Partnership for Global Security: Leading the World to a Safer Future
Home Projects Publications Issues Official Documents About RANSAC Nuclear News 4/15/13
Location: Home / Projects & Publications / News
Sitemap Contact
Google www PGS
Nuclear News - 2/7/2013
PGS Nuclear News, February 7, 2013
Compiled By: Pia Ulrich

A.  North Korea
    1. China Says Extremely Concerned after Latest North Korea Threats, Reuters (2/6/2013)
    2. North Korea Threatens "Stronger" Measures than Nuclear Test, David Chance, Reuters (2/6/2013)
B.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. Nuclear Spying Verdict Overturned, World Nuclear News (2/7/2013)
    2. Action Plan for Belgian Reactor Tests, World Nuclear News (2/6/2013)
    3. Major Nuclear Accident Would Cost France $580 Bln -Study, Michael Rose, Reuters (2/6/2013)
    4. Experts Discuss Improvements in Decommissioning and Remediation Following Nuclear Accidents, IAEA (2/5/2013)
    5. Nuclear Compliance and Regulation, Power Engineering (2/5/2013)
C.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Retired Duke Reactor May Signal More U.S. Nuclear Shutdowns, Scott DiSavino and Eileen O'Grady, Reuters (2/7/2013)
    2. IAEA Reiterates Support for UAE Nuclear Project, Khaleej Times (2/7/2013)
    3. Hollande Draws French Industry Ire as Nuclear-Energy Edge Fades,, Tara Patel, Bloomberg, Bloomberg (2/6/2013)
    4. NPC & Areva to Resume Talks from Tuesday, Business Standard (2/5/2013)
D.  Iran
    1. EU Court Rules for Second Time Against Iran Bank Sanctions, Reuters (2/6/2013)
    2. Iranian Envoy Urges U.S. to Show Goodwill at Nuclear Talks, Alessandra Prentice, Reuters (2/6/2013)
E.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Saudi Cabinet Endorses Nuclear Accord with France, Massoud A. Derhally, Arabian Business (2/5/2013)
F.  Links of Interest
    1. Don’t Gut Nuclear Safety Standards, The Japan Times (2/5/2013)
    2. Exelon Says it Did Not Mislead NRC, Power Engineering (2/4/2013)

A.  North Korea

China Says Extremely Concerned after Latest North Korea Threats
(for personal use only)

China expressed serious concern on Wednesday after North Korea stepped up its bellicose rhetoric and threatened to go beyond a third nuclear test in response to what it sees as "hostile" sanctions imposed after a December rocket launch.

"China is extremely concerned by the way things are going. We oppose any behavior which may exacerbate the situation and any acts which are not beneficial towards the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.

"We call on all the relevant sides to remain calm and exercise restraint and earnestly work hard to maintain peace and stability in the Korean peninsula," she told a daily news briefing.

China is the North's sole remaining major diplomatic and economic benefactor but has been showing sings of exasperation with its isolated neighbor.

One of China's most widely read newspapers, the tabloid Global Times published by Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily, said China should take a tough line and inform North Korean leaders of the consequences of their actions.

"If North Korea insists on a third nuclear test despite attempts to dissuade it, it must pay a heavy price," it said in an editorial in both its Chinese and English-language issues.

The newspaper said China should cut its help if North Korea went ahead with the nuclear test. In 2009, China reportedly cut fuel supplies to North Korea after a nuclear test, although it was impossible to verify the reports.

"The assistance it will be able to receive from China should be reduced. The Chinese government should make this clear beforehand to shatter any illusions Pyongyang may have," the Global Times said.

While the stridently nationalist newspaper is not considered an official mouthpiece of the Chinese government, it is nonetheless an influential publication.

North Korea has vowed to conduct more rocket and nuclear tests in response to a U.N. censure for its launch of a long-range missile launch in December. On Tuesday, it vowed "stronger" but unspecified actions in addition to the test.

U.S.-backed South Korea and others who have been closely observing activities at the North's known nuclear test grounds believe it is technically ready for a nuclear test and is awaiting the final word from supreme leader Kim Jong-un.

The Chinese spokeswoman reiterated China's wished to see a nuclear-weapons-free Korean peninsula.

In 2010, North Korea was blamed for sinking a South Korean naval vessel. It also shelled a South Korean island in the same year, killing civilians.

The North, which frequently aims fiery rhetoric at South Korea and the United States, did not spell out the actions it would take in its comments on Tuesday.

It is not capable of staging a military strike on the United States, although South Korea is in range of its artillery and missiles and Japan of its missiles.

"The DPRK (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, or North Korea) has drawn a final conclusion that it will have to take a measure stronger than a nuclear test to cope with the hostile forces' nuclear-war moves that have become ever more undisguised," the North's KCNA state news agency said.

New U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed North Korea in what he said were "remarkably similar" telephone conversations with his counterparts from Japan, South Korea and China, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

U.N. resolutions ban North Korea from developing missile or nuclear technology after its nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

North Korea says that it has the sovereign right to launch rockets for peaceful purposes, even though the multiple U.N. resolutions make this illegal under international law.

The North has in the past said its nuclear program was for peaceful purposes but has more recently boasted of becoming a nuclear weapons state.

Available at:

Return to Menu

North Korea Threatens "Stronger" Measures than Nuclear Test
David Chance
(for personal use only)

North Korea stepped up its bellicose rhetoric on Tuesday, threatening to go beyond carrying out a promised third nuclear test in response to what it believes are "hostile" sanctions imposed after a December rocket launch.

Pyongyang frequently employs fiery rhetoric aimed at South Korea and the United States and in 2010 was blamed for sinking a South Korean naval vessel. It also shelled a South Korean island in the same year, killing civilians.

It did not spell out the actions it would take. North Korea is not capable of staging a military strike on the United States, although South Korea is in range of its artillery and missiles and Japan of its missiles.

"The DPRK (Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, or North Korea) has drawn a final conclusion that it will have to take a measure stronger than a nuclear test to cope with the hostile forces' nuclear-war moves that have become ever more undisguised," the North's KCNA state news agency said.

The United States and South Korea are staging military drills that North Korea says are a rehearsal for an invasion, something both Washington and Seoul deny.

New U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry discussed North Korea in "remarkably similar" telephone conversations with his counterparts from Japan, South Korea and China, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

"We are all concerned that, despite the strong measures taken in (UN Security Council Resolution) 2087, the provocative rhetoric continues, which means we've all got to stay unified in watching this and making absolutely clear to Pyongyang that if it takes further actions, so will we," she told reporters.

North Korea successfully launched a long-range rocket in December in violation of U.N. resolutions that banned it from developing missile or nuclear technology after nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009. UNSC 2087 was adopted in late January in response to the December launch.

North Korea says that it has the sovereign right to launch rockets for peaceful purposes, even though the multiple U.N. resolutions make this illegal under international law.

It announced plans for a third nuclear test in response to the sanctions agreed in January, although satellite imagery indicates that the isolated and impoverished state has been readying its test site for more than a year.

While most experts believe North Korea will stage a test, the timing is not known. It could come around February 16, the anniversary of former leader Kim Jong-il's birth.

Another unknown is what North Korea will use as fissile material. In the past it has used its diminishing supply of plutonium stocks, but is believed to have enriched weapons-grade uranium that would give it a second path to a nuclear bomb.

U.S. nuclear expert Siegfried Hecker, who visited a North Korean nuclear facility in 2010 believes North Korea could stage two explosions, one using plutonium so as to perfect its capacity to design a warhead small enough to be mounted on a missile, and a second using highly enriched uranium.

"Such (dual) tests have some technical limitations and are more challenging to conduct, but they have the huge advantage of not incurring additional political cost - in other words, they can get two for the price of one," Hecker wrote in the February 4 issue of Foreign Policy magazine.

Pyongyang's two tests so far have been puny. The yield of the 2006 test is estimated at somewhat less than 1 kiloton (1,000 tons of TNT equivalent) and the second some 2-7 kilotons, compared with say 20 kilotons for a Nagasaki-type bomb, Hecker wrote.

North Korea has in the past used the leverage gained from its nuclear and rocket tests to try to restart six-party talks aimed at securing international recognition and aid for the country whose only major diplomatic backer is China.

There are few signs that the United States is willing to talk after North Korea rebuffed a food aid deal in March 2012 by launching a long-range rocket having promised not to.

The planned third nuclear test and "stronger" measures come as South Korea prepares to swear in new President Park Geun-hye on February 25. Park has pledged talks and aid if the North gives up its nuclear ambitions.

Available at:

Return to Menu

B.  Nuclear Safety & Security

Nuclear Spying Verdict Overturned
World Nuclear News
(for personal use only)

EDF has been acquitted on appeal from a charge of illegally hacking Greenpeace computers. The utility claimed it was also a victim of methods used by a company involved in monitoring the anti-nuclear group.

As the operator of 58 nuclear reactors in France, EDF is periodically the subject of Greenpeace campaigns of many kinds, including repeated attempts to breach plant security. The utility had contracted specialists including Kargus Consultants to monitor Greenpeace activities, but certain Kargus workers went beyond EDF's brief and gained illegal access to the computer of Greenpeace campaigns director Yannick Jadot.

The most remarkable Greenpeace event in recent years has been this parafoil delivery of smoke bombs to the Bugey power plant. The protester crash-landed on site and was immediately arrested.

The crimes by Kargus came to light in 2009, prompting EDF to suspend two of its security executives, Pierre-Paul Francois and Pascal Durieux. A trial in late 2011 handed down three-year jail terms for the two men, a fine of €1.5 million ($2.0 million) for the company as well as €500,000 ($670,000) compensation to Greenpeace. The utility had been found guilty of complicity in computer piracy by the court in Parisian suburb of Nanterre.

That decision was overturned yesterday by the verdict of an appeal heard in Versailles. EDF and Pascal Durieux were both acquitted. Only the conviction of Pierre-Paul Francois was upheld; he was ordered to pay €5000 ($6700) in compensation to Greenpeace - half the amount previously specified.

Greenpeace reacted to the acquittal by complaining that 'In France the nuclear industry can do what it wants, the law does not apply'. It said it would urge the Attorney General to look at the case. EDF has not yet commented, but a 2009 letter from its UK subsidiary EDF Energy to Greenpeace UK said that it had "instigated a civil action for damages as a victim of [Kargus]" as soon as it learned of the company's lawbreaking.

The Kargus employees involved, Alan Quiros and Thierry Lorho, both received jail terms and fines after pleading guilty at the first trial.

Available at:

Return to Menu

Action Plan for Belgian Reactor Tests
World Nuclear News
(for personal use only)

Belgian utility Electrabel has submitted an action plan to the country's nuclear regulator for carrying out additional tests to determine whether two of its reactors can safely be restarted following the discovery of manufacturing defects in their reactor pressure vessels last year.

A new ultrasound measuring technique was used for the first time in June 2012 over the whole surface of the Doel 3 reactor vessel, rather than just around the weld zones. This showed indications that "could be assimilated to potential cracks." Additional tests confirmed the presence of these flaws, which are believed to be manufacturing defects in the steel vessel. Another Belgian reactor, Tihange 2, was stopped in August for a maintenance outage examinations found similar flaws as Doel 3.

The flaw indications are described as "little fat flakes", with an average width of 10-15 mm and about 1 mm thick. Some 8000 have been detected in the surface of the steel wall of the reactor vessels of Doel 3 and about 2000 in the vessel of Tihange 2. These flaws are thought to originate from the casting and forging process when the vessels were manufactured. Both reactor pressure vessels were produced by the same manufacturer Rotterdam Drydock Company (Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij, RDM) in the late 1970s. Investigations suggest that these flaw have not worsened or been influenced by the subsequent operation of the units.

Prior to issuing its final decision on whether the reactors can restart, Belgium's Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) has requested that Electrabel carry out additional tests and provide further information. It has asked Electrabel to perform a so-called "load test" during which the resistance of the reactor vessel is investigated under more severe conditions than normal operating conditions by increasing the pressure in the vessel. After these tests have been conducted, ultrasonic inspections will be carried out to determine whether the flaw indications have evolved. As well as tests on the actual reactor vessels, FANC has requested that tests are also performed on samples of similar steel components that were manufactured for the use in a nuclear power plant but never used to see if they present similar flaw indications. They will also check the mechanical strength of the samples.
Electrabel has now submitted a detailed action plan for conducting these tests to FANC for its approval. The company anticipates completing the tests by the end of March and will then submit the results to FANC.

The regulator said that if the latest tests are conclusive, "we can recommend the government to decided in favour of a restart" of the reactors. The final restart decision, it noted, rests with the government. FANC added, "It is not possible to make any predictions with regard to the timing in this respect."

In a 15 January statement, FANC said that it "sees no elements that would have lead to a permanent shutdown of the nuclear power plants." However, it noted, "Only when having examined all the data, FANC will be able to determine whether the safety margin is not impaired."

Available at:

Return to Menu

Major Nuclear Accident Would Cost France $580 Bln -Study
Michael Rose
(for personal use only)

A nuclear accident similar to the one at Japan's Fukushima reactor would cost France about 430 billion euros ($580 billion), or 20 percent of its economic output, French nuclear safety institute IRSN said in a study on the possible financial impact of a nuclear crisis.

A major disaster damaging one of France's 58 nuclear reactors and contaminating the environment with radioactive material would displace an estimated 100,000 people, destroy crops and create massive power outages, the study said.

"A major accident would have terrible consequences, but we would have to deal with them because the country wouldn't be annihilated, so we have to talk about it, however difficult it is," Jacques Repussard, the head of the public-funded IRSN, said on Wednesday at a presentation at the Cadarache nuclear research centre in southeastern France.

The bulk of financial losses would come from damage to France's image, the institute said. A nuclear accident would hit exports of French delicacies and the tourism industry, the world's biggest in terms of visitors, costing France about 160 billion euro ($126 billion), the study said.

"Image costs would be considerable, as high as the radiological costs," Patrick Momal, the IRSN economist responsible for the study said.

"Tourism is an important activity for France and direct costs would not only hit the affected region, but the whole country," he said. Even if French products such as wine and agricultural products were not contaminated, consumer fear could cause sales to plummet.

The study represents the first time a French public institution calculated the possible economic cost of a nuclear disaster for the world's most-nuclear reliant nation. It comes nearly two years after a tsunami smashed into the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan in March 2011.

IRSN estimated the Fukushima disaster cost Japan about 200 billion euros ($270 billion). While the costs were immense, Japan fared better than France would under similar circumstances, the institute said.

"Winds were favourable to the Japanese. And in Japan, international tourism doesn't amount to much, international visitors are mainly business travellers," Momal said.

The IRSN and former World Bank economist unveiled two disaster scenarios prompting a core meltdown at a typical 900-megawatt (MW) French nuclear reactor.

A "serious" accident, rated 6 on the one-to-seven INES scale used by the International Atomic Energy Agency and one notch higher than the Three Mile Island accident of 1979 in the United States, would cost France about 120 billion euros ($162 billion), or 6 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP).

The consequences - with up to 10,000 people ousted from contaminated zones - would be "manageable", the IRSN said.

A "major" accident, rated 7 on the INES scale and similar to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine and Japan's Fukushima, however, would be a "catastrophe," that would "strongly and durably traumatise the country," it said.

The health impact from the release of radioactive material would be severe, the contamination of land would be long-lasting and neighbouring countries would be affected.

"We have to keep in mind that the probability of such accidents to happen remains extremely low," Momal said. "But these estimates help policy-makers put the cost of preventive measures into perspective."

France's fleet of 58 nuclear reactors is operated by state-owned utility EDF. After the Fukushima disaster, the French nuclear safety authority asked EDF to upgrade its plants in France. EDF said the updates would cost about 10 billion euros ($13 billion).

French President Francois Hollande pledged to cut the share of nuclear energy in the country's electricity mix to 50 percent from 75 percent by 2025. He also said he wants to close the country's oldest plant at Fessenheim, near the German border, by 2017.

The worst nuclear accident in France happened at the Saint-Laurent-des-Eaux nuclear plant in 1980 and was rated 4 on the INES scale.

Available at:

Return to Menu

Experts Discuss Improvements in Decommissioning and Remediation Following Nuclear Accidents
(for personal use only)

Vowing to improve plans to protect the public and the environment from radiation following potential nuclear incidents in the future, more than 200 international experts concluded a week-long Forum to share their experience and views. The International Atomic Energy Agency convened the International Experts' Meeting (IEM) on Decommissioning and Remediation After a Nuclear Accident from 28 January to 1 February 2013. The Vienna meeting was part of the Agency's implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety - endorsed by the Agency's General Conference in September 2011 - and was organized by the IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety and Security and the Department of Nuclear Energy.

"This has been a very productive meeting," said Chairman Carl-Magnus Larsson, who heads the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency. "We heard recommendations for the entire international community."

The discussion revolved around several themes, Larsson added, including:

The need for detailed frameworks to provide clear direction about which national organizations are responsible for which aspects of recovering from a nuclear accident;

The importance of thorough and sustainable stakeholder interaction to help develop clear lines of responsibility and constructive relationships among the institutions addressing a post-accident situation;

The value in formulating appropriate targets for remediation, keeping in mind the public's perception of radiation risk; The need to develop methods and technologies for decommissioning and remediation, and to improve ways of making those tools widely available; and

The challenge of managing damaged fuel and radioactive waste following an accident.
A Role for the IAEA

Many of the participants urged the IAEA to act swiftly to review, and revise if necessary, the Agency's relevant safety standards and guidelines and to enhance the Agency's peer reviews by adding more comprehensive elements that address remediation.

"These steps are an integral part of the implementation of the Action Plan, and the results of this IEM will be invaluable for strengthening our standards and peer reviews," said IAEA Deputy Director General Denis Flory. "Actions will happen following this IEM."

Available at:

Return to Menu

Nuclear Compliance and Regulation
Power Engineering
(for personal use only)

The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) entered into agreements with Maharashtra and Orissa on Monday for forming so-called state-level directorates of radiation safety to strengthen the regulator's control on medical diagnostic X-ray facilities across the country. By the agency's own estimates, nearly 50,000 diagnostic radiology facilities utilizing X-ray units are there in the country and if these X-ray units aren't designed or operated properly, they could lead to patients and operators being exposed to unwanted radiation.

The initiative comes months after the Comptroller and Auditor General of India had pulled up the regulator in August for being lackadaisical about several practices, including those ensuring that medical equipment emitting radiation were responsibly monitored. Yet there's little reason to believe that the regulator is as serious as it should be on monitoring such equipment. Other than Maharashtra and Orissa, it has signed agreements with 8 states: Kerala, Mizoram, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, Chhattisgarh, Himachal Pradesh and Gujarat and only the directorates in Kerala and Mizoram are functioning. Second, the regulator continues to lay the onus on state governments to ensure that such medical equipment operators comply with norms. Also, there are no details available on how exactly the mere signing of agreements with state authorities will improve compliance. Without doubt the regulator is stretched to its limits with the kind of responsibilities it must shoulder. There's an untested reactor-in terms of the design employed-coming up in Kudankulam that's been under particularly stringent fire since the Fukushima accident. Much of the regulator's strained resources are being expended to ensure that the plant will be operational at least by the end of this year. For diagnostic centres, the regulator should have expanded its manpower or ensured that competent state government officers are empowered to conduct checks on the way such equipment is monitored. India's nuclear establishment has perennially suffered from an image-management issue since its inception. While X-ray scanners don't evoke the paranoia that reactors do, the manner in which the regulator monitors them certainly affects public confidence in how nuclear reactors are handled. In being less transparent, the regulator may have lost a big opportunity to improve its image.

Available at:

Return to Menu

C.  Nuclear Energy

IAEA Reiterates Support for UAE Nuclear Project
Khaleej Times
(for personal use only)

The visit served as an important opportunity for the Director General to see first-hand the progress made in the construction of the UAE’s first Nuclear Power Plant at Barakah.

The Director General also discussed with the UAE authorities the advancement of their nuclear programme and on-going close cooperation with the IAEA.

During the visit the Director General met the Foreign Minister, Shaikh Abdullah bin Zayed. They discussed the on-going strong cooperation between the Agency and the UAE on its nuclear power programme and other areas. The Director General provided an overview of the IAEA’s activities in supporting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, as well as nuclear non-proliferation and the situation in Iran.

During his visit to the construction site of the Barakah Nuclear Facility, the Director General discussed the development of the project with Ambassador Hamad Al Kaabi, the UAE’s Permanent Representative to the IAEA, and Mohamed Al Hammadi, the Chief Executive Officer of the Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), as well as senior officials from ENEC and the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO), which is leading the construction consortium building the Power Plant. They also discussed the IAEA’s work in strengthening nuclear safety.

Noting the progress achieved in the construction of the Barakah Nuclear Facility thus far, the Director General stressed the importance of the UAE project, as the first country in 27 years to start construction on its first Nuclear Power Plant. He stated that the IAEA has supported the UAE programme since it was launched in 2008, and that the Agency would continue to work closely in cooperation with the UAE. He said that the UAE’s safe and consistent progress in the introduction of nuclear power can serve as a model for other countries considering a nuclear power program.

The Director General also emphasized that the Barakah Nuclear Facility’s construction is only the beginning of an extensive, long-term commitment that requires safe operation, emergency preparation and a plan to manage waste. He expressed the hope that the UAE would share its experience with other nations, as well as its experience in the use of nuclear technology in cancer therapy and agricultural development.

During his visit, the Director General also met officials from the Executive Affairs Authority and the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation.

Available at:§ion=nationgeneral

Return to Menu

Retired Duke Reactor May Signal More U.S. Nuclear Shutdowns
Scott DiSavino and Eileen O'Grady
(for personal use only)

A decision by Duke Energy Corp to retire rather than repair its damaged Crystal River reactor in Florida may signal the shutdown of other older U.S. nuclear plants as weak natural gas prices make significant investment in them uneconomical.

While energy analysts said the circumstances surrounding Duke's decision were unique to that plant, decade-low electric prices, especially in deregulated states where the market sets power rates, make it difficult to support costly upgrades on reactors when building gas-fired units is much cheaper.

"It is a tough economic environment in the electricity market due to the glut of natural gas, particularly for those that operate in a deregulated environment," said Tony Pietrangelo, chief nuclear officer of industry trade group Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI).

Profit margins for nuclear operators in deregulated markets have decreased over the last few years due to lower power prices and weaker growth in demand since the recession, he told Reuters.

Duke, the largest U.S. power company, said on Tuesday that it would retire the Crystal River reactor, which has been shut since 2009, due to rising repair costs and uncertainty about how long it would take to fix a series of cracks in the walls of the reactor containment building.

One Duke report found the repair bill for the 860-megawatt (MW) reactor might exceed $3 billion and take up to eight years. By comparison, it would cost about $1 billion to build a similar-sized gas-fired plant in about three years.

Duke said it is considering the construction of a new combined cycle gas plant, among other alternatives, to replace the power produced by Crystal River for its more than 1.6 million customers in Florida.

"You can buy replacement power much more cheaply today than in the past, and you can install replacement capacity very cheaply, in the form of a combined-cycle plant," said Sanford C. Bernstein senior analyst Hugh Wynne.

Nuclear plants were extremely profitable when gas prices soared in the mid-2000s. The situation reversed course, though, as gas prices began to slump due to a boom in shale production that drove supplies to record highs. The average gas price sank to a 13-year low in 2012.

"Gas prices have gotten so low they are challenging the nuclear portfolio," said UBS energy analyst Julien Dumoulin-Smith. "It's getting tougher for nuclear to compete."

Those weak gas prices helped pull power prices to near-decade lows, making it uneconomical for many generators to invest in their older plants - especially coal-fired units - to keep them compliant with stricter federal environmental regulations.

Since 2009, power companies have announced plans to shut more than 40,000 MW of coal-fired capacity in the coming years, and nuclear plants are next.

The Kewaunee reactor in Wisconsin is the first nuclear unit to succumb, as owner Dominion Resources Inc plans to shut it this year, partly because of pressure from shale gas.

UBS's Dumoulin-Smith has identified other reactors in danger of shutting, including Entergy Corp's Vermont Yankee in Vermont and FitzPatrick in New York, Exelon Corp's Clinton in Illinois and Constellation Energy Nuclear Group LLC's Ginna in New York.

These older reactors operating in deregulated states will find it harder to compete, Dumoulin-Smith said, due to high fixed costs compared with gas plants, expensive safety upgrades needed to implement lessons learned from the Fukushima accident in Japan, and stricter cooling water rules, among other things.

The total capacity of those four units, plus Kewaunee and Crystal River, is about 4,500 MW, which is about 4 percent of the nation's nuclear capacity.

New reactors under construction at Southern Co's Vogtle plant in Georgia, Scana Corp's Summer in South Carolina and Tennessee Valley Authority's Watts Bar in Tennessee would more than offset the lost capacity when they enter service over the next several years.

Pietrangelo at NEI, however, said those reactors, including Kewaunee, are running well without producing greenhouse gas emissions and are the low-cost producers in their regions.

"One of the attributes of deregulated markets is 'the price rules,' and they don't value nuclear like regulated markets do," Pietrangelo said.

"When you are not properly valued, it leads to purely economic decisions and ... a closing can happen," he said, noting that this was what happened to Kewaunee.

Entergy does not comment on the financial performance of individual reactors, said spokesman Rob Williams at Vermont Yankee. "We remain fully focused on the safe operation of our plants today and into the future," he said.

Exelon is not considering closing any nuclear plants, including Clinton, spokesman Krista Lopykinski said. "We do not change our long-term investment decisions based on short-term market fluctuations," she added.

Exelon owns about half of Constellation, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Nuclear critics are also calling for the retirement of the troubled San Onofre nuclear station in California, operated by a unit of Edison International.

Opponents recently "celebrated" the first year that the state grid operated without the 2,150-MW nuclear plant. Both reactors have been shut since January 2012 due to accelerated wear that affected thousands of tightly packed tubes inside new steam generators.

Operator Southern California Edison has proposed a plan to restart San Onofre Unit 2, but warned that more severe damage found in Unit 3 might require a longer, costlier repair. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment for this story.

Bernstein's Wynne said a utility must weigh many factors, not just the price tag of the repair, in deciding whether to fix or shut a plant, including a reactor's age, whether its 40-year license has been renewed, its location and market structure.

"Each of these decisions with respect to retirement is pretty much related to the individual characteristics of the plant and the costs of keeping them in service," said Wynne.

Lower gas prices may make the choice between a risky repair and a costly upgrade even harder.

Available at:

Return to Menu

Hollande Draws French Industry Ire as Nuclear-Energy Edge Fades,
Tara Patel, Bloomberg
(for personal use only)

French industrial groups are up in arms as their once-celebrated nuclear-energy edge evaporates.

After decades when their factories churned out everything from steel, glass and chemicals with one of the cheapest power prices in Europe thanks to the country’s 58 nuclear reactors, French companies’ competitive advantage is being whittled away as the U.S. embrace of shale gas cuts energy prices there and as Germany gives businesses fiscal breaks on electricity costs.

Electricite de France SA’s nuclear reactors, which make France the most reliant on atomic power in the world, will need billions of euros of upgrades just as more costly renewable power is being deployed. Both threaten to push electricity prices as President Francois Hollande struggles to make French industry -- with more jobs losses than any other European country in the past decade -- more competitive in the face of an economic slump and a trade deficit that’s near its record high.

“French energy used to be competitive,” said Emmanuel Rodriguez, head of energy for the French unit of ArcelorMittal, the world’s biggest steelmaker, which also has operations in Germany. “This model is crumbling. Germany is now better than us whereas a decade ago they were much more expensive.”
French power prices for big industrial users are projected to average as much as 25 percent higher next year than in Germany, according to Uniden, a lobby whose members consume 70 percent of electricity used by industry in France.

Large French factories will pay about 46 euros ($62) a megawatt hour compared with about 36 euros in Germany, the lobby estimates. The figures include rebates and exemptions such as compensation for carbon emissions, power transport and deals to shut production during peak demand periods like cold snaps.

“We are in survival mode,” said Jean-Paul Aghetti, a Uniden director. “Our competitiveness is at stake. It’s now a myth that French electricity is the most competitive in Europe.”

For the first year ever, France was a net importer of power from its neighbor every month in 2012 as German solar output more than doubled and its coal-fired production was competitive thanks to lower prices of U.S. exports freed up by a shale-gas boom, according to the French grid operator Reseau de Transport d’Electricite.

A 55 percent drop in carbon permit prices over the past year is also making it cheaper for fossil-fuel generators like Germany’s coal plants to produce electricity.

Meanwhile in France, last year’s presidential campaign exposed a schism between the main political parties on the future of nuclear energy. Hollande pledged to lower dependence over the next decade while boosting investment in renewable energies like wind and solar power, which produce more expensive power and rely heavily on subsidies.

Since the start of the year, France has embarked on a national debate on energy expected to culminate in a law in October to outline the country’s future energy mix. Environment Minister Delphine Batho has said the outcome will reflect Hollande’s promises on nuclear power.

French factory operators say the coming months are crucial to convince policy-makers they need competitive energy. A report on French competitiveness warns that the country “must not raise the cost of energy for industry.”

French nuclear output is a “veritable advantage” that needs to be preserved, according to the study published in November by Louis Gallois, former CEO of Airbus SAS’s parent European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co.

Businesses advocate nuclear power -- opposed by environmentalists pushing for a complete phase-out -- saying it offers stable output. The country’s biggest business lobby, Medef, is also asking the government to review its ban on shale exploration.

Additionally, companies want Hollande to give them tax rebates and other means to address the distortions in the European energy market. That demand is being made with an eye to advantages being given to businesses in neighboring Germany.

Following the 2011 nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, Japan, German Chancellor Angela Merkel decided to replace atomic reactors with more fossil-fired plants and a growing share of clean-energy sources. Eight reactors were shut immediately and the last are scheduled for closure by 2022.

Forecasts that Germany’s power imports would rise and new power plants would be built as a result didn’t materialize, according to Hans-Joachim Ziesing, a member of the independent commission monitoring the energy transformation in Germany.

The proportion of German electricity from renewables, coal and lignite rose in 2012 while power from nuclear and natural gas dropped compared with 2010.

German industry last year got financial support valued at 10 billion euros to offset electricity costs, including 4.76 billion euros in reduced taxes, according to a presentation Ziesing gave in Paris.
“The federal government has set itself an ambitious task that by 2050 renewable energy is to become a cornerstone of energy supply,” he said. “At the same time, Germany should remain a competitive business location.”

German power generation from renewables rose to 22 percent of the total last year compared with 16 percent in 2010, his presentation showed. During the period, power from hard coal and lignite increased to 45 percent from 42 percent.

German shielding of energy costs for industry is “an example of the huge distortions on European energy markets,” according to Jacques Percebois, an economics professor at the University of Montpellier. “France has long taken comfort in the fact that it has relatively cheap power thanks to nuclear reactors but this is no longer true for industry.”

Some German power-hungry industries such as steel plants don’t pay subsidies for wind and solar power being rapidly deployed across the country while a fee paid by households for renewables has jumped 47 percent.

French factory owners pay for renewables, although the contribution is capped for the biggest power users.

The European Commission has received “inquiries and complaints” on power-price rebates for German companies, Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger said at a conference in Berlin last month.

German exemptions of renewable costs for power-intensive factories “is justified in the interest of jobs,” Environment Minister Peter Altmaier said today in Paris at a hearing on the French energy debate. “I think we will have to explain this to our neighbors in Europe.” The number of sites benefitting could be lowered “to make it more acceptable,” he said.

Electricity costs for French factories is a “priority” of the energy debate, his French counterpart Batho said today.

“There is now an urgent need for a more coherent European energy policy,” according to Dominique Maillard, the head of France’s energy regulator, Commission de Regulation de l’Energie. “When energy subsidized by consumers is dumped on markets at negative prices, it’s not good for anyone.”

This was illustrated by a collapse of European power prices at the end of last year. Prices hit a record low of negative 50 euros a megawatt hour in France on Christmas Day as electricity from renewables flooded the market.

“We try to take advantage as much as we can of these market swings when they go in the right direction, but the situation isn’t tenable in the long run for anyone,” said Arcelor’s Rodriguez.

Available at:

Return to Menu

NPC & Areva to Resume Talks from Tuesday
Business Standard
(for personal use only)

Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) and Areva will begin talks from Tuesday onwards to finalise the final works contract for the 9,900 Mw Jaitapur nuclear power project in Maharashtra.

Initially, Areva is expected to supply two evolutionary pressurised reactors (EPRs) of 1,650 Mw each to NPC and subsequently four more EPRs.

A high-level Areva team led by its Senior Vice-president Yves Lintz would come for the talks.

Both the parties want to exchange finalise on documents during the ensuing visit of French president Francois Hollande on February 14-15. In December 2010, Areva had signed early works contract with NPC on this regard and both launched talks to enter into final works contract.

However, the Fukushima accident in march 2011 delayed the negotiations.

Areva and NPC revisited safety and security applications of EPRs and came out with their respective reports with additional measures.

Jaitapur project director CB Jain told Business Standard "NPC and Areva will continue talks. All efforts are in the direction of reaching at an agreement. Safety is of a paramount importance." He admitted that the cost is the key issue apart from the per unit tariff for the power generated from the Jaitapur project.

Recently, external affairs minister Salman Khurshid had announced that the talks between India and Areva had reached a "very advanced stage. " He had told reporters that "We have to settle the questions of safety raised by the tsunami in Japan and this has an effect on the unit price of energy produced."

NPC official, who did not want to be identified, said the inclusion of additional safety and security applications in the EPRs is expected to surge cost of its supply and the subsequent rise in the project cost and the per unit tariff. "However, this can be minimized if Areva ropes in local manufacturers and suppliers. The location will help reduce both the cost and tariff without compromising the safety and security," the official noted. He recalled that before the Fukushima accident the project cost was estimated to be around Rs 1 lakh crore and the per unit tariff of Rs 3.40 to Rs 3.50.

They are expected to exchange agreement papers on the occasion of French President's visit slated for February 15 in Mumbai

Available at:

Return to Menu

D.  Iran

EU Court Rules for Second Time Against Iran Bank Sanctions
(for personal use only)

The ruling further weakens the EU's sanctions regime imposed against Iran's nuclear programme, just weeks before six powers are due to resume stalled negotiations with Iran aimed at addressing fears that Tehran is seeking the bomb.

In its ruling on Tuesday, the EU's General Court said the EU had failed to provide sufficient evidence that Bank Saderat was involved in Iran's nuclear programme when the bloc targeted it with sanctions in July 2010.

EU governments have two months to appeal. Last week, the court issued a similar ruling about of Bank Mellat, the biggest private sector lender in Iran.

When the EU imposed sanctions on Bank Saderat, it accused it of providing "financial services for entities procuring on behalf of Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes".

The court, however, said the claims were not sufficiently substantiated.

"The Council (of EU governments) is in breach of the obligation to state reasons and the obligation to disclose to the applicant ... the evidence adduced against it," the court said in its ruling.

The EU has severely tightened sanctions on Iran over the last two years, seeking to pressure it to curb the nuclear programme it fears is aimed at creating atomic bomb capability, a charge Tehran denies.

More than 30 cases are still pending at the General Court, including ones filed by the Central Bank of Iran and the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC). Those sanctions severely affected Iran's ability to export oil and carry out international financial transactions.

EU diplomats, who fear the rulings could undermine the sanctions programme, say they face the challenge of providing sufficient justification while not compromising intelligence sources when they are drafting sanctions lists.

A spokeswoman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said EU institutions would examine the ruling, but gave no further comment.

She is due to lead a delegation representing six world powers in talks with Iran that resume in Kazakhstan on Feb. 26, aimed at defusing the nuclear stand-off.

Available at:

Return to Menu

Iranian Envoy Urges U.S. to Show Goodwill at Nuclear Talks
Alessandra Prentice
(for personal use only)

Progress at talks between world powers and Iran on its nuclear program later this month will depend on the United States showing "genuine honesty and goodwill", the Islamic Republic's ambassador to Russia said on Wednesday.

The two sides will meet in Kazakhstan on February 26 in another effort to forge a deal on Iran's nuclear ambitions. Iran says it wants only peaceful energy from nuclear fuel while the powers suspect it is pursuing the means to develop nuclear weapons.

Previous attempts have failed to yield an overall agreement on curbing and monitoring Iran's nuclear activities and hopes of success at the next talks have been tempered by signs of skepticism in Tehran.

But a senior Russian official said he hoped progress was possible and Iran's ambassador to Russia, Mahmoud Reza Sajjadi, said the ball was in Washington's court.

"If they (the United States) demonstrate genuine goodwill and honesty, we'll have the best possible talks," the envoy told a news conference in Moscow, sitting in front of a screen showing a montage of Iranian cultural and sporting achievements.

He echoed Iran's foreign minister in welcoming U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden's offer of bilateral talks on Saturday, but in other comments the ambassador sought to cast doubt on the trustworthiness of Washington.

"Our attitude to this proposal is positive ... but I ask you Russians, how much do you believe Americans?" Sajjadi said. "Obama said America would not let Israel build new settlements (in occupied territory) ... Did they keep their word?"

Western diplomats say Iran has avoided addressing their concerns in previous rounds talks to buy time to develop nuclear technology with potential civilian or military applications.

The talks this month in the Kazakh city of Almaty will bring together officials from Iran as well as the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany.

Russia has supported four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran but criticized unilateral European Union sanctions including an oil embargo, imposed on Tehran.

A senior Russian diplomat said he hoped the negotiations would be productive because time was running out.

"In spite of everything I hope the next round of talks leads, if not to a breakthrough, then to a serious change ... a lot of time has been wasted," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told state news agency Ria.

Available at:

Return to Menu

E.  Nuclear Cooperation

Saudi Cabinet Endorses Nuclear Accord with France
Massoud A. Derhally
Arabian Business
(for personal use only)

Saudi Arabia's government endorsed a nuclear energy pact signed between the kingdom and France two years ago, as the kingdom vies to diversify its energy mix and meet growing power demand, Arab News reported.

The cabinet's decision follows talks between Saudi officials with French Minister of Industry Arnaud Montebourg last month in Riyadh.

In 2011, France signed an agreement to offer atomic know-how and training for local staff in the kingdom and the use and transfer of knowledge of peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The accord "allows Saudi experts to study the French technology options, their financial requirements and implications for developing qualified national human resources," according to the agreement.

The world's largest oil producer aims to decrease the use of its domestic oil to generate electricity and plans to build up its nuclear capacity by 2032 with about 17 nuclear reactors, as its population grows and it invests more than $500bn to expand its infrastructure.

The kingdom has signed nuclear cooperation agreements with Argentina and South Korea as well.
"Saudi Arabia will only deploy the most advanced and thoroughly tested technologies, paying maximum attention to safety, security and safeguards of the highest international standards," according to the website of King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy.

Saudi Arabia, the Arab world’s biggest economy, is spending US$219bn this year on education, healthcare, social benefits and infrastructure.

In a report in September, Citigroup said the kingdom could become an oil importer by 2030 if the country's oil consumption grows in line with peak power demand.

Saudi Arabia's economy is set to slow this year to an estimated 4.2 percent from about 6 percent in 2012, according to International Monetary Fund projections.

Available at:

Return to Menu

F.  Links of Interest

Don’t Gut Nuclear Safety Standards
The Japan Times
(for personal use only)

Return to Menu

Exelon Says it Did Not Mislead NRC
Power Engineering
(for personal use only)

Return to Menu

DISCLAIMER: Nuclear News is presented for informational purposes only. Readers are encouraged to visit the websites from which the source material originates. Views presented in any given article are those of the individual author or source and not of Partnership for Global Security. Partnership for Global Security takes no responsibility for the accuracy of information contained in any article presented in Nuclear News.

To be automatically removed from our mailing list, click on the following link: Remove Me From The List

If you have questions/comments/concerns, please reply to

Section Menu:

© 2007 Partnership for Global Security. All rights reserved. Privacy Statement.