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Nuclear News - 4/1/2013
PGS Nuclear News, April 1, 2013
Compiled By: Andrei Antonescu

A.  North Korea
    1. North Korea Ups Ante in War of Words, Rick Wallace, The Australian (4/1/2013)
    2. South Korea Unveils ‘Active’ Nuclear Deterrence Plan, RIA Novosti (4/1/2013)
    3. DPRK Unveils Twin Goals of Economic Construction, Nuclear Capability, Xinhua News Agency (3/31/2013)
B.  Iran
    1. P5+1 Had More Realistic Approach in Almaty Talks: Iranian Official, PressTV (3/30/2013)
C.  Japan
    1. Tepco Testing New Water Decontamination System at Fukushima No. 1 Plant, The Japan Times (3/31/2013)
    2. Japanese Utility Takes Blame for Nuclear Crisis, Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press (3/29/2013)
D.  Nuclear Safety & Security
    1. Two More Problem Areas Discovered at Yankee, Times Argus (3/30/2013)
    2. Brazil to Invest R$300 Million in Nuclear Power Plant Safety, InfoSur Hoy (3/29/2013)
    3. Security Fence to Be Extended at Y-12, WBIR (3/28/2013)
    4. More Study Needed on Nuke-Cancer Link, Rachel Morgan, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (3/28/2013)
E.  Nuclear Cooperation
    1. Velan Signed Nuclear Valve Contracts in China Worth US$9.75 million (EUR7.5 Million), Marketwire (3/28/2013)
F.  Nuclear Energy
    1. Areva CEO Says Would Be Interested in Urenco Stake, Reuters (3/30/2013)
    2. Energy Dept. Backs Uranium Mining in Western Colo., Summit Daily (3/28/2013)
    3. Small Fast Reactor Simulator Commissioned, World Nuclear News (3/27/2013)
G.  Links of Interest
    1. Nuclear Waste Disposal Sites Still Rare After All These Years, David Wagman, POWERMag (4/1/2013)
    2. Accident at Arkansas Nuclear Site Kills Man, John Branch and Josh Levs, CNN (4/1/2013)
    3. New Nuclear Reactor Completions Expected Worldwide from 2013 to 2017, NextBigFuture (3/29/2013)

A.  North Korea

North Korea Ups Ante in War of Words
Rick Wallace
The Australian
(for personal use only)

NORTH Korean ruler Kim Jong-un - a day after saying his country was moving to a war footing against the South - has declared that his nation must expand its nuclear weapons program and launch more rockets.

According to Japan's Kyodo news agency, Kim told a rare plenary meeting of the central committee of the Korean Workers' Party that North Korea must "qualitatively and quantitatively" boost its nuclear arsenal.

The meeting decided that the country's possession of nuclear weapons “should be fixed by law”, the official KCNA news agency reported without elaborating.

Tensions have risen sharply since the United Nations tightened sanctions in response to the North's nuclear and missile tests, and since the United States and South Korea launched military drills south of the border.

Kim told delegates the nation could pursue economic development at the same time as its nuclear activities and its ballistic missile program, which it claims is for launching satellites.

In reality, the rogue state has starved the majority of its citizens to feed its soldiers, its military machine and the elites of Pyongyang and is likely to continue to do so.

Committee members also decided to develop a light water reactor as part of a civilian nuclear power industry to ease electricity shortages, KCNA said.

The North in 2010 disclosed the existence of a uranium enrichment facility and a light water reactor, purportedly to generate power.

Experts said it could easily be reconfigured to make fuel for nuclear weapons, supplementing the existing plutonium weapons program.

The North in April 2009 formally abandoned six-party talks which offered it economic and security benefits in return for denuclearisation.

Yesterday it reiterated that its atomic weapons are not a bargaining chip.

“They are a treasure of a reunified country which can never be traded with billions of dollars,” KCNA quoted the central committee members as saying.

Yesterday's meeting, which described nuclear weapons as "the nation's life", was the first time that the committee has met since 2010 and will be followed by a one-day session today of the country's rubber-stamp parliament, the Supreme People's Assembly.

Earlier North Korea threatened to close a jointly run industrial estate that is one of the last remaining vestiges of co-operation with the South.

The Kaesong estate is a major source of earnings for Pyongyang, and its closure could signal, according to some analysts, a move from a war of words to an actual prospect of attack.

North Korea's state-run media carried a statement warning that it could shut the estate in response to articles in the South Korean press highlighting Pyongyang's dependence on the cash it produced for Jong-un's regime.

"If the puppet group seeks to tarnish the image of the DPRK (North Korean) even a bit, while speaking of the zone whose operation has been barely maintained, we will shut down the zone without mercy," a government spokesman was quoted as saying.

Kaesong is seen by many observers as a bellwether for the true state of inter-Korean relations that is more reliable than interpreting the vicious verbal tirades that flow across the border during tense times.

The cycle of escalation - which began with the imposition of sanctions following the DPRK's February nuclear test - has seen North Korea threaten attacks on the US and South Korea almost daily. In response, the US has sent nuclear warfare-capable B-2 and B-52 bombers over the Korean peninsula, prompting more vitriol from Pyongyang.

North Korea has severed all military-to-military hotlines with the South and released pictures displaying plans for a missile strike on the US mainland as Russia and China - Pyongyang's sole ally - have called for calm.

Despite the threats - and Pyongyang's successful ballistic missile test in December - experts say North Korea lacks the ability to lob a warhead on the mainland US. However, its arsenal of No-Dong missiles is capable of attacking targets in Japan and South Korea, and it has a vast array of artillery batteries on the border trained on Seoul.

Throughout the latest tensions, operations at Kaesong have continued, with South Korean employees crossing the border each day as usual. The facility is one of the only forms of assistance that has survived the tensions between the two Koreas in recent years.

The manufacturing centre provides participating South Korean firms with a cheap source of labour and the regime with hard currency. Wages are paid directly to Kim's regime.

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South Korea Unveils ‘Active’ Nuclear Deterrence Plan
RIA Novosti
(for personal use only)

South Korea's defense ministry unveiled Monday a new plan of "active deterrence," allowing it to preemptively strike its northern neighbor if any sign of an imminent nuclear or missile attack is detected, Yonhap reported on Monday.

The plan was unveiled by Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin during an annual policy briefing to President Park Geun-hye amid escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The minister said the military “will build an attack system to swiftly neutralize North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, while significantly improving our military's surveillance and reconnaissance capability."

The ministry is also set to deploy its "kill chain" missile defense system ahead of schedule. The system, capable of detecting, targeting and destroying North Korean nuclear and missile targets, was due to be launched in 2015.

Tensions between the West and North Korea reached new heights after Pyongyang threatened to unleash military action this week in response to drills by thousands of US and South Korean troops across the border that were intended as a show of force.

The South Korean president said on Monday that her country would “take decisive measures in case of any provocation from the North, regardless of political consequences.”

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DPRK Unveils Twin Goals of Economic Construction, Nuclear Capability
Xinhua News Agency
(for personal use only)

Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) top leader Kim Jong Un said Sunday the country had adopted a new strategy of carrying out economic construction and building nuclear armed forces simultaneously.

The DPRK would develop a "self-reliant nuclear power industry" and "light water reactor" to ease the strain on the country's electricity supply, the official KCNA news agency quoted Kim as saying at a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea.

"The DPRK's nuclear armed forces represent the nation's life, which can never be abandoned as long as the imperialists and nuclear threats exist on earth," he said.

Kim said the new strategy was "a strategic line to be always held fast to," not a temporary countermeasure for coping with the rapidly changing situation.

"The self-reliant nuclear power industry should be developed and the work for developing a light water reactor be dynamically promoted to actively contribute to easing the strain on the electricity problem of the country," he said.

The DPRK would also accelerate the development of space science and technology and more advanced satellites, including communications satellites, the top leader said.

"The DPRK's possession of nukes should be fixed by law and the nuclear armed forces should be expanded and beefed up qualitatively and quantitatively until the denuclearization of the world is realized," Kim said.

He said that, as a responsible nuclear weapons state, the DPRK would make positive efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation, ensure peace and security in Asia and the world at large, and realize denuclearization of the whole world.

Kim's remarks came just one day after the DPRK said it had entered "a state of war" against South Korea, which once again escalated tensions on the Korean Peninsula after Pyongyang conducted a third nuclear test on Feb. 12 as a countermeasure against U.S.-South Korean joint military drills.

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B.  Iran

P5+1 Had More Realistic Approach in Almaty Talks: Iranian Official
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A high-ranking Iranian official says the last round of the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 in the Kazakh city of Almaty showed that the six major world powers have taken a more realistic approach to Tehran’s nuclear case.

Speaking at a press briefing in the Belarusian capital, Minsk, on Friday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the P5+1 group - China, Russia, France, Britain and the US plus Germany - had a more realistic view of the Iranian nuclear energy program, noting that the two sides could arrive at a broad consensus should the talks continue within such a logical framework.

“We seek the restoration of our rights under the terms of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in these talks; and the framework and the final outlook of such negotiations must be clearly defined. Within this framework, Iran’s rights must be recognized on the one hand, and on the other, the allegations and ambiguities brought up by them should be removed,” Mehmanparast stated.

He added that Tehran expects parallel actions from the other side as it takes steps in the talks.

Iran and the P5+1 held their latest round of talks in Almaty on February 26-27. The two sides agreed to meet in Almaty again on April 5-6 for the next round of the negotiations after “expert-level” talks in the Turkish city of Istanbul that were held on March 17-18.

The United States, the Israeli regime and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non-civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program.

Iran has categorically rejected the allegation, arguing that as a committed signatory to the NPT and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it is entitled to acquire and develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

In addition, the IAEA has conducted numerous inspections of Iran’s nuclear facilities but has never found any evidence showing that the Iranian nuclear energy program has been diverted toward non-civilian objectives.

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C.  Japan

Tepco Testing New Water Decontamination System at Fukushima No. 1 Plant
The Japan Times
(for personal use only)

Full-fledged operation of the advanced liquid processing system (ALPS) will start in about four months after its performance is verified. Tepco said it plans to process 250 tons of irradiated water a day using the new multinuclide removal system, which has the capacity to dispose of up to 500 tons when fully operational.

ALPS has been installed to clean the contaminated water flowing through a 4-km loop and used to cool the crippled reactors. Unlike the existing system that can only remove radioactive cesium, ALPS can extract almost all radioactive substances except for tritium.

The new system is necessary to ensure the safe storage of processed water, according to Tepco.
Although the utility initially planned to start a test run by the end of December, its introduction was delayed after containers used to store processed wastewater were found to lack robustness. As Tepco has enhanced the containers’ durability, the Nuclear Regulation Agency approved the start of the trial run.

After the March 11, 2011, tsunami inundated the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, causing three catastrophic meltdowns, Tepco created a system in which water used to cool reactors 1 to 3 passes through the current system that removes radioactive cesium. The processed water is then stored in tanks.

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Japanese Utility Takes Blame for Nuclear Crisis
Mari Yamaguchi
Associated Press
(for personal use only)

The utility that operates Japan's crippled atomic plant said Friday that it deserves most of the blame for the country's nuclear crisis, in its strongest remarks about its own shortcomings.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. acknowledged in a report that it was not adequately prepared to deal with the massive earthquake and tsunami that ravaged northeastern Japan in March 2011. The twin disasters cut power at TEPCO's Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, causing meltdowns at three reactors. Massive radiation leaks contaminated air, water and soil around the plant, forcing about 160,000 residents to evacuate.

"Our safety culture, skills and ability were all insufficient," TEPCO President Naomi Hirose told a news conference. "We must humbly accept our failure to prevent the accident, which we should have avoided by using our wisdom and human resources to be better prepared."

The report said TEPCO's equipment and safety provisions were inadequate and that the meltdowns should have been avoided. TEPCO said it was complacent about safety measures and delayed upgrading them until after the accident. It also said TEPCO didn't adequately inform the public of risks and troubles at the plant.

The acknowledgement is a major reversal from TEPCO's initial investigation report.

In the June 2012 report, TEPCO maintained that the tsunami was mostly to blame for the world's worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986. It defended its crisis management and criticized excessive interference from the Prime Minister's Office.

After the company's reluctance to come to terms with its responsibility triggered public outcry, it launched an internal reform task force, led by Hirose, to reinvestigate the crisis. The task force was overseen by a five-member committee of outside experts, including former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission chief Dale Klein.

In October, TEPCO acknowledged that it underestimated the tsunami risk and could have mitigated the impact of the accident if it had backup power and cooling systems and trained employees with practical crisis management skills. Friday's report urged TEPCO to introduce effective training programs and oversight by outside experts.

Klein said the nuclear industry has to "expect the unexpected and have margins of safety."

"I do think it would have been appropriate for TEPCO have thought about what they would have done if there would have been a large tsunami and that would have mitigated a lot of actions," he said. "We are unable to turn the clock back in time and stop the accident. What is important for the reform committee and TEPCO is to move forward, learn from mistakes and make sure that never happens again."

Critics have raised doubts as to whether TEPCO is seriously trying to change, and an extended blackout at the plant last week was a reminder that the crisis is not over.

The blackout occurred after a rat short-circuited an outdoor switchboard, but TEPCO waited three hours to make an announcement. The outage left four fuel pools without cooling functions for up to 30 hours.

TEPCO officials denied Friday that the incident posed safety threats outside of the plant, but acknowledged they lacked sensitivity about how Fukushima residents felt about the loss of power and cooling.

"We learned that it only takes one rat, not even an earthquake or tsunami, to paralyze the plant," said Yukihiro Higashi, an Iwaki Meisei University engineering professor who is on a government nuclear regulatory panel overseeing Fukushima Dai-ichi safety.

"People in Fukushima are under constant fear of another serious incident that requires evacuation," Higashi said.

The full cleanup of the plant, which is still running on makeshift equipment, is expected to take decades.
Officials said Friday that rats and snakes are frequently spotted at the plant, even inside its emergency command center. Rats are particularly a concern because they can chew on power cables and water hoses, said TEPCO official Kazuhiko Yamashita, adding that officials are considering further anti-rodent measures.

The reform plans aim to use the lessons learned at TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant in northern Japan. The cashapped utility wants to restart the plant, and officials say they have upgraded safety measures, although they have not specified any timeline.

Government, parliamentary and private groups have separately published the results of their investigations into the crisis, largely blaming the disaster on botched crisis management, government-industry collusion and the tsunami.

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D.  Nuclear Safety & Security

Two More Problem Areas Discovered at Yankee
Times Argus
(for personal use only)

Two additional water infiltration areas have been discovered at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant’s switchgear rooms.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Firday it had been informed by Entergy Nuclear that the additional water drainage paths into the manhole system of the switchgear rooms had been identified by engineers. The engineers were evaluating the system after they discovered a failed flood seal, which allowed water to get into the manhole system.

The switchgear rooms are nerve centers for electrical cables from the control room to other parts of the plant. Water never reached the electrical systems, both Entergy and the NRC said.

Robert Williams, a spokesman for Entergy Nuclear, said the two problem areas were being fixed immediately. “This insures against water intrusion,” he said.

Last week, a dredging operation of the plant’s intake structure on the Connecticut River resulted in water getting into a manhole, which in turn left two feet of water in the conduit underneath the switchgear rooms.

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Brazil to Invest R$300 Million in Nuclear Power Plant Safety
InfoSur Hoy
(for personal use only)

Brazil will invest R$300 million (US$148.6 million) to bolster safety at its two nuclear power plants through 2016, state-run Eletrobras Eletronuclear said in a prepared statement.

Eletrobras Eletronuclear, which oversees the Angra 1 and Angra 2 plants in the state of Rio de Janeiro, is taking measures to prevent what happened at the Fukushima nuclear power complex in Japan in 2011.

The safety plan, which incorporates 30 studies and 28 projects that will be implemented through 2016, will expedite the plant’s ability to cool reactors and decrease the impact of accidental radioactive contamination.

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More Study Needed on Nuke-Cancer Link
Rachel Morgan
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy
(for personal use only)

Cancer rates in California’s Sacramento County have decreased since the shutdown of the Rancho Seco nuclear reactor in Sacramento County in 1989, a new study claims.

But the study, the first long-term analysis to examine population health impacts from a U.S. nuclear reactor’s closure, stops short of making a direct connection between those lower rates and the plant’s closure.

“This article is the first of its kind,” said the study’s co-author, Joseph Mangano, an epidemiologist and the executive director of the Radiation and Public Health Project. “No other peer-reviewed journal article has examined long-term changes in health status near closed nuclear plants. The need here for more knowledge is great, given how many reactors are near major population centers.”

The report found that the most notable decreases in cancer rates were in women, Hispanics and children — with 4,319 fewer cancers over the 20 years since the plant’s closure, and decreases in cancer cases in 28 of 31 categories, 14 of which are significant, the study says.

The article, “Long-Term Local Cancer Reductions Following Nuclear Plant Shutdown,” also was authored by toxicologist Janette Sherman, a former adjunct professor at Western Michigan University.

The study also says that the potential risks of living near a nuclear facility are something that millions of Americans deal with on a daily basis.

“The aging 104 U.S. reactors at 65 plants affect many Americans,” it says. “According to the 2010 U.S. Census, over 18 million Americans live within 20 miles of a nuclear power plant, and over 116 million live within 50 miles.”

And mitigating these risks could potentially save a lot of money.

The potential effects of locating these reactors should not just be measured in terms of health, but in cost terms,” the study says. “For example, the 4,319 fewer cancers than expected in Sacramento County during the first 20 years after the Rancho Seco closure translates into many millions saved in direct medical costs, lower value of productivity lost, and additional savings associated with value of a human life. With large numbers such as these, and with the future of this source of power a matter of great public concern, reports like this one must be followed by similar efforts to better understand potential improvements in public health after reactor shutdown.”

Mangano reiterates this call for more research on the subject.

“We believe that further research is warranted to determine if there is a cause-and-effect relationship between the elimination of radioactive emissions from nuclear power plants and significant long-term declines in human cancers,” Mangano said.

And that’s exactly what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is doing.

The NRC announced last October its plans for an epidemiological study of cancer risks near four U.S. nuclear plants — San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in San Clemente, Calif.; Dresden Nuclear Power Station in Morris, Ill.; Millstone Power Station in Waterford, Conn.; and Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Forked River, N.J. — and two decommissioned plants — Haddam Neck plant in Haddam Neck, Conn., and Big Rock Point Nuclear Power Plant in Charlevoix, Mich.

The $2 million study, which was opposed by the nuclear energy industry, will be conducted by the National Academy of Sciences.

The study’s findings will be used to update the 1990 report published by the National Cancer Institute, which had been used as a primary resource in discussing cancer risks in areas with nuclear plants. The 1990 NCI report found that cancer death rates were not elevated in counties adjacent to nuke plants.

The NRC report, which will study cancer diagnosis rates and mortality risk within 30 miles of nuclear plants, could be extended to include all 65 U.S. nuclear power plants. The study’s results are scheduled for a 2014 release

The FirstEnergy-owned Beaver Valley Power Station in Shippingport will not be one of the reactors in the initial study.

Some experts say it’s difficult to directly link nuclear facilities and cancer rates.

“It’s possible that (nuclear plants) are contributing to (cancer rates), although it’s hard to say by how much,” said Abel Russ, an attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project who has studied the issue. “There is always a mix of carcinogens involved.

“For example, there is background radiation that we are all exposed to. We don’t always know what other carcinogens (a person) has been exposed to in that length of time,” Russ said. “And in the case of any particular type of cancer, it might be multifactorial. You could have cancer as a result of 10 or 20 different things. But it certainly stands to reason that exposures from nuclear plants are contributing to the risk.”

While radiation itself does not build up in the body, some radioactive elements can remain in the body and give off radiation over time, he said.

He also said exposure to low-level radiation might not be as harmless as we thought.

“In my experience, there is a fair amount of evidence that living near a nuclear facility is (poses) a risk for certain types of cancer, especially childhood cancer,” Russ said. “It’s a small risk, a subtle impact, hard to detect. I don’t think a lot of public health agencies take it seriously or don’t think it’s real. Most dose-response relationships would assume that the cancer rate wouldn’t be impacted by levels that low.”

The dose response curve, he said, is the relationship between the amount of radiation people are exposed to and their chances of getting cancer. Many agencies have traditionally used a linear model to calculate this, but it might not be so straightforward, he said.

“It may be that the (radiation) doses around the nuclear facilities are as low as they think they are, but the corresponding risk is higher than we were assuming before,” he said. “The risk may be amplified at lower doses.”

He said that some theories say cells may react differently to radiation than previously thought. For example, if just one cell is exposed to a low dose of radiation, it could pass it along to its neighboring cells, or even give its daughter cells a tendency to develop more mutations than they would have without radiation exposure, thus increasing the risk.

Another theory, he said, is that our body has a natural defense mechanism that is triggered with a certain high level of radiation, but are not triggered with low doses.

“But all of these theories are speculative, and none of it has been proven,” he said.

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Security Fence to Be Extended at Y-12
(for personal use only)

The National Nuclear Security Administration is extending the perimeter fence protecting the Y-12 National Security Complex.

The boundary will now extend along Scarboro Road, and will restrict public access in front of the entrance sign and along the side of New Hope Center.

In a press release, the NNSA says, "Events of the past several months have shown that there is a greater threat of trespassing on the site, and the costs for responding to this threat are increasing. Y-12 is taking conservative and appropriate measures to make such illegal actions more difficult."

Last year, three peace demonstrators penetrated the secured area, splashing blood and painting on the side of the building that contains much of the nation's highly enriched uranium.

Earlier this month, a man who rode a bicycle onto the property was detained.

A temporary fence is expected to be in place by April 4. A permanent fence will be built later.

The New Hope Center will now by behind the security fence, but the public will continue to be allowed in during normal working hours.

That area is also a traditional site where protests are staged.

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E.  Nuclear Cooperation

Velan Signed Nuclear Valve Contracts in China Worth US$9.75 million (EUR7.5 Million)
(for personal use only)

Velan S.A.S., Velan Inc.'s wholly-owned subsidiary located in Lyon, France, has been awarded an important contract for the supply of nuclear class control globe valves to China Nuclear Energy Industry Corporation ("CNEIC") for the two new VVER (The Russian design pressurized water reactor) type nuclear power plants of Tianwan Units 3 and 4. The scope of supply consists mainly of bellows seal globe control valves, electric operated, for service inside and outside nuclear containment. These two new units of TIANWAN nuclear power plant will be operated by Jiangsu Nuclear Power Co. ("JNPC") in Jiangsu province, China. These valves are scheduled for delivery from 2014 until 2015.

Velan S.A.S. also signed significant spare parts contracts with Nuclear Power Operations Management Co. ("CNNP") for the supply of spare parts for Qinshan II units 1-2-3-4. CNNP is the new organization of Chinese National Nuclear Corporation ("CNNC") dedicated to global management of spare parts and services for nuclear power plants in operation.

Combined, the above contracts represent a sales value of about US$9.75 million (EUR7,5 million) over the two years.

Michel Monier, Director of Nuclear-China at Velan S.A.S., stated: "After supplying nuclear control valves for third generation reactors such as Taishan units 1-2 and High Temperature Reactors, we are honored to further contribute to the development of nuclear projects managed by CNNC, and to consolidate our technical expertise for VVER designed reactors".

Tom Velan, President and CEO of Velan Inc., stated: "The Velan group has a long experience with VVER reactors, as we first started to supply nuclear valves in 1972 for the Russian designed VVER plants to Russia. We also supplied to VVER plants in Eastern Europe and India. The Velan group is actively and continuously working with Chinese and Russian EPC's to provide advanced valve design and improvements that are helping to increase the safety level of future nuclear power plants."

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F.  Nuclear Energy

Areva CEO Says Would Be Interested in Urenco Stake
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French nuclear group Areva (AREVA.PA) would be interested in taking a stake in uranium enrichment firm Urenco, Areva's CEO was quoted as saying on Saturday.

Urenco, owned by the British and Dutch states and Germany's two top utilities, is up for sale and Areva - which already has a partnership with Urenco - is believed to be a leading contender to buy a stake in the firm. Areva so far had played down its possible interest in Urenco.

"If ever something were to happen in terms of Urenco's capital, clearly, we would have to be interested," Areva Chief Executive Officer Luc Oursel told French daily Le Figaro at the inauguration of its new enrichment plant.

An Areva spokesman confirmed he had made the comments.

Following Germany's decision to phase out nuclear energy, German utilities RWE (RWEG.DE) and E.ON (EONGn.DE) have decided to sell their combined 33 percent stake. The UK and the Netherlands also want to sell their 33 percent stakes.

At Areva's 2012 earnings presentation at the end of February, Oursel had dampened speculation that Areva was keen to buy a stake in Urenco, saying that Areva's priority was to restore its finances, not to plan any major strategic moves.

Urenco's shareholdership is governed by the Almelo treaty between Britain, Germany and The Netherlands, which aims to prevent proliferation of its top-secret uranium enrichment technology. A sale is complicated as it requires the go-ahead of the three governments.

Urenco is the world's second-largest uranium enrichment firm after Russia's Tenex and claims a global market share of 31 percent. Areva and U.S. USEC are also major nuclear fuel producers.

Areva and Urenco jointly own Enrichment Technology Company (ETC), which produces uranium enrichment centrifuges exclusively for its two shareholders.

Urenco, whose enrichment technology is among the world's best-guarded technologies, is believed to worth around 10 billion euros.

Canadian uranium producer Cameco Corp (CCO.TO) has also expressed an interest in the nuclear fuel producer.

The Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB), one of the world's biggest pension funds, Japan's Toshiba Corp (6502.T) as well as a series of private equity players have also been cited as potentially interested in bidding for a Urenco stake.

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Energy Dept. Backs Uranium Mining in Western Colo.
Summit Daily
(for personal use only)

The U.S. Department of Energy is again proposing opening up 25,000 acres of land in western Colorado to uranium mining.

The department released the proposal Friday for 31 tracts it manages in Mesa, Montrose and San Miguel counties.

The area helped supply the uranium used to develop the first U.S. atomic bombs that ended World War II. But the mining boom collapsed with the end of the Cold War and the problems facing nuclear energy starting with Three Mile Island in 1979.

A federal judge in 2011 blocked the energy department's plans to relaunch mining there, saying it needed to conduct a detailed analysis of the plan and take public comment.

The energy department will hold hearings on the proposal during the week of April 22 in Grand Junction, Montrose, Telluride and Naturita.

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Small Fast Reactor Simulator Commissioned
World Nuclear News
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A training simulator for the SVBR-100 metal-cooled integral fast reactor being developed in Russia has entered operation. A pilot unit is scheduled to start up in 2017.

The simulator was supplied to AKME-Engineering - a joint stock company set up by Rosatom in 2009 to develop and commercialise the SVBR-100 - by Experimental Research and Methodological Centre "Simulation System."

The simulator is an interactive model of an SVBR-100 power unit, which includes the reactor core, the primary and secondary circuits of the reactor module, the turbine generator and associated control equipment.

AKME-Engineering director general Vladimir Petrochenko said, "The simulator is designated for the exploration and demonstration of the concept, dynamic modes and various transient processes during the SVBR-100 power unit operation. The second function of the software is to train the personnel of ACME-Engineering as the operating company for the SVBR-100 project."

He added, "We are also planning to update the simulator using data deriving from the extension of the thorough technical study of the SVBR-100 project."

Petrochenko noted that the simulator "is not only a product display and training bench that allows the visual monitoring of physical processes and trying different operational modes, but it is also the virtual prototype of the SVBR-100 power unit."

The 100 MWe SVBR-100 is an integral reactor design, in which all the primary circuit - the reactor core itself as well as steam generators and associated equipment such as main circulating pumps - sits inside a pool of lead-bismuth coolant in a single vessel. The module would be factory-built and could be shipped by rail, road or water to its destination, where multiple modules could be installed depending on local needs. The output from the multi-function reactor could be used to supply heat, industrial steam and water desalination as well as electricity generation.

The SVBR-100 concept has already been used on seven Russian Alfa-class nuclear submarines as well as in experimental installations on land. However, the commercial power reactor would be adapted to operate with various forms of nuclear fuel including uranium-plutonium mixed oxide (MOX) and nitride fuels. Using uranium oxide fuel enriched up to 16.8% the reactor would be able to operate for 7-8 years between refuelling. When operating with MOX, it would be able to operate within a self-supported closed fuel cycle.

According to AKME-Engineering, the pilot unit is scheduled to begin operating in 2017 and commercial production of the reactor would begin in 2019.

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G.  Links of Interest

Accident at Arkansas Nuclear Site Kills Man
John Branch and Josh Levs
(for personal use only)

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Nuclear Waste Disposal Sites Still Rare After All These Years
David Wagman
(for personal use only)

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New Nuclear Reactor Completions Expected Worldwide from 2013 to 2017
(for personal use only)

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