2. Clinton: Iran Proposals in P5+1 Talks "Non-Starters"
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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in Jerusalem on Monday that Iran's proposals made in world power talks on its nuclear program were "non-starters."
Clinton, wrapping up a Middle East trip, said she had discussed the issue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. She reiterated that Washington preferred a diplomatic solution to end the impasse over what the West fears is Iran's attempt to make nuclear weapons. Tehran denies this is its aim.
She said: "as to the diplomatic track, I made very clear that the proposals that we have seen from Iran thus far within the P5+1 negotiations are non-starters."
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/16/us-iran-clinton-idUSBRE86F13M20120716
1. Japan to Restart Second Reactor Amid Faultline Concerns
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Japan will on Wednesday restart its second nuclear reactor after the Fukushima crisis closed the nation's atomic power plants, even as fresh concerns surfaced about the unit's positioning near a faultline.
The Ohi No.4 reactor, 370 km (230 miles) west of Tokyo is scheduled to be restarted at 9 p.m. (0800 EDT), according to the operator, Kansai Electric Power Co. It is expected to reach full criticality by 6 a.m. on Thursday (1700 EDT on Wednesday).
The No.3 reactor at the station was reactivated earlier this month, to help avert possible power shortages more than a year after an earthquake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, triggering a series of meltdowns.
All 50 reactors operating in the country were subsequently taken off line for maintenance and tests.
The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA) said on Wednesday it would order a reassessment of geological data after seismologists said there were potentially active faults under Ohi and the nearby Shika station, operated by Hokuriku Electric Power Co.
The assessments will not prevent the restart of Ohi reactor No. 4, Jiji news agency reported, citing vice-trade and industry minister Seishu Makino.
The restarts have prompted street protests, with more than 100,000 people pouring through central Tokyo on Monday to denounce atomic energy.
The future of nuclear power poses serious problems for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda ahead of an election that could come later this year, threatening to further dent his declining support and fracture his Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), already divided over a plan to double the sales tax.
One day after Monday's anti-nuclear rally, three members of parliament's upper house left the DPJ, citing opposition to the reactor restarts and the sales tax rise as well the possibility that Japan might join a U.S.-led free trade pact.
Opposition parties already control the upper house, which can block bills. The defections further weaken Noda's hand in talks with rival parties, which are pushing for a snap election.
In response to public criticism, the government on Tuesday said it would ban employees of electric utilities from speaking at public hearings being held around Japan on producing a post-Fukushima energy policy.
A spokesman for Kansai Electric said the company had received no order from NISA, but was ready to carry out a reassessment on Ohi if necessary.
Hokuriku Electric said in a statement on Tuesday that it stood by its findings that the fault line below the 19-year-old Shika reactor was inactive.
NISA said in April it was concerned about an active fault under the Tsuruga nuclear plant not far from Shika and operated by unlisted Japan Atomic Power Co.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/18/us-japan-nuclear-restart-idUSBRE86H0CO20120718
2. Nuclear Issue Puts Increasing Pressure on Japan Government
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Japan's government came under fire on Tuesday over its handling of public hearings on nuclear energy policy, threatening to dent already sagging support for the ruling party ahead of an election many expect to be this year.
The latest furor follows Monday's massive rally in Tokyo against nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, an issue now so contentious that lawmakers and analysts say it could trump taxes as the focus of lower house elections, which must be held by September 2013 but could come sooner.
"This gives the impression that they haven't learned anything," said Koichi Nakano, a professor at Sophia University, after news that power companies' employees were among the few chosen to speak at hearings on changes to energy policy after Fukushima, the world's worst atomic disaster in 25 years.
It was an echo of a scandal just one year ago, when Kyushu Electric Power sought to sway public opinion at a hearing on restarting reactors in southern Japan.
In a sign of the growing discontent, more than 100,000 anti-nuclear protesters marched in Tokyo on Monday, adding to pressure on Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, already struggling as his Democratic Party unravels over plans to hike the sales tax to curb public debt.
"The anti-nuclear people are calling for the Democrats to be voted out," Nakano added.
The rally was the biggest since Noda said last month Japan needs to restart idled nuclear reactors to protect jobs and the economy.
The government is considering three options for its medium-term energy portfolio -- reduce nuclear power's role to zero as soon as possible, aim at a 15 percent share by 2030, and seek a 20-25 percent share by the same date.
The new energy mix, to be decided in August, will replace a scrapped 2010 programme that had sought to raise nuclear power's share to more than half of electricity needs by 2030 from about 30 percent before the March 2011 disaster.
The 15 percent solution -- which most experts expect the government to select -- would require all 50 of Japan's reactors, all but one of which are now idled for safety checks, to resume operations before gradually closing older units, an official at the government's National Strategy Unit told reporters on Friday.
One reactor in western Japan was restarted earlier this month and another is set to resume operations soon.
Public hearings on the future energy mix are being held around the country, with nine representatives chosen by lottery to speak at each event -- three for each of the options.
The public can comment via the Internet or fax, while a random sample will be surveyed through a process called "deliberative polling", in which views are solicited after group discussions with experts and policymakers.
On Sunday, an employee of Tohoku Electric Power Co was among those who spoke in favor of the 20-25 percent solution at a hearing in Sendai, northeastern Japan, prompting angry shouts from audience members who charged the hearing was rigged.
Then on Monday, a Chubu Electric employee spoke out for the same option, arguing: "Not one single person died as a result of radiation from the (Fukushima) accident".
The Fukushima disaster forced some 150,000 people to flee their homes, many never to return. Some committed suicide after seeing their homes and livelihoods destroyed.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura said the government would be looking at how to improve the hearings.
In another development that could fan public concerns about nuclear safety, Trade and industry minister Yukio Edano said the government would review seismological data for nuclear plants to assess whether any are built on active fault lines.
He was responding to media reports that a review by the nuclear watchdog indicated Hokuriku Electric Power Co's Shika station northwest of Tokyo sits atop a faultline.
Noda, though, has made clear he thinks reactor restarts are vital to prevent blackouts and keep rising electricity costs from hurting the world's third biggest economy. Many experts say a decision to opt for 15 percent by 2030 is a done deal.
That might be little different from the ruling Democratic Party's main rival, the once-dominant Liberal Democrats, but it could provide an opening for new smaller parties -- such as that led by populist Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto -- that are springing up ahead of a possible election.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/07/18/japan-nuclear-idINL4E8IH0K020120718
3. TEPCO to Remove 2 Unused Assemblies from Fukushima No. 4 Spent Fuel Pool
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The nuclear safety agency on Tuesday approved a request from Tokyo Electric Power Co. for a change to safety regulations required to conduct a trial removal of two unused nuclear fuel assemblies stored in the spent fuel pool of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi power plant's No. 4 unit.
The utility has said it plans to conduct the trial in mid-July but has not announced a specific date.
The operation will serve as a trial for the removal of the huge amount of fuel left in the pool, a key priority in dealing with the plant because the upper part of the building housing the reactor and pool was blown away in a hydrogen explosion in the early days of last year's nuclear crisis.
As unused fuel does not generate heat from nuclear fission, it is less dangerous to handle than spent fuel. Studying the condition of the unused fuel assemblies is expected to aid in the removal of the other fuel assemblies.
At the time the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11, 2011, triggering the nuclear crisis, the No. 4 reactor's fuel was in the spent fuel pool due to maintenance work. The pool contains 1,535 fuel assemblies, including 204 unused ones.
The removal of the fuel is part of the process to decommission the plant's Nos. 1 to 4 reactors that were crippled by the disaster.
Available at: http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20120718p2g00m0dm044000c.html
1. Nigeria to Attain 4000mw From Nuclear Power Plants by 2030
The Guardian of Nigeria
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With the setting up of near term targets of nuclear power contribution to national electricity generation, Nigeria is to achieve a minimum of 1000 mega watts (MW) online electricity by 2020 to 2022, with upgrade to a minimum of 4,000 MW in 2030.
The Federal Government of Nigeria is said to have activated a Nuclear Power Programme (NPP) and has approved the road map for its implementation, as the national strategy for the implementation of the approved programme has been finalised with the assistance of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
The roadmap for the deployment of nuclear power plants for electricity generation in Nigeria and its strategic implementation plan has a technical framework with a three-phase plan aimed at positioning Nigeria to generate electricity from NPPs in 10 to 12 years with considerable national participation as envisaged that its meticulous implementation will achieve NPP commercial operation.
Commissioner, Nuclear Power Plant Development, Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC), Prof. M.N Agu said this while delivering a presentation on ‘Status of Nuclear Power in Nigeria,’ in Lagos, recently.
He pointed out that an enabling environment is being created to sensitise the financial and investing community on the business opportunities in the national long-term nuclear power development, adding that the implementation of various components of the programme is on course including preliminary sitting and activities.
Noting that availability of qualified manpower is the most important and critical factor that will guarantee success and sustainability in the implementation of the programme, he said educational programmes and facilities are being developed to improve the needed human resource base as the industrial sector is being engaged and encouraged to brace up for effective participation.
According to him, “the requisite structure for the prosecution of the national nuclear power programme are being put in place by the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, in partnership with other relevant stakeholder institutions and international development partners.
“Government has shown commitment by taking on the responsibility for infrastructure and manpower development to create the requisite enabling environment for the successful implementation of the programme in partnership with the private sector.
“The NPP project implementation has attained stage one, which is comparable to milestone one of IAEA and we are currently in stage two. The management framework for the implementation of the National Nuclear Energy Programme has been streamlined to achieve better synergy as all relevant nuclear energy training and research institutions have been placed under one umbrella,” he said.
He attributed challenges facing the project to include national human capacity, which he said, is inadequate and as such international support will be required for the preparatory phase on NPP technology under consideration, contractual and bids process and detailed site characterisation to be finalised.
On bilateral discussions, Agu mentioned that Nigeria has signed Memorandum of Understanding with the Russian Federation on the development of nuclear energy in Nigeria.
He said, “there are other bilateral discussions and relations between Nigeria and the following agencies–South Korea Agencies (co-ordinated by the Korean Embassy in Nigeria) –Private Companies in France, AREVA and NUCADVISOR, with Support from French Embassy in Nigeria.
On public outreach, he said that NAEC is developing appropriate ways and means of communicating effectively with the public to prepare their minds to be more receptive to the introduction of nuclear power in the country.
The major issues for communication he added, include the economic advantage of generating electricity from NPPs vis-à-vis other sources and the relative environment-friendliness of nuclear power plants compared to fossil-fired plants, and other spin-off benefits.
“Factual and concise appreciation and presentation of the relative risks entailed in the utilisation of nuclear technology vis-à-vis other competing technologies.
“Also proper assessment of various accident/emergency scenarios in relation to inherent safety features of NPP and the national technical preparedness to manage situations, as well as, the national plans for nuclear waste management.
Agu emphasised that partnering with relevant agencies and media houses to develop and produce documentary films, town hall meetings, information bulletins and pamphlets on the benefits of the national NP programme are also planned.
Available at: http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=92565:nigeria-to-attain-4000mw-from-nuclear-power-plants-by-2030&catid=94:energy-report&Itemid=592
The Kudankulam nuclear power plant in India will be launched in August, the head of the Russian Nuclear Energy State Corporation Rosatom Sergey Kirienko said.
He made this statement while accompanying Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin who is now in India on a working visit. But the NPP’s first unit will start generating electricity only in November-December.
The launch of the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in India was postponed for almost one year over protests by local residents. By now the authorities have managed to explain to the population that the country really needs this new NPP in the south of the country in order to avoid an energy crisis in the future. Moreover the halt of the construction cost millions of dollars to the Indian treasury. As of now only one reactor is ready for launch while the second one is operating in a test regime.
Russia and India have already begun to discuss the construction of the 3rd and 4th power units. Meanwhile commissioning work is underway. Before the NPP starts working at full capacity it is necessary to spend several months checking and adjusting all the facilities, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma (Russia’s lower house of parliament) on Natural Resources Maxim Shingarkin says.
"A so-called “physical” launch means that the nuclear reactor will be launched and the energy won’t be taken away. But before the reactor starts operating at full capacity and all energy generating facilities start operating some time will pass. The physical launch is needed to test the heart of the nuclear power plant, which is the rector, to see how it operates in different regimes. If there are faults they must be taken care of."
When the second unit is put into operation the NPP’s capacity will reach 2,000 megawatt. This is enough to ensure energy supply to a territory as large as the Czech Republic.
Russian industry experts began the construction of Kudankulam NPP in the south of India way back in 1988 but soon it was halted for almost ten years due to difficult economic situations in both countries. The work resumed only in 2002. The total cost of the project exceeds $2.5 billion.
Available at: http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_07_17/India-Kudankulam-NPP-to-be-launched-soon/
3. Lithuania to Hold a Consultative Vote on Nuclear Plant
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Lithuania will hold a non-binding referendum on the centre-right government's planned new nuclear power plant on the same day as a parliamentary election, in a move that could boost support for the opposition and derail the project with a big vote against.
Parliament's decision on Monday to hold the vote puts energy issues at the centre of the election, with the opposition and government split on how to reduce country's energy dependence on its former Soviet master, Russia.
Polls have showed public support for nuclear energy in Lithuania wane following the Fukushima disaster in 2011 in Japan, with opinion now roughly divided.
The government has proposed building the Visaginas plant on the site of the Ignalina plant in eastern Lithuania that was shut in 2009.
But the main opposition party in the current parliament, the Social Democrat Party, said the government should focus on renewable resources and renovating houses to save energy and rather than on a costly nuclear power plant project.
"We should stop dreaming about nuclear power, benefits of which we might see or might not see in only 30 years," Birute Vesaite, deputy chair of the party, told parliament.
Centre-left parties such as the Social Democrats lead the opinion polls before the parliamentary election.
Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, who opposed the referendum, said it was causing doubts about commitments made by his coalition government.
Parliament last month voted, with a narrrow margin, in favor of giving the government a go-ahead to work towards a final construction deal with U.S.-Japanese alliance Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy for the 1,350 MW ABWR reactor.
In 2011, Lithuania imported 65 percent of its electricity, mostly from Russia, making it the European Union member most dependent on power imports.
Lawmakers voted 62-39 to hold the referendum on Oct. 14, the parliament press office said. Eighteen abstained.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/16/lithuania-nuclear-idUSL6E8IG96B20120716
The U.S. and Russian governments said at least one Russian nuclear reactor will be converted to use low-enriched uranium by 2014.
The governments said the first stage of work defined by a 2010 agreement on nuclear reactor conversion from highly enriched to lightly enriched uranium is complete.
"The conversion of Russian research reactors from highly enriched uranium to lightly enriched uranium directly supports the president's goal to reduce the dangers of nuclear material terrorism and weapons proliferation," Deputy U.S. Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman said.
At least one reactor in Russia should be converted by 2014. The U.S. Department of Energy said nine of the 27 research reactors that used HEU in Russia were shut down already.
In terms of U.S. reactors, 20 of the 27 reactors were either converted for LEU or shut down.
"The U.S. will continue to make efforts to convert the remaining research reactors as promptly as possible," the Energy Department stated.
The 2010 agreement is between the Department of Energy and the Russian State Corporation for Atomic Energy.
Available at: http://www.upi.com/Business_News/Energy-Resources/2012/07/19/US-Russia-convert-nuclear-reactors/UPI-63751342701375/
2. Russia, Belarus Agree $10 Bln Nuclear Power Plant Deal
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Belarus and Russia on Wednesday signed a deal under which Russian companies will build the first nuclear power plant in the former Soviet republic with financing from Moscow.
The power plant contract, which has been the subject of prolonged negotiations and raised concerns in neighbouring Lithuania, was signed during a visit to Belarus by Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medevedev.
"This is a large-scale project worth $10 billion in total," Medvedev told reporters.
The new 2.4 gigawatt nuclear reactor will be built in Belarus' western Grodno region by Russia's Atomstroyexport within eight years.
Belarus, which is recovering from last year's financial crisis that forced it to devalue its rouble by 65 percent against the dollar, hopes the project will strengthen its balance of payments and boost economic activity.
But the project has raised concerns in the European Union, where there are many calls to abandon nuclear energy after Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster.
It has, in particular, worried Lithuania as the plant will be located about 50 km (31 miles) from its capital Vilnius. Lithuania has also considered building its own nuclear power plant but the Belarussian project could undermine its feasibility.
Although it did not host the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, Belarus has suffered more than any other country from the 1986 disaster which left almost a quarter of its territory contaminated and forced thousands of people to resettle.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/18/russia-belarus-nuclear-idUSL6E8IIGW420120718
3. Last Cold War Russian Nuclear Sub Scrap Contract
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Russia contracts with Italy for decommissioning the last remaining Northern Fleet nuclear submarine no longer in operation
But 'Barents Observer' notes there are still more than 70 reactor compartments to be taken safely onshore from storage in Saida Bay, west of Murmansk near the border with Norway.
Rosatom, Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation has for years been looking for a funder to cover the costs of scrapping the last of the 120 retired nuclear powered submarines that sailed in the Northern fleet during the Cold War. Now, Italy agrees to pay €7 million to cut out the reactor-compartment from the submarine, currently laid up at Nerpa naval yard on the Kola Peninsula, according to 'AtomInfo'.
The United States will grant €1 million to cover the cost of transportation of the spent nuclear fuel from the submarines two reactors to Russia’s reprocessing plant in Mayak in the South Urals.
The deal is a part of the funding provided via the Global Partnership against the spread of weapons and materials of mass destruction, initiated by the G8 countries in 2002.
Although the submarines are cut up and the metal is sent to recycling, the reactor compartments are still highly radioactive and must be stored safely onshore for decades. For that purpose, a huge onshore storage pad is built in the Saida Bay, west of Murmansk towards the border to Norway.
The Russian Northern fleet still has more than 20 nuclear powered submarines in operation and several more are under testing and construction.
Available at: http://www.marinelink.com/news/contract-russian-nuclear346285.aspx
4. Russia Delivers Uranium to US Nuclear Power Plants
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Russia and the United States are nearing the completion of one of the most unusual joint programs. The agreement on the processing of uranium for nuclear power plants for deliveries to the U.S. was fulfilled 90 percent. The U.S. recycled Russian uranium suitable for nuclear weapons and secured energy supply of every tenth house using recycled Soviet uranium.
In turn, Russia positioned itself in the American market as a key supplier of fuel for the U.S. nuclear power plants. The agreement is known by its unofficial title "Megatons - to Megawatts," and in Russia under the simpler abbreviated name HEU-LEU (highly enriched uranium - low enriched uranium). It was signed in 1993 and provided for the use of highly enriched uranium extracted from nuclear weapons.
According to the National Nuclear Security Administration of the USA (NNSA), the agreement is fulfilled by over 90 percent, and over 450 tons of highly enriched uranium was recycled. It will be fully implemented by the end of 2013, when 500 tons of Russian highly enriched uranium will be processed, which is equivalent to 20,000 nuclear warheads.
Reprocessing is implemented by a Russian corporation "Rosatom" and the cost of the fuel delivered to the United States has already exceeded nine billion dollars.
"For 20 years of the execution of the agreement the state budget received a total of about $18 billion. At the very beginning, when we signed the contract, its cost was estimated at about $12 billion," Alex Grigoriev, CEO of "TENEX" told radio station "Echo of Moscow". This company is part of the "Rosatom," and provides over 40 percent of the world demand for uranium enrichment services for nuclear power plants with reactors of Western design.
The electricity produced from the reprocessed uranium from Soviet nuclear bombs is consumed by nearly every tenth house of the United States. The Russian-American program "Megatons to Megawatts" will be in effect until 2013.
Over the years since the signing of the agreement, the Americans were able to eliminate the largest in the world reserve of fissile materials suitable for building nuclear warheads.
The scope of this program is impressive. Total amount of electricity received during the implementation would be enough to supply the entire U.S. for two years. In general, the share of low-enriched uranium from Russia accounts for 45 percent of the fuel consumed by the U.S. nuclear power plants that produce 20 percent of all electricity in the country.
The real significance of this program for the economy and the U.S. Energy is indicated by the fact that the bank accounts under the program that receive the funds from the implementation of the agreements on highly enriched uranium from Russia, according to an official decree of the President of the United States, shall be inviolable and protected from all, including judicial, attacks. This means that the transactions under the agreement are independent of the state of the relations between the countries, and accounts cannot be frozen for any reason. On June 17 of this year it was announced that President Barack Obama has once again extended the decree to ensure the smooth payment for the supplies of Russian uranium to the United States.
Russia was able to contact U.S. uranium nuclear power plants operators directly. As a result, contracts for the supply of fuel to the U.S. companies such as PG & E Corp, Ameren Corp, Exelon Corp and Luminant were signed.
"We have already signed 13 contracts with 11 U.S. companies. Portfolio of these contracts exceeded 5.5 billion dollars as of today. Of course, this is not the limit," said Grigoriev.
The monopoly of the U.S. government agency USEC Inc. on imports of Russian enriched uranium came to an end. Moreover, Americans have not been able to overcome the technological problems associated with uranium enrichment.
USEC Inc. may soon shut down its flagship project "The American Centrifuge."
The company appealed to the U.S. Department of Energy with a request to support the implementation of a unique project of uranium enrichment by using the modern technology of isotope separation.
It is emphasized that "USEC supporters in Congress have already developed three versions of the bills providing for the allocation of up to 150 million dollars the corporation. They also draw attention to the importance of the fact that the American company was able to produce small amounts of uranium and tritium needed for the U.S. nuclear arsenal.
Simply put, the Americans have not achieved the Soviet level of the nuclear power technology. Now, Washington has begun talks with Moscow on a joint venture for the construction of a uranium enrichment plant in the U.S. based on the Russian gas centrifuge technology.
Russia will continue to support the U.S. in general and the USEC in particular. The corporation signed a new long-term contract to supply new services to enrich uranium up to 2022 for $2.8 billion dollars.
"The contract was signed back in 2010, but it came into effect late last year, after the signing and ratification of the agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy between the U.S. and Russia," said Grigoriev.
Available at: http://english.pravda.ru/russia/economics/17-07-2012/121660-russia_usa_nuclear-0/
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