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Nuclear News - 1/17/2013
PGS Nuclear News, January 17, 2013
Compiled By: Pia Ulrich

A.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Veolia Takes On Nuclear Decommissioning, World Nuclear News (1/17/2013)
    2. US, Myanmar Hold Non-Proliferation Discussions, Daily Times (1/17/2013)
    3. Rosatom Ponders Participation in Slovak Project, World Nuclear News (1/16/2013)
    4. N-plant Funding Deal Cut, Sumon Mahbub, BDNews 24 (1/15/2013)
    5. UAE Signs Nuclear Cooperation Deal With Argentina, Awad Mustafa, The National (1/15/2013)
B.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. S. Korean Nuclear Reactor Halts Operations Due to Malfunction, Yonhap News Agency (1/17/2013)
    2. Nuclear Regulation Authority to Broaden Definition of Active Faults, The Mainichi (1/16/2013)
    3. Government Reveals More Cases of Poor Fukushima Clean-Up Efforts, Ida Torres, Japan Daily Press (1/16/2013)
C.  Iran
    1. Russia Says Seeking Nuclear Talks With Iran by End-Jan, Steve Gutterman, Associated Press, Reuters (1/17/2013)
    2. IAEA Focus on Iran’s Parchin Site May Undermine Monitors, Jonathan Tirone, Bloomberg (1/16/2013)
D.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Areva Says India Keen to Start Using EPR Reactor, Geert De Clercq, Reuters (1/17/2013)
    2. Construction of New Fermi Nuclear Reactor Closer to Reality, MENAFN (1/16/2013)
    3. ABWR Set for UK Assessment, World Nuclear News (1/15/2013)
E.  North Korea
    1. U.S. Pushing for North Korean Sanctions at U.N., Ju-min Park, Reuters (1/15/2013)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. UK Shifts Urenco Oversight, World Nuclear News (1/17/2013)
    2. Contract For Main Fusion Reactor Buildings, World Nuclear News (1/16/2013)

A.  Nuclear Cooperation

US, Myanmar Hold Non-Proliferation Discussions
Daily Times
(for personal use only)

US nuclear officials have held talks with their counterparts in Myanmar, weeks after the former pariah nation agreed new safeguards allowing inspections of suspected atomic sites, the US Embassy said Wednesday.

Myanmar, also known as Burma, was suspected of pursuing military and nuclear cooperation with Pyongyang during long years of junta rule that ended last year, prompting an easing of many international sanctions including by the US.

But amid the warming of ties with Washington, Myanmar’s government in November vowed to sign the IAEA’s “additional protocol”, which grants the UN agency access to possible undeclared activities.

Representatives from the US Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security unit met with atomic officials from Myanmar’s Ministry of Science and Technology in Naypyidaw between January 9-11, the US embassy said in a statement.

“The purpose of the workshop was to promote awareness of the international safeguards system,” it said, adding US Ambassador Derek Mitchell had urged both parties to boost “cooperation in support of the nuclear non-proliferation regime”. An official from the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), was also present during the workshop.

Discussions with the Americans were “the first step of many that we have to take”, Khin Maung Latt of Myanmar’s Department of Atomic Energy told AFP on Wednesday, without giving details of how close the measure was to fruition. Allegations of nuclear cooperation between Myanmar and North Korea have been a lingering concern for Washington.

Thein Sein’s government has denied any covert effort to obtain nuclear weapons technology from North Korea, which is locked in an ongoing atomic showdown with the US.

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Veolia Takes On Nuclear Decommissioning
World Nuclear News
(for personal use only)

Environmental services company Veolia Environnement has agreed to cooperate with France's national energy research commission, the CEA, in the dismantling and remediation of nuclear facilities.

Two cooperation agreements have been signed between the organizations. The first covers nuclear facility dismantling and remediation while the second specifically concerns CEA facilities at Marcoule and Cadarache. They specify technological cooperation between Veolia Environnement and the CEA, particularly in the area of radiological mapping of facilities.

Through its Asteralis subsidiary, Veolia Environnement will propose industrial solutions adapted to the complete characterization of the radiological state of nuclear facilities before, during and after dismantling. The CEA's nuclear energy division will provide its expertise and experience in the areas of dismantling and remediation, as well as its R&D expertise in the techniques and tools needed.

The first project concerns a laboratory at Cadarache and a series of facilities at Marcoule.

CEA chairman Bernard Bigot commented, "We attach great importance to maintaining research at the highest level and to making innovation available to French companies. The high technology developed and used by the CEA in the past few years for dismantling nuclear facilities - such as remote radiological analysis techniques, simulation software and robotics - is intended to serve the French industrial concerns interested in contracts in this field of activity."

Veolia Environnement has over 330,000 employees worldwide providing tailored solutions to meet the needs of municipal and industrial customers in four main areas: water management, waste management, energy management and passenger transportation.

The company has not previously been involved in the nuclear industry. However, Veolia and Areva co-developed a water decontamination system for treating highly-radioactive water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan. The system - designed, built and commissioned in just two months - has so far treated some 18,000 tonnes of contaminated water, which has been reused to cool the damaged reactors.

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Rosatom Ponders Participation in Slovak Project
World Nuclear News
(for personal use only)

Rosatom is considering taking a stake in the joint venture proposing to build and operate a new nuclear power station at Slovakia's Bohunice site.

The joint venture - Jadrová energetická spoločnosť Slovenska a.s. (JESS) - was formed in May 2009, with 51% owned by Slovakian state-owned nuclear and decommissioning company Javys and the remainder held by Czech utility CEZ.

Russian state nuclear enterprise Rosatom has now signed a memorandum with Javys and CEZ that will give it access to information about the current status of the project in order for it to decide whether or not to become a partner. With the signing of the memorandum, negotiations have also started on the possible sale of shares in JESS to Rosatom.

CEZ is seeking to reduce its share in the joint venture as its main priority is now the construction of two new reactors at its Temelin plant in neighbouring Czech Republic. It said that its participation in another large project is "very difficult." Local media reports suggest that CEZ may even sell its entire stake in the JESS joint venture.

Slovakia has four operating nuclear power reactors at the Bohunice and Mochovce sites, but was required to close down two older Bohunice reactors as a condition of its 2004 accession to the EU. Those units, collectively known as Bohunice V1, closed in 2006 and 2008. Meanwhile, a project was launched in November 2008 to complete work on the third and fourth units at Slovenské Elektrárne's Mochovce plant, which had begun in 1986 but stalled with the units incomplete in 1992. Both those units are scheduled to start up by the end of next year.

Plans for the new fifth Bohunice unit (also referred to as Bohunice V3) were announced in April 2008, with the government announcing the Javys-CEZ joint venture in December 2008.
Construction work on the new Bohunice plant could begin in 2014, CEZ said.

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N-plant Funding Deal Cut
Sumon Mahbub
BDNews 24
(for personal use only)

The power plant set to be installed at Rooppur in the northern Bangladesh is expected to generate 1000MW power daily.

The signing ceremony followed a meeting between Hasina and Putin at Kremlin.

Deputy Finance Minister of Russia Sergey Storchak and Economic Relations Division (ERD) Secretary Abul Kalam Azad signed the agreement on the Extension of State Export Credit for Financing the Preparatory Stage Work of Nuclear Power Plant in Rooppur in Pabna and another one on Extension of a State Export Credit to the Bangladesh government.

The agreement entitles Bangladesh to $0.5 billion loan from Russia for research and developing technical abilities for the power plant. The money will be spent in two years.

The government plans to make use of Russia’s third generation technology for setting up the power plant with five-layered security arrangements.

The plant is designed to have two units. Each of the units has been estimated to cost from $1.5 billion to 2 billion.

Bangladesh signed a contract with Russia’s State Atomic Energy Commission Rosatom in November 2011 for assistance in the project.

The Russian government will provide fuel for the plant under the agreement that also requires the country to take back used fuel.

The plant is expected to be in operation for 60 years which, according to the State Minister for Science and Technology Yeafesh Osman, may be extended for 20 more years.

Osman and General Director of Rosatom SV Kirienko penned the deal on Establishment of a Nuclear Industry Information Center in Bangladesh.

The third deal will be in effect for exchanging information relating to atomic energy between the countries.

Both Hasina and Putin in a joint statement hoped the deals and MoUs would take relations between Moscow and Dhaka to a new height.

Hasina reached Russia on a three-day visit on Monday.

This is the first official visit of a Bangladesh Prime Minister to Moscow since Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s visit of the erstwhile Soviet Union in April 1972 immediately after Bangladesh became independent.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, Osman, Ambassador-At-Large Mohammad Ziauddin and the Prime Minister’s Principal Secretary M Wahiduzzaman are accompanying Hasina.

“I assured him (Putin) that Bangladesh will remain committed to its friendly relationship with Russia,” Hasina said.

“I want to take the relationship between the two countries to a new height.”

Hasina expected the deals would propel the socioeconomic growth of her country.

The MoUs were signed on agriculture, public health, medical science sectors, and over strengthening counterterrorism activities.

Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and her Russian counterpart Segey Lavrov inked the MoU on cooperation on counterterrorism.

Another MoU was signed on Terms and Conditions of a State Export Credit on Financing the Construction of Nuclear Power Plant.

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UAE Signs Nuclear Cooperation Deal With Argentina
Awad Mustafa
The National
(for personal use only)

The UAE signed its first nuclear cooperation agreement with a South American country after Sheikh Khalifa, the President, met the Argentine leader Cristina de Kirchner yesterday.

The deal makes Argentina the ninth country to have signed nuclear ties with the UAE.
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Hector Timerman, Argentina's foreign minister, signed the agreement.

Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE's permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the deal was similar to those signed with other nations.

The UAE has signed nuclear agreements with the US, the UK, South Korea, Japan, France, Canada, Russia and Australia since 2009.

"The agreement constitutes a framework which governs and facilitates cooperation in the area of peaceful nuclear energy and related applications between the two countries," Mr Al Kaabi said. "It allows the transfer of knowledge, technology and nuclear material to the UAE.

"Argentina has a well-developed nuclear sector with multiple nuclear power plants in operation, as well as a strong industry base for nuclear research, human resources development and training, which the UAE is interested to benefit from."

The country has had two nuclear reactors running in Buenos Aires since 1974, with a third reactor expected to be operational by June.

The agreement was signed at Al Diyafa Palace in Al Mushrif, Abu Dhabi, during the visit by Ms de Kirchner ahead of the World Future Energy Summit in the capital this week.

The state news agency Wam said Sheikh Khalifa ensured the relationship between the UAE and Argentina would develop further.

Ms de Kirchner expressed interest in developing relations for the economic, investment, tourism and space sectors.

Both leaders also agreed on deals involving air transport, fisheries and livestock. The air-transport agreement was signed by Sultan Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, and Mr Timerman.

The fisheries and livestock agreement was signed by Norberto Gustavo, Argentina's agriculture minister, and Dr Rashid bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water.

The third agreement, for peaceful cooperation on space issues, was signed for the Emirates Institution for Advanced Science and Technology, the UAE's space programme, and the Argentinian National Space Activities Commission, by the foreign ministers.

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B.  Nuclear Safety & Security

S. Korean Nuclear Reactor Halts Operations Due to Malfunction
Yonhap News Agency
(for personal use only)

A nuclear reactor at a South Korean nuclear power plant stopped operating Thursday due to what plant operators there called a problem with the reactor's energy system.

The officials from the Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co., however, said there was no immediate danger of any radiation leak at the Uljin Nuclear Power Plant.

The Uljin-1 reactor at the plant, located 330 kilometers southeast of Seoul, was shut down at 11:15 a.m. An investigation was currently under way to identify the exact cause of the problem, they said.

This is the second time in less than six months the Uljin-1 stopped operating due to problems.

The Uljin-1 is a pressurized water reactor with a generation capacity of 950,000 kilowatts. It has been operating since September 1988. The Uljin power plant houses five other reactors, aged between 12 years to 30 years.

South Korea currently operates 23 nuclear reactors that supply about 30 percent of its total electricity consumption. It plans to increase the number of reactors to 33 in 2020 and 39 in 2030.

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Government Reveals More Cases of Poor Fukushima Clean-Up Efforts
Ida Torres
Japan Daily Press
(for personal use only)

Two more cases of improper disposal of contaminated objects have been discovered in the decontamination efforts in areas affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster. These findings came after the Ministry of the Environment initiated investigations after two other similar cases were discovered earlier this month.

Environment ministry officials said on January 15 that contaminated water from workers’ boots were released into the environment without proper disposal procedures. The incidents occurred at Tamura in Fukushima Prefecture with work being done by a joint-venture company composed of Kajima Corp, Sumitomo Mitsui and Hitachi Plant Technologies. In one of the cases, workers washed mud off their boots into ditches, but an internal investigation concluded that the mud’s radiation levels were within limits. In the second case, two workers were reported to have washed their boots and tools into a river. While the company admitted to the incident, it said that there have been no further similar incidents reported.

These two incidents are just the latest in a series of sloppy decontamination work being done in the Fukushima cleanup. Two cases were reported earlier this month where contaminated water was left behind in Naraha and Iitate, both in Fukushima Prefecture. There have also been reports about workers illegally dumping contaminated soil and leaves in rivers. Due to this, Senior Vice Minister of the Environment Shinji Inoue instructed seven general contractors in eight municipalities in the prefecture to conduct investigations. The ministry received the reports from the contractors on January 11 and is expected to give more details regarding the incidents as well as actions to deal with the issue on January 18.

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Nuclear Regulation Authority to Broaden Definition of Active Faults
The Mainichi
(for personal use only)

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) is set to drastically broaden the definition of active faults to cover those that moved 400,000 years ago or later in its new nuclear plant safety standards, according to a draft outline.

Under current standards, those that moved from 120,000 to 130,000 years ago or later are recognized as such in its atomic power plant safety standards.

The nuclear plant regulator will finalize the outline by the end of this month and draw up the new standards on nuclear plants' vulnerability to earthquakes and tsunami by July.

The draft, worked out by an NRA expert team, states that faults that repeatedly moved in recent years and have a possibility of moving in the future should be regarded as active faults when designing nuclear reactors' quake-resistance. It then says "the activity of faults as early as approximately 400,000 years ago should be assessed."

This is in line with the definition that the government's Headquarters for Earthquake Research Promotion made in 2010 that faults that moved approximately 400,000 years ago or later are active faults.

The guidelines for seismic-resistance designing of nuclear plants that the government compiled in 2006 recognizes faults that moved 120,000 to 130,000 years ago or later as active.

However, there have since been several cases in which experts cannot specify when faults on the premises of nuclear power stations moved, prolonging assessments.

JRA Commissioner Kunihiko Shimazaki points to the need to change the definition of active faults in nuclear plants' quake-resistance design. "In some cases, assessing whether faults on the premises of nuclear plants are active have been prolonged. Pointless discussions will disappear if the definition is reviewed."

The government does not permit the construction of nuclear reactor buildings just above active faults.

The NRA secretariat incorporated the phrase, "Reactor buildings can be built above active faults as long as they do not pose a serious threat to the facilities' safety," in a draft of the safety standards it released in December 2012.

However, the phrase was deleted from the draft that the expert team worked out on Jan. 15 after Shimazaki voiced opposition to the inclusion of the phrase on the grounds that methods for assessing how such faults would affect the safety of nuclear plants have not been established.

The expert team is also considering incorporating the introduction of the assessment of active faults near nuclear plants into the outline it will complete by the end of this month. It will also consider specific methods for determining the maximum height of tsunami that each atomic power station can withstand.

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C.  Iran

Russia Says Seeking Nuclear Talks With Iran by End-Jan
Steve Gutterman, Associated Press
(for personal use only)

Iran over Tehran's nuclear programme, which the West suspects is aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability.

Iranian news agency ISNA said on Wednesday that Iran and six world powers would resume talks in late January, but a European Union official said the two sides had yet to agree a date. No venue has been agreed.

"Russia is concerned about this and we continue to work, including with our Iranian partners, to resolve this issue as soon as possible," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said, according to state-run news agency Itar-Tass.

Ryabkov, Russia's negotiator at the talks, said that until there is a final agreement "there is no agreement".

The Russian Foreign Ministry said later that there was an understanding among the parties involved that the meeting should take place this month, and that the dates reported by ISNA - January 28-29 - were being discussed.

But it said the dates could change if there is no agreement on the venue, and added that Russia was open to any venue.

Senior U.N. nuclear inspectors were in Iran for a second day of talks on Thursday, seeking to unblock a long-stalled investigation into suspected atomic bomb research in the Islamic state.

ISNA confirmed discussions had resumed, but gave no further details. There was no immediate comment from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

World powers are watching the IAEA-Iran meeting for any signs as to whether Tehran, which faces intensifying sanctions pressure, may be prepared to finally start tackling international concerns about its nuclear activity.

Russia built Iran's first nuclear power plant and has warmer ties with Tehran than the United States and other Western nations do, giving it potential levers of pressure on Iran.

But Ryabkov said agreeing a date and venue for talks was ultimately up to the office of EU policy chief Catherine Ashton, who oversees contacts with Iran over its nuclear programme on behalf of the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.

A spokesman for Ashton said in Brussels on Wednesday that no date had yet been set. "Contacts are still ongoing. We are waiting for the Iranians to respond," Michael Mann said when asked about the ISNA report.

Western and Russian diplomats had hoped for talks to restart in December or mid-January. Since the last meeting in June, Iran has pressed ahead with disputed nuclear activity and amassed more material that can have both civilian and military purposes.

Russia approved four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme but opposes new curbs and has called separate Western sanctions counterproductive.

Russia has warned that an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities would be disastrous and, while Moscow says Tehran must dispel concerns about its nuclear programme, it has suggested Western fears about military aims are overblown.

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IAEA Focus on Iran’s Parchin Site May Undermine Monitors
Jonathan Tirone
(for personal use only)

United Nations nuclear inspectors, negotiating today in Tehran over wider access to suspected atomic sites, risk undermining their work by focusing too narrowly on winning access to an Iranian military base, according to analysts including a former monitor.

International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors have sought access to the Parchin base for more than a year after receiving intelligence that Iran built a blast chamber at the sprawling complex that could be used to test nuclear-weapons components. The IAEA may be relying too heavily on outside analysis, said Robert Kelley, the agency’s former lead inspector in Iraq.

“The IAEA’s authority is supposed to derive from its ability to independently analyze information,” said Kelley, who helped uncover forged documents passed on to the agency before the 2003 Iraq war. “At Parchin, they appear to be merely echoing the intelligence and analysis of a few member states.”

The IAEA published a report in November 2011 citing what it called “credible” intelligence that Iran had researched nuclear-weapons components. While the Persian Gulf nation denies it sought atomic bombs, it has refused to answer the accusations because the IAEA won’t give the officials full access to the evidence being used against it.

Whether Iran will be permitted to see the evidence, itself provided to the IAEA by unidentified intelligence agencies, “is part of the negotiation,” Herman Nackaerts, who leads the agency’s Iran inspections, told reporters yesterday in Vienna.

Not sharing evidence “simply isn’t a method through which to generate a perception of credibility and legitimacy in the process or the substance of your allegations,” Dan Joyner, a lawyer and author of Interpreting the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (Oxford University Press), said in an e-mailed reply to questions. “The throwback to the Iraq war is just so striking here.”

The concerns of Kelley and Joyner echo those expressed by former IAEA director generals Hans Blix and Mohammed ElBaradei.

The agency must be more skeptical with the information it receives from outside sources, Blix said in a September interview. ElBaradei, who didn’t respond to e-mailed requests for comment, wrote in his 2011 biography “The Age of Deception” (Metropolitan Books) that the IAEA doesn’t make intelligence information public when it can’t be authenticated.

According to Kelley, a nuclear engineer who worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the IAEA has published faulty satellite analysis of the Parchin site. He contests IAEA assertions that Iran has been trying to hide clean-up and demolition at the facility.

“The IAEA stands to undermine its technical credibility by making statements that cannot be supported,” he wrote. “They refer to shrouding of buildings with tarps that turn out to be simply Styrofoam insulation panels in a remodeling effort.”

Kelley also questioned IAEA assertions that the bulldozing of 25 acres of land in the neighborhood would interfere with its ability to carry out an inspection should one take place. “They fail to mention that the vast majority of this activity is on a construction site over 0.5 kilometers away and that land immediately adjacent to the targeted building is untouched and is available for sampling and inspection,” he said.

The IAEA declined to comment. Other independent analysts, including Institute for Science and and International Security Director David Albright, agree with the agency’s conclusions. ISIS called the Parchin changes “significant” in a November report.

“Parchin is a military area and so activities are ongoing, and these have nothing to do with nuclear activities,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ramin Mehmanparast, told journalists in Tehran yesterday. “Any issue that may exist can be overcome in meetings between representatives of Iran and the IAEA” after “Iran’s nuclear rights are fully recognized and a specific agreement is reached.”

The IAEA, which is seeking access to dozens of sites and individuals beyond Parchin, wants to conclude an agreement with Iran today, Nackaerts said. The agency will submit its next public report on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear work at its March 4 Board of Governors meeting.

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D.  Nuclear Energy

Areva Says India Keen to Start Using EPR Reactor
Geert De Clercq
(for personal use only)

Negotiations about the sale of two French nuclear reactors to India are at an advanced stage and Indian authorities are keen to start using French nuclear technology, reactor builder Areva (AREVA.PA) said on Wednesday.

A deal with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) would be a major breakthrough for Areva, which has been embarrassed by cost overruns and long delays at two EPR reactors under construction in Finland and France.

"India always takes a little time to decide on major public investments, but it is fair to say that the NPCIL is keen to work with the EPR, as recent statements have shown," an Areva spokesman told Reuters.

Indian Foreign Minister Salman Kurshid told French daily Le Figaro on Friday that the nuclear agreement being negotiated with Areva had reached "an advanced stage".

Khurshid added that security issues raised by Japan's 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster would have an impact on the cost of energy produced, but a final agreement was within reach.

He seemed to hint at a possible signature during a planned state visit to India by French President Francois Hollande mid February. Areva shares have risen about 5 percent following Khurshid's comments.

The World Nuclear Association expects India's nuclear capacity will grow fourfold to 20,000 megawatts by 2020 from just under 5,000 MW today, making it the third-biggest market after China and Russia.

The talks between Areva and the NPCIL are focused on economic and technical issues, but most of the post-Fukushima safety improvements to Areva's EPR reactor have been agreed upon so the debate is now mostly focused on price.

The Areva spokesman said safety issues had been discussed extensively between the Indian and French nuclear watchdogs and between Areva and state-owned NPCIL, and that the changes made to the EPR following the review are minor.

The third-generation European Pressurised Reactor (EPR), conceived following the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, has a double containment wall and a "core catcher" to contain core meltdown. Its 1,600 megawatt capacity is the largest on the market.

Following the March 2011 Fukushima disaster, Areva has improved the autonomy and resistance of the EPR's back-up systems and added facilities to connect mobile back-up power.

Unlike many other nuclear projects where Areva is in the running, the India bid is not a tender where Areva needs to compete with other suppliers.

India, which is finalising the construction of a Russian reactor, wants the EPR to diversify its nuclear technology and is not negotiating with other potential suppliers.

Areva will not only sell the reactors but also the nuclear fuel for the first 25 years of their working life.

The planned site for the EPR reactors in Jaitapur - on the subcontinent's Arabian Sea coast, 400 km south of Bombay and 230 km north of Goa - could receive up to six nuclear reactors, though at the moment only two EPRs are under consideration.

An agreement with NPCIL would be a major breakthrough for Areva, which has been hit by delays and cost overruns for the EPR reactor it is building in Olkiluoto, Finland.

The plant, being built by Areva and its partner Siemens (SIEGn.DE), was scheduled to start operations in 2009. Costs were projected at 3 billion euros initially but have spiralled to about 8.5 billion euros. A second EPR, built by French utility EDF (EDF.PA) is also years behind schedule and billions over price.

The two other EPRs under construction, in Taishan, China, are on track.

In October, Czech group CEZ CEZPsp.PR threw out Areva's bid to expand the Temelin nuclear power plant, leaving U.S. and Russian firms in the race, saying Areva failed to meet "crucial requirements" in the tender. Areva is appealing that decision.

Areva CEO Luc Oursel said last month his firm still hopes to sell 10 EPRs by the end of 2016.

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Construction of New Fermi Nuclear Reactor Closer to Reality
(for personal use only)

A new reactor at the Fermi nuclear power plant south of Detroit cleared a major regulatory hurdle: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission determined that environmental concerns were not significant enough to halt its construction.

Detroit Edison, which owns Fermi, applied to the NRC in 2008 to build a GE-Hitachi Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor, or ESBWR, the newest generation of nuclear reactors, at its plant on Lake Erie near Newport. The commission weighed the new reactor's impact on plant and wildlife, geology and waterways, among other concerns, releasing its four-volume report this week.

"Based on its analysis, the staff determined that there are no environmentally preferable or obviously superior sites," the report said.

The report's conclusion clears one hurdle for the construction of the ESBWR, said NRC spokeswoman Viktoria Mitlyng. It is the only one proposed in the Midwest.

But the design of the reactor, as well as its safety, still must reviewed, she said. Reviewers will examine, for example, the plant's emergency response plan.

At the state's three nuclear power plants, Fermi 2 is the newest reactor, having been put into commercial operation in 1988, according to the NRC.

As the nation's 104 nuclear plants age, the NRC has streamlined its approval process to bring new reactors on-line, Mitlyng said.

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ABWR Set for UK Assessment
World Nuclear News
(for personal use only)

The UK energy minister has asked nuclear regulators to begin discussions over Generic Design Assessment (GDA) for Hitachi-GE's Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR). The design has been proposed for new units at the Wylfa and Oldbury sites.

Hitachi-GE approached the Department for Energy and Climate Change earlier in this month seeking GDA for the ABWR design. The move followed Hitachi's purchase of Horizon Nuclear Power in late October from EOn and RWE, the German utilities that had planned to build up to four new units at Wylfa and up to three units at Oldbury. It immediately announced an intention to deploy ABWRs at the sites.

"New nuclear has a central role to play in our energy future, delivering secure, low carbon power and supporting jobs and economic growth," said energy minister John Hayes. He added, "We must however be absolutely sure that any reactor used in this country meets our rigorous safety standards. That's why I'm asking the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) and the Environment Agency (EA) to conduct a thorough examination of the reactor design proposed for the Wylfa and Oldbury sites."
The GDA process is conducted jointly by the ONR and the EA to assess new reactor designs. It allows the regulators to assess the safety, security and environmental implications of new designs, separately from applications to build them at specific sites.

Masahura Hanyu, CEO of Hitachi's nuclear power systems business, said: "We will work with the support of Horizon to put the UK ABWR through the process, essential for the delivery of between four and six units at Wylfa and Oldbury."He added, "The UK GDA is a rigorous and thorough process and we look forward to having our initial discussions with the regulators."

The development of the modular ABWR design was unique, and has led to an unusual situation where it can be offered by three different companies. ABWR was co-developed by Toshiba and GE, which then worked with Hitachi to construct the first two units in the late 1990s. GE and Hitachi went on to form joint ventures of their nuclear businesses, resulting in two daughter firms: GE-Hitachi and Hitachi-GE. Both those joint ventures can build ABWR, as can Toshiba, although its version differs in some technical respects due to intellectual property issues.

There are four operable ABWR units in Japan, while two more are under construction. Two more are being built in Taiwan and two planned for Lithuania, although another project for two has been shelved in the USA. The design is already licensed in Japan and the USA. It can run on a full-core of mixed-oxide (MOX) nuclear fuel.

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E.  North Korea

U.S. Pushing for North Korean Sanctions at U.N.
Ju-min Park
(for personal use only)

The United States is pushing hard for tough sanctions against North Korea, one of its top envoys for Asia said on Wednesday, although diplomats at the United Nations said it appeared unlikely that the North's ally, China, would support them.

Washington, along with South Korea, Japan and European Union states, want to punish North Korea for its December rocket launch with a United Nations Security Council resolution and tougher sanctions against Pyongyang.

"We anticipate formal steps in the Security Council in the immediate future," Kurt Campbell, the top U.S. diplomat for East Asian Affairs, told reporters after meeting with South Korean defense and foreign ministry officials.

Campbell said Washington was "in the midst of really rather intense deliberations" in the Security Council. He did not directly address the issue of China's involvement and is set to travel to Japan after South Korea.

Bejing is the North's only major diplomatic ally. While it agreed to sanctions in the wake of North Korea's 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests, diplomats at the United Nations say China only wants a presidential statement to condemn the latest launch but would allow more names to be added to a UN blacklist.

North Korea is already banned under United Nations Security Council resolutions from developing nuclear and missile technology but has been working steadily on its nuclear test site, possibly in preparation for a third nuclear test, satellite images show.

December's successful long-range rocket launch, the first to put a satellite in orbit, was a coup for North Korea's young leader Kim Jong-un.

It raised tensions in East Asia at the same time as Japan and South Korea elected new leaders, who Washington want to mend relations after a dispute over an island claimed by both countries boiled over.

The island dispute caused Tokyo and Seoul to cancel intelligence-sharing plans. They also allowed to lapse a $57 billion currency swap agreement aimed at insulating two of Asia's largest economies from the global financial crisis.

Campbell is due to meet South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye later on Wednesday.

Washington hopes South Korea and Japan can put a lid on spats over history and territory stemming from Japan's 1910-45 occupation of Korea.

U.S. officials are also seeking to reassure Tokyo as it confronts almost daily challenges from China over the sovereignty of other disputed islets in a separate, more dangerous, territorial row.

"We have very great confidence in the leadership in both Japan and South Korea to recognize the strongest, best interests of both countries to maintain that positive trajectory going forward," Campbell said.

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