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Nuclear News - 5/31/2012
PGS Nuclear News, May 31, 2012
Compiled By: Pia Ulrich


A.  Iran
    1. Buildings at Iran Site "Razed": Think-Tank, Fredrik Dahl, Reuters (5/31/2012)
    2. Ahmadinejad Hints Iran Could Stop Producing 20 Pct Uranium Enrichment, Xinhua News Agency (5/31/2012)
    3. Ahmadinejad Sees No Breakthrough at Moscow Talks, John Irish, Reuters (5/30/2012)
B.  North Korea
    1. N. Korea Declares Itself Nuclear Power, The Voice of Russia (5/30/2012)
C.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Jordanian Parliament Votes to Suspend Nuclear Power Program, Haaretz (5/30/2012)
    2. Germany's Plans to End Use of Nuclear Power Get a Boost, Deutsche Welle (5/29/2012)
D.  Japan
    1. Kansai Chiefs Accept 'Limited' Reactor Restart, Eric Johnston, The Japan Times (5/31/2012)
    2. TEPCO to Check Interior of Crippled Fukushima No. 1 Reactor, The Mainichi (5/29/2012)
    3. Level Heads at Fukushima Daiichi 4, World Nuclear News (5/29/2012)
E.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. ‘China Nukes No Direct Threat’, The News (5/30/2012)
F.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. China Cabinet Approves Nuclear Safety Plan, Reuters (5/31/2012)
    2. 5 Engineers Indicted for Attempting to Cover Up Blackout at Nuclear Plant, The Korea Times (5/30/2012)
G.  Links of Interest
    1. New Japanese Smartphone Detects Radiation, Mother Nature Network (5/29/2012)



A.  Iran

1.
Ahmadinejad Hints Iran Could Stop Producing 20 Pct Uranium Enrichment
Xinhua News Agency
5/31/2012
(for personal use only)


Iran's president has said related countries should explain why Tehran is not allowed to enrich uranium to 20 percent and that what they would reciprocate if Iran stops uranium enrichment to that purity, the official IRNA news agency reported Thursday.

Enriching uranium to 20 percent is Iran's right and Tehran is not after nuclear weapons, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in an interview with France 24 television, according to IRNA.

Answering the question whether Iran would agree to let other countries provide it with higher grade enriched uranium, Ahmadinejad said he is open to the option.

Ahmadinejad's remarks hint Tehran will likely give up production of 20 percent enriched uranium if certain conditions are met by the western countries, such as lifting part of the harsh economic sanctions, analysts say.

The Iranian president added he doesn't expect next round of nuclear talks between Iran and six world powers, namely the five UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany, will generate breakthroughs.

"We are not expecting miracles at the next meeting," Ahmadinejad was quoted by IRNA as saying.
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Sunday that Iran will consider halting 20 percent uranium enrichment if the West recognizes the "civilian" nature of its nuclear program.

"If the Western governments acknowledge the civilian nature of Iranian nuclear program and ask for halting the 20 percent ( uranium) enrichment, Iran will consider their request," he said.

Iran and the above-mentioned six world powers held a new round of nuclear talks in the Iraqi capital Baghdad last week. The talks were concluded with a plan to hold another round of talks in Moscow next month.

Available at: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/world/2012-05/31/c_131623570.htm


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2.
Buildings at Iran Site "Razed": Think-Tank
Fredrik Dahl
Reuters
5/31/2012
(for personal use only)


A U.S. think-tank has published satellite images which it says underscore suspicions that Iran is trying to destroy evidence of possible nuclear weapons-related research at a site that U.N. inspectors have not been allowed to visit.

The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) posted the pictures on its website hours after the U.N. nuclear watchdog showed diplomats similar images that western envoys said indicated a clean-up at the Parchin military facility.

Parchin, which Iran says is a conventional military complex, southeast of Tehran, is at the centre of western allegations that Iran has conducted experiments - possibly a decade ago - that could help develop atom bombs. Iran denies any such ambition.

The new satellite images appear to back western suspicions that Iran is cleaning the site of any incriminating evidence, such as traces of uranium or other materials, before possibly allowing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to go there.

Western diplomats who attended Wednesday's closed-door briefing by the IAEA in Vienna told Reuters that two small buildings at Parchin had been removed, and ISIS said its pictures from May 25, published on isis-online.org, showed that they "have been completely razed".

"Iran is worried that the agency might find something there. Otherwise it wouldn't be going through the sanitization process," a senior western official said.

The pictures have been published after inconclusive talks last week between Tehran and six world powers that aim to end a nuclear standoff in which the West has intensified sanctions on Iran, and Israel and the United States have threatened military strikes to stop the Islamic Republic getting the bomb.

The IAEA has repeatedly asked Iran for access to Parchin. Last week, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying the IAEA had not yet given good enough reasons to visit the site.

Iran says its nuclear activities are for electricity production and medical applications and has so far refused to let inspectors visit Parchin, saying there must first be a broader agreement setting out how the IAEA's probe will progress.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said after visiting Tehran last week that he expected soon to secure a framework deal to unblock the agency's investigation.

But the western official said Iran had not engaged with the U.N. agency to finalize the deal since Amano's visit.

"I'm not optimistic that Iran is going to provide that cooperation," the official said.

Iran's IAEA envoy, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, dismissed western suspicions of clean-up efforts at Parchin, telling reporters after the May 30 briefing at IAEA headquarters that "this kind of noise and allegations are baseless".

ISIS, which publishes research about nuclear proliferation, said the satellite images showed tracks "made by heavy machinery used in the demolition process."

The two buildings which now appear to have been dismantled - near the main structure that is of interest to the IAEA - were intact as recently as early April, it said.

"Heavy machinery tracks and extensive evidence of earth displacement is also visible throughout the interior as well as the exterior of the site's perimeter," ISIS said.

"The newest image raises concerns that Iran is attempting to raze the site prior to allowing an IAEA visit," it said.

Last week, the IAEA said in a report that satellite images showed "extensive activities" at the facility that could hamper its investigation.

Western diplomats said this was an allusion to suspected "sanitization" at Parchin that only started after the IAEA made its request for access to the site.

Another Iranian site, Lavizan-Shian, was completely razed in late 2003 and early 2004. Western diplomats said at the time that they suspected Iran was conducting undeclared nuclear activities at Lavizan and was determined to cover them up.

Iran has dismissed charges aired about Parchin as "childish" and "ridiculous".

An IAEA report last November said Iran had built a large containment vessel in 2000 at Parchin in which to conduct tests that the U.N. agency said were "strong indicators of possible (nuclear) weapon development."

It said a building was constructed around a large cylindrical object, a vessel designed to contain the detonation of up to 70 kg (150 lb) of high explosives. Diplomatic sources say the suspected tests likely took place about a decade ago.

Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/31/us-nuclear-iran-idUSBRE84T0YZ20120531


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3.
Ahmadinejad Sees No Breakthrough at Moscow Talks
John Irish
Reuters
5/30/2012
(for personal use only)


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday he did not expect talks next month with six world powers in Moscow on Iran's nuclear program to yield any major breakthroughs, but hoped to improve confidence between the two sides.

The six powers - the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany - failed to persuade Tehran on May 23 to halt its most sensitive nuclear work, but they will meet again in Moscow on June 18-19 to try to end a stand-off that has raised fears of a new war that could threaten global oil supplies.

"We are not fools. We are not expecting miracles at the next meeting," Ahmadinejad said in an interview with France 24 television. "There will be areas of work that will go in the right direction and we will work towards them so that we reach a constructive accord."

He said Tehran had "good proposals" to make, but that it would only announce them when the time was right, and both sides had to work hand in hand to restore confidence.

At the heart of the impasse is Iran's insistence on the right to enrich uranium and that economic sanctions should be lifted before it shelves activities that could lead to its achieving the capability to develop nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad reiterated Iran's "legal right" to enrich uranium to 20 percent and said other countries would have to explain why Iran was not allowed to do this and what they would offer Iran in exchange if it stopped enriching uranium.

Asked if Tehran would accept an offer under which other countries would enrich its uranium if it suspended its nuclear program, Ahmadinejad said he was open to it.

"That offer has not been made, but it would ease the situation and would help build trust," he said.
Iran's nuclear progress is closely watched by the West and Israel as it could determine how long it could take Tehran to build atomic bombs, if it decided to do so. Iran denies any plan to do this and says its aims are entirely peaceful.

Israel this week said Tehran was still "buying time."

Ahmadinejad said Iran was not afraid of possible Israeli "aggression", but questioned how the international community would have reacted had Iran threatened Israel.

"The problem is the Zionist regime not Iran," he said. "If they don't attack us there won't be a problem."
While Iran has supported popular uprisings that removed longtime leaders in Egypt, Libya and Yemen, it has steadfastly supported the Syrian leadership, a rare ally in the Arab world, which is largely suspicious of Shi'ite Iran's ambitions for greater regional influence.

Ahmadinejad condemned the killing of 108 people, many of them children, in the Syrian town of Houla last week, saying those who had committed the crime should be punished even if the government was behind it.

"All those who carried out these murders are guilty and I hope the people responsible are punished," he said.

Ahmadinejad said he had no idea who was responsible, but said it made no sense for a government to kill its people.

"It won't bring any success to this government. Why would this government kill its people because this can only bring negativity to it? So we must shed light on this. I don't exclude anybody (from committing this massacre)."

However, he said that the West and certain Arab countries were interfering in Syria and were sending weapons to help bring down the government.

"We cannot trust these people because their objective is to bring down (Syrian President Bashar al-)Assad," he said.

Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/30/us-iran-nuclear-ahmadinejad-idUSBRE84T17F20120530


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B.  North Korea

1.
N. Korea Declares Itself Nuclear Power
The Voice of Russia
5/30/2012
(for personal use only)


North Korea has made an amendment to its constitution to declare itself a nuclear power. The news has been reported by the Tokyo-based pro-Pyongyang news agency Tyosen Tsuchin.

According to news agency analysts, the constitutional change has been prompted by North Korea’s striving for ensuring international recognition as a nuclear power.

The amendment was made during the North Korean parliamentary session in April. North Korea adopted its current constitution in December 1972.

Only one amendment has since been made to the constitution.

Available at: http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_05_30/76433419/



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C.  Nuclear Energy

1.
Jordanian Parliament Votes to Suspend Nuclear Power Program
Haaretz
5/30/2012
(for personal use only)


Jordanian lawmakers voted on Wednesday to suspend the country's nuclear power program due to worries over financing - bringing to a halt a project prioritized by Amman as a solution to the country's chronic energy woes.

Jordanian parliamentarians voted to suspend both the country's first ever nuclear reactor and uranium-mining activities, pending the completion of economic feasibility studies in light of what they said was officials' "misleading" claims over project financing.

Under the Jordanian constitution, the motion is legally binding.
The move comes in the wake of a parliamentary report quoting former officials and experts casting doubt over Amman's estimate of having 140,000 tons of uranium in the country.

The report puts reserves at just 12,000 tons - and much of that of economically unfeasible quality.

The report also challenges the official 5-billion dollar construction cost estimate for the country's first reactor - with lawmakers claiming that decommissioning and waste transport costs will push the reactor's price tag past 15 billion dollars.

Lawmakers also voted to suspend the country's mining agreement with French energy giant AREVA, which is currently completing uranium exploration in central Jordan.

The vote comes amid a rising anti-nuclear movement in Jordan, with environmentalists and activists calling into question the project's potential burden on the country's near-record 4-billion dollar budget deficit and the ability of Jordan - which is the fourth water-poorest country in the world - to cool the nuclear reactors.

Energy officials have highlighted the strategic importance of the program - which calls for the construction of up to four reactors over the next 20 years to transform Jordan from an energy importer to an electricity exporter - to secure the country's energy independence.

Amman is currently entering parallel negotiations with France and Russia to build a 1,100 megawatt reactor by the end of the decade.

Jordan currently imports 98 per cent of its energy needs, with rising international oil prices pushing the national energy bill to a record 5.6 billion dollars.

Available at: http://www.haaretz.com/news/middle-east/jordanian-parliament-votes-to-suspend-nuclear-power-program-1.433417


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2.
Germany's Plans to End Use of Nuclear Power Get a Boost
Deutsche Welle
5/29/2012
(for personal use only)


Germany's grid operators have announced plans for a major expansion of the network. The move is seen as key part of the country's goal of ending the use of nuclear energy in 10 years' time.

The German government's plans to do away with the use of nuclear energy got a boost on Tuesday when the country's power grid operators announced plans to make major investments to expand the grid.

The head of grid operator Tennet, Martin Fuchs, told a press conference in Bonn that Germany's transition away from nuclear power would cost about 20 billion euros ($25 billion) over the next decade. He said those funds would go towards modernizing the existing grid and constructing around 3,800 kilometers (2,360 miles) of new, mainly high-voltage power lines.

Fuchs warned though, that the job won't be easy, but "we believe Germany can achieve it."
Three other high-voltage grid operators, Amprion, 50Hertz and TransnetBW are also involved in the project.

The lack of capacity of the grid is seen as one of the major problems Germany will have to overcome if it is to successfully make the transition.

"Without the expansion of the electricity network, progress on renewable energy won't produce results," the head of Germany's Federal Network Agency, Jochen Homann, told the news conference, which was also attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Environment Minister Peter Altmaier and Finance Minister Philipp Rösler.

The chancellor described the expansion plans unveiled on Tuesday as a "very major step" in the overall plan to end the use of nuclear energy. She also expressed confidence that the transition would be completed according to plan.

"The transition is feasible in the way we decided it a year ago," Merkel said.

The chancellor was referring to her center-right government's decision in March 2011 to permanently switch off the nine nuclear power plants that continue to operate in Germany by 2022. The country's eight oldest plants were also shut down, following the March 11 nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan.

The chancellor has been taking a hands-on approach to the issue in recent weeks, holding regular meetings with the premiers of the Germany's 16 states to identify problems associated with the planned transition.

With a view to the slow progress in expanding the power network so far, some politicians, including members of her own center-right coalition had expressed doubts about whether getting the job done within the planned timeframe was realistic.

Available at: http://www.dw.de/dw/article/0,,15983761,00.html


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D.  Japan

1.
Kansai Chiefs Accept 'Limited' Reactor Restart
Eric Johnston
The Japan Times
5/31/2012
(for personal use only)


Kansai leaders, including vocal critic Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto, reversed weeks of opposition Thursday to restarting two of the reactors at the Oi nuclear plant in Fukui Prefecture, caving to intense corporate lobbying and central government pressure and removing one of the last major political obstacles to bringing the units back online.

The agreement of the Union of Kansai Governments, which includes seven prefectures and two mayors, to a "limited" restart of the reactors created confusion and concern across the region.

Critics and Hashimoto allies noted the definition of limited was left undefined and could mean the reactors will be kept running for weeks, months or years.

"Concerning the restart of the Oi reactors, under the condition of the government's provisional safety decision, we seek an appropriate judgment on something that is limited," the Union of Kansai Governments said in a joint statement Wednesday evening.

Hashimoto found himself under scrutiny from local media Thursday morning for agreeing to the limited restart of reactors 3 and 4 at Kansai Electric Power Co.'s Oi plant after months of intense criticism of Tokyo's handling of atomic safety issues.

With discussions in the Diet on the creation of a new nuclear regulatory agency having begun and progress on revising the way electricity supplies are distributed, Hashimoto defended his decision by saying the central government has done enough for now.

"There's nothing to do but convince the Japanese people of a plan for a new energy supply system and obtain their understanding for a temporary restart. However, this will not be applied to any reactors other than the Oi reactors," Hashimoto said.

Asked whether the central government was thinking of shutting down the Oi reactors after the summer peak period, in line with the Kansai leaders' demands, Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura dodged the question Thursday, saying environment and nuclear minister Goshi Hosono would answer it.

Fujimura said once the new nuclear regulatory agency is established, the government will re-evaluate the situation based on a previous restart decision that had been made using tentative safety standards.

The decision by the Union of Kansai Governments to allow a restart came after weeks of intense pressure by Kepco and the Kansai Economic Federation, whose head, Shosuke Mori, is also chairman of the utility.

Public opinion polls in early May showed most Kansai residents opposed the restart, and businesses surveys indicated service firms and small and medium-size companies could save sufficient amounts of electricity.

But after a conclusion in mid-May by Kepco and the central government that the region faced an electricity shortage of 15 percent during the peak summer period, major manufacturers warned of economic damage to the region and the government discussed rolling blackouts during the peak demand period.

"We can't achieve a 15 percent cut gently or completely clear the risks to our lives with rolling blackouts," Wakayama Gov. Yoshinobu Nisaka, vice chairman of the union, said Wednesday evening.

Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda is expected to issue a final decision next week. But he faces opposition from some in hisown party, who were calling on other Diet members Thursday to sign a petition urging him not to rush to judgement.

"It's clear, through a variety of public opinion surveys, that Japanese people say they will persevere this summer through electricity conservation measures. The current situation regarding the restart is one of insufficient understanding among Japanese as a whole and insufficient agreement within our party," said the petition, which was being circulated by Democratic Party of Japan Lower House member Satoshi Arai and Upper House member Teruhiko Mashiko.

"We therefore urge that you use caution when deciding on the restart," the petition says.

As the public backlash against the decision grew louder Thursday afternoon, some Kansai leaders began shifting their positions.

Osaka Gov. Ichiro Matsui told reporters that all he had agreed to in Wednesday's declaration by Kansai's leaders was that the process for restarting the reactors was insufficient, not that he had approved a restart or understood it.

"Nowhere in the declaration does it say we agree to a restart. The central government is just using the union as an alibi for a restart," Matsui said.

Available at: http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120531x1.html


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2.
Level Heads at Fukushima Daiichi 4
World Nuclear News
5/29/2012
(for personal use only)


Tepco has released details of building tilt and strength measurements, and has concluded that the building is not tilting. Moreover, the company said, it could withstand an earthquake similar to the one which triggered the events of March 2011 which led to the reactor's destruction.

Fukushima Daiichi 4 suffered extensive damage following the Tohoku-Chihou-Taiheiyou-Oki earthquake and ensuing tsunami of March 2011. Questions were raised over the stability of the wrecked plant, and in particular the used fuel pool located at the top of the reactor building, following the observation of a bulge in the outer wall. The entire fuel load for reactor 4 is held inside the pool because the unit had already been defuelled for maintenance work when the natural disasters struck. Steel beams and concrete have been installed to support the pool, which is seen as one of the biggest hazards on the Fukushima Daiichi site.

Measurements based on water levels in the reactor well and used fuel pool show that the building is not tilting, while measurements of the perpendicularity of the outer wall are within acceptable building standards limits. A partial deformation has been observed on the western wall, but the location of the deformation means it would have little effect on the stability of the used fuel pool or the building as a whole, according to Tepco. The deformation is in an area with vaulted floors for hatches and elevator shafts which is assumed to have suffered major impacts from the hydrogen explosion that destroyed the top of the building.

The water level measurements alone are not sufficient to rule out the possibility of shear deformation, where the building is deformed into a parallelogram shape with the upper and lower surfaces of the building remaining parallel but the walls tilted. The absence of tilting in the exterior walls, and the lack of noticeable shear cracks, prove that this is not happening, Tepco said.

Some 97 earthquakes of magnitude 6.0 or more have already been recorded as aftershocks of the huge earthquake of 11 March 2011, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.

Tepco's observations also involved visual inspections, looking for cracks on concrete floors and walls of the used fuel pool. No cracks above 1 mm wide, or with the possibility of rebar corrosion, were found. Non-destructive testing of the used fuel pool's concrete strength confirmed that its structural strength was above the design standard.

The results confirm that Fukushima Daiichi unit 4's used fuel pool remains safe and can safely hold used fuel, Tepco concluded. The company has also added extra reinforcement beneath the pool to improve its seismic margins still further, and has confirmed that the thickness of the pool's walls remains sufficient for their purpose even though some parts of the upper exterior walls are damaged.

Future inspections will take place to monitor any changes in the situation, Tepco said.

Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Level_heads_at_Fukushima_Daiichi_4-2905127.html


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3.
TEPCO to Check Interior of Crippled Fukushima No. 1 Reactor
The Mainichi
5/29/2012
(for personal use only)


Tokyo Electric Power Co. said Monday it plans to check the interior of the crippled No. 1 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant between late August and September by inserting a camera into the primary containment vessel.

Of the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors that suffered meltdowns in last year's nuclear accident, the utility has so far inserted an endoscope into the No. 2 reactor and found the water level was at a lower-than-expected 60 centimeters, a sign that a large part of the water injected into it is leaking from the vessel.

In the upcoming survey, the company known as TEPCO will check the water level inside the No. 1 reactor's primary containment vessel and the temperature inside the structure.

It also plans to extract some of the water and analyze the radioactive substances contained in it.

TEPCO has estimated the water level of the No. 1 reactor to be around 1.9 meters, but an analysis by the Japan Nuclear Energy Safety Organization has shown it to be only around 40 cm.

The fuel inside the Nos. 1 to 3 reactors is believed to have melted through the pressure vessels and been accumulating in the outer primary containers after the Fukushima plant lost its key functions to cool the reactors in the wake of the huge earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

Getting to know the interior conditions of the reactors is part of the process toward realizing their decommissioning.

Available at: http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120529p2g00m0dm008000c.html


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E.  Nuclear Cooperation

1.
‘China Nukes No Direct Threat’
The News
5/30/2012
(for personal use only)


China's nuclear weapons do not pose a "direct threat" to the United States, the man in charge of America's arsenal said Wednesday in calling for greater dialogue with the Chinese.

"We would like to have routine contact and conversations with China's military," General Robert Kehler, head of Strategic Command, which oversees US nuclear deterrence, told the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington.

"We think there would be tremendous benefit to that in both China and the United States, in particular to help us avoid some misunderstanding or some tension in the future."

The STRATCOM commander said that although the United States and Russia account for roughly 90 percent of the world's nuclear weapons, dealing with the Chinese on the matter would become increasingly important.

"I do not see the Chinese strategic deterrent as a direct threat to the United States. We are not enemies," he said.

"Could it be (a threat)? I suppose if we were enemies it could be and therefore we at least have to be aware of that."

Kehler admitted concerns over the 2013 budget as the Pentagon tightens its belt following the global economic downturn, saying he was most worried about investment in the actual nuclear weapons, not their delivery systems.

"There is investment money there for long-range strike aircraft, there's investment there for a follow on to the Ohio class ballistic missile submarine," he said.

"I am most concerned that we make sure that we have the appropriate investment in place for the weapons complexes."

Fiscal pressure has forced US military chiefs to scale back projected spending by $487 billion over the next decade, a task they have described as tough but manageable.

But a threat of even more dramatic defense cuts also looms on the political horizon.

If Congress fails to agree by January 2013 on how to slash the ballooning deficit, dramatic defense reductions of about $500 billion would be automatically triggered under a law adopted last year.

Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/article-51866-China-nukes-no-'direct-threat,'-says-US-commander



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F.  Nuclear Safety & Security

1.
China Cabinet Approves Nuclear Safety Plan
Reuters
5/31/2012
(for personal use only)


China has approved a nuclear safety plan and says its nuclear power plants meet the latest international safety standards, though some plants need to improve their ability to cope with flooding and earthquakes, state media said on Thursday.

China suspended approvals of new nuclear power plants in the wake of Japan's nuclear crisis in March 2011 following a devastating tsunami, and ordered nationwide safety checks on existing plants and construction sites. It also pledged to review its nuclear power development plan.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, approved a nuclear safety plan for 2011-2015 in a meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao on Thursday, state television said.

China also aims to enhance nuclear safety standards and lower the risks of nuclear radiation by 2020, the report said.

A nine-month safety inspection of China's 41 nuclear power plants, which are either operating or under construction, showed that most of China's nuclear power stations meet both Chinese and International Atomic Energy Agency standards, according to the report.

However, some individual power plants need to improve their ability to prevent damage from serious accidents such as earthquakes, flooding or tsunami, it said.

State media have said China will likely scale down its 2020 nuclear power generation capacity target to 60-70 gigawatts (GW) compared with earlier expectations of around 80 GW.

The government has not made any decision on when to start approving new nuclear plant projects.

Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/31/china-nuclear-safety-idUSL4E8GV42Z20120531


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2.
5 Engineers Indicted for Attempting to Cover Up Blackout at Nuclear Plant
The Korea Times
5/30/2012
(for personal use only)


Five senior engineers at the Gori-1 nuclear power plant were indicted Wednesday for allegedly attempting to cover up a blackout at the oldest nuclear facility in South Korea in February, prosecutors said.

One of Gori's two reactors lost power for 12 minutes on Feb. 9 during a safety inspection. The power cut did not lead to any accidents, but it didn't come to light until March and regulators found that some senior engineers had covered it up for more than a month.

Prosecutors launched a probe into the Gori-1 officials in early April and indicted five engineers, including a 55-year-old chief engineer, who is only identified by his surname Moon, on charges of violating laws on nuclear safety.

Shortly after the blackout, the five engineers gathered at a main controlling room and decided to cover the incident up because of expected disciplinary action and public criticism for their failure to appropriately cope with the incident, prosecutors said.

At the time of the blackout, an emergency back-up diesel generator also failed, but they did not fix it until Feb. 13 because if they had repaired the back-up generator, it would have revealed the power cut.

Also on Feb. 10, they removed nuclear fuel inside the Gori reactor, despite the failure of the emergency generator, a major wrongdoing in what prosecutors described as "total safety insensitivity" among Gori officials.

"Although there is no immediate meltdown at the reactor when an electricity supply is halted, there is the need for an emergency generator in case of emergency," said Lee Joon-seok, a Busan prosecutor investigating the case.

"The engineers breached the regulation" about the emergency generator, Lee told reporters.

Prosecutors did not arrest the five engineers, who will be allowed to stand trial without being physically detained.

Last week, a report by the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement (KFEM) and the No Nukes Busan Citizen Countermeasure Commission showed that up to 900,000 people would perish and property damage would reach 628 trillion won ($532.7 billion) if an accident similar to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster occurs at the Gori-1 plant, which is running now beyond its technological life span.

The estimate was based on a simulated radioactive leak at the Gori-1 nuclear reactor near Busan, South Korea's second largest city.

The number of casualties was estimated at 47,580 immediate deaths and about 850,000 more eventual deaths caused by cancer from exposure to radiation, the report said.

Nuclear safety has become a growing public concern in South Korea following last year's nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan and revelations that Gori-1 officials tried to cover up the power outage at their plant in early February.

The 578-megawatt Gori-1 reactor was built with the U.S. in 1978. Its 30-year operational life span was extended 10 years in 2008 with some technological innovations.

Researchers said the report was made on the assumption that the amount of radiation that leaked at Gori-1 is as large as that reported at Chernobyl, with all nearby residents remaining in place prior to evacuation.

Chernobyl is recorded as the world's worst nuclear disaster. If a similar meltdown happens at Gori-1, it could wreak far greater havoc, researchers said, citing the plant's proximity to densely populated areas. Busan alone has 3.5 million residents.

Available at: http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2012/05/117_112005.html



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G.  Links of Interest

1.
New Japanese Smartphone Detects Radiation
Mother Nature Network
5/29/2012
(for personal use only)
http://www.mnn.com/green-tech/gadgets-electronics/stories/new-japanese-smart..


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