funds under contracts to conduct research on nuclear technology.

In particular, the Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Ministry has provided massive amounts of funds to the universities.

Specifically, the ministry provided 217.81 million yen to the University of Tokyo to conduct research and development of fast reactors in fiscal 2009, while giving 212.44 million yen to Kyoto University for research on the development of so-called super-oxide dispersion strengthened (ODS) ferritic steel to rationalize nuclear power systems. The periods of some of the projects funded by the ministry were extended over several years.

In the meantime, nuclear energy-related companies typically paid the universities hundreds of thousands of yen to millions of yen per project to commission them to conduct research.
Massive amounts of taxpayers' money that the government allocates for nuclear power-related research and development projects under its policy of promoting nuclear power has supported universities' research activities.

Many of these universities were also engaged in joint research projects with the semi-governmental Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) and the Central Research Institute of Electric Power Industry, illustrating the universities' close ties with the industry as well as government bodies.

Furthermore, companies have extended hundreds of thousands of yen to some 1 million yen each to individual researchers. Even though such donations are managed by the universities, individual recipients can freely use the money in most cases.

Tokyo Institute of Technology professor Masanori Aritomi accepted a total of 18.85 million yen in donations from OCL Corp. and other companies over a five-year period. He said he spent the money to finance his travel expenses to attend academic society research sessions, personnel expenses for employing seven researchers and financial assistance to students to cover their tuition fees.

"Unlike joint research funds or contracted research funds, you can carry over surplus money from such donations to the next academic year, which enables you to pay wages and financial assistance to students without interruption," he said.

A researcher who previously worked at the Tokyo Institute of Technology said, "Evaluations of researchers depends on how many papers they write a year. To write quality papers, you must spend much money to conduct experiments."

University of Tokyo professor Haruki Madarame accepted a combined 4 million yen in donations from nuclear reactor manufacturer Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. (MHI) over a four-year period from fiscal 2006 to 2009 -- before he was appointed as chairman of the Nuclear Safety Commission of Japan (NSC).

The Kansai Genshiryoku Kondankai (Kansai Council on Nuclear Power) extended the largest amount of donations, 51.55 million yen, to researchers, mainly those at universities in the Kansai region including Kyoto University.

The council introduced an open application system in fiscal 2009. Specifically, the council screens research plans submitted by applicants and provides 500,000 yen for each selected research project a year. Council officials declined to identify the companies that have provided funds.
MHI has extended the second largest amount of donations, 29.57 million yen, to researchers.
When asked about the reason for extending such a large volume of contributions to researchers, MHI's public relations division explained, "The results of research conducted by the recipients of our donations can lead to technological developments for us, and eventually to the technological innovation of the nation's nuclear power industry as a whole."

However, it is only nuclear researchers in favor of the promotion of nuclear power that can receive research funds from the national government and nuclear energy-related firms.
Hiroaki Koide and Tetsuji Imanaka, assistant professors at the Kyoto University Research Reactor Institute who are staunch opponents of nuclear power, received no research funds from the government and nuclear energy-related companies between fiscal 2006 and 2010. Some 420,000 yen that Imanaka received in fiscal 2010 to conduct research on radiation exposure from the "black rain" fallout from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima was the only research funds he received from an outside source.

The revelations have also highlighted problems involving universities' transparency of information.
The Mainichi Shimbun compiled the figures based on documents it accessed under the Act on Access to Information Held by Administrative Organs. However, the level of information the universities released varied from institution to institution.

In particular, Kyushu University declined to disclose any of its information on contracted research projects, the amounts of funds it received from the government or companies for joint research projects and the identities of individual researchers who received donations for research.
Osaka University also blacked out the names of partners and research themes of joint and contracted research projects worth approximately 281 million yen.

Tohoku University failed to respond to a request that the Mainichi filed in October for the disclosure of relevant information.

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Fresh Radioactive Water Leakage Reported at Fukushima Nuke Plant
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

About two liters of radioactive water leaked from the turbine building of the second reactor at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, Kyodo news agency reported on Sunday.

TEPCO, which operates the nuclear plant, issued a statement on Saturday saying the leak was from a pipe there that transfers highly radioactive water in the basement of the No. 2 reactor's turbine building to the plant's waste disposal facility.

The radiation level from the leak was low at 0.1 millisieverts per hour.

A level of radiation at 500 millisieverts per hour may cause cancer, while an acute radiation sickness begins with a dose of 1 sievert and chronic radiation sickness - from 1.5 sievert.

The company confirmed the water stopped leaking after it turned off the pump for the water transfer on the same day.

The contaminated water did not leak outside the nuclear plant, the company said.

A powerful earthquake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant's cooling systems on March 11, 2011, causing meltdown at three of its reactors. Radiation leaked into the atmosphere, soil and seawater, causing the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

The Japanese Nuclear Safety Commission estimated the financial loss from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster at $74 billion. The dismantlement of four reactor tanks will cost $14.9 billion and $52 billion will be spent on compensation, clean-up of radioactive soil and other measures.
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Government not Adding up Nuclear Workers’ Radiation Doses When not at Work
The Mainichi Daily News
(for personal use only)

The health ministry has not added up the radiation doses received by workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant while they were evacuated or are not at work, ministry officials and supporters of the workers said Saturday, prompting concerns about adequacy of the current radiation control.

In a similar manner, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will not add up radiation doses while workers engage in decontamination efforts around the badly damaged plant in Fukushima Prefecture, which will intensify in the near future.

The ministry currently keeps track of only the radiation doses for nuclear workers when they engage in work. The maximum radiation doses for nuclear workers and those involved in decontamination efforts are 100 millisieverts over five years and 50 millisieverts a year.

The officials said the ministry takes the position that in controlling radiation doses, it makes a distinction between work and personal life because measures taken to alleviate the doses differ between them.
"No matter where they are exposed to radiation, it's the same thing for an individual," said Katsuyasu Iida, who works on securing the health of nuclear plant workers as head of the secretariat for the Tokyo Occupational Safety and Health Center.

Noting that the health ministry is developing a database to record workers' radiation doses separately from the one at the Radiation Effects Association, Iida said that by employing such a database, workers' total radiation doses "should be strictly controlled by adding up doses received when they are not at work."

Those who enter radiation-controlled zones at nuclear plants have a booklet that keeps track of their radiation doses while at work. The data are sent to the Radiation Effects Association in Tokyo to keep track of workers' accumulated doses at whatever plants they go to work at or whatever employer they work for. Those whose radiation doses exceed limits are barred from further work.
All workers at the Fukushima Daiichi plant currently carry dosimeters while they work or move between the plant and an accident response base nearby. Radiation doses during evacuations following the accident and while away from work are being projected on the basis of radiation levels at observation points.

In its report last December, the Fukushima prefectural government estimated that evacuees from 12 municipalities around the plant were externally exposed to up to 19 millisieverts of radiation over the four months from the start of the disaster following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.
It is also possible that plant workers who lived nearby were exposed to radiation in the period after the start of the accident as they went about their lives.

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B.  Iran

EU Iran Sanctions: Ministers Adopt Iran Imports Ban
BBC News
(for personal use only)

European Union foreign ministers have formally adopted an oil embargo against Iran over its nuclear programme.

The sanctions involve an immediate ban on all new oil contracts with Iran and a freeze on the assets of Iran's central bank within the EU.

The EU currently buys about 20% of Iran's oil exports.

There was no official reaction from Iran, but one Iranian lawmaker played down the decision, describing it as a "mere propaganda gesture".

Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog has confirmed it is sending a team to Iran between 29 and 31 January "to resolve all outstanding substantive issues".
Last November the IAEA said in a report that it had information suggesting Iran had carried out tests "relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device" - sparking the decision by the US and EU to issue tougher sanctions.

Tehran insists its nuclear programme is for energy purposes.

Earlier on Monday, the Pentagon said the US aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, as well as a British Royal Navy frigate and a French warship, had passed through the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Gulf without incident, in the wake of Iranian threats to block the trade route.
The EU said the sanctions prohibit the import, purchase and transport of Iranian crude oil and petroleum products as well as related finance and insurance. All existing contracts will have to be phased out by 1 July.

Investment as well as the export of key equipment and technology for Iran's petrochemical sector is also banned.

Additional restrictions have been placed on Iran's central bank and in the trade of gold, precious metals and diamonds.

BBC Europe Editor Gavin Hewitt says it is one of the toughest steps the EU has ever taken.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the purpose of the sanctions was "to put pressure on Iran to come back to the negotiating table".

Earlier, UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said the embargo showed "the resolve of the European Union on this issue".

"It is absolutely right to do this when Iran is continuing to breach United Nations resolutions and refusing to come to meaningful negotiations on its nuclear programme," he added.
But the Russian foreign ministry said it was a "deeply mistaken" move that would not encourage Iran to return to the negotiating table.

"It's apparent that in this case there is open pressure and diktat, aimed at "punishing" Iran," it said in a statement.

Ali Adyani, a member of the Iranian parliament's energy commission, was quoted by the semi-official Fars news agency as saying the EU decision "would only serve some American and European politicians".

"It will not have any effect on Iran's economy," he said, adding that Tehran could sell oil to "any country" despite the ban.

BBC Iran correspondent James Reynolds says oil is the country's most valuable asset and sales help to keep the Iranian government in money and power.

A decision by the EU to stop buying from Iran may damage the Iranian economy - but in itself it won't destroy it, our correspondent says.

Iran sells most of its oil to countries in Asia. The EU and the United States are now working to persuade Asian countries to reduce their purchases from Iran as well.

Iran has already threatened to retaliate by blocking the Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Gulf, through which 20% of the world's oil exports pass.

The US has said it will keep the trade route open, raising the possibility of a confrontation.
Late last year Iran conducted 10 days of military exercises near the Strait of Hormuz, test-firing several missiles.

Oil prices have risen already because of the increasing tension and the expected impact of an EU ban on oil supplies to Europe.

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Russia Lashes Out at New EU Sanctions on Iran
CBS News
(for personal use only)

Russia's Foreign Ministry is criticizing the new European Union sanctions against Iran, saying they are a severe mistake likely to worsen tensions.

In a statement Monday, the ministry questions how the new sanctions could be seen as helping find a resolution of the dispute over Iran's nuclear program.

The ministry said, "It's apparent that in this case there is open pressure and diktat, aimed at 'punishing' Iran for uncooperative behavior. This is a deeply mistaken policy, as we have told our European partners more than once. Under pressure of this sort, Iran will not make any concessions or any corrections to its policies."

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Tehran Says EU Oil Sanctions Will Only Increase Crude Prices, not Affect Iran Economy
Al Arabiya
(for personal use only)

A European Union decision to impose a ban on Iranian oil will not affect Iran’s economy and will only increase crude prices, Iranian lawmakers and officials said on Monday.

“The imposition of oil sanctions on Iran will only serve some American and European politicians. It will not have any effect on Iran’s economy,” Ali Adyani, a member of parliament’s energy commission, told Fars news agency.

Adyani said Iran would still be able to sell its oil to “any country” despite the ban, and that the implementation of new sanctions would cause a hike in oil prices, Fars reported.

Another member of the commission, Hassan Shabanpour, rejected the European decision as “propaganda,” telling the parliament’s website that Saudi Arabia would not be able to compensate for Iran’s oil exports to Europe.
Meanwhile a former Iranian intelligence minister, Ali Fallahian, told Fars that the best solution to counter the new measures was to stop exporting oil to Europe before the bloc is able to find a replacement for Iranian oil.

“It would disrupt the Europeans’ plans and (efforts) to impose sanctions” on Iranian oil, he said.

By mid-afternoon no Iranian government official had yet reacted to the new sanctions.

The EU on Monday agreed to slap an embargo on Iranian oil exports as the West ramped up pressure on Tehran over its nuclear drive and urged it to return to the negotiating table.

A compromise agreement, due to be formally announced later the same day, provides for an immediate ban on importing Iranian crude and a gradual phase-out of existing contracts between now and July 1, diplomats in Brussels told AFP.

Iran sells about 20 percent of its oil to the EU, in particular to Greece, Italy and Spain.
In response to the EU sanctions, Russia said viewed the oil embargo on Iran as counterproductive and would continue to defend Tehran against further sanctions over its nuclear program.

“Unilateral sanctions do not help matters,” Russian news agencies quoted Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying in reply to the EU decision.

“We will restrain everyone from making harsh moves. We will seek the resumption of negotiations.”

Lavrov added he was confident that talks between Iran and the Western powers could be resumed soon.

“Moscow believes that there are fairly firm prospects for the resumption of talks in the immediate future,” he said.

“These opportunities exist despite an entire series of recent steps, including those taken by the IAEA director general.”

Russia has been fiercely critical of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog for issuing a report in November claiming it had “credible” intelligence showing Tehran’s interest in acquiring nuclear weapons.

Lavrov has argued that the report contained nothing new and insisted that any sanctions beyond the four rounds approved already by the U.N. Security Council only threatened to harm the Iranian people.

“Since we have already adopted collective sanctions in the U.N. Security Council, everyone should be keeping to that line, adding nothing and taking nothing away from the common position,” Lavrov said.

In the toughest action yet to reduce Iran’s ability to fund a nuclear weapons program, the EU ministers are also set to target the country’s central bank, ban investment and imports of petrochemicals and the sale of gold, diamonds and other precious metals to Iran.

Together, the measures are intended not only to pressure Iran to agree to talks but also to choke of funding for its nuclear activities.

Feeling increasingly encircled, Iran's hardline Islamic clerical elite has lashed back by threatening to block the main Middle East oil shipping route, the strategic Strait of Homuz.

Since the New Year, Tehran also began to enrich uranium in an underground bunker and sentenced an Iranian-American citizen to death
on espionage charges.

With world oil output estimated at some 88 million barrels per day in 2011 and some 17 million of those barrels passed through the Strait.

If economic sanctions sufficiently pressure Iran to retaliate by closing down the Strait, nearly 20 per cent of worldwide oil trade would be impacted, resulting in a massive spike in global energy costs.

The sanctions are also having a real impact on Iran’s domestic economy, causing prices of imported staples to soar and the rial currency to tumble.

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IAEA Chief Pledges Cooperation With Iran
Press TV
(for personal use only)

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano says he is committed to a constructive cooperation with Iran over its nuclear program.

"I am fully committed to working constructively with Iran and I trust that Iran will approach our forthcoming discussions in an equally constructive spirit," said Amano in a Saturday statement.
"My key priority in 2012 will be to try to make progress towards restoring international confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program," he claimed.

Amano also said that a delegation to be headed by the IAEA Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts is due to visit Iran in late January.

Iran's Ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh has described the upcoming visit as a sign of the transparency of Iran's nuclear program and Tehran's cooperation with the IAEA.

In November, the UN nuclear body released a report accusing Iran of conducting activities related to developing nuclear weapons before 2003, adding that these activities "may still be ongoing."
The document echoed allegations used by the United States, Israel and their allies as a pretext to sway the UN Security Council to impose four rounds of sanctions on Iran.

Tehran has categorically refuted the Western allegation, saying that as a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA, it has the right to acquire and develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

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C.  Nuclear Safety & Security

IAEA Begins Review of Japan’s Nuclear Stress Tests
(for personal use only)

A team of U.N. nuclear experts on Monday began a review of tests conducted by Japan to prove the safety of its nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima radiation crisis.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Agency's (IAEA) team of 10 experts will be in Japan until January 31.

"We are conducting a review that they (the Japanese government) requested of their methodology and approach for conducting comprehensive safety assessments or stress tests," James Lyons, the leader of the IAEA team, told reporters.

Public anxiety about nuclear safety since Fukushima, where the March 11 earthquake and tsunami knocked out cooling systems and triggered reactor meltdowns and radiation leaks, causing mass evacuations and widespread contamination, has prevented the restart of reactors shut for maintenance.

Only five of the nation's 54 nuclear reactors remain in operation.

Japan's watchdog Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) completed a review of the tests last week, and said they showed the reactors were capable of withstanding a severe shock similar to the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima plant.

The Fukushima disaster has prompted a major shift in Japan's energy policy, with the country now looking to reduce its reliance on nuclear power. It had aimed to increase its share prior to the disaster.
In a rare protest, a group of citizen observers delayed for hours a hearing at the trade ministry on Wednesday, at which the nuclear watchdog presented to experts its first completed review of stress test results for two reactors from Fukui prefecture's Ohi nuclear power plant.

The IAEA team is spending Monday and Tuesday meeting officials in Tokyo and will travel on Wednesday to the Ohi nuclear power station in Fukui prefecture, western Japan, for a firsthand look at how Japan's nuclear safety agency conducts the stress tests. It plans to present the results of their review on January 31, Lyons said.

Regional governments hosting nuclear plants have so far refused their restarts, and the central government in Tokyo is keen to avert a power crunch.

To avoid a power shortage Japan has pushed for the restart of the nuclear reactors by proving their safety through stress tests, although some local governments that host nuclear plants have said these tests were not enough, requesting that findings from the Fukushima disaster also be considered.
"We will not be focusing on whether or not its acceptable to restart any of the plants. That is totally a responsibility of the Japanese government and we would not make any determination in that area," Lyons said.

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Military Discusses Raid on Nuclear Plant Construction Site
Hesham Omar Abdel Halim
Egypt Independent
(for personal use only)

The northern command military leadership has met with officials from the Dabaa nuclear site to discuss local residents’ raid on the site. The residents have rejected the option of negotiations to bring an end to their sit-in.

The Nuclear Stations Authority has been blamed for failing to secure the site and for not dismantling radioactive equipment even though the site was stormed ten days ago, putting inhabitants of the surrounding area at risk.

Mohi al-Essawy of the National Center for Nuclear Safety explained that it is the responsibility of the Nuclear Stations Authority and not the Nuclear Safety Authority to secure the site.

Security sources said local residents refused to accept compensation from the government in return for confiscating the land on which the nuclear site is being built.

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Concern at Continued Closure of French Polynesia’s Nuclear Weapons Test Sites
Radio New Zealand News
(for personal use only)

French Polynesia’s nuclear test veterans say they fear the former test sites at Moruroa and Fangataufa will remain closed to independent inspectors.

Last week, the French Senate approved a bill to return the two atolls to French Polynesia by 2014 but the National Assembly is widely expected to vote against it.

France promised to return the atolls after the weapons tests ended but Paris now invokes confidential defence issues to block access.

The head of the Moruroa e tatou veterans group, Roland Oldham, says there is concern that Moruroa poses serious risks and wants to have the site inspected by others than the French military.
“If there is a collapse, what’s going to happen to the leaking of radioactivity and the many kilos of plutonium inside of Moruroa?”

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D.  Nuclear Energy

India’s First Fast Breeder Reactor to Go Critical Early 2013
Deccan Herald
(for personal use only)

India's first 500-MW prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR), being set up at Kalpakkam near here, is likely to go critical early next year and commercial generation of electricity is expected in March 2015.
“Construction activities will come to close this year-end. Loading of the part fuel is expected to happen during the first quarter of next year and the reactor would go critical,” said S.C. Chetal, director at the Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) that designed the PFBR.

Chetal is also a director at Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (BHAVINI), a public sector company under the Directorate of Atomic Energy (DAE), that has been given the responsibility to build fast reactor power plants in the country. When the PFBR is commissioned, power can be produced at a lesser cost than electricity generated from conventional sources.

A breeder reactor is one that breeds more material for a nuclear fission reaction than it consumes. The reaction produces energy that is used in the form of electricity. The Indian fast reactors will be fuelled by a blend of plutonium and uranium oxide.

While the reactor will break up (fission) plutonium for power production, it will also breed more plutonium than it consumes. The original plutonium comes from natural uranium. The surplus plutonium from each fast reactor can be used to set up more such reactors and grow the nuclear capacity in tune with India’s energy needs.

Fast reactors form a key in the India’s three-stage nuclear power programme, which comprises pressurised heavy water reactors (PHWRs) at the first stage, fast breeder reactors (FBRs) at second and thorium-based systems at the third stage. In 1985, India became the sixth country in the world to have such a technology.

The government has said in parliament that the PFBR is expected to begin commercial production in March 2015. Nuclear scientists though are of the view that commercial generation can happen even before that date.

According to Prabhat Kumar, project director, BHAVINI, the PFBR construction work will be over by September this year and testing of various systems would end by December 2012 or January 2013. “There is no inordinate time lag between PFBR attaining criticality and it starting commercial production given the fact that it is a newly-designed reactor. With small core/fuel lot of tests on reactor physics would be done. Then by gradually increasing the generation engineering tests would be carried out,” a nuclear scientist told IANS, preferring anonymity.

“A year of testing will be sufficient after reactor attained criticality,” he remarked. Asked about the delay in commercial production, Chetal said: “The PFBR is first of its kind in the country and we want to be sure about the functioning of each and every system.”

According to him, with the loading of part fuel, the reactor systems will be checked by increasing the power generation in a gradual manner. He does not agree that the delay in commercial production of PFBR would have an impact on the next two fast reactors that is planned at Kalpakkam.

“The design modifications made in the proposed two reactors will not make them as first of its kind. They will be commercial reactors. Since PFBR is new we want to be sure with its systems,” Chetal added.

The government has allotted Rs.250 crore for pre-project activities for two more 500 MW units. It has sanctioned construction of two more 500 MW fast reactors whose location is yet to be finalised.

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State Approves Nuclear Power Plant in Green River
Mori Kessler
(for personal use only)

Approval for the construction of a nuclear power plant was given by Utah officials after water rights to the Green River were granted Friday.

Two water right change applications for a proposed nuclear power plant near Green River, Utah have been approved by Kent Jones, State Engineer with the Utah Division of Water Rights.

The decisions follow more than two years of study.

Kane County Water Conservancy District and San Juan County Water Conservancy District are leasing rights to Blue Castle Holdings that wants to provide water from the Green River for a nuclear power plant.

Aaron Tilton, CEO of BCH, commented on the decision: “We realized early on that there would be a detailed and deliberate process adjudicated by the State of Utah before the water rights were approved for use at the project. We are pleased that the State Water Engineer, after a thorough review of all requirements under State law, determined that the water was available for withdrawal from the river, that its use at the proposed new nuclear power plant site would not interfere with other water users, that the proposed plan is physically and economically feasible and would not prove detrimental to the public welfare and the environment.”

The requests have raised many concerns such as the safety and oversight of nuclear power, local water use interference, wildlife concerns including endangered fishes, over-appropriation of Colorado River water, the economic viability of the project, and the financial ability of BCH to complete the project.

“We have listened to and very much appreciate the concerns raised by those in the local community and others,” said Jones. “Those concerns helped us look carefully and critically at the proposal as we considered the appropriate action on these applications.”

The water right approval criteria dictated in state law directs the state engineer to evaluate and investigate applications. An application is statutorily required to be approved if the state engineer believes: water is available from the source; the proposed use will not impair existing rights or interfere with the more beneficial use of water; the project is economically and physically feasible; it would not be detrimental to the public welfare; the applicant has the financial ability to complete the project; and, the application is filed in good faith and not for speculative or monopolistic purposes.

Almost 4.4 million acre-feet of water flows by the city of Green River every year. Blue Castle is seeking 53,600 acre-feet of that water to be allocated for its project.

“That amount of water is not a lot on the Green River,” said Jones. “But it is a significant portion of the water Utah has left to develop on the Colorado River and a significant new diversion from the Green River where efforts are underway to provide habitat for recovery of endangered fish.”

Tilton said BCH understands the duty the company has to the environment.

“We recognize our responsibility for strong environmental stewardship throughout the lifetime of the project, including working diligently to assure protection of the Green River endangered species.”
Approval of the application does not guarantee sufficient water will always be available from the river to operate the plant. Plant design will need to address the possibility of interruptions in water supply.

Nuclear power plants in the United States are developed and licensed for operation by the federal government under the regulation of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which is charged with promoting the use nuclear energy to benefit public welfare and protect the radiological health and safety of the public.

In pursuing NRC licensing of this project, Blue Castle plans to invest $100 million. Billions of dollars more will be required to construct the facility.

The state engineer’s decision on these applications authorizes the use of water for the plant after NRC approvals for the project are obtained. Prior to any construction, NRC will oversee an exhaustive design process to make certain the proposed site is safe for a nuclear power plant and the National Environmental Protection Act and Endangered Species Act requirements are complied with.

Once the nuclear plant is built, BHC estimates that about 1,000 permanent full-time employees will work at the plant for 60 years, and that up to 3,000 workers will work during the projected six year construction of the dual unit plant.

For individuals who are skeptical about the cost and viability of the future power plant, BHC issued the following in a statement concerning today’s decision:

“Nuclear power is a competitive source of base-load electricity, with high initial capital costs and low production costs during its 60 year lifetime. The initial capital costs are high due to the inherent safety and security built into the new plant designs. However, the low fuel and operation costs balance this initial cost and lead to a very competitive and predictable overall cost.

“The approval of the use of water rights for the Blue Castle Project preserves the option of clean, safe and economical nuclear power for Utah and the Western US’s future power needs.”

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UK ‘Subsidising Nuclear Power Unlawfully’
Richard Black
BBC News
(for personal use only)

Green energy campaigners are attempting to block new nuclear power stations in the UK by complaining to the European Commission that government plans contravene EU competition regulations.
They say financial rules for nuclear operators include subsidies that have not been approved by the commission.

These include capping of liability for accidents, which they say at least halves the cost of nuclear electricity.

The government says it is confident that policies do not provide subsidies.

The complaint, by the Energy Fair group, also says that the UK's carbon floor price and feed-in tarriffs amount to state aid for the nuclear industry.

State coffers would also have to meet cost overruns on nuclear waste disposal, they argue.
Dorte Fouquet of the German legal firm BBH, who drew up the complaint, said that EU energy policy was based on having an open market with a level playing field.

"The commission has repeatedly underlined that distortion of the market is to a large extent caused by subsidies to the incumbents in the energy sector," she said.

"This complaint aims to shed some light on the recent shift in the energy policy of the United Kingdom where strong signals point to yet another set of subsidies to the nuclear power plant operators."
Last year, a committee of UK MPs also said that the government was subsidising nuclear power, despite promises that it would not.

It sees the construction of about eight new reactors within a decade as essential for meeting climate change and energy security goals.

Although most of the complaint concerns the UK, some of its ingredients would apply to other EU nations as well, especially the capping of nuclear liability.

Estimates prepared for Energy Fair suggest that if operators had to buy insurance at the market rate, that would add at least 14 euro cents (12p) to the price of one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity - and potentially 20 times that figure.

With electricity in the UK retailing around 12p/kWh, that would mean at least a doubling of the price.
Campaigners have repeatedly said down the years that all nuclear programmes are in fact underwritten by the state whether they are government-owned or private, because the clean-up costs from major accidents are enormous and the companies involved are considered "too big to fail".
Current UK proposals call for the operator to be liable for the first £1bn of cost from any accident.
This is about a seven-fold increase on previous levels, but still a long way below the costs of a disaster such as the one that befell the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan last year.

That has left the plant's owners, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), facing a bill of multiple billions of dollars and reliant on state support - and perhaps eventual state ownership - to survive.
From a uniquely UK perspective, Fair Energy is focussing on elements of the Electricity Market Reform package that the Department of Energy and Climate Change (Decc) released last year.

"The introduction of a carbon price floor is likely to result in huge windfall handouts of around £50m a year to existing nuclear generators," said Caroline Lucas MP, leader of the UK Green Party.
"Despite persistent denials by ministers, it's clear that this is a subsidy by another name, which makes a mockery of the Coalition pledge not to gift public money to this already established industry."
A Decc spokesman said the government's policy of no subsidies for nuclear, established in 2010, still stood.

"We are confident that our proposals to reform the electricity market to incentivise all low carbon generation are entirely consistent with that policy of no subsidy," he said.

The European Commission could take up to 18 months to consider the complaint. A finding in Fair Energy's favour could potentially derail the UK's nuclear expansion plans - and those of other countries.

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E.  Nuclear Cooperation

Negotiators Agree to Minimize Civilian Use of HEU Ahead of Nuclear Summit
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

Negotiators from about 50 nations scheduled to participate in March's nuclear security summit in South Korea have reached an agreement "in principle" to minimize the civilian use of highly-enrichment uranium (HEU), Seoul officials said Wednesday.

The agreement was reached at a two-day meeting of "sherpas" in New Delhi this week and it will be included in a so-called "Seoul Communique" that will be announced at the end of the second Nuclear Security Summit slated for March 26-27, officials said.

"At the New Delhi meeting, sherpas agreed in principle to minimize the use of civilian HEU in research reactors, in the medical sector and in other civilian applications," said a senior official at Seoul's foreign ministry who was involved with the meeting.

Negotiators from the participating nations have been in close coordination to discuss key goals for the Seoul summit and what topics should be included in the "Seoul Communique," based on principles to place nuclear security at the center of the discussion and make new progress, according to the official.
The Seoul summit will be attended by top leaders from about 50 countries, including the United States, Russia, China, Japan, Britain and France. The main goal of the summit, the second such meeting following one in the United States in 2010, is aimed at preventing nuclear terrorism.

Seoul officials said one of the key topics at the Seoul summit would be how to protect vulnerable radioactive materials worldwide so terrorists could not use them to make a crude nuclear bomb.
Other key agenda to be discussed in Seoul will include "practical and concrete" ways to prevent the threat of nuclear terrorism and ensure the safety of atomic energy, they said.

Concerns have persisted over the safety of nuclear energy following widespread radioactive contamination after Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis in March last year.

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F.  Links of Interest

Nuclear Weapons 2011: Momentum Slows, Reality Returns
Steven E. Miller
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
(for personal use only)

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Sandia Chemists Find New Material to Remove Radioactive Gas From Spent Nuclear Fuel
(for personal use only)

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