1. Iran Says Istanbul Nuclear Talks With EU Were ‘Positive’
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Iran’s deputy chief nuclear negotiator said his meeting with a European Union official that aimed to establish common ground for another round of talks on the country’s atomic program was “positive.”
Ali Baqheri said that during his July 24 meeting in Istanbul with Helga Schmid, the EU foreign policy chief’s deputy, “we managed to move forward with the talks within good frameworks and reach agreements on continuation of the work and future talks,” the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
The talks will be followed by contact between EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief negotiator, Ashton’s office said after the meeting, without giving details.
Nuclear talks with Iran resumed in Istanbul in April after an interval of more than a year. The last high-level discussions involving members of the so-called P5+1 -- U.K., U.S., China, Russia, France and Germany -- were held in Moscow in June.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-26/iran-says-istanbul-nuclear-talks-with-eu-were-positive-.html
Iran is defiantly forging on with its controversial nuclear activities by activating hundreds more uranium enrichment centrifuges, according to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
"There are currently 11,000 centrifuges active in enrichment facilities" in Iran, he was quoted by state media as saying late on Tuesday in a meeting with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and senior regime officials.
That was more than the 10,000 centrifuges Iran was last said to have had operating, according to a May 25 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Ahmadinejad's reported comments did not give a more precise figure nor detail how many centrifuges were now working at each of Iran's two enrichment sites: Natanz and the heavily fortified underground bunker of Fordo.
Fordo has emerged as one of the most contentious points in fruitless negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group of nations, which comprises the top UN Security Council powers the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China, plus Germany.
The Security Council has demanded Iran suspend all uranium enrichment and has imposed four sets of sanctions to pressure it to comply. The IAEA, the UN's nuclear watchdog, has said it suspects there is a military dimension to Iran's nuclear programme.
The United States and the European Union have added their own sanctions on Iran, but the Islamic republic has defiantly said it would continue with its nuclear activities.
The IAEA report in May said there were 9,330 installed centrifuges in Natanz, of which 8,818 were being fed uranium hexafluoride gas to produce enriched uranium.
The Fordo facility, near the holy city of Qom, had 696 working centrifuges, the report said.
The enrichment activities have produced stockpiles of uranium enriched to purities of 3.5 percent and 19.75 percent.
Iran says the former is to fuel its nuclear power reactor in the southern city of Bushehr, while the higher-grade uranium is to make medical isotopes for cancer patients in its Tehran research reactor.
Western powers, though, fear the 19.75-percent enriched uranium could, in just a few technical steps more, be processed into bomb-grade, 90-percent uranium.
Iran insists its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful, but has rebuffed repeated attempts by the IAEA to expand its ongoing surveillance and inspections, notably to include a suspect sprawling military facility in Parchin, outside Tehran.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5ilq3MNG9E_2_RTWoqnJBekPzszMw?docId=CNG.b4cc08dc997a311f5dff666028b265a6.e1
3. Iran Nuclear Plants Hit By Virus Playing AC/DC, Website Says
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Iran’s nuclear facilities have suffered a cyber attack that shut down computers and played music from the rock band AC/DC, the F-Secure Security Labs website said.
A new worm has targeted Iran’s nuclear program, shutting down the “automation network” at the Natanz facility, seen here, and Fordo facility, the Internet security site reported, citing an e-mail it said was sent by a scientist inside Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.
A new worm targeted Iran’s nuclear program, closing down the “automation network” at the Natanz and Fordo facilities, the Internet security site reported, citing an e-mail it said was sent by a scientist inside Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.
The virus also prompted several of the computers on site to play the song “Thunderstruck” by AC/DC at full volume in the middle of the night, according to the e-mail, part of which is published in English on the website.
F-Secure Security Labs, which is linked to F-Secure Oyj (FSC1V), the Finnish maker of security and cloud software, said that while it was unable to verify the details of the attack described, it had confirmed that the scientist who reported them was sending and receiving the e-mails from within Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.
Iran’s nuclear program and oil facilities have been subject to a succession of cyber attacks that the Foreign Ministry said in May were launched by hostile governments as part of a broader “soft war.” Iran accuses the U.S. and Israel of trying to sabotage its technological progress. Both countries say Iran’s nuclear activities may have military intent, an allegation that Iran denies.
Mikko Hypponen, chief security officer at F-Secure Security Labs and the person involved in the correspondence, said he received three e-mails on July 22 from an individual with an aeoi.org.ir e-mail address, receiving replies after he responded. After researching the person’s name on the internet, Hypponen said he found “plenty of nuclear science papers and articles published by someone with this name.”
“I can’t confirm that the person was who he said he was. And I can’t confirm any of the things he said actually happened,” Hypponen wrote in reply to e-mailed questions. “But I can confirm I was emailing with someone who had access to an aeoi.org.ir address.”
Iran has called on the United Nations to condemn organized cyber attacks against nations, the head of Iran’s Information Technology Organization, Ali Hakim Javadi, said today, according to a report by the state-run news channel Press TV. Significant investment is needed for the creation of malware viruses such as Stuxnet or Flame, which previously targeted Iran, indicating that they were not produced by individuals, the Iranian official said.
AC/DC have played “high voltage rock ’n’ roll” since they were formed in 1973 in Australia, according to the band’s website. Their songs were among the loud music played to detainees at the Guantanamo Bay prison facility in preparation for interrogations, the Associated Press reported in October 2009, citing the National Security Archive in Washington.
An attack where the infected PCs start playing AC/DC isn’t that likely “unless the attacker really wants the victim to know they are hit,” Hypponen said.
F-Secure Security Labs is involved in analyzing viruses, spyware and spam attacks, according to its website.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-25/iranian-nuclear-plants-hit-by-virus-playing-ac-dc-website-says.html
4. Khamenei Says Iran Won’t Bow To Pressure Over Nuclear Program
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Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran will not bow to foreign pressure or sanctions.
Khamenei spoke yesterday as Iranian and European Union officials met in Istanbul in an attempt to establish common ground for another round of international talks on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Those talks will be followed by contact between EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Saeed Jalili, Iran’s chief negotiator, Ashton’s office said yesterday, without giving details of the talks.
The U.S. and its allies have raised concerns that Iran is concealing a nuclear-weapons program, a charge Iran rejects, and have imposed a series of sanctions against the country.
“The enemies explicitly say that by intensifying the pressure and the sanctions, they are seeking to force Iranian officials to reconsider their calculations,” Khamenei was quoted as saying in Tehran yesterday by the state-run Fars news agency. “In reality, we will not rethink our calculations, and we will continue to trod the path of the Iranian nation more resolutely.”
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-25/khamenei-says-iran-won-t-bow-to-pressure-over-nuclear-program.html
1. Japan Govt Names Radiation Physicist as New Atomic Regulator Head
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Japan's government on Thursday nominated Shunichi Tanaka, an expert in radiation physics, to head a new safety regulator, taking a step forward in its efforts to restore trust in nuclear power, shattered by last year's Fukushima disaster.
But it is uncertain whether confidence can be restored with public feeling running high against the "nuclear village" -- industry officials, politicians and utility operators seen as failing to avert the disaster.
The Fukushima accident - meltdowns linked to the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that crippled the plant - has rejuvenated the anti-nuclear movement. A rally last week drew 100,000 protesters.
The government hopes that the new safety body, to be launched in September, will instil more confidence than two current regulatory bodies, both heavily criticised for their cosy ties with the power industry.
Tanaka, 67, a former deputy head of the Cabinet Office's Atomic Energy Commission, was nominated for the new safety watchdog along with four other candidates.
"We're in an extremely severe situation as to whether we can regain public confidence in the state and the administration," Environment Minister Goshi Hosono told reporters after the government put forward the nominations to parliament.
"We have selected suitable persons from the standpoint that those who have not learned a lesson from Fukushima are not qualified to be involved in nuclear energy administration."
Japan restarted two reactors this month to avoid a potential blackout in the summer -- all of Japan's 50 operating nuclear reactors had been taken offline for checks after the disaster.
But reconnecting even two reactors to the power grid has consolidated anti-nuclear feeling.
The nominations were called off a week ago when media leaks prompted lawmakers to seek government clarification.
The nominees -- including a reactor expert, a radiology expert, a former ambassador to the United Nations and a seismologist -- must be approved by parliament.
In principle, lawmakers refuse to consider nominations to key posts if they have been leaked to the media, but they exempted the nominations from the "no leak" rule this time, given the limited pool of qualified candidates.
Experts say the safety commission's credibility will hinge on its members, but that it is hard to find people with expertise who are not clearly linked to either the nuclear industry or the opposing camp.
Critics see some nominees, including Tanaka, as closely linked to the "nuclear village". But Environment Minister Hosono defended his nomination, saying Tanaka had already offered an apology for the disaster and had contributed to decontamination efforts in his home region.
Two inquiries into the disaster, one commissioned by the government and another by parliament, delivered a damning assessment of how regulators, Fukushima's operator and government officials handled the crisis.
The parliamentary probe accused the regulators and Tokyo Electric Power Co., Fukushima's operator, of collusion, referring to the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl as a "man-made" disaster.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/07/26/japan-nuclear-watchdog-idINL4E8IQ1Y820120726
2. Nuclear Expansion on Track Despite Fukushima-OECD Report
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Strong expansion of nuclear power as a carbon-free energy source in Asia is expected to press ahead despite the Fukushima accident in Japan that soured sentiment in some countries, a benchmark report said on Thursday.
An earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima plant in February 2011, leading to the closure of Japan's 50 reactors and spurring Germany to pledge to close all of its nuclear reactors by 2022.
Nuclear energy had been gaining momentum as an energy source for nations seeking to reduce harmful carbon emissions, but the Japanese accident caused second thoughts in some countries.
World nuclear capacity is, however, expected to grow by 44 percent to 99 percent by 2035, according to a biennial report from the United Nations nuclear body and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
This was little changed from the range of growth of 37 percent to 110 percent in the edition two years ago of the report on uranium resources, production and demand, known as the "Red Book."
"We see it as a speed bump," said Gary Dyck, head of nuclear fuel cycle and materials at the International Atomic Energy Agency, referring to the long-term impact of the Fukushima accident on the global nuclear industry. "We still expect huge growth in China."
Nuclear capacity is due to expand in East Asia by 125 percent to 185 percent by 2035, the report said. The strongest growth is expected in China, India, South Korea and Russia.
This low end of the range does not include any prospect that Japan ends up banning nuclear energy, said one of the authors of the report, Robert Vance, an official with the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency.
Japan has restarted two of its reactors, but this has energised a growing anti-nuclear movement that attracted 100,000 people at a protest this month.
The uranium mining industry is expected to be able to supply the burgeoning needs of the nuclear industry as long as investment keeps flowing into the sector.
Uranium resources increased by 12.5 percent during 2009 and 2010, fuelled by a 22 percent boost in spending on exploration and mine development to more than $2 billion, the report said.
The sector will become more reliant on mined production after next year upon the end of Russia's deal to supply material from old weapons to the U.S. uranium market.
Under the Megatons to Megawatts treaty, Russia has supplied the U.S. market with about 25 million lb a year of downgraded uranium from old nuclear weapons.
In 2010, secondary supply accounted for about 15 percent of the nuclear industry's needs, down from 26 percent in 2008, the report said.
Many investors who are bullish on the outlook for uranium prices say the end of the treaty could be a catalyst for a rebound in prices.
There is potential, however, for other secondary sources to develop and weigh on the market, Vance said.
"There remains, however, a significant amount of previously mined uranium... some of which could feasibly be brought to market in a controlled fashion," the report said.
The spot uranium price UX-U3O8-SPT has languished at just above $50 a lb for the past year, falling from around $70/lb after the Fukushima accident.
Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/26/nuclear-uranium-report-idUSL6E8IOIQ720120726
3. Exec Admits Falsifying Nuclear Data at Fukushima
Asia One News
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An executive of a subcontractor has admitted he told his workers to put lead covers over their dosimeters to falsify radiation exposure levels while engaging in restoration work at the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.
"I came up with the idea to use covers because the dosimeters' alarm repeatedly sounded" when he first entered the site, said Teruo Sagara, a director at the subcontractor, Build-up, during a press conference Monday at its office in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture.
"It was wrong," Sagara, 54, said.
President Takashi Wada, 57, who also attended the conference, said Sagara would be dismissed from his post.
Sagara first entered the plant on Nov. 28 to prepare for the work the company was contracted for. When he went to an embarkment near the No. 1 reactor--one of several locations his employees would work at--Sagara found his dosimeter's alarm sounding at short intervals.
Sagara concluded the location had a high radiation level and he came up with the idea to falsify exposure levels using a lead plate he found at a waste storage site at the plant.
On Nov. 30, Sagara cut the plate to make 12 lead shields--about 10 centimeters by 10 centimeters each--at the plant along with two of his coworkers.
Sagara explained his idea to 10 employees later that day at a hotel in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture.
He said he told the employees they should enter the plant with lead covers on the dosimeters.
He made it clear the move was aimed at falsifying exposure readings, saying, "If we're exposed to levels close to the maximum, we won't be able to get future work."
Three of the 10, however, refused to wear dosimeters with lead covers the following morning and were excluded from the day's work.
Sagara and four other employees had dosimeters with lead covers in their pockets while working at the embankment, while others did not as they were working at a different location with relatively lower radiation levels.
However, Sagara found the shields did not lower the radiation readings and he gave up on the scheme and discarded the lead covers at the plant.
"I feel sorry for causing trouble to many people with my selfish decision," Sagara said.
The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has decided to investigate contractors engaged in restoration work at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to find out whether they falsified information on the radiation levels their workers were exposed to.
Since five employees of a Fukushima subcontractor were found to have placed lead covers on their dosimeters to mask radiation exposure levels, the ministry will check whether such acts were carried out by other contractors. It plans to investigate the issue next month by analyzing dosimeter data, and labor standards inspectors will conduct on-site inspections.
According to the Industrial Safety and Health Law, business operators engaging in work where employees are exposed to radiation are obliged to monitor their exposure levels.
Nuclear plant workers are usually equipped with dosimeters that record the name of the project, working hours and exposure levels, as well as a glass badge that measures accumulated exposure levels over relatively long terms, such as three months. Electric power companies that hire contractors are supposed to keep the data.
According to the ministry, about 500 contractors were involved in restoration work at the Fukushima plant.
Available at: http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Asia/Story/A1Story20120725-361199.html
4. Japan Fukushima Probe Urges New Disaster Prevention Steps, Mindset
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A government-appointed inquiry into Japan's Fukushima nuclear crisis raised doubts on Monday about whether other atomic plants were prepared for massive disasters, and delivered a damning assessment of regulators and the station's operator.
The report, the second this month about the disaster, could be seized upon by Japan's increasingly vociferous anti-nuclear movement after the restart of two reactors, and as the government readies a new energy policy due out next month.
The panel suggested post-Fukushima safety steps taken at other nuclear plants may not be enough to cope with a big, complex catastrophe caused by both human error and natural causes in a "disaster-prone nation" like Japan, which suffers from earthquakes, tsunami, floods and volcanoes.
"We understand that immediate safety measures are being further detailed and will materialize in the future. But we strongly urge the people concerned to make continued efforts to take really effective steps," said the panel, chaired by University of Tokyo engineering professor Yotaro Hatamura.
Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi plant, and regulators failed to plan for a massive natural disaster, the panel said, blaming them for being lulled by the same "safety myth" criticized by a parliament-appointed team of experts earlier this month.
But the inquiry stopped short of accusing the regulators and Tepco of collusion, a charge included in a strongly-worded report by the parliamentary panel earlier in July.
"The Fukushima crisis occurred because people didn't take the impact of natural disasters so seriously," Hatamura told a news conference.
"Even though there were new findings (about the risk of a tsunami), Tepco couldn't see it because people are blind to what they don't want to see."
Commenting on the report, Environment Minister Goshi Hosono told public broadcaster NHK he agreed that regulators and the nuclear industry itself needed to change their mindsets.
"Until now (the nuclear industry) has been an industry promoting nuclear power. That is no longer acceptable. From now on what is vital is safety and preservation of the environment, and I would like the industry to be aware of that," Hosono said.
"The government, standing apart from the industry, must strictly check whether that is actually being done," he said, adding a new regulatory body to be set up in September must be not only independent but transparent to regain public trust.
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's decision to restart Kansai Electric Power Co's two reactors this month to avoid a potential blackout has energized the country's growing anti-nuclear movement. More than 100,000 people took to the streets in Tokyo a week ago and ever-bigger protests are being staged weekly outside the premier's office.
Hosono said the protesters' voices were reaching the prime minister and lawmakers.
But he added it was necessary to distinguish between a long-term energy strategy and the issue of securing electricity supply in the short term. "Electricity is something that concerns the people's lives, and is linked to the economy and industry and indeed, the very existence of the nation," he said.
All of Japan's 50 reactors were shut down for safety checks after the disaster. Critics say the two restarted reactors do not meet all the government's safety criteria announced this April.
The panel called on the government to immediately take additional steps, including ensuring that off-site nuclear accident management centers are protected against the kind of massive radiation leaks that made the one at Fukushima useless.
The Fukushima Daiichi plant, 240 km (150 miles) north of Tokyo, was hit on March 11 last year by an earthquake and tsunami that knocked out power supply and swamped its backup power and cooling systems, resulting in meltdowns of three of its six reactors. About 150,000 people were forced to flee as radioactive materials spewed, some never to return.
The government-appointed panel said there was no proof the earthquake was a key factor in the disaster but added that some impact could not be ruled out, contradicting Tepco's own findings, which put the blame solely on the tsunami.
The panel called on Tepco to review data presented to the panel because it believes it contains errors, echoing other criticism of the operator, and urged the utility to carry out further investigations into the causes of the disaster.
The report also blamed Japan's nuclear regulators for not paying sufficient heed to improvements in nuclear safety standards recommended by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Hatamura said that due to time restrictions, his panel was unable to address the concerns of residents, and the international community, who questioned whether the damaged reactors and the pool of used nuclear fuel at Fukushima's No.4 reactor could withstand another earthquake.
"I now understand what people are worried the most about is the vulnerability of the No.4 spent fuel pool. I wish we had started an investigation on it much earlier," Hatamura said.
Available at: http://in.reuters.com/article/2012/07/23/us-japan-nuclear-idINBRE86M04320120723
Areva is boosting its US capabilities by building a new technical centre and by forming an alliance with Northrop Grumman to provide cybersecurity support for nuclear facilities.
Areva's US subsidiary announced that it has poured the concrete for the foundation of a new seismic testing facility at the new US Technical Centre, located at the Areva Solutions Centre in Lynchburg, Virginia. Some 33 truckloads of concrete were delivered to the site over a five-hour period on 24 July. This was poured into a rebar-grid excavation measuring 9 metres by 9 metres and 4 metres deep to form the foundation for a seismic response testing system or 'shake table.' The concrete will require about 90 days to cure.
The shake table itself weighs some 5 tonnes and will be "one of the largest of its kind in North America," according to Areva. Installation of the shake table is planned in early August. It will be able to conduct vibration tests with gravitational forces up to 7g's and frequencies up to 100 hertz. Areva said that the shake table, along with environmental chambers, machine shops and various metallurgical and chemistry laboratories, will allow it "to develop, analyze and validate nuclear plant equipment and its performance under harsh conditions such as earthquakes and high temperatures."
The expansion required for the development of the US Technical Centre - which will offer full-service nuclear safety testing capabilities - began in mid-February. It is due to be officially opened in September.
Areva Inc president and CEO Mike Rencheck said, "Through this innovative and comprehensive development and testing facility Areva expands our support to utility clients and equipment manufacturers for products and services required to develop, maintain and extend the life of nuclear plant components and systems."
In response to calls from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for commercial nuclear facilities to develop and implement cybersecurity plans, Areva and global security company Northrop Grumman have announced that they will jointly provide cybersecurity protection support for US nuclear facilities.
Tom Franch, Areva Inc senior vice president of reactors and services, said, "Protecting the US nuclear power infrastructure from exploitation and attacks of networks, systems, information and physical assets is an industry concern."
Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/C-Areva_expands_US_services-2507124.html
2. Germany Will Publish Progress Report On Nuclear Exit In December
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Germany plans to publish in December a report to monitor progress on its plan to phase out nuclear- energy generation and power a greater share of Europe’s biggest economy from clean-energy.
The economy and environment ministries will publish a more detailed progress report on the energy switch every three years starting in 2014 in a bid “to readjust if necessary” the program, according to a government reply to questions from the opposition Social Democratic Party.
Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government has decided to shift energy demand away from nuclear power after the accident in Japan last year. Germany plans to shut its remaining nine reactors by 2022 and raise the share of renewables to at least 35 percent of the power mix by 2020. It’s the biggest overhaul of the nation’s energy infrastructure since World War II.
Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-24/germany-will-publish-progress-report-on-nuclear-exit-in-december.html
The Belgian government has announced the complete schedule for the forced closure of the country's nuclear power plants, claiming that the move will "create a favourable investment climate" to replace the 50% of domestic power supply that stands to be lost.
Political shutdown dates for four reactors were announced at the end of last week, complimenting those for three units announced on 4 July. Together they will see all the Belgian units close between 2015 and 2025, roughly in line with their 40th anniversaries, despite a previously determined policy that operation of older units to 50 years was in the country's best interests. Only one unit, Tihange 1, is permitted to operate to 50 years of age; an exception made specifically to avoid blackouts, said the government.
The government said that it had rewritten the 2003 law on nuclear energy so that its current stance could not be changed by decree, and therefore the timing of the phase-out "is now final." This certainty "should create a favourable investment climate which will allow us to gradually phase out nuclear power," it said.
As the owner and operator of the country's nuclear power plants, Electrabel disagrees. On 5 July it described the new shutdown dates as "blackmail", complaining that the attacks on the company and its 7000 staff were not justified. It also pointed out that operation of Tihange 1 to 2025 would require €500 million ($604 million) investment to satisfy safety regulators - an investment that would be hard to justify without "a vision and guarantees of profitability in ten years."
The government's latest statement also said the "favourable investment climate" would allow it to "achieve ambitious goals... in terms of security of supply, environment and price." However, the capacity of the nuclear units set to close totals 5943 MWe, and at the moment they provide over 50% of the country's domestically produced electricity. The second biggest source of electricity is gas at 32%, while all renewables combined currently provide 7%. The latter should grow to 13% by 2020 under European Union targets, leaving rapid expansion of fossil fuels as the only feasible way to replace nuclear power. No justification for the nuclear phase-out has been offered by the government, which is formed of some eight political parties in coalition - two of them Green.
Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NP_Closure_dates_for_Belgian_units_2307121.html
1. IAEA Meeting on Radioactive Materials Trafficking, OH&S, 7/25/2012
Occupational Health & Safety
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A meeting of member state representatives to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) this week is aimed at improving how states share information about incidents involving illegal trafficking and other unauthorized activities and events involving nuclear material and other radioactive material.
Illegal trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive materials remains of serious concern, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which said July 24 that its illicit trafficking database (ITDB) contains more than 2,200 confirmed incidents reported to IAEA by the international community since 1995. "Most of these incidents involve radioactive materials that could cause harm if used by terrorists or handled innocently by people who are unaware that the materials are radioactive," the agency said in a release. "A small portion of the incidents involve uranium and plutonium -- materials that if acquired in sufficient quantity by terrorists could be used to make a nuclear explosive."
Some incidents involve low-risk materials, such as inadvertent transportation of radioactively contaminated scrap metals. While 116 states have joined the ITDB program, IAEA urges more to participate. IAEA's Office of Nuclear Security rapidly shares incident information to participants, and IAEA analyzes the data to identify trends and patterns in reported incidents so participating states can improve their security.
Available at: http://ohsonline.com/articles/2012/07/25/iaea-meeting-on-radioactive-materials-trafficking.aspx?admgarea=news
Two minor contamination incidents have taken place at India's Rajasthan nuclear power plant, both due to tritium exposure during maintenance. All the personnel involved continue to work at the plant, although two have had to change their duties.
During normal operation, mildly radioactive tritium builds up in the heavy-water moderator of pressurized heavy-water reactors, of which six are present at Rajasthan. This represents a routine radiological concern for managers, who therefore plan maintenance in order to minimise exposure for workers. However, two recent incidents have triggered investigations by plant owner Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) and the safety regulator.
The first came on 23 June during work to alter the moderator system of Rajasthan 5. Workers were preparing to conduct some welding when the opening of a moderator gas cover line caused a local increase in the concentration of tritium. NPCIL said two people were likely to have received radiation doses that would take them above annual regulatory limits. Those workers have been assigned roles in other parts of the plant, while the remainder of people in the area at the time continue to work as normal.
A second tritium exposure incident took place on 16 July during work on Rajasthan 4 when a leak of heavy-water moderator was observed from a pump seal. The pump was immediately shut down and isolated. NPCIL said that radiation doses to the four workers involved were in the range of between 10% and 25% of the regulated annual limit. The company said that the individuals continue to work as normal.
The single exposure of an individual exceeding 10% of the annual limit is a trigger point for NPCIL and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board beyond which they are each required to compile an investigation.
Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS_Tritium_incidents_at_Rajasthan_2507122.html
3. Reports on Fukushima Raises Doubts over other Nuclear Plants Preparedness
The Japan Daily Press
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This week the anti-nuclear protestors have fresh arsenal to throw at the government for their stubborn stand on restarting the nuclear power plants. According to a government-appointed inquiry regarding the Fukushima nuclear crisis, a second round of reports suggest that the other atomic plants may not be as prepared for a ‘complex catastrophe’ as the government likes to believe they are.
Yotaro Hatamura, the engineering professor who chaired the panel investigating the Fukushima disaster says that the steps taken by disaster-prone Japan are simply not enough and all-encompassing. Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), for their Fukushima Daiichi plant had not taken into consideration a massive natural disaster while planning their safety measures. A country that endures umpteen natural disasters like earthquakes, tsunami, floods and volcanoes, should take into consideration extreme situations because nature usually strikes without any warnings.
Essentially both the government and the electric companies need to formulate plans that take into consideration any kind of extreme situation. I quite agree with the suggestion that the Fukushima crisis occurred mainly because people didn’t think such a huge natural disaster can occur. I guess most of us are either naive or under estimate the fury and impact of natural disasters. In any case the panel suggests that the government needs to take immediate action and ensure that off-site nuclear accident management centers are equally protected from radiation leaks, unlike the Fukushima center.
One interesting angle brought up by the panel is that is no proof to suggest that the earthquake was a key factor in the disaster, however some impact cannot be denied. This contradicts Tepco’s own findings, which squarely blames the tsunami. The report also blames Japan’s nuclear regulators for not following through with the recommendations of nuclear safety standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The panel could not ascertain the reasons why the main reactor buildings were damaged, how radioactive materials leaked and why the explosions wrecked the three reactor buildings.
Available at: http://japandailypress.com/reports-on-fukushima-raises-doubts-over-other-nuclear-plants-preparedness-247306
1. Rosatom is Interested in Turkey’s Second and Third Nuclear Plants
Balkans Business News
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Rosatom, which is building Turkey’s Akkuyu nuclear plant, is also interested in Turkey’s second and third nuclear plants. Meanwhile, the Akkuyu plant designs are ready.
Rosatom’s Akkuyu Power Plant Electric Production Company’s General Manager Alexander Superfin has said that Rosatom is interested in building Turkey’s second and third nuclear power plants.
“If the Turkish government turns to Russia for help, we would be more than happy to be part of that process,” Superfin told the Anatolia news agency, adding that he was aware that Turkey was already in talks with other countries like Canada, Japan, and China for the construction of the other slated plants, Hurriyet Daily reports.
Available at: http://www.balkans.com/open-news.php?uniquenumber=151991
A group of South Korean and Emirati officials poured the first concrete for the UAE's nuclear plant last week. Now Seoul already hopes to broaden that partnership.
Once the UAE's four planned reactors are completed by 2020, the two countries will have built up a nuclear expertise that they can bring to other nations by co-bidding to build plants, said Kwak Seung-jun, the chairman of the South Korean Presidential Council for Future and Vision, an advisory group to the president.
"I definitely think our cooperation for constructing a nuclear power plant in the UAE will be very successsful, and then we have some kind of reputation," said Mr Kwak.
"If we will have that kind of opportunity, then we can cooperate, because then the UAE and Korea will have experience in building nuclear power plants."
A consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) beat French and American groups in 2009 to win a US$20 billion (Dh73.4bn) contract to build and operate four reactors.
Construction on the first began last Wednesday with the pouring of safety-related concrete at Baraka, 300 kilometres from the capital. Nuclear companies from more than one nation often partner to bid for nuclear plant projects in a third country, such as France's Areva and Germany's Siemens work on a Finnish reactor.
A partnership between the UAE and South Korea to build nuclear plants abroad, however, would be rare in an industry dominated by established nuclear nations such as the United States, France, and Russia.
South Korea and the UAE have already collaborated in non-nuclear energy projects abroad, including an Abu Dhabi National Energy (Taqa) gas-fired power plant in Ghana that is being expanded by Kepco and Japan's Mitsui.
South Korea and the UAE are also cooperating in strategic sectors including oil production, military training, health care and even finance, with a First Gulf Bank opening in Seoul.
The developments are part of a shift of power from western nations to growing economies in Asia, said Mr Kwak, who shuttles between Seoul and Abu Dhabi as an interlocuter between the two governments.
"The balance of political and economic power has been shifting from West to East," he said in an interview in Abu Dhabi.
"Now with the crisis of European companies and the euro-zone crisis, the shifting has become faster than before."
In March, Korea National Oil Corporation (KNOC) and GS Energy, two Korean oil companies, secured exploration rights to three blocks covering a tenth Abu Dhabi's land mass, one of the largest concessions ever granted in the emirate.
Under a memorandum of understanding signed last year between the two governments, South Korea will also have the right to participate in oil production projects with at least 1 billion barrels of oil reserves in 2014 - a veiled reference to the onshore Abu Dhabi Company for Onshore Oil Operations (Adco) concession that has remained in the hands of the western majors for 73 years.
It expires in 2014 and KNOC has been invited to pre-qualify, along with several existing partners such as Royal Dutch Shell and other new players like Norway's Statoil.
"The participation of Korea in oilfields in Abu Dhabi has given some kind of stimulus to the majors in Western Europe. 'Where is Korea? What is Korea?' They are very nervous, right?" said Mr Kwak. "We can compete with majors and European countries.
"Already Korea is competing with the European countries in electronics and automobiles, many manufacturing fields, buildings and steel manufacturing - so I think they know the potential of Koreans."
Available at: http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/industry-insights/energy/nuclear-vision-for-uae-and-korea
3. Samore Says No Need for S. Korea to Enrich Uranium
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)
Gary Samore, President Barack Obama's top aide for nonproliferation, said Monday that the U.S. sees no need for South Korea to enrich uranium, a stance against Seoul's goals.
Samore, arms control coordinator at the White House National Security Council, said South Korean can continue to buy enrichment services from the U.S. and France and in other international markets rather than having its own uranium-enrichment technology.
"So there is no danger that Korean industry will not be able to get access to low enriched uranium," which is fuel for the country's 22 reactors, he said in meeting with several South Korean reporters after a forum on the Nuclear Security Summit. Seoul hosted the second Nuclear Security Summit in March.
"You don't have to worry about any limit Korea will have," he added, citing the nation's record of safe and advanced operation of atomic energy plants.
The forum, organized by the South Korean Embassy here, was designed to review the results of the summit and prepare for the next session in the Netherlands in 2014.
Samore's comments apparently reflect Washington's firm stance to keep restricting South Korea from having uranium-enrichment technology in line with its global nonproliferation efforts.
The allies are in drawn-out talks to rewrite their decades-old nuclear cooperation accord, which expires in 2014.
South Korea hopes to revise the pact so that it can have the right to enrich uranium for civilian purposes and reprocess its nuclear waste amid worries over a shortage of storage facilities.
Seoul claims it need to expand its nonmilitary nuclear program to meet its enhanced status as a nuclear energy producer.
Samore said the U.S. and South Korean scientists are working closely to study so-called pyroprocessing, a new technique for dealing with spent fuel. Pyroprocessing has not been commercialized yet.
He said he was not sure whether negotiations between Seoul and Washington will end within this year. Presidential elections will be held in both the nations later this year.
"I think there will be a solution but I can't predict exactly when that solution will happen," he said. "We have until 2014 and everybody in both Washington and Seoul is deeply committed to continuing our peaceful nuclear cooperation."
South Korea's 22 reactors are a main source of its energy. It imports 20-30 percent of the uranium used there from the U.S. and the rest from Europe, according to data.
South Korea wants to secure the stable supply of nuclear fuel and increase exports of nuclear plants.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2012/07/24/52/0301000000AEN20120724000400315F.HTML
4. S. Korean Nuclear School, IAEA Sign Cooperation Pact
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)
A South Korean graduate school specializing in nuclear studies has signed a cooperation deal with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency to train experts in atomic power, the school said Saturday.
Under the agreement, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will recommend students from member nations seeking to build atomic power plants to study at the KEPCO International Nuclear Graduate School (KINGS) in South Korea's southeastern coastal city of Ulsan, according to a KINGS official.
Available at: http://english.yonhapnews.co.kr/national/2012/07/21/0302000000AEN20120721001700315.HTML
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