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Nuclear News - 3/25/2013
PGS Nuclear News, March 25, 2013
Compiled By: Andrei Antonescu


A.  North Korea
    1. China Punishes North Korea as US Asks for More, Charles Hutzler, Associated Press (3/23/2013)
B.  Iran
    1. No Nuclear Breakthrough on Iran in Istanbul: Russia , Global Post (3/21/2013)
C.  Japan
    1. Japan Orders TEPCO to Install Backup Power Sources at Fukushima Daiichi, Lucas W Hixson, Enformable (3/22/2013)
D.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. IAEA Review of Nuclear Regulator After Recast: Officials, Economic Times (3/24/2013)
    2. Limerick Nuke Plant Upgrade Aims to Prevent Fukushima-Like Explosion, Evan Brandt, The Mercury (3/23/2013)
    3. Macfarlane Nominated by Obama for New Term as NRC Chief, Michael Shepard, Bloomberg (3/22/2013)
    4. NRC to Enhance Post-Fukushima Vent Requirements, Elaine Piniat, Berkeley Patch (3/22/2013)
E.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. U.S., Netherlands in Nuclear Security Pact, UPI (3/22/2013)
F.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Kepco-Marubeni Win Contract, Vietnam News Agency (3/23/2013)
    2. Chashma 3 Gets Its Dome, World Nuclear News (3/22/2013)
    3. Ailing San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant Eyes Summer Restart, Southern California Public Radio (3/22/2013)
    4. Embalse Wins Loan for Longer Life, World Nuclear News (3/22/2013)
G.  Links of Interest
    1. Nuclear Weapons Hide in Pandora’s Box as Scots Seek to Quit U.K., Peter Woodifield, Bloomberg (3/21/2013)
    2. NSS In Ninety Seconds (3/21/2013)



A.  North Korea

1.
China Punishes North Korea as US Asks for More
Charles Hutzler
Associated Press
3/23/2013
(for personal use only)


China is trying to punish ally North Korea for its nuclear and missile tests, stepping up inspections of North Korean-bound cargo in a calibrated effort to send a message of Chinese pique without further provoking a testy Pyongyang government.

Freight handlers and trading companies at ports and cities near the North Korean border complain of more rigorous inspections and surprise checks that are raising the costs to doing business with an often unpredictable North Korea. Machinery, luxury goods and daily necessities such as rice and cooking oil are among the targeted products, the companies said, and business is suffering.

"Some business orders we don't dare take. We don't dare do that business because we fear that after the orders are taken, we will end up unable to ship them," said a Mr. Hu, an executive with Dalian Fast International Logistics Co. in the northeastern port city of Dalian, across the Yellow Sea from the North Korean port of Nampo. Hu said the company's business is off by as much as 20 percent this year.

North Korea's economic lifeline, China is showing signs of getting tough with an impoverished neighbor it has long supported with trade, aid and diplomatic protection for fear of setting off a collapse.

The moves to crimp, but not cut off trade with North Korea come as Beijing falls under increased scrutiny to enforce new U.N. sanctions passed after last month's nuclear test, Pyongyang's third. Targeted in the sanctions are the bank financing and bulk smuggling of cash that could assist North Korea's nuclear and missile programs as well as the luxury goods that sustain the ruling elite around leader Kim Jong Un. Pyongyang has reacted with fury and threatening rhetoric against South Korea and the U.S.

U.S. officials in Beijing for two days of talks to lobby China on enforcement said Friday that they were heartened by Chinese expressions of resolve. Spurring Beijing to cooperate, the U.S. officials said, is a concern that North Korean behavior had begun threatening China's interests in a region vital to its economic and security.

"There's reason to believe the Chinese are looking at the threat in a real way," Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen told reporters.

China's change of tack with North Korea unlikely foreshadows a total end to Beijing's support. For Beijing, North Korea remains a pivotal strategic buffer between China and a U.S.-allied South Korea, and Chinese leaders worry that too much pressure could upend an already fragile North Korean economy and cause the Kim government to collapse, leaving Beijing with a security headache and possible refugee crisis.

But North Korea watchers said between blind support and complete abandonment there's much Beijing is doing and can do to try to rein in Pyongyang.

"We have to get away from the binary thinking that either they support North Korea or they pull the plug. That's not the way the world works," said Jonathan Pollack of the Brookings Institution, a Washington think-tank. "The interesting thing is not what happens at the UN but what happens beneath the radar in terms of what Chinese provide in economic aid and energy assistance."

Over the past decade, as previous nuclear and long-range missile tests and other provocations saw the UN, the U.S., South Korea and Japan impose sanctions and reduce trade and assistance to North Korea, China has stepped into the breach. By 2011, China provided nearly all of North Korea's fuel and more than 83 percent of its imports, everything from heavy machinery to grain and electronics and other consumer goods, according to statistics from the International Trade Center, a research arm of the United Nations and World Trade Organization.

Though Pyongyang could look to other trading partners like Russia, Iran or Kuwait for fuel and some other goods, China's proximity - their shared 1,400-kilometer (880-mile) border - makes it indispensable. Chinese companies, often with backed by the government, are enlarging North Korean ports and building roads, helping to underpin growth after more than a decade of famine and economic decay.

Such was the Chinese support that U.S. politicians and UN experts complained that Beijing was failing to enforce previous rounds of sanctions, particularly on luxury goods. The $169,000 worth of pleasure boats imported by North Korea last year all came from China, the ITC data show, as did most of the liquor and cigarettes.

As China upped its investment, it became disillusioned with Kim Jong Un. Since coming to power after the sudden death of his dictator father, Kim has refused to heed Beijing's prodding to engage in economic reform and return to negotiations over its nuclear program.

Beijing's unhappiness began to show in December, around the time of North Korea's latest long-range rocket launch but before the nuclear test. It was then, traders and cargo companies said, that orders for tightened inspections appeared.

At Complant International Transportation in the port of Dalian, customs inspectors began opening containers and packages with equipment or luxury goods or anything they deemed sensitive rather than just scan them, said a company executive who identified himself only by his surname, Zhang.

"That was since the end of last year. Now they're even stricter," Zhang said.

Companies in the border city of Dandong on the Yalu River said North Korean-bound goods have to be stored in bonded logistics centers for inspection by customs authorities. Banking restrictions mean North Korean traders have a hard time getting hard currency.

"Due to the lack of cash, North Korean companies tend to pay with minerals or coal, but we only trade with those able to pay in cash," said Yu Tao, vice general manager of the Dandong Import and Export Co. Yu said the company trades daily consumer goods and has been reducing its trade with North Korea because of the risks.

Banking is one area where China has been tightening controls, but the U.S. would like Beijing to do more. "China remains the name of the game when it comes to financial sanctions against North Korea," said Jo Dong-ho, an expert on the North Korean economy at Seoul's Ewha Womans University.

In late 2011, Beijing forced the China Construction Bank to close accounts opened by the Korea Kwangson Banking Corp. in Dandong and the Golden Triangle Bank in Hunchun, another border city, to comply with previous U.N. sanctions. Still, with tens of thousands of North Koreans having fled to China, many just for short-term work, plus traders, the yuan is used inside North Korea, and smuggling of large amounts of the Chinese currency across the border has become common.

Cohen, the U.S. Treasury official, said he urged China to follow the U.S. lead and impose sanctions on North Korea's Foreign Trade Bank. The bank serves as the main foreign exchange bank for North Korea, wiring and receiving funds to facilitate trade, most of which goes through China, so sanctions would in effect further force more North Koreans to turn to cash.

"North Koreans will have no choice but to carry a large amount of cash by themselves," said Kim Joongho, a senior research fellow at South Korea's Export-Import Bank. That will cause "inconvenience on the Pyongyang elites' economic lives."

Available at: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/A/AS_CHINA_PUNISHING_NORTH_KOREA?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT


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B.  Iran

1.
No Nuclear Breakthrough on Iran in Istanbul: Russia
Global Post
3/21/2013
(for personal use only)


Expert talks between world power and Iran over Tehran's nuclear programme produced no breakthrough but were positive in tone, Russia's chief negotiator on the dispute said on Thursday.

"There was certain progress. It was real but insufficient to speak of a breakthrough," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told reporters after the talks in Istanbul on Monday.

Ryabkov said the two sides "still had a lot of homework to do" before a fifth round of higher-level political discussions in Almaty on April 5-6.

The European Union said on Tuesday that the world powers -- the five permanent UN Security Council members and Germany -- gave Iran fresh details on a proposed deal aimed at ending international concern over Tehran's nuclear drive.

The six states last month offered Iran an easing of non-oil or financial sector-related sanctions in exchange for concessions over Tehran's sensitive uranium enrichment operations.

The offer in return demands a tougher nuclear inspection regime and the interruption of enrichment operations at the Fordo bunker facility where 20-percent enrichment goes on.

The West suspects Tehran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons under the guise of what the Islamic republic insists is a purely civilian programme with peaceful ends.

Available at: http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130321/no-nuclear-breakthrough-iran-istanbul-russia


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C.  Japan

1.
Japan Orders TEPCO to Install Backup Power Sources at Fukushima Daiichi
Lucas W Hixson
Enformable
3/22/2013
(for personal use only)


After the power outage at Fukushima Daiichi this week that took over 29 hours to restore, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, Yoshihide Suge, confirmed at a press conference Thusrday, that Japan’s government had ordered TEPCO to install multiple additional backup power sources to critical cooling and safety systems at the crippled nuclear power plant.

Suge also said that the government instructed TEPCO to improve its risk management and implement other additional efforts as quickly as possible, as the public confidence in the safety of the plant had been greatly damaged. TEPCO had been criticized for a three hour delay in reporting the outage to local and national authorities.

It was also reported that of the 14.9 billion yen the Environment Ministry demanded TEPCO to pay for costs related to decontamination work since the March 11th nuclear disaster, the utility has thus far failed to pay 10.5 billion yen. In February of this year, the Environment Ministry sent TEPCO a written notice about the late payment. TEPCO refused to comment on the matter.

Available at: http://enformable.com/2013/03/japan-orders-tepco-to-install-backup-power-sources-at-fukushima-daiichi/


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D.  Nuclear Safety & Security

1.
IAEA Review of Nuclear Regulator After Recast: Officials
Economic Times
3/24/2013
(for personal use only)


Seeking to instill confidence in burgeoning atomic power sector, India is planning to ask the IAEA to conduct a peer review of its nuclear regulatory system after it is recast.

The Atomic Energy Commission is preparing to invite the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) to examine its regulatory system, which will get statutory status after the passage of the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA) Bill by Parliament.

The proposal for inviting the IRRS team was discussed at length during the recent five-day visit of IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano to India.

"We will invite the IRRS team after the NSRA is in place," officials said.

At present, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board, set up through an executive order in 1983, is the sectoral regulator.

Ahead of the visit, the Union Cabinet also cleared the amendments to the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill as recommended by a Parliamentary Standing Committee, which examined the draft legislation.

The Bill may be introduced in Parliament for consideration and passing in the Monsoon Session.
Last year, India had invited a team of IAEA experts to review the operational safety measures at Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, units 3&4 at Rawatbhata.

The IAEA team had found the nuclear reactors to be among the "best and safest" in the world which showcased some good practices from which others could also learn.

The Comptroller and Auditor General ( CAG), in its report last year, had dubbed the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board as a weak regulator which had failed to prepare a nuclear safety policy for India in the three decades of its existence.

Kudankulam, where a nuclear power plant has come up with Russian collaboration, had witnessed months long protests in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011.

Activists and locals are opposing the commissioning of the 1000 MW Russian-made reactor, dubbing it unsafe.

Available at: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2013-03-24/news/37981349_1_fukushima-nuclear-accident-rajasthan-atomic-power-station-nuclear-reactors


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2.
Limerick Nuke Plant Upgrade Aims to Prevent Fukushima-Like Explosion
Evan Brandt
The Mercury
3/23/2013
(for personal use only)


In an effort to prevent an explosion at nuclear plants with reactor designs similar to the one at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan two years ago, the government is requiring further improvements at some American nuclear plants, including the Limerick Generating Station.

Specifically, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted 3-2 on March 19 to require 31 boiling water nuclear reactors with Mark I or Mark II containment system designs to improve their venting systems to keep pressure from escaping hydrogen from building inside the containment building and exploding, as occurred in Japan.

The Fukushima Daiichi disaster occurred in March, 2011 when a tsunami, caused by a 8.9 level earthquake off the coast of Japan, flooded the plant knocking out power to cooling pumps and leading to explosions and massive radiation releases.

However, as The New York Times reported , although the vent decision is meant to prevent the build-up of pressure, temperature and radiation, like at Fukushima, “the agency stopped short of requiring filters to scrub out radioactive particles coming through those vents.”

The staff must consider both the use of filters and other approaches to achieving the goal of preventing the release of radiation during an accident.

Since the Fukushima disaster, the NRC has ordered hundreds of safety upgrades, most of which have been embraced by the nuclear industry.

However one area of resistance has been the question of requiring filters, which would cost the industry as much as $45 million.

The filters, which are supposed to prevent radioactive particles from escaping into the atmosphere and which are required in Japan and much of Europe, have been recommended by the staff of the regulatory commission.

But, as the Times has reported, the industry has held private meetings with commissioners and their staffs, “and helped line up letters of support from dozens of members of Congress, many of whom received industry campaign contributions” against the requirement.

On March 7, NRC Chair Allison Macfarlane wrote to Massachusetts congressman Edward Markey in support of using filters, but the majority of the commission voted against focusing on that approach alone, opting instead to allow filters to be just one of several approaches considered for a staff recommendation.

“The debate over the filters reflects a simmering tension that has been building inside the regulatory agency since the Fukushima accident in Japan. A tug of war among commissioners and between some commissioners and staff members has produced repeated votes that reject staff safety recommendations,” the Times reported in February .

In 2011, former NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko resigned after the other four commissioners complained to the White House that Jaczko was cutting them out of the loop on plans for the industry’s response to the Japanese disaster.

Jaczko, responded that, “unfortunately, all too often, when faced with tough policy calls, a majority of this current commission has taken an approach that is not as protective of public health and safety as I believe is necessary.”

Some action has been taken however.

In March 2012, the NRC ordered that reactors with containment design similar to Fukushima, including Limerick, “harden” their venting systems.

“‘Hardened’ means these vents must withstand the pressure and temperature of the steam generated early in an accident. The vents must also withstand possible fires and small explosions if they are used to release hydrogen later in an accident. The vents must be reliable enough to be operated even if the reactor loses all electrical power or if other hazardous conditions exist,” the NRC’s blog explained last April .

The most recent order takes that improvement one step further.

“This is the bottom line: the NRC will issue an order requiring stronger venting systems and will use the agency’s rulemaking process to consider the best approach by which these 31 reactors can keep radioactive material from the environment during a severe accident,” NRC public affairs officer Scott Burnell wrote on the NRC blog .

“Some of the U.S. reactors that are similar to the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant have vents that reduce pressure during an accident and keep water flowing to the reactor to cool the fuel. The venting systems at Fukushima played a role in their nuclear crisis, and the NRC, last March, issued an order to the 31 plants with similar designs to take action. The plants either had to install vents or improve their existing venting system. The goal was to make sure the vents can operate during the early phases of an accident, even if the plant lost all power for an extended time,” Burnell wrote.

“Generally speaking, these additional requirements mean the vents could handle the pressures, temperatures and radiation levels from a damaged reactor, and that plant personnel could operate the vents under these conditions,” Burnell wrote.

The NRC staff has 60 days to finalize an order for these enhancements.

Dana Melia, communications manager for the Limerick nuclear plant, said the company supports the decision.

“Exelon fully supports the NRC’s decision to use the rulemaking process to identify the most effective way to reduce radiation releases in extreme situations,” Melia wrote in an e-mail to The Mercury.

“Exelon will spend approximately $400 million across its nuclear fleet over the next four years on Fukushima-related enhancements. Industry efforts to upgrade or install new vents is one outcome of Fukushima lessons learned. At Limerick Generating Station, a conceptual design to install new hardened containment vents has been developed to further improve our safe and reliable operations,” she wrote.

“Like our many stakeholders and industry partners, we want the very best strategy available and we continue to advocate for an effective site-by-site solution,” Melia wrote.

NRC staff now has a year to produce a technical evaluation of the new rule.

“The commission directed the staff to consider both the use of a filter to be placed on the vent, as well as a more performance-based approach using existing systems to achieve a similar reduction in radioactive release during an accident,” according to a March 19 NRC release.

The staff then must develop a draft rule and final rule, all by March 2017.

In addition to Limerick, the rule also applies to reactors at Oyster Creek, Peach Bottom and Susquehanna nuclear plants, according to NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan.

Available at: http://www.pottsmerc.com/article/20130323/NEWS01/130329673/limerick-nuke-plant-upgrade-aims-to-prevent-fukushima-like-explosion#full_story


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3.
Macfarlane Nominated by Obama for New Term as NRC Chief
Michael Shepard
Bloomberg
3/22/2013
(for personal use only)


U.S. President Barack Obama nominated Allison Macfarlane to a new term as chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, less than a year after she took over the agency following her predecessor’s resignation.

Macfarlane, whose term expires on June 30, was chosen to serve a full five-year stint at the NRC, according to a White House statement yesterday. Her nomination requires confirmation by the Senate.

A geologist and environmental science professor, Macfarlane took over the agency in July after the resignation of Chairman Gregory Jaczko, who had been criticized by colleagues for his management style and for verbally abusing female employees.

Macfarlane, 49, was initially named to a one-year term. She said on March 12 she “would be most happy” to remain in the job if asked by Obama.

The NRC is considering a recommendation from its staff that utilities install radiation filters at 31 U.S. reactors in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. The commission on March 19 delayed action on the proposal, which may cost as much as $20 million per unit, and asked agency staff to consider other approaches.

Obama yesterday also nominated Fred Hochberg to a four-year term as head of the Export-Import Bank, the official export credit agency of the U.S. The bank helps finance the export of goods and services to international markets with working capital guarantees, export credit insurance, loan guarantees and direct loans to buyers.

Hochberg had been cited as a possible contender for the job of U.S. Trade Representative, which is currently vacant. Had he been nominated and confirmed as trade representative position, Hochberg would have been the first openly gay man to serve in a Cabinet-level position. U.S. President Barack Obama nominated Allison Macfarlane to a new term as chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, less than a year after she took over the agency following her predecessor’s resignation.

Macfarlane, whose term expires on June 30, was chosen to serve a full five-year stint at the NRC, according to a White House statement yesterday. Her nomination requires confirmation by the Senate.

A geologist and environmental science professor, Macfarlane took over the agency in July after the resignation of Chairman Gregory Jaczko, who had been criticized by colleagues for his management style and for verbally abusing female employees.

Macfarlane, 49, was initially named to a one-year term. She said on March 12 she “would be most happy” to remain in the job if asked by Obama.

The NRC is considering a recommendation from its staff that utilities install radiation filters at 31 U.S. reactors in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. The commission on March 19 delayed action on the proposal, which may cost as much as $20 million per unit, and asked agency staff to consider other approaches.

Obama yesterday also nominated Fred Hochberg to a four-year term as head of the Export-Import Bank, the official export credit agency of the U.S. The bank helps finance the export of goods and services to international markets with working capital guarantees, export credit insurance, loan guarantees and direct loans to buyers.

Hochberg had been cited as a possible contender for the job of U.S. Trade Representative, which is currently vacant. Had he been nominated and confirmed as trade representative position, Hochberg would have been the first openly gay man to serve in a Cabinet-level position.

Available at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-22/macfarlane-nominated-by-obama-for-new-term-as-nrc-chief.html


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4.
NRC to Enhance Post-Fukushima Vent Requirements
Elaine Piniat
Berkeley Patch
3/22/2013
(for personal use only)


The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has directed its technical staff to improve venting pressure during potential accidents at 31 reactors, including the Oyster Creek Generating Station.

The Commission’s decision comes two years after the Fukushima meltdown in Japan and requires hardened venting systems at boiling-water reactors with Mark I and Mark II containments.

“In reaching this decision, the Commission engaged in thoughtful deliberation with each other as we each considered these important issues in our post-Fukushima accident review process,” said NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane.

Since Fukushima, local advocates have petitioned to shut down U.S. nuclear plants with the same type of reactor as the Japanese plant.

In 1972, several years after Oyster Creek came online, the containment structures of Mark 1 boilers were deemed likely to fail under a severe accident, Paul Gunter, Director of the Reactor Oversight Project for Beyond Nuclear has said.

Beyond Nuclear, an anti-nuclear organization, headed a petition that called for the immediate suspension of 17 nuclear facilities with General Electric (GE) Boiling Water Reactors Mark I Units, the same type of reactors at Fukushima that experienced a meltdown following an earthquake and tsunami.

It was later confirmed that there is a 90 percent failure rate under severe conditions, Gunter said. In 1989 the NRC approved the voluntary installation of vents, which would vent open containment to the atmosphere.

The same vents installed at Oyster Creek were installed at Fukushima in 1991. When Japan was hit with a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March, those vents had a 100 percent failure rate on three reactors, Gunter said.

Oyster Creek, along with other Mark I and II Boiling Water Reactors, was already required under an NRC order issued in March 2012 to ensure that the plant has a reliable hardened vent system, which vents combustible gases from the plant’s containment following a severe accident, NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said.

Exelon Generation, the operator of Oyster Creek, recently filed an integrated plan for addressing that requirement, he said.

Under the order the Commission issued this week, the vent requirement is now being enhanced, Sheehan said.

NRC staff will have 60 days to finalize the order, which will require the vents to handle the elevated pressures, temperatures and radiation levels from a damaged reactor. The Order will also ensure plant personnel can operate the vents safely under these accident conditions.

NRC staff will also have a year to produce a technical evaluation to support rulemaking on filtering. Additional public input will be gathered during that time to complete analysis.

“Exelon fully supports the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's decision to use the rulemaking process to identify the most effective way to reduce radiation releases in extreme situations,” Oyster Creek spokesperson Suzanne D’Ambrosio said. “Like our many stakeholders and industry partners, we want the very best strategy available and we continue to advocate for an effective site-by-site solution.”

The Commission directed the staff to consider both the use of a filter to be placed on the vent, as well as a more performance-based approach using existing systems to achieve a similar reduction in radioactive release during an accident, a news release from the NRC said.

“With respect to the latter, it involves, among other things, plant operators using containment sprays and flooding to deal with the aftermath of a severe accident,” Sheehan said. “Also, Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactors can use the torus to help filter radioactive gases.”

A draft rule and final rule must be developed by March 2017.

“We recognize this as a very dangerous half measure,” Gunter said.

Essentially, the NRC has rejected its Japan lessons learned project directorate and senior management who recommended that the Mark I and Mark II containments be equipped with a severe accident capable vent and a high capacity radiation filter, he said. Although the venting systems will be improved, the filter aspect has been rejected.

Gunter related the NRC’s order to putting a screen door on a submarine. The order requires operators to vent pressure and hydrogen gas while ignoring that they will “fire hose” communities with radiation release without a filter in the case of a severe accident, he said.

“The order as it stands and proceeds does not provide for the best interest of the public health and safety but a financial agenda for the industry,” he said.

The NRC also rejected a prompt order, Gunter said.

“The commission voted with the industry to pursue further study and to explore rulemaking. This will add years if not outright kill the filter concept,” he said. “Essentially, Oyster Creek is going to be closed before they even begin to come up with a concept and we think this is incredibly disingenuous on the part of the Commission.”

Beyond Nuclear is now calling on the NRC for the revocation of Oyster Creek’s operating license, having filed a petition on Thursday. The New Jersey Environmental Federation has also signed on.

Available at: http://berkeley-nj.patch.com/articles/nrc-to-enhance-post-fukushima-vent-requirements-d1361586


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E.  Nuclear Cooperation

1.
U.S., Netherlands in Nuclear Security Pact
UPI
3/22/2013
(for personal use only)


The United States and the Kingdom of the Netherlands say they've expanded their cooperation to reduce global nuclear and radiological threats.

Under an agreement signed with the National Nuclear Security Administration Office of Global Threat Reduction, or GTRI, the Netherlands will continue its partnership with GTRI to secure and remove vulnerable radiological material by contributing $650,000 to the effort.

This is the Netherlands' second major cooperative activity with GTRI, and the third time the Netherlands has partnered with NNSA's nuclear nonproliferation programs, an NNSA release reported Thursday.

Under the new agreement, the Netherlands financial contribution will support GTRI's current work in Kazakhstan on projects related to the search, removal and physical protection of radiological material, officials said.

"The Kingdom of the Netherlands has made significant contributions to our joint nonproliferation commitments and is a valued partner in the global effort to reduce nuclear and radiological threats," NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington said.

"We look forward to many more years of cooperation between our countries to strengthen global security and prevent nuclear terrorism."

The NNSA is a semiautonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the application of nuclear science.

Available at: http://www.upi.com/Science_News/2013/03/22/US-Netherlands-in-nuclear-security-pact/UPI-74901363998981/


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F.  Nuclear Energy

1.
Kepco-Marubeni Win Contract
Vietnam News Agency
3/23/2013
(for personal use only)


A Japanese and South Korean consortium has successfully bid to invest in and operate a powerful coal-fired thermal power station in Nghi Son, the central province of Thanh Hoa.

The 1,200MW plant will be built under the BOT (Build-Operate–Transfer) model with a total investment expected to reach VND48 trillion (US$2.3 billion).

The consortium consisting of the Korean Electric Power Corporation (Kepco) and the Japanese Marubeni Corporation will set up a joint-venture company to build the power plant by 2018, after which they will operate it for 25 years before handing it over to Viet Nam.

The cost of the $2.3 billion project will be supplied by South Korea's Eximbank and the Japan Bank for International Co-operation through project financing.

The pair of investors plan to hand over the engineering, procurement and construction of the plant to the Doosan company, which will gradually complete the construction and equip it with a turbine, power generator and boiler, manufactured and installed by Doosan Korea and Doosan Vina.

Speaking at the ceremony announcing the project's investors, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Le Duong Quang called on the consortium to quickly finalise the contract and proposal to ensure that work begins on schedule.

He also expressed his confidence that Doosan will well accomplish the project following their effective work on a similar plant in Mong Duong.

Available at: http://vietnamnews.vn/economy/237173/kepco-marubeni-win-contract.html


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2.
Ailing San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant Eyes Summer Restart
Southern California Public Radio
3/22/2013
(for personal use only)


In a reversal, the operator of the San Onofre nuclear plant says it might ask for changes to its license. The goal is to get the plant running by when it’s most needed — the hot summer months.

Last fall, Southern California Edison proposed re-starting San Onofre at 70 percent power for five months. They said operating at reduced power would make the tube-to-tube wear that shut down the plant less likely.

But federal regulators questioned whether the plant could run at a level it was neither designed nor licensed for. For months, Edison has maintained it is allowed to run San Onofre at reduced power.

Company spokesman Jennifer Manfre says that hasn’t changed, but in the interest of getting the plant re-started as quickly as possible it’s now considering another tack: asking for a license change.

“Because we want to be responsible to our customers, particularly with the summer heat coming, we’re looking to pursue the right path that has the least amount of delay and uses resources wisely,” said Manfre.

The environmental group Friends of Earth has long argued that Edison should have applied for a new operating license when it installed its new steam generators.

Spokesman Damon Moglen says what Edison is thinking about doing now amounts to a dangerous shortcut.

“It’s clear to everybody that running damaged nuclear nuclear reactors is a terrible idea and what we need is a full, thorough public review and not some expedited process for them to go online to make profits during the summer months,” said Moglen.

Moglen’s group wants San Onofre scrutinized by judges, witnesses under oath and public hearings — just the sort of drawn out process Edison badly wants to avoid.

Available at: http://www.scpr.org/news/2013/03/22/36500/ailing-san-onofre-nuclear-power-plant-eyes-summer/


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3.
Chashma 3 Gets Its Dome
World Nuclear News
3/22/2013
(for personal use only)


The first of two reactors being constructed in the Punjab region of Pakistan by Chinese companies has passed a significant milestone with the emplacement of its dome.

The operation to fit the dome was completed on 6 March, China's State Nuclear Power Technology Company (SNPTC) reported. Two 340 MWe pressurised water reactors (PWRs) are under construction at the site, which has China Zhongyuan Engineering as the general contractor and China Nuclear Industry No.5 Construction Company as installer. The reactor design was provided by the Shanghai Nuclear Engineering and Research Design Institute.

Chashma 3 and Chashma 4 are expected to begin commercial operation in 2016 and 2017 respectively, although SNPTC said that the unit 3 dome lift was carried out ahead of schedule. The new units will add to the generation already provided by Chashma 1 and 2 - 300 MWe PWRs also supplied by China. Only one other power reactor operates in the country, a 125 MWe pressurised heavy water reactor at Karachi (Kanupp). All units are owned and operated by the state-owned Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission.

Pakistan is not a party to the non-proliferation treaty and therefore is not generally permitted to purchase nuclear technologies and materials. The reactors being built are subject to specific International Atomic Energy Agency safeguard arrangements.

Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/NN-Chashma_3_gets_its_dome_220313a.html


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4.
Embalse Wins Loan for Longer Life
World Nuclear News
3/22/2013
(for personal use only)


The Development Bank of Latin America has issued its first loan for a nuclear project to support the refurbishment and licence extension of Argentina's Embalse nuclear power plant.

The loan was announced on 19 March by the president of the bank, Enrique Garcia, and the Argentinean minister of planning, public investment and services, Julio De Vido.

Amounting to $240 million, it will help Nucleoelectrica Argentina SA (NA-SA) in refurbishing the Candu pressurized heavy-water reactor at Embalse. This means replacing the pressure tubes, installing new steam generators, new control systems and increasing its power output by 35 MWe to around 635 MWe net in the process. The work could begin this November.

As well as generating electricity, Embalse also produces cobalt-60 for uses in medicine, industry and food irradiation worldwide. In Candu reactors this can be done by using replacing certain stainless steel components with versions made from cobalt, which is converted to cobalt-60 by radiation from the reactor's operation. These parts can be removed about every two years for processing by a specialist.

The major project is worth about $1.3 billion in total, and should allow Embalse to continue generating for a further 25 years. The reactor has provided about 4% of Argentinean electricity since start-up in 1983, which NA-SA said meets the needs of 3-4 million people. Contracts worth over $440 million were signed with Candu Energy in 2011.

The project is part of an Argentinean nuclear plan launched in 2006 in which the two other main parts are to complete Atucha II (now in the commissioning phase) and to develop the CAREM design for an integrated and simplified pressurized water reactor by building a 27 MWe prototype version. Beyond this, the government has been talking to a wide range of international reactor vendors to supply further nuclear power units.

Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/C_Embalse_wins_loan_for_longer_life_2203131.html


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G.  Links of Interest

1.
NSS In Ninety Seconds
3/21/2013
(for personal use only)
http://vimeo.com/62294682?goback=.gde_4839663_member_225968635


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2.
Nuclear Weapons Hide in Pandora’s Box as Scots Seek to Quit U.K.
Peter Woodifield
Bloomberg
3/21/2013
(for personal use only)
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-03-22/nuclear-weapons-hide-in-pandora-s-b..


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