Top 100 Energy Stories Nov. 16th-22nd 2009

radbull Happy Thanksgiving! This was a small news week, however, many stories that hit were powerful wacks to the the nuclear industry, like  the South-Texas CPS scandal  where the utility was caught lying to the public over the real construction costs.  With the OMB not releasing DOE loan money as a result of the recent NRC concerns we have a the industry now facing growing news worldwide that should have them shaking!  Turkey just canceled a bidding process for a new reactor due to prices and opposition there (they will start a new bidding process however.  While some people in Canada are suggesting that the entire Canadian nuclear industry be sold to India.  With a new wave of safety issues brewing, and a legislative House victory banning nuclear waste imports, several new reports on economics and Hitachi seeking more funds, not to mention new funding problems for Areva, the news breaking against the nuclear crusade. Scandals at the DOE as well as a new whopper in the UK hit, with regulators caught censoring information about 5 accidents at reactors the previous year.  Dang, when org runs a story that we don’t need nukes, that’s got to be a sign!  A lot to dig through here. Enjoy!

Top Nuclear Stories Index

Reactors Safety NRC Fuel Cycle N-Waste
Policy Weapons DOE Energy News OpEd


Nuclear Reactor News

CPS knew of higher STP cost year ago
CPS Energy knew a year ago that contractor Toshiba Inc. wanted at least $4 billion more than San Antonio was willing to pay for the nuclear expansion, according to several sources close to the deal.

Despite this, utility officials used a much lower figure as they pitched the project at public meetings during the summer, arguing that nuclear was the most cost-effective way for San Antonio to meet its future energy needs.

They took the same message to elected officials who were to vote on a $400 million bond issue and rate increases to finance the multibillion-dollar expansion of the South Texas Project near Bay City.

The response of City Council members and CPS Energy trustees to the 2008 estimate was muted Saturday. Nothing can surprise me anymore, Councilwoman Elisa Chan said.

But several officials said the revelation only deepens their mistrust of the city-owned utility’s leadership.

It concerns me greatly that neither the council nor the board was informed, said Mayor Julián Castro, who acknowledged he, too, recently learned of the existence of the 2008 high estimate.

The high price of a deal gone bad: Rebuilding CPS leadership
It’s come to this: The simple truth withheld from the community by CPS Energy was revealed last week by NRG Energy executives to a Houston gathering of financial analysts: San Antonio can’t afford the high price of expanding the South Texas Project nuclear facility.

Not that we need another example, but once again Wall Street enjoys the advantage over Main Street. Ratepayers don’t have a need to know, but let’s not deny institutional investors a little inside information.

The project will cost billions more than CPS estimated, even after interim General Manager Steve Bartley went to Japan to seek concessions. Utility executives want until January to bring a new number to Mayor Julián Castro and the City Council. Why wait?

What CPS once promised was a good deal for the city is now, clearly, a bad deal. It’s a bad deal made worse by utility executives who deliberately withheld critical financial data, thus misleading elected city leaders, the Express-News and the public. Even as we were told the project would cost CPS and NRG a total of $13 billion, utility executives knew Toshiba Inc. was estimating $4 billion more.

MP joy as bay put on nuclear back burner – Morpeth Herald
MOVES away from using Druridge Bay for a nuclear power station have been welcomed by MP Sir Alan Beith.
Campaigners have fought for years to have the area struck off a list of potential sites and last week the Government confirmed it was not being pursued as an option.

Sir Alan, who represents the area, said: “Druridge Bay is the wrong site for the wrong energy policy.

“I am not in favour of an expansion of nuclear power because we still do not know what to do with the waste it creates, but even if you accept the policy, Druridge Bay is a site of enormous scenic habitat which is too far from the grid transmission lines, as the Government has rightly concluded.

AFP: Turkey scraps nuclear power plant tender
Turkey on Friday scrapped a 2008 tender won by a Russian-led consortium to build the country’s first nuclear power plant — a process that had been under threat of being invalidated by a court decision.

In a brief statement, the state-run electricity wholesaler TETAS said its board of directors decided “unanimously” to cancel the tender, citing an article in the bid specification that gave it the authority to scrap the process without any liability.

A consortium led by Atomstroyexport, Russia’s state nuclear giant, had been the only bidder in the tender to build four nuclear reactors with a total capacity of 4,800-megawatts at Akkuyu, in the Mediterranean province of Mersin.

TETAS’s decision comes ten days after a top administrative court suspended parts of the regulation governing the tender before moving on to review a demand by a civil society of engineers to cancel the process.

How Long Can a Nuclear Reactor Last?: Scientific American
Could nuclear power plants last as long as the Hoover Dam?

Increasingly dependable and emitting few greenhouse gases, the U.S. fleet of nuclear power plants will likely run for another 50 or even 70 years before it is retired — long past the 40-year life span planned decades ago — according to industry executives, regulators and scientists.

KPLU: Hundreds Sound Off on Proposed Idaho Nuke Plant (2009-11-20)
A new nuclear facility in the Northwest? Residents of southwest Idaho appear sharply divided over a proposed new nuclear power plant near the Oregon-Idaho border. Thursday night, around 250 people filled a high school auditorium for an initial public hearing on the project. KPLU’s Tom Banse reports from Payette, Idaho.

Full story
A small Idaho company called Alternate Energy Holdings is proposing a large commercial nuclear power plant on private ranchland in rural Payette County. Payette resident Kent Porter was one of dozens of locals who testified they’d welcome a nuke plant.

Kent Porter: “Someday if we don’t get cheap power to keep our farmers going, we’re all going to pay dearly when our food prices go up.”

CPS partner: Nuclear deal costs too high for S.A.
Toshiba Inc. has shaved about $1.4 billion off its price to build two nuclear reactors, but it’s unlikely to ever reach an amount within San Antonio’s price range, NRG Energy executives said Thursday.

We would expect … the price estimate that Toshiba will come back with may be outside the affordability range for their ratepayers, Steve Winn, CEO of the NRG-owned Nuclear Innovation North America, said at a financial analysts’ meeting in Houston.

At issue is the cost San Antonio’s CPS Energy and NRG Energy are willing to pay contractor Toshiba to build two nuclear reactors outside Bay City.

CPS Energy has promised ratepayers and the City Council that it will pursue the deal as long as it can limit power bill increases to 5 percent every other year for the next decade.

This can be done if the total project, with financing, will cost about $13 billion, utility officials say.

To hit that amount, Toshiba’s costs need to come in about $8 billion. But the Japanese contractor, NRG confirmed, estimated its price at $12.3 billion in October.

The Energy Collective | Hyperion reveals design details of its 25 MW reactor
Hyperion Power Generation, which is designing a small, 25 MWe, nuclear reactor, revealed design details Nov 18 (slides) about the company’s product at the winter meeting of the American Nuclear Society taking place in Washington, DC.

This is the first release of reactor design information by the company. It marks the kick-off of the firm’s pre-application process with the NRC for safety analysis review that leads to a reactor design certification decision by the agency.

Nuclear Power Called a Step Backward – Southern Maryland Headline News
As Maryland closes in on the construction of a third reactor at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby, an environmental organization has released a report calling nuclear power a step backward in the nation’s race to reduce pollution.

The Environment Maryland Research and Policy Center report, released Tuesday, calls nuclear power “too slow and too expensive,” an energy source that makes little economic sense in combating climate change.

While nuclear power might be preferable to fossil fuel-based energy sources, it is “diverting and delaying action,” said economist John Howley, who was part of a panel convened by Environment Maryland.

Howley, who writes Maryland Energy Report, believes that financing nuclear power will come at the expense of cleaner energy sources, such as solar or wind power.

California Nuclear Workers File Whistleblower Charges Against Edison
Veteran Managers at SONGS Nuclear Power Plant near San Clemente Say Southern California Edison Retaliated When They Reported Nuclear Safety Concerns

SAN ONOFRE, Calif., Nov. 18 /PRNewswire/ — In whistleblower complaints filed this week with the U.S. Department of Labor, two managers at Southern California Edison’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) say the company violated federal law when it retaliated against them for raising nuclear safety concerns.

Rick Busnardo and Mike Mason have worked at SONGS for 25 and 29 years respectively, and together manage the fabrication shop that builds steel casks for the long-term storage of the plant’s spent fuel rods. The integrity of the casks is critical because the spent fuel remains highly radioactive for hundreds of years.

Busnardo and Mason allege that trouble began when they reported a “willful violation” of nuclear-safety standards to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in October 2008, after learning that a fabricator in their shop had performed welding operations that fell short of the plants’ quality-assurance specifications. Busnardo and Mason believe their report angered Edison management because the NRC had cited the SONGS plant for a high level of such willful violations several months earlier, and the company wanted to avoid further scrutiny.

AFP: Greenpeace boards reactor equipment ship
Six Greenpeace activists Monday boarded a ship carrying French-made steam turbines bound for a new nuclear power station in Finland, the environmental group said.

The protestors climbed on board the Happy Ranger as it made its way through the Fehmarn Belt strait between Denmark and Germany and unfurled banners including one which read “Nuclear madness, made in France”.

Greenpeace wants construction halted on a third-generation nuclear reactor currently being built at Olkiluoto, in southwest Finland, by the French company Areva.

India puts nuclear plants on alert-report | Reuters
India has put its nuclear power plants under alert and tightened security around them after intelligence about possible attacks, a report said on Monday.

The step comes after a man arrested in the United States on charges of plotting attacks in India was found to have travelled to Indian states that have nuclear installations.

The Press Trust of India quoted unnamed sources in the home ministry as saying that state governments had been asked to step up security around their nuclear plants as a “precautionary measure”.

“The step is precautionary in nature. The states have been asked to increase the vigil and patrolling to thwart any sabotage attempt aimed at these vital facilities,” a home ministry official was quoted as saying.

Indian media often reports security alerts based on unnamed intelligence sources.

Nuclear ‘Renaissance’ Held Up by Fight Between DOE and OMB –
The awards of $18.5 billion in federal loan guarantees for new nuclear plant projects remain held up by an ongoing dispute within the Obama administration over the financial risk the new reactors pose for the government and taxpayers, according to industry and government officials.

The struggle pits the Energy Department against the Office of Management and Budget, agencies that have been at odds since the loan guarantee program was approved in 2005. DOE will make the final decision on nuclear project loan guarantee requests. OMB has a pivotal say in determining the risk of loan defaults if the projects suffer cost overruns or cannot be completed.

Half-inch crack found inside containment wall while Crystal River nuclear plant closed for maintenance – St. Petersburg Times
Progress Energy and federal officials continue to investigate the cause of a half-inch-wide crack recently found inside a containment wall at the Crystal River nuclear plant.

One possibility: The crack opened as workers created a huge hole in the reactor building’s fortress-thick outer wall to remove some old equipment.

“It looks like it’s very new,” Progress Energy spokeswoman Jessica Lambert said of the crack.

The gap was discovered about six weeks ago, shortly after the nuclear plant was shut down for a major maintenance project, officials said. No radiation escaped.


Nuclear Health and Safety News

Evacuation plan is still unworkable | | The Journal News
Congratulations to Rob Astorino, who won the county leadership position by a large margin. The new county executive has been a strong supporter of Indian Point, and in his unsuccessful bid for the office in 2005, he tried to convince residents that the Kensico Dam was a larger threat than Indian Point if terrorists attacked. That argument did not play well and Mr. Astorino lost.

While these are different times, one thing is certain. The evacuation plan for Indian Point will not work if it is needed, and has unfixable shortcomings. Those were the findings of the 2003 Witt Report, and then-Gov. George Pataki publicly endorsed the report’s findings. That is why since then, neither Westchester County nor the State of New York have certified the evacuation plan as workable; and that is also why the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been suggesting that “sheltering in place” rather than trying to evacuate is advised.

Security ‘cover-up’ at nuclear plants | Environment | The Observer
Ministers refuse to release details of five incidents last year

The government is refusing to provide details on five separate security breaches at Britain’s nuclear power stations last year.

The breaches have prompted accusations that ministers are suppressing damaging information at a time when they are attempting to sell the idea of more nuclear power stations. Earlier this month, 10 new sites in England and Wales were approved.

The energy secretary, Ed Miliband, told MPs that nuclear was a “proven and reliable” energy source. But the latest annual report from the Office for Civil Nuclear Security (OCNS) has prompted questions about the measures being taken to protect the country’s ageing plants. The report states that nuclear operators must disclose “events and occurrences which may be of interest from a security point of view”. It notes: “Five reports were made which warranted further investigation and subsequent follow-up action.”

Cracked wall to keep Progress Energy’s Crystal River nuclear plant off-line longer – St. Petersburg Times
Repairing a cracked containment wall will force Progress Energy to keep the Crystal River nuclear plant offline longer than anticipated.

Progress Energy shut down the plant on Sept. 26 for a major maintenance project that was expected to last only into December.

But on Friday the utility told the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it now plans a major repair: removing and replacing part of the containment wall, which has developed a gap below the surface.

“It is clear that the repairs will require us to extend our outage,” Progress Energy spokeswoman Jessica Lambert said.

Cancer testing effort returns | | Chillicothe Gazette
Nobody has to convince Edna Brackey how important the mobile Early Cancer Detection Program discontinued at the end of 2006 really was.

“I really owe eight years of a very enjoyable life to this program,” said Brackey, who will turn 90 next summer, during a ceremony Thursday announcing the resumption of the testing program for current and former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant workers

Brackey, like many who develop lung cancer, had no visible early symptoms of the disease, although she did have a prior problem with a cancer in her mouth. Due to the testing program that was in place in Piketon in 2001, however, a very small cancerous mass in her lung was detected with the free CT scan.

Growing concern over humanitarian situation in Fallujah
The fifth anniversary of the second attack on Fallujah by US forces has seen an upsurge in interest in the lingering humanitarian problems resulting from the conflict. Both the US and UNEP have roles to play in clarifying exactly what happened and ICBUW calls on them to accept this responsibility.
19 November 2009 – ICBUW

ICBUW is deeply concerned by press reports of a steep rise in birth defects in Fallujah, Iraq, following the two attacks by US forces in 2004. Such stories are sadly familiar to anyone who has followed the history of Iraq after the wars in 1991 and 2003, and it has long been thought that the use of uranium weapons  so-called depleted uranium’  in both conflicts has played a role in the rise in deformities among newborns.

AFP: Smoke rises from Japan nuclear plant
Smoke rose on Thursday from the world’s largest nuclear power plant in Japan, which was shut down by an earthquake two years ago, but the operator said no-one was injured and there was no radiation leak.

The smoke was caused by friction from the brake of a crane in a reactor’s turbine room, operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) said in a statement.

“We reported immediately to the fire station and used fire extinguishers and now the smoke has stopped,” the statement said.

“There were no injuries nor any radiation leak” in the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant in Niigata prefecture, 200 kilometres (125 miles) north of Tokyo, it said. The company said it would thoroughly investigate.

Ottawa boosting liability limit for nuclear companies – The Globe and Mail
Claims will now top out at $650-million, up from the previous $75-million ceiling

If something goes terribly wrong at a nuclear power plant, how much liability should the operator bear?

The federal government is introducing a new limit of $650-million for damages that can be claimed from nuclear companies after an accident at one of their stations. The amount represents a massive leap from the previous $75-million ceiling, which anti-nuclear groups called a hidden subsidy.

Questions remain, however, as to whether the new amount would cover all the claims due to the psychological trauma of living through such a mishap, the health impacts of being showered with radiation and damage to property.

Sick worker advocates seek rules changes |
According to info distributed by the Alliance of Nuclear Worker Advocacy Groups, ANWAG and the action groups at Linde Ceramics are petitioning NIOSH and the Dept. of Labor to make rules changes in the administration of the sick nuclear worker compensation program.

“Congress never intended this program to develop into the ongoing and overwhelming burden it has become for sickened nuclear weapons workers or their survivors,” Terrie Barrie of ANWAG said in a statement. “Congress was well aware when they passed EEOICPA that the Department of Energy did not keep adequate exposure records, particularly for chemicals and heavy metals. Yet, DOL requires claimants to provide proof of exposure where none exists. It is long past due to return this program to the original intent of the law.”

Environmental coalition questions Oyster Creek tritium leak | | Asbury Park Press
A coalition of environmental groups that opposed the relicensing of the Oyster Creek Generating Station issued a statement accusing the power plant’s owners of not taking corrective action that may have prevented leakage of tritium last spring.

The coalition was also critical of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission when it referenced the recent release of Oyster Creek’s root cause analysis report of a tritium leak that occurred in April, eight days after the power plant was relicensed by the NRC to operate for another 20 years. A more recent incident of tritium leakage took place Aug. 25.

The root cause analysis report, which was released in a redacted form, was obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request filed by Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear. In addition, NRC released e-mail exchanges surrounding the coalition’s inquiries regarding buried pipes.

Uranium weapons – all roads lead to the World Health Organisation
Last December, 141 states supported a General Assembly resolution requesting that the United Nation’s agencies – the WHO, IAEA and UNEP – update their positions on the potential threat to human health and the environment posed by the use of uranium weapons. Of these, it seems to be that of the WHO which will prove the most influential.
17 November 2009 – Doug Weir and Gretel Munroe

This was the second NAM resolution on uranium weapons in recent years and it garnered more support than its 2007 predecessor. Abstentions were down as Finland, Norway and Iceland voted in favour while France, Israel, the United States and the United Kingdom were left more isolated than ever.

Following the vote, the UK justified its position by stating that all the research that has ever needed to be undertaken into the potential health impact of uranium weapons has been completed and that we can now therefore ignore the subject. – A product of the Worcester Telegram & Gazette
At least 19 Norton Co. workers who have cancer  perhaps caused through exposure five decades ago to nuclear materials such as uranium and thorium will receive compensation and benefits from the federal government. Their survivors may be eligible as well.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced yesterday that all former Norton Co. employees who worked at the Worcester plant between Jan. 1, 1945, and Dec. 31, 1957, are part of a special exposure cohort that entitles them to the compensation and benefits.

To be eligible, workers must have worked for at least 250 days at the plant, according to Michael Volpe, a Department of Labor spokesman. The workers must also have developed one of 22 cancers considered likely to have been caused by exposure to radioactive material. Those cancers include lung cancer, leukemia, bone cancer, liver cancer, lymphomas, multiple myeloma, renal cancer, as well as a long list of other cancers.

Kansas City News – As Honeywell closes its 60-year-old site, workers are dealing with the fatal aftereffects
Tony Ross’ bat connected, sending the softball rocketing to the fence. While the outfielders scrambled after what should have been a home run, Ross stopped at second, doubled over and gasped for breath. Then he sat down on the base.

The two teams playing were made up of machinists, custodians and guards from the late shift at the Bannister Federal Complex in south Kansas City. They had met, as usual, around midnight on the baseball diamond at the nearby Hickman Mills High School to play until four or five in the morning.

Report: Link Found Between Cancer and Residents’ Proximity From Indian Point – WPIX
Residents living in counties in close proximity to the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester have the highest cases for thyroid cancer, a startling new report revealed Monday.

According to the article published in the International Journal of Health Services, the rate of residents in the area diagnosed with the disease is the highest in New York State and among the highest in the United States.

The 2001-2005 rate for the four counties surrounding the plant – Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Westchester – was 66% above the U.S. Average, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The rates of local residents with thyroid cancer have significantly increased since the late 1970s, when the two Indian point reactors were installed, the report revealed.

US Department of Interior Issues Grants to Marshall Islands :: Everything Marshall Islands ::
DOI’s Insular Affairs Assistant Secretary, Tony Babauta made available $1 million to support the Prior Service Trust Fund Administration. The PSTFA administers benefit payments to individuals in the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and the Republic of Palau who worked for the U.S. Department of the Navy and the U.S. Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. The program is designed to provide social security-type benefits to former employees of the TTPI government (or the predecessor-U.S. Navy administration) who were employed for at least five full years prior to 1968, when a TTPI Social Security System was created. The program also provides benefits to survivors of the former employees.

Pills available for people downwind from Diablo – Local –
County public health officials are offering free doses of the radiation-blocking drug potassium iodide to people who live and work downwind of Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

The pills, also known by their chemical name KI, are available at six locations. They are only to be taken at the direction of public health officials in the event of a radiation leak at Diablo Canyon.

The county has enough doses to cover hundreds of thousands of people, said Michelle Shoresman, spokeswoman for the county public health department. They will be available as long as supplies last, which should be a year or so.

Toxic munitions ‘may be cause’ of baby deaths and deformities in Fallujah – Middle East, World – The Independent
Evidence was growing this weekend that babies born in the Iraqi city of Fallujah scene in 2004 of one of the few set-piece battles of the invasion are exhibiting high rates of mortality and birth defects.

In September this year, say campaigners, 170 children were born at Fallujah General Hospital, 24 per cent of whom died within seven days. Three-quarters of these exhibited deformities, including “children born with two heads, no heads, a single eye in their foreheads, or missing limbs”. The comparable data for August 2002 before the invasion records 530 births, of whom six died and only one of whom was deformed.

The Associated Press: US health agency to take ‘fresh look’ at Vieques
A U.S. agency has overturned its 2003 research that said no health hazards were caused by decades of military exercises on Vieques, a bombing range-turned-tourist destination off Puerto Rico’s east coast.

The federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry said Friday it intends to “modify” some of its earlier research on Vieques, where the U.S. and its allies trained for conflicts from Vietnam to Iraq.

The agency, a part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, used its own studies to conclude in 2003 that there was essentially no health risk from the bombing range a conclusion widely criticized by academics and residents on the 18-mile-long island of less than 10,000 people.

Huge rise in birth defects in Falluja | World news |
Doctors in Iraq’s war-ravaged enclave of Falluja are dealing with up to 15 times as many chronic deformities in infants and a spike in early life cancers that may be linked to toxic materials left over from the fighting.

The extraordinary rise in birth defects has crystallised over recent months as specialists working in Falluja’s over-stretched health system have started compiling detailed clinical records of all babies born.

Depleted uranium – Salt Lake Tribune
DU: Depleted uranium, a unique waste that will become more and more radioactive until, roughly, the year 1002009. The acronym also gives sound guidance for where depleted uranium should be buried: deep underground.

But a lack of deep, underground storage space and a growing need to find permanent storage for 1.4 million tons of DU is “clearly driving” federal regulators to erroneously steer the materials to shallow burial sites like EnergySolutions’ low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in Utah.

That’s the contention of Kansas State University Geologist Charles G. Oviatt and a pair of Brigham Young University scientists, geologist Steve Nelson and climatologist Summer Rupper. In a letter to the NRC, which is gathering input in the early stages of a three-year review of DU disposal issues, they cite a “programmatic failure” by the agency to properly plan for deep disposal of depleted uranium.

Nuclear scars: Tainted water runs beneath Nevada desert —
Reporting from Yucca Flat, Nev. – A sea of ancient water tainted by the Cold War is creeping deep under the volcanic peaks, dry lake beds and pinyon pine forests covering a vast tract of Nevada.

Over 41 years, the federal government detonated 921 nuclear warheads underground at the Nevada Test Site, 75 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Each explosion deposited a toxic load of radioactivity into the ground and, in some cases, directly into aquifers.

When testing ended in 1992, the Energy Department estimated that more than 300 million curies of radiation had been left behind, making the site one of the most radioactively contaminated places in the nation.

During the era of weapons testing, Nevada embraced its role almost like a patriotic duty. There seemed to be no better use for an empty desert. But today, as Nevada faces a water crisis and


NRC News

Associated Press: NRC investigating radiation at Three Mile Island
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is sending investigators to the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant after a small amount of radiation was detected there.

About 150 employees were sent home Saturday afternoon after the radiation was detected at the central Pennsylvania plant.

Officials say there is no public health risk.

Exelon Nuclear spokeswoman Beth Archer says investigators are searching for a cause of the release. She says the radiation was quickly contained.

Tests showed the contamination was confined to surfaces inside the building.

Nuke plant may be cited for violations | The Times Leader, Wilkes-Barre, PA
PPL Corp.’s Susquehanna nuclear station in Salem Township failed to ensure two staff members met medical requirements, an inspection of the power plant found. The company could be cited for the apparent violations and receive additional future scrutiny, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced on Friday.

The NRC, which performed the inspection, found that two senior reactor operators failed to meet the medical prerequisites for their individual licenses. One operator worked after failing an eye examination, PPL spokesman Joe Scopelliti said. The other worked for about three months after the deadline for a biennial medical exam had expired.

Charlotte Business Journal: Report: NRC, Westinghouse meet on AP1000
Westinghouse and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will meet next week to discuss issues over the design of the safety building for the proposed AP1000 nuclear reactor, Bloomberg reports.

Last month, the NRC rejected the design of the building that houses the reactor. The regulator says it is not clear the building can stand up to natural disasters such as tornadoes and earthquakes.

It asked Westinghouse to make additional changes or demonstrate that the building meets the required standard.

Bloomberg quotes NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko as saying that plans to build the structure in parts instead of a solid, single piece has raised regulatory concerns.

Westinghouse and its principal parent Toshiba Corp. have growing nuclear operations in Charlotte. The Shaw Power Group, also based in Charlotte, is the preferred contractor for AP1000 projects. Its parent, The Shaw Group, owns a 20 percent stake in Westinghouse.


Nuclear Fuel Cycle News

We will quit if uranium mine opens, say doctors
DOCTORS at the only Aboriginal medical service in Alice Springs have threatened to leave if the Federal Government allows a Canadian company to mine uranium near the town.

Protesters will press Northern Territory MPs to stop their support when Parliament sits in Central Australia tomorrow. They say it threatens the town’s future and could set a precedent for other urban centres.

Closing of incinerator delayed » Knoxville News Sentinel
Mercury-laden waste pushes shutdown date to Nov. 30

OAK RIDGE – The last waste to be burned at the federal government’s 20-year-old toxic waste incinerator is apparently proving to be some of the most difficult.

The Department of Energy and its environmental manager have again delayed the permanent closure of the Oak Ridge incinerator, citing the need for more time to process mercury-laden

The Associated Press: EPA: Uranium from polluted mine in Nev. wells
Peggy Pauly lives in a robin-egg blue, two-story house not far from acres of onion fields that make the northern Nevada air smell sweet at harvest time.

But she can look through the window from her kitchen table, just past her backyard with its swingset and pet llama, and see an ominous sign on a neighboring fence: “Danger: Uranium Mine.”

For almost a decade, people who make their homes in this rural community in the Mason Valley 65 miles southeast of Reno have blamed that enormous abandoned mine for the high levels of uranium in their water wells.

Duke Energy won’t do more MOX tests – Augusta Chronicle
Duke Energy says first two tests were sufficient, denies waning interest

Duke Energy, which has been testing French-made mixed-oxide nuclear fuels in its Catawba 1 reactor to gauge the suitability of similar fuels to be made at Savannah River Site, has exercised an option not to conduct a third 18-month testing cycle.
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“It was used for two operating cycles and we made a decision that an additional cycle is not required,” said Rita Sipe, a nuclear media relations spokeswoman for Duke Energy.

The reason, she said, is that the first two cycles provided sufficient data that will be analyzed as part of the evaluation process for MOX, which is made by blending plutonium from dismantled nuclear bombs with conventional reactor fuels.

Deseret News | Suit challenges Utah company mining near Grand Canyon
A coalition of environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit Monday challenging a Utah company’s plans to begin uranium mining operations within 10 miles of Grand Canyon National Park.

The Sierra Club, the Center for Biological Diversity and the Grand Canyon Trust claim the Bureau of Land Management is using an old environmental assessment from 1988 in allowing Denison Mines to begin operations at the “Arizona 1” mine.

“The Bureau of Land Management’s refusal to redo outdated environmental reviews is as illegal as it is unethical,” said Taylor McKinnon, public lands campaigns director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It should be eager to protect the Grand Canyon and its endangered species; instead, it has chosen to shirk environmental review on behalf of the uranium industry.”

Green groups slime Duke on MOX fuel
A rapid-fire exchange of press releases this week Friday, Nov 13 made short order of a claim [press release] by Friends of the Earth (FOE) and the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) that the end of testing of MOX fuel in a Duke Power reactor is a “huge setback” to the program.

Identical letters sent Nov 10 by Tom Clements representing both two green organizations to Energy Sec. Steven Chu and NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko claimed that a decision by Duke not to reload test bundles of MOX fuel at the Catawba reactor represents a “failure to demonstrate” the safety of the fuel in a conventional light water reactor.

The letter called the situation “an aborted test” and claimed that as a result the MOX fuel is unsafe for use in civilian nuclear reactors. The remainder of the letter is incendiary with claims that the MOX fuel program should not proceed as a result of the “decision” by Duke Energy.


Nuclear Waste News

Radioactive waste contaminating Canadian water supply: Report
Nuclear facilities and power plants are contaminating local Canadian food and water with radioactive waste that increases risks of cancer and birth defects, says a new report to be released on Friday.

The report, Tritium on Tap, produced by the Sierra Club of Canada, warned that radioactive emissions from various nuclear plants across the country have more than doubled over the past decade. The figures were based on statistics compiled by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission which measured pollution coming from the plants.

Although Canadian guidelines have suggested that the existing levels of tritium in the water are safe, the report cites recent peer-reviewed studies, including a recent review by the UK’s Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters, that suggest the opposite.

Nearly dead and buried – Las Vegas Sun
Energy Department still needs to abandon license application

Nevada has been fighting for more than 20 years efforts by the federal government to build a dump for the nation’s high-level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, a mere 90 miles northwest of the heavily populated Las Vegas Valley. Despite the clout of the nuclear power industry, things have begun to go Nevada’s way. Thanks to the efforts of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and the actions of the Obama administration, funding for the ill-conceived project is drying up.

The only major hurdle that remains is to have the Energy Department withdraw its license application before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build a permanent Yucca dump. It is only after that application is abandoned for good that Nevadans can truly rejoice.

Nuclear waste bill passes house, threatens Energy Solutions’ controversial plans for Utah
t’s a hot issue in Utah, and its final outcome may be decided in Washington. On Thursday, the House of Representatives voted a bill through that would block any import of foreign nuclear waste into the United States. Support for the measure was largely by Democrats, with only four House Republicans voting “yea.”

The bill will likely face a more difficult battle in the Senate. If passed, it would thwart waste treatment company Energy Solutions’ plans to import 20,000 tons of Italian nuclear waste and bury some of it (about 1600 tons, according to the company) in Utah’s soil.

Gordon foreign waste ban to get committee vote on The Murfreesboro Post
Tomorrow (Nov. 19), the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee will consider Congressman Bart Gordon’s bill concerning foreign radioactive waste. Gordon’s bipartisan legislation, the Radioactive Import Deterrence (RID) Act, H.R. 515, would prevent foreign-generated radioactive waste from being processed in Tennessee and disposed in the U.S.

The full committee markup of the RID Act will begin at 8:30 a.m. CST. A live webcast can be viewed on the E&C’s website when the hearing begins

Tomorrow’s markup comes after the E&C’s Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment held a legislative hearing on October 16 and passed the RID Act on November 3.


Tooele Transcript Bulletin – Foreign nuclear waste has no place in America
The hazardous waste industry, and nuclear waste in particular, have never been simple issues within Tooele County. While some along the Wasatch Front would like to see this genie put back into the bottle, most local residents have long realized our hazardous waste corridor is here to stay — requiring us to take a more pragmatic and nuanced view of the industry.

Hazardous waste has created jobs for county residents. It has also contributed millions of dollars to county government coffers in the form of mitigation fees — funds that were used to construct Deseret Peak Complex. Although that contribution has declined drastically in recent years, it remains an important revenue source within county budgets.

St. Petersburg Times – Green Victory as Nuclear Waste Shipments are Halted
Environmentalists from the international pressure group Greenpeace are trumpeting their biggest success in years after German-Dutch company URENCO announced on Monday that it is ending the practice of sending spent nuclear fuel to Russia for reprocessing and storage.

Radioactive loads on board foreign ships had been arriving at the port of St. Petersburg every month for a decade to be sent by rail to factories in Siberia and the Urals.

Environmentalists feared that transporting such loads through the city presented a major threat to public health and environmental security.

In 1999, they failed in their attempts to have the importing of spent nuclear fuel from abroad into Russia banned.

In December 2000, the State Duma voted overwhelmingly to adopt the practice of importing irradiated fuel from other countries.

BBC NEWS | UK | England | Cumbria | Nuclear waste plan put to public
People in west Cumbria have the chance to find out more about government plans to store nuclear waste underground.

The West Cumbria Managing Radioactive Waste Safely (MRWS) Partnership is sending leaflets to all homes in the Allerdale and Copeland council areas.

There will also be a series of public meetings over the next three months.

Waste fees subsidizing general state operations – Salt Lake Tribune
Industry » Legislature should close loophole that pumps waste fees into general fund, group says.

It’s been a long-standing principle in Utah to have hazardous waste operators cover the cost of state oversight. But with the economic slump and waste fees lagging, the self-supporting fund for hazardous waste regulation is short some $2.3 million.

An industry group has been looking since spring for a way to stanch the flow, and its focus has landed on the Utah Legislature. Turns out lawmakers have been reaching into the fund, called the Environmental Quality Restricted Account, for millions to cover other programs, some unrelated to the environment.

“The bottom line for us,” said Bill Sinclair, deputy director of the Utah Department of Environmental Quality, “is, if we can’t meet our revenue needs through fees, there will be consequences.”

Nuclear waste moved off the agenda (environmentalresearchweb blog) – environmentalresearchweb
The governments new draft National Policy Statement on nuclear power, indicating which issues the new Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) should take on board, and which it can ignore, contains this remarkable statement:

The Government is satisfied that effective arrangements will exist to manage and dispose of the waste that will be produced from new nuclear power stations. As a result the IPC need not consider this question. The draft Statement goes on to say that ‘Geological disposal will be preceded by safe and secure interim storage’.

So it seems, the waste issue is all in hand and we needn’t bother too much about it, or any problems with the much more active spent fuel that the new reactors’ high fuel burn up’ approach will create. Despite the fact that the highly active spent fuel is to be kept on site at the plant for perhaps several decades, that is evidently not something IPC will have to consider in its assessment of whether the proposed plants can go ahead. Instead the IPC will just focus on any conventional local planning and environmental impact issues that may emerge in relation to the 10 new nuclear plants that the government has now backed.

Nuclear disposal put in doubt by recovered Swedish galleon | Environment |
The plan to use copper for sealing nuclear waste underground has being thrown into disarray by corrosion in artefacts from the Vasa

Plans for nuclear waste disposal could be thrown into confusion tomorrow at a summit because of new evidence of corrosion in materials traditionally used for burial procedures.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) says it will keep careful watch on a meeting organised by the Swedish National Council for Nuclear Waste, which will look at potential problems with copper, designated for an important role in sealing radioactive waste underground.

The FINANCIAL – Boeing Seeks Review of California Site Cleanup Law

In its filing, Boeing says the recent state law changes the normal cleanup process applied throughout the state by imposing “irrational and arbitrary requirements” on Santa Susana.


Nuclear Policy News

France faces tough choices on Areva T&D sale | Deals | Reuters
France may have painted itself into a corner by pushing state-owned nuclear power group Areva to sell its most profitable unit, and could end up weakening the very domestic industries it is trying to champion.

The government, which owns 93 percent of Areva, must choose between three bids for the Areva’s electricity transmission & distribution (T&D) business — from GE, Toshiba, and a French consortium of Alstom and Schneider Electric — each of which potentially hurts French economic interests in different ways.

Should the government choose GE or Toshiba for the business, valued at 4 to 5 billion euros ($5.9-7.4 billion), it would in either case end up strengthening a company that competes with Areva in its core nuclear segment.

Report: Nuclear power won’t solve global warming – WFRV Green Bay
A new report says nuclear power plants would take too long to build and are too expensive to make any impact on global warming.

The report, released by Wisconsin Environment, an environmental advocacy organization, notes scientists believe developed nations must reduce emissions dramatically by 2020 to limit global warming.

The report says the first new nuclear reactor in the United States probably won’t be completed until at least 2016. Money that would go to new plants would be better spent on renewable sources.

State Rep. Mike Huebsch, a West Salem Republican, has pushed to repeal Wisconsin’s moratorium on nuclear power. He says groups like Wisconsin Environment are still living off the hysteria of 1970s meltdowns and will do anything to delay nuclear plant construction.

Nuke critics renew campaign against re-licensing
Vermont Yankee critics are gearing up for another campaign aimed at persuading state lawmakers to turn thumbs-down on the plant’s request for a 20-year license extension.

A coalition of groups including Vermont Public Interest Research Group and former Gov. Phil Hoff are announcing the campaign Thursday. It’s aimed at getting more Vermont towns to pass resolutions on Town Meeting Day opposing Vermont Yankee’s bid to remain operating past its scheduled 2012 closing.

Last year, 36 towns passed such a measure.

Who Will Dare to Invest in Nuclear Power?
Will there be a nuclear power renaissance in the United States, as a host of rosy-glassed prognosticators have predicted? Not as long as it remains such an abysmal investment opportunity, Matthew Wald writes in Technology Review’s November-December issue.

Wald, a New York Times reporter, contends that nuclear has come a long way in reliability and efficiency but still carries some serious financial baggage. As the possibility of an accident that panics or injures the neighbors has diminished, he writes, the likelihood has grown that even a properly functioning new reactor will be unable to pay for itself.

Wald cites three factors, all in flux, that make nuclear a huge financial risk. One is the sheer cost of building a new reactor, $4,000 per kilowatt of capacity using optimistic math, which is more than coal ($3,000) and far more than natural gas ($800). Another is the future competitive landscape in energy, and thus the price of electricity. And finally, no one is certain of the future price of fossil fuels, especially natural gas, which could change the whole equation.

Calvert Cliffs nuclear expansion criticized | | The Daily Times
As Maryland closes in on the construction of a third reactor at Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Lusby, an environmental organization has released a report calling nuclear power a step backward in the nation’s race to reduce pollution.

The Environment Maryland Research and Policy Center report, released Tuesday, calls nuclear power “too slow and too expensive,” an energy source that makes little economic sense in combating climate change.

While nuclear power might be preferable to fossil fuel-based energy sources, it is “diverting and delaying action,” said economist John Howley, who was part of a panel convened by Environment Maryland.

B’More Green: Nukes battling a green headwind? – An environmental blog for everyday living –
Aiming to head off a budding bipartisan move in Congress to boost nuclear power, environmentalists took to the streets – and the Internet – to dismiss atom-splitting as too slow and costly to help fight climate change.

Environment Maryland released a new report Tuesday (Nov. 17) arguing that it would take a decade or more and cost upwards of $600 billion to build 100 more nuclear plants, as some have advocated to ease planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. The group argues that the time and money could be better spent promoting energy efficiency and renewable energy such as wind and solar.

“Nuclear power would actually hurt our ability to stop global warming,” said Mike Sherling of Environment Maryland.

Group Says Push to Build Nuclear Power Plants Will Set Back Climate Change Efforts – Bay Area Blog –
To nuke or not to nuke: whether it’s kinder to the environment to suffer nuclear plant start-up delays and potential cleanup headaches or to take arms against (rising) seas of trouble through other, likely costlier, alternatives (think solar)? That is the question that’s been haunting environmental circles for the past few years.

Environment California Research & Policy Center, an environmental advocacy group, weighed in yesterday with a new report arguing that nuclear power would actually set back efforts to fight climate change. Nuclear power plants are too costly and slow to bring on-line, the group says, to effectively contribute toward cutting greenhouse gas emissions. (View the entire report below)

Miliband grilled over nuclear power – Times Online
Environmental activists yesterday took David Miliband to task over Britain’s renewable energy resources and his support for nuclear power.

The Foreign Secretary faced searching questions from the British Council’s Scottish young climate change champions at the organisation’s office in Edinburgh, as well as from their Japanese equivalents, who joined the debate via a video link.

Ahead of the Copenhagen talks, they questioned Mr Miliband over energy mixes, the viability of a profitable low carbon economy and the ability of the EU member states to work together on the issue.

Canceled nuclear tender disappoints Russians – Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review
The possible cancellation of a nuclear power plant tender in Turkey has disappointed Russians. ‘It is very disappointing because we expected progress after the official visits,’ economist Natalia Ulchenko tells the Daily News

News that Turkey is going to cancel the tender won by a Russian-led consortium to build a nuclear power plant has disappointed Russians.

Energy Minister Taner Yıldız signaled the cancellation of the nuclear power plant tender Monday. We will not send the report related to the nuclear plant project to the Cabinet, told reporters.

It is very disappointing for us because we expected progress in regard to energy cooperation between the two countries after the official visits, said Natalia Ulchenko, a professor of economics and the head of the Turkish research department at the Oriental Studies Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

AFP: Hitachi plans to raise 4.6 billion dollars
Japanese high-tech giant Hitachi Ltd., reeling from massive losses, said Monday that it planned to raise 415.7 billion yen (4.6 billion dollars) from investors to shore up its shaky finances.

Hitachi, which makes everything from refrigerators to nuclear power systems, aims to drum up the cash by selling convertible bonds and new shares. The sprawling conglomerate has been hit hard by the global economic downturn.

It is restructuring with measures including 7,000 job cuts, after losing 787.3 billion yen in the year to March 2009 — the biggest ever loss for a Japanese manufacturer.

Other cash-strapped Japanese companies are also going cap in hand to investors to bolster their capital, including electronics giant NEC.

Site Classification Procedural Explanation Erupts in Wails of Disbelief – Huntington News Network
During the public subcommittee meetings of the Portsmouth Site Specific Advisory Board at the Endeavor Center concerning cleanup and possible future uses for the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant site, a definition clarification led to a volatile exchange between an EPA worker and the survivor of a plant worker.

Joni Fearing, whose parents died from plant related contamination, objected to the Portsmouth/Piketon site not technically qualifying as a superfund cleanup site, which in the determination of certain attorneys triggers certain benefits to survivors.

After challenging criteria for superfund classification, Brian Blair, Ohio EPA Division of Emergency and Remedial Response, attempted to explain the process.

Sites designated under superfund qualify for the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) environmental law. The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant is on the list in Kentucky.

ISS – Nuclear companies face reactor design problems, ethics questions
Federal regulators have expressed serious safety concerns about the design for 14 of the nation’s 25 proposed new nuclear reactors, raising questions about the future of what the industry calls its “renaissance.”

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced last month that Westinghouse failed to demonstrate that the building designed to shield its AP1000 reactor (pictured at right) from outside threats such as tornadoes, hurricanes and earthquakes is adequate. In addition, there are concerns about whether the shield building, which also provides a radiation barrier, will be able to support the 8 million-pound emergency cooling water tank that’s supposed to sit on top.

Doubts raised on nuclear industry viability
The investment in nuclear power has been growing around the world over the last few years, being viewed as a means for countries to control their energy security, avoid the price fluctuations of other energy sources, and reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, but concerns are now being raised.

A scientist from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology predicts that supplies of uranium are running out and countries relying on imports of uranium may face shortages by 2013, while a New York Times journalist suggests new nuclear power plants are an “abysmal” investment that will never pay for itself without government financial support.

Dr Michael Dittmar, a physicist with CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), said in the fourth and final part of an essay on the world’s nuclear industry published this week that civilian stockpiles of uranium could be depleted by as early as 2013.

U.S. Senators unveil bill to double nuclear power | Reuters
Two U.S. Senators on Monday unveiled bipartisan legislation aimed at doubling nuclear power in 20 years and increasing funding for research into low carbon sources of energy.

Sponsored by Tennessee Republican Lamar Alexander and Virginia Democrat Jim Webb, the bill would provide $100 billion in loan guarantees for carbon-free electricity projects, adding to the existing $47 billion loan guarantee program.

Although the additional loan guarantees would not be limited to nuclear power, the nuclear industry would likely be the major recipient of the extra money because it is one of the most established low carbon energy sources.

Low French nuclear supply to cost EDF 1 bln euros  | Reuters
The drop in French nuclear availability will cost EDF (EDF.PA) one billion euros ($1.49 billion) and availability in 2009 should fall by one percentage point on the previous year to 78 percent, EDF said on Friday.

France, which relies on nuclear power for 80 percent of its electricity, has seen its nuclear availability at record lows in the past few months because of strikes in the spring which delayed maintenance and a high number of unplanned outages.

Land trouble may trip N-power in Gujarat
Vashram Patel, a farmer in the Jasapara village in Gujarat, says it is better to fight and die on his land rather than move to another place.

Most of us are illiterate and we have done nothing except farming for generations now. Where will we go? Patel asks, signalling the beginning of yet another land acquisition problem in India.

Patel’s angst may spell trouble for Nuclear Power Corporation (NPC) which is planning to set up a 6,000 Mw nuclear power project in the area.

NPC is facing protests from farmers who are refusing to make way for the Rs 50,000 crore project, the first major initiative after the civilian nuclear agreement between India and the US.

Government’s Farewell to Nuclear Power – Bianet
Following the State Counil’s decision, there are 12 days left to amend the government’s regulations and have the nuclear power station tender approved by the Council of Ministers. GÃltaÅŸ from the Electrical Engineers Chamber said this was practically impossible. The tender’s dead line is 24 November.

Electrical Engineers Chamber (EMO) Energy Group member Cengiz GÃltaÅŸ talked to bianet and summarized the State Council’s decision concerning the regulations of the tender for a nuclear power plant: The dead line of the tender is 24 November. So there are 12 days in case the government wants to alter its decision or seek approval of the Council of Ministers for new regulations. This practically means a cancellation of the tender.


Nuclear Weapons News

Japan Finds Documents Indicating Secret Nuclear Pact, NHK Says –
Japan’s government has discovered documents indicating the existence of a secret agreement allowing the U.S. to transport nuclear weapons through its territory, public broadcaster NHK reported on its Web site.

The government will set up a panel of experts to examine the documents and will announce the findings early next year, Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada said yesterday, according to NHK.

To contact the reporters on this story: Chris Cooper in Tokyo at

Hibakusha: ‘Mankind has yet to fully understand the terrifying effects of radiation’ – The Mainichi Daily News
A deeply-indented coastline glittered in the autumn sun as 63-year-old Yoko Nakano, an A-bomb survivor exposed in utero, walked the streets of Genkai, Saga Prefecture, home to the Genkai Nuclear Power Plant.

The rice had been harvested from the paddies, and a crisp breeze blew. The vicinity of the municipal government building was empty despite it being noontime on a weekday, and one couldn’t help but notice the number of shuttered shops in town. The only young man we passed on the street was a postal worker.

Asia Times Online: Nuclear fallout rocks Pakistan
Sharp differences between Pakistani leaders over safeguarding the country’s nuclear arsenal are placing increasing pressure on the embattled administration of President Asif Ali Zardari.

Zardari is already seriously at odds with the military establishment over dealing with the Taliban-led insurgency and there is a strong likelihood that his government will face a make-or-break test within weeks in the form of mass street protests.

Pakistan has reacted strongly to an article in The New Yorker by investigative reporter Seymour Hersh on November 16, “Defending the arsenal”, in which he claimed that Pakistan was discussing “understandings” with the US that could even see specialists take sophisticated nuclear triggers out of the country to prevent them

No Need for New Nuclear Warheads, Agency Says | Union of Concerned Scientists
— The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today released the executive summary of a new report that should put an end to claims that new nuclear weapons are required to maintain a safe, secure and reliable nuclear arsenal, according to experts at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS).

“This new scientific report should be the final nail in the coffin for proposals to build new nuclear weapons,” said Stephen Young, senior analyst in the Global Security Program at UCS. “The report finds that we can maintain our nuclear weapons indefinitely by simply continuing to do what we are already doing.”

The report, by a prominent, independent scientific panel called the JASON group, concluded that the United States can maintain current high levels of safety, security and reliability indefinitely without designing a new generation of warheads or testing current warheads. The panel found that the arsenal can be maintained by two existing programs: the Stockpile Stewardship Program, which monitors the arsenal for signs of aging, and the Life-Extension Program, which refurbishes existing warheads with new components.

Key Physicists Say No New Nukes Needed : ScienceInsider
The secretive JASON group of academic physicists have given a thumbs up to the current program of refurbishing nuclear warheads in the U.S. stockpile instead of building new, more reliable ones. The report should bolster efforts by the Obama Administration to keep dead the Reliable Replacement Warhead program, a Bush-era program to build new nukes. Bush’s Energy Department and Pentagon officials had argued that flaws in the refurbishment program were a key rationale for new bombs, but Obama disagreed. (Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a holdover, tried to revive the program this past summer, but failed.) The strong endorsement of the status quo by JASON, says Arms Control Wonk:

should drive a stake through the heart of the RRW and warhead replacement in general.

They turned back arguments that refurbishment efforts known as Life Extension Programs introduced enough changes to the bombs so as to raise questions about their effectiveness:

JASON finds no evidence that accumulation of changes incurred from aging and LEPs have increased risk to certification of today’s deployed nuclear warheads.

WPR Article | Global Insights: The Great Nuclear Wall of China
Although nuclear arms control is not likely to be a major agenda item during President Barack Obama’s visit to China, it should be. One of the obstacles facing the president as he seeks to realize the ambitious goals endorsed by the Nobel Peace Prize Committee is the need to transform the primarily bilateral strategic arms control relationship inherited from the Cold War into one that places greater emphasis on multilateral frameworks.

Although Moscow and Washington have made progress in negotiating a replacement for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) that expires this December, other nuclear weapons states must also join this reduction process, which thus far has been almost exclusively a Russian-American affair.

AdelaideNow… Maralinga test site returned to people Maralinga Tjarutja people
LAND in outback South Australia used for nuclear weapons testing in the aftermath of World War II will be handed back to the traditional Aboriginal owners.

Environment and Conservation and Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation Minister Jay Weatherill today told Parliament the final section of the Maralinga test site would be returned to the Maralinga Tjarutja people.

“The Maralinga nuclear test occurred during a period in our history when little regard was given to Aboriginal people and their connection with the land,” he said.

Celebration as judge acquits anti-nuclear campaigners | Ekklesia
Four anti-nuclear activists who took part in a mass protest at the Aldermaston nuclear base have been acquitted by a district judge at Reading Magistrates’ Court.

The four individuals were accused of obstructing the highway on 27th October 2008, but the judge, Peter Crabtree, ruled that the prosecution had failed to prove that they were even on the highway, let alone obstructing it. The defendants successfully argued that the blockade took place on Ministry of Defence land and did not significantly affect the public traffic flow.

However, the judge did not accept the defendants’ argument that the Atomic Weapons Establishment was itself engaged in unlawful activity.

US drops safety claim for island / World / Home – Morning Star
Residents of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques celebrated at the weekend after a US agency dropped claims that no health hazards had been caused by decades of US military exercises on and around the island.

Some 7,000 past and current Vieques residents have filed a lawsuit seeking billions of dollars in compensation for illnesses that they say are linked to the use of the island as a bombing range.

The US Federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry has now admitted that it must “modify” its earlier research on Vieques, which had purported to show that there had been no health risks generated.

Documentary tells story of Mars Bluff incident | SCNow
Many Pee Dee residents recall the details of the incident that occurred on March 11, 1958, in Mars Bluff.

Now, with the production of a documentary examining the aftermath of the day a 3-ton unarmed nuclear bomb was accidentally dropped on a family’s farm a few miles outside of Florence, the story is coming full circle.

Part of the ETV series Carolina Stories, “The Incident at Mars Bluff” tells the story of the Gregg family from that fateful day when their house and all their belongings were destroyed, through their struggles to receive fair compensation from the U.S. Air Force.

On Sunday, approximately 30 people attended a free screening of the program at the Florence County library and Matt Burrows, the director and producer of the documentary, was on hand to field questions about the project.

Pakistani nuclear scientist’s accounts tell of Chinese proliferation –
Accounts by controversial scientist assert China gave Pakistan enough enriched uranium in ’82 to make 2 bombs

In 1982, a Pakistani military C-130 left the western Chinese city of Urumqi with a highly unusual cargo: enough weapons-grade uranium for two atomic bombs, according to accounts written by the father of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, and provided to The Washington Post.

NTI: Global Security Newswire – Marshall Islands Ratifies Nuclear Test Ban
The Marshall Islands has become the 151st state to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, according to a press release issued today (see GSN, Oct. 9).

The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization called the Oct. 28 move “highly symbolic.” The United States from 1946 to 1958 conducted 67 nuclear test blasts in the atmosphere above the Marshall Islands’ Bikini and Enewetak atolls.

The treaty to date has been signed by 182 nations and ratified by 151 countries. In the Pacific islands region, 12 states have signed and 10 countries have ratified the treaty. Niue, Tonga and Tuvalu have yet to join the list of signatories.

Before it can enter it to force, the treaty must be ratified by the 44 “Annex 2” countries. There are nine holdouts — China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States.


Department of Energy News

Officials meet to discuss parks at NERP workshop | Aiken Standard | Aiken, SC
Collaboration and working locally toward national goals were expressed as overarching themes Friday as the National Environmental Research Parks (NERP) workshop came to an end in Aiken.

Researchers and scholars from all seven of the nationwide facilities gathered at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory’s conference center.

“The commonality of programs has come through,” said Ken McLeod, co-director of SREL. “Despite our geographical differences, we are working on similar research themes.”

SREL hosted the workshop for representatives from the seven environmental research park sites located at DOE nuclear sites: Los Alamos in New Mexico, Hanford in Washington, Yucca Mountain in Nevada, Oak Ridge in Tennessee, Fermilab in Illinois, the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho and the Savannah River Site.

The network of research parks offers opportunities for scientists to combine their data to create a comprehensive picture of the impacts of climate change across widely varied geographic regions.

Unprofessional behavior plagues SRS | Aiken Standard | Aiken, SC
Death threats, abuse and corporate retaliation seem to have taken the place of any sense of esprit de corps at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Savannah River Site (SRS) since stimulus funds and related staff started pouring in, according to workers.

Working conditions at the South Carolina DOE weapons complex facility have again been called into question as information obtained by the Aiken Standard paints a picture of unprofessional behavior and acrimony at the top levels of DOE management.

Following a dispute between Site Manager Jeff Allison and individuals at DOE Environmental Management (EM) headquarters in September and early October, new information has come forth of seemingly widespread discord between DOE-EM executives and stimulus management and staff.

An investigation began at SRS after Director of SRS American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Vincent Adams claimed his life was threatened by Elaine Nix, the contracting officer for SRS ARRA work.

Ventura County Reporter – Boeing blocks lab cleanup
Boeing’s filing of a federal complaint on Friday the 13th against the state’s Department of Toxic Substances Control over cleaning up the monstrously polluted Santa Susana Field Lab was no tardy Halloween trick. The move attempts to gut state Senate Bill 990, which was signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in October 2007, to ensure that the 2,850-acre site is cleaned up to the highest standards.

Invalidating SB 990 would save Boeing hundreds of millions of dollars. The state’s stringent cleanup levels would be relaxed, saving Boeing on the amount of soil and groundwater contamination that would have to be removed from the site and sent to a dump.

Peace activists push ‘Alternative 6’ for Y-12 |
The debate over nuclear weapons in the 21st century continued tonight with about 100 people in attendance. This time the forum was held at the New Hope Center, near the entrance to the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, and the topic was modernization of Y-12 and the proposed construction of a new production facility with broad capabilities at the Oak Ridge plant.

If there’s a price tag for world peace and security, several speakers passionately argued, it’s surely not between $1.4 billion and $3.5 billion. That’s the estimated cost range of the Uranium Processing Facility, which the National Nuclear Security Administration wants to build at Y-12 to replace antiquated operations — some of which date back to the World War II Manhattan Project — for making and dismantling warhead parts.

The Taxpayer Shouldn’t be Burned Again in LANL’s Inadequate Fire Protection Program – POGO Blog
As usual, last week there was an interesting article in the Nuclear Weapons & Materials Monitor. In Pu Work Curtailed Because Of Fire Sprinkler Issues, the Monitor’s Todd Jacobson reported that Los Alamos National Laboratory [LANL] curtailed programmatic work in the lab’s Plutonium Facility, putting the facility in ‘standby mode’ for a month from early October to Nov. 5 because of concerns about the adequacy of fire sprinkler coverage.

On the bright side, the problem that 13 of 100 areas (130 sprinklers) in the facility were not adequately covered by the sprinkler system was discovered before there was a fire in one of those areas. On the not-so-bright side, two weeks ago, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) found that the facility would be vulnerable to a catastrophic fire in the case of a severe earthquake. However, it does not take an earthquake to start a fire in a glove box that could spread.

Seattle crowd opposes Hanford cleanup delays
A tentative agreement to stretch out the timetable to convert the Hanford nuclear reservation’s worst radioactive wastes into more benign glass drew little support at a Seattle meeting last Thursday.

If adopted, the agreement would delay start-up of a massive waste-glassification complex from 2011 to 2019. And completion of the glassification would shift from 2028 to 2047.

The agreement — actually a negotiated settlement to a state lawsuit against the federal Department of Energy — also gives a federal judge the power to enforce the new schedule if the feds balk at it in the future.

S.C. waste coming to Oak Ridge » Knoxville News Sentinel
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Savannah River nuclear facility in South Carolina is using a wealth of Recovery Act funding to accelerate cleanup activities and reduce its Cold War stockpile of radioactive waste.

Some of that waste, containing radioactive tritium and other contaminants, is coming to Oak Ridge for treatment and packaging before being shipped west to Nevada or Utah for disposal. Two local facilities owned by Perma-Fix Environmental Services Inc. – Diversified Scientific Services Inc. near Kingston and Materials & Energy Corp. in Oak Ridge – have been hired to treat the so-called mixed waste, which contains both radioactive elements and hazardous chemicals.

Department of Energy – Statement of U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Meetings With Indian Leaders
oday I have had the opportunity to meet with Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia and other distinguished Indian leaders. We had productive discussions about the opportunities for partnerships between our two countries on clean energy technologies.

Meeting the climate and clean energy challenge is a top priority for President Obama. In the past ten months, the United States has demonstrated its renewed commitment to these goals both by supporting domestic policies that advance clean energy, climate security, and economic recovery; and by vigorously vigorously re-engaging the international community through bi-lateral relationships, the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, the G20, and the UN negotiations.

The U.S. will continue to work hard toward combating climate change and reaching a strong international agreement that puts the world on a pathway to a clean energy future. Working together, we can meet the clean energy and climate challenge in a way that will drive sustainable, low-carbon economic growth in the 21st century.

Miles to go on Livermore nuclear lab cleanup —
Quarrels remain as the Northern California community and the federal government search for an affordable and environmental solution.

Reporting from Livermore, Calif. – The Energy Department is spending $328 million to clean up two separate areas of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory — the agency’s largest nuclear-weapons cleanup project in California.

The cleanup is relatively minor compared with others in the U.S., but it still has led to conflicts between the local community and the federal government as both search for a solution that is affordable and environmentally acceptable.

Livermore is one of two U.S. labs that designed nuclear weapons. It continues to conduct research into plutonium behavior, high-powered lasers, computer-simulated nuclear reactions and other areas.


Other Energy News

Renewable Energy Focus – Six renewable energy sources judged to be best prospect for future, says report
The best prospects for large-scale renewable energy production and net-energy performance remain wind and certain forms of solar, according to a study released by two California-based think tanks.

It is reasonable to conclude … that a full replacement of energy currently derived from fossil fuels with energy from alternative sources is probably impossible over the short term; it may be unrealistic to expect it even over longer time frames, explains Searching for a Miracle: Net Energy Limits & the Fate of Industrial Society. The report was published by the International Forum on Globalization with content provided by the Post Carbon Institute.

DOE’s Chalk: Managing Billions of Dollars in Clean Energy Stimulus Funding –
At the Department of Energy (DOE), Steven Chalk has experienced the economic crisis as an opportunity, a chance to push energy efficiency.

A career public servant, Chalk manages the distribution of nearly half the $36.7 billion in economic stimulus funds Congress granted DOE this year — money issued for home weatherization, energy efficient buildings, plug-in hybrid vehicle technology, solar, wind and geothermal power.

Groups fight TVA plan to discharge water from Kingston plant into Clinch River | | The Tennessean
Three environmental groups want the state to throw out a permit it just issued that would allow TVA to dump water tainted with mercury, selenium, arsenic, and other chemicals from the Kingston coal-fired power plant into the Clinch River.

The Clinch, which lies below the power plant, has already received ash moving down the Emory River from the massive ash spill last December.

Earthjustice, Environmental Integrity Project, and the Sierra Club on Thursday filed an appeal of a water discharge permit that the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation issued four weeks ago.

They say letting TVA pipe one million gallons of wastewater a day from a pond with gypsum into the river isn’t wise. The material will be a byproduct of the plant’s new air pollution system.


Nuclear Editorial and Opinions

New Times SLO | If Diablo melts down
Most of the residents of SLO County have received information about obtaining K1 tablets in case radiation is released from the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant. We can all get two tablets per household member; keep them safe, know where they are. So far, so good: But please tell me, how are all the kids at school supposed to get the tablets in case of such a horrible emergency?

The tablets are supposed to be taken in an appropriate and timely dosage. What exactly is timely? There is no guarantee kids will be at home during such an emergency.

School kids might not take pills to school with them. If they need medication while at school, it is given to the school nurse for safe-

keeping. However, most schools no longer have school nurses on campus. Who would deal with this?

Will parents be able to leave K1 tablets clearly marked for their kids with somebody? Has any thought been given to this? The K1

tablets do not provide protection other than for the thyroid gland, but in children, I must assume that this is protection worthwhile

—while we scramble to get out of harm’s way!

The Diamondback – Nuclear energy: Don’t believe the sticker price
A common perception of nuclear power is that it’s an affordable, carbon-free energy source that could meet a lot of America’s demand for electricity, if only those darn environmentalists would get out of the way. Unfortunately for nuclear power advocates and Maryland ratepayers, this statement crumbles upon contact with reality.

The average cost of electricity for all of Maryland’s sectors is 13.45 cents per kilowatt-hour. There’s a growing possibility some of us will have the pleasure of paying double that thanks to the pending merger between Constellation Energy and French electric giant EDF Energy, which is supposed to pave the way for construction of a new nuclear power plant at Calvert Cliffs. Doubling rates is fairly easy to predict with a trip down memory lane.

A shortsighted vision – – Las Vegas Sun
Recruiting a nuclear power plant is on the mind of eastern Nevada mayor

The mayor of Ely in eastern Nevada foresees a day when the mines that give employment to residents of his small city begin petering out. So a goal of starting now on a plan to diversify Ely’s economy would be understandable.

What is not understandable, however, is the direction he has taken to achieve this goal. In a state that has vigorously fought for more than 25 years against a federal plan to locate a dump for nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, just 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, and in a state that suffers from a scarcity of water, Mayor Jon Hickman is advocating for a nuclear power plant.

Nuclear power not the answer; renewable energy is
Earlier this month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a hearing in Dana Point regarding the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, commonly known as SONGS.

At the hearing, Southern California Edison claimed it is doing everything necessary to fix the culture of cover-up that exists  ahem, pardon me existed at the plant.

But in reality, firing about 70 percent of the staff did not fix it, and nor has anything else.

Not only does that culture of cover-up still exist, but actually, it is a necessary component of the operation in the eyes of everyone who works there. Because they’ll get in trouble if the media or the public find out what leaks, what cracks, what drops, what bursts, what spills, who gets contaminated, or by how much. Especially when it’s you getting contaminated they don’t want to tell you that. Nor do the so-called regulators.

The Free Press, Mankato, MN – Your View: Nuclear benefits overstated
Regarding the guest editorial Time to reconsider nuclear power published Monday, there are numerous aspects to nuclear power that the author fails to mention.

Most importantly, when the Pioneer of Bemidji states that nuclear power is a clean energy source, that today’s technological advances can produce safe, efficient power plants, they are seriously mistaken. While coal burning is mentioned as a possibility for a continued and extensive source of energy, the level of carbon produced makes it seem like not a viable option. However, it is discovered that nuclear energy is not a very green choice, either.

The Top Nuclear Stories is published twice weekly. It is a produced using a combination of social bookmarking and programming. You can view or join the public group and add your own stories by going here ->

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