Top 100 Energy Stories Dec. 28th 2009 – Jan. 3rd 2010

radbull As was expected the last week was a vacation week for most Americans so the volume of news was low. However, what happened was nothing of the sort.  The news was mostly pretty bad stuff.

The lead story has to be the explosion and deaths of two scientists in India’s nuclear center that takes the lead. The Indian nuclear industry continues to grow as possibly the most dangerous hot spot in the world We covered a story here not long ago that points to the fact that almost all of India’s nuclear power and weapons infrastructure is located in one of the country’s most politically unstable regions. With the poisoning of 55 workers a month ago, just prior to Obama’s finalization of the 123 treaty with the U.S. it appears that Japan, one of the most cautious countries, now with its own scandal relating to secret U.S. dealing has called for India to sign international treaties that allow the IAEA the right to inspect its weapons operations, as part of that country’s push to become a player in India’s commercial nuclear expansion. It is America’s almost complete abdication of past policies. including millions in bribe money from foreign nationals to the democratic party that opened up this disaster, and of course it it this continued failure of anyone in the U.S. anti-nuclear leadership to even bring this travesty up. Too late now. The damage is done.

Russia and the U.S. continue to knock heads over a new START treaty due to concerns over how Obama appears to be pulling back from his agreement to stop constructing a shield across Europe. The earlier Bush version has shifted to a more covert version that has yet to be covered by the U.S. media, and has become the main sticking block between the two countries.

The n-waste battle in Utah has taken a turn for the worse as the Eastern half of the country continues to use the west as its nuclear toilet. The South-Texas story took a sad turn, as the local utility went ahead and paid its share of the the project rather than kill it. There are stories on uranium development a bunch of safety stuff, and due to low content a lot of news from the previous week that makes the last few weeks some of the most dense activity in some time. Don’t forget to check out the scandal around one of the NRC’s commissioners.  Bechtel got canned as the contractor to decommission ORNL’s K-25 gaseous diffusion nightmare, the state of Washington put out its report card on the cleanup at Hanford and many more.

Top Nuclear Stories Index

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


Nuclear Reactor News

Georgia Power works on nuclear expansion  |
Not much stands out in a drive across the piney flatlands of rural eastern Georgia, just below Augusta, this side of South Carolina.
A few cows graze in an open field. A trailer home or two and a small house sit back from nearly empty roads.

Then, just before the Savannah River, they appear: the twin cooling towers of the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, each one 548 feet tall, billowing puffy clouds of water vapor, like steam from a cup of hot coffee. Nearby, though much less visible, are the two nuclear reactors that actually produce the plant’s electricity.

VY year in review: Spinoffs, license renewal and safety – Brattleboro Reformer
The discussion about Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon wasn’t confined to whether or not it should continue to operate past 2012, its original license expiration date.

Also of concern to both sides of the debate, and those in the middle, was whether Entergy, which owns and operates Yankee, should be allowed to spin off Yankee into a wholly independent company with financial liabilities of more than $4 billion.

Vermont’s Public Service Board is still reviewing whether it should issue a certificate of public good to allow the spin off.

Earlier in 2009, the Department of Public Service opposed the formation of Enexus, the spin off company, unless certain conditions were met. After most of the conditions are met by Entergy, DPS recommends the PSB approve the transaction.

Greenpeace warned Vermont that the formation of Enexus would not be in the best interests of the state.

AFP: Soviet-era Lithuanian nuclear plant shuts down under EU deal
Lithuania Thursday shut down its Soviet-era nuclear plant under an EU deal in a move set to drive up electricity prices amid an economic crisis and leave it counting on ex-master Moscow for power.

“At 11:00 pm (2100 GMT) everything went offline. It all went according to plan,” Viktor Sevaldin, director of the 26-year-old plant, told AFP by telephone.

The plant, located in Visaginas in eastern Lithuania, provided 70 percent of the Baltic state’s electricity. It gradually went offline from 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) Thursday, displaying its decreasing output on its website.

It is similar to the one that exploded at Chernobyl in then-Soviet Ukraine in 1986, the world’s worst nuclear accident.

Judge denies order against CPS Energy – San Antonio Business Journal:
A request for a temporary restraining order against CPS Energy has been denied by Bexar County District Judge John D. Gabriel.

Nuclear Innovation North America (NINA) LLC, the joint venture of NRG Energy and Toshiba Corp., had sought the order during a hearing to determine a court date when legal pleadings will be heard concerning CPS Energy’s lawsuit against NINA.

The legal dispute arose over questions about the cost estimate of two nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project near Bay City, Texas. CPS Energy contends that the estimate came in $4 billion higher than the utility anticipated.

New Loan-Guarantee Bailout for New Nuclear Reactors Puts U.S. Taxpayers at Risk as Department of Energy… — ATLANTA, Dec. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —
Nuclear Power Industry is Perfect Illustration of Why Taxpayers Are Saying “No More Bailouts!” – Billions for Plant Vogtle Reactors Impossible to Justify in Terms of Rising Financial Risks, Reduced Demand for Power, Cheaper Renewables and Huge Potential of Energy Efficiency

ATLANTA, Dec. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — First it was insurance companies, then it was banks and that was followed by auto companies. Now, the federal government is putting U.S. taxpayers and utility customers at new risk under a controversial U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee program that is slated to award $18.5 billion, with Atlanta-based Southern Company predicted to be first on the list for program funds to build two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Georgia.

Ironically, the DOE’s “top choice” for the nuclear reactor loan guarantees, which are backed by U.S. taxpayers in the event of defaults, is the very same Plant Vogtle that helped to kill the previous nuclear power boom in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. Huge cost overruns at the original Plant Vogtle – which escalated from $660 million for four reactors to a whopping $8.87 billion for two – likely played a role in putting the brakes on nuclear expansion plans pursued decades ago in the United States.

Opponents of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant from Franklin County to join Vermont march | Breaking News – –
January is not the ideal time to embark on a 12-day, 126-mile march through Vermont.

That’s not stopping local residents, as well as people from New Hampshire and Vermont, from planning a trek from Brattleboro, Vt., to the Statehouse in Montpelier during one of coldest, darkest months of the year. Although it likely will prove to be a hardship, said Carl Doerner, of Conway, marchers want to make a statement about their opposition to the relicensing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon.

“We feel we need to cast as much influence on the (Vermont) Legislature, which is going to vote soon on the question of relicensing Vermont Yankee, Doerner said.

CPS agrees to pay share of nuclear costs
Nuclear Innovation North America argued in court Wednesday that CPS Energy had refused to pay its portion of January’s development costs for the nuclear deal, a move that could kill the project.

But later Wednesday, CPS said it would pay its share of January’s costs, eliminating one of the many legal points of contention between the partners.

Our sole goal today was to ensure the ability of the STP expansion to continue past Jan. 1, and their decision accomplishes that goal, NRG spokesman Dave Knox said.

NINA is owned by NRG and Toshiba Inc.

FACTBOX-Nuclear power plans in Africa, Middle East | Reuters
Many countries in Africa and the Middle East have said they want to develop civilian nuclear programmes to meet rising power demand.

Nuclear is seen by many as a long-term solution to high fuel costs and an effective way to cut carbon emissions from the electricity generation sector.

A fall in fossil fuel prices since summer 2008 has made nuclear power less attractive than it was when oil CLc1 was above $147 a barrel in July 2008. South Africa is the only country in the region with an operational nuclear power plant.

Below are the nuclear aspirations of countries across Africa and the Middle East.

2 scientists die in Bhabha Atomic centre lab fire- Hindustan Times
Two research fellows died after a fire broke out in a laboratory of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in northeast Mumbai on Tuesday. The BARC clarified that its nuclear reactors were safe and there was no radioactive leak.

The dead are Umang Singh of Mumbai and Partha Bagh from Kolkata, both 25 and Ph.D students of radiochemistry.

Sources said there were helium and nitrogen cylinders in the lab, which are likely to have exploded. It took firefighters 45 minutes to control the fire, which could have resulted in a major disaster, they added.

Nuclear plant near Fresno planned –
“The deal between French firm Areva and California investors faces regulatory hurdles. Early plans call for building at least one 1,600-megawatt plant using European pressurized reactor technology.

Reporting from Sacramento – A French company and a group of Central Valley investors announced Tuesday that they had signed a letter of intent to build one or two nuclear power plants near Fresno.

The agreement with Areva, a Paris nuclear engineering firm, is expected to be finalized in March, said John Hutson, chief executive of the Fresno Nuclear Energy Group, a partnership of local business executives and farmers. Once that’s done, the two potential partners would begin a site selection and evaluation process that could take as long as two years, he said.

Environmentalists were skeptical that the agreement would go anywhere. They point out that California has a 3-decade-old law that bans the construction of nuclear power plants unless the state can certify that the federal government has come up with a plan for the permanent storage of spent nuclear fuel, which is highly radioactive. No such facility exists in the country, and plans to open one at Yucca Mountain in Nevada have been put on hold by the Obama administration.

The California ban doesn’t trouble the California investors.

“The law is archaic and will fall by the wayside on its own, in our opinion,” Hutson said.

YONHAP NEWS: S. Korea signs nuclear deal worth potential US$40 bln with UAE
South Korea signed a US$20 billion deal with the United Arab Emirates to build four nuclear power plants in the oil-rich country, a deal expected to generate contracts for South Korean companies worth an additional $20 billion for decades to come, South Korea’s presidential office said Sunday.

The agreement marks South Korea’s first nuclear power plant export deal.

The biggest energy deal contracted ever either by South Korea or UAE was signed by a consortium led by South Korea’s state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. and Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. shortly after a summit between South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and his UAE counterpart Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan here.

Cement makers see huge opportunity in UAE nuclear plants
Cement and ready-mix companies in the UAE are gearing up for a massive opportunity for supplying cement and concrete for nuclear power plants in the UAE.

The UAE is expected to award contracts estimated to be worth $40 billion (Dh147bn) to build several nuclear reactors.

According to a senior industry official, the contract for nuclear power plants would be a blessing for cement companies already struggling with falling demand and reduced profits.

Defect found in the back-up system at Plymouth nuclear plant – Quincy, MA – The Patriot Ledger
A defective alarm switch and a leaky seal on a water pipe caused the back-up containment system at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth to be declared inoperable for about an hour on Tuesday morning.

A defective seal on the water pipe was allowing air to escape from the reactor building. While an alarm is supposed to respond in these situations, the alarm did not work. The defect was discovered during an engineering check of the plant.

Dallas Morning News: Is it melt down for NRG’s plans to build more Texas reactors?
CPS Energy, San Antonio’s electricity company, sued NRG Energy for $32 billion because of contractual disputes involving the expansion of the South Texas Project nuclear power facility. CPS owns a stake in the facility, which NRG also owns and operates.

CPS says in the lawsuit that NRG, NRG’s Nuclear Innovation North America joint venture, and Toshiba, “made misrepresentations and also failed to disclose project critical information to induce CPS Energy to participate in the project.”

N.Y. man: Entergy lied about shortfall – Brattleboro Reformer
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has accepted a petition from a New York man to investigate whether Entergy has lied about the adequacy of the decommissioning funds for its nuclear power plants.

“Without swift and drastic enforcement action on the part of the NRC and its staff, human health and the environment around these licensed facilities is at risk and citizen safety (is) at risk,” wrote Sherman Martinelli, of Peekskill, N.Y., in a document he filed in August.

Martinelli lives within three miles of Entergy’s Indian Point, in the Hudson Valley.

On Dec. 17, the NRC responded that its Petition Review Board would consider his allegations. The NRC also forwarded his claims of wrongdoing on the part of the NRC to its Office of the Inspector General.

Would-be nuke plant builder delays NRC application – KIVITV.COM | Boise. News, Breaking News, Weather and Sports-
A small Idaho company that wants to build a nuclear power plant has delayed the date when it expects to apply for a federal operating license to 2011, a year behind a previous estimate.

Alternate Energy Holdings Inc. chief executive officer Don Gillispie told the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission he now expects to apply for a combined license for the Elmore County plant in the fourth quarter of 2011, the Times-News reported.

Gillispie also told the federal commission he plans to seek licenses for two other plants: one in Payette County in the second quarter of 2011 and one for a site near Pueblo, Colo., in the second quarter of 2012.

New Times SLO | PG&E dogged over Diablo relicensing
Members of the state’s main energy policy and planning agency spoke out against the decision by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. to apply to renew the company’s operating license for the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant before addressing their concerns.

The topic came up at a Dec. 16 California Energy Commission (CEC) hearing in Sacramento for the adoption of he 2009 Integrated Energy Policy Report, which outlines and analyzes energy-related issues affecting the state. CEC Vice Chair James Boyd chastised PG&E and contrasted their behavior with that of Southern California Edison Co., which operates the nuclear generating station in San Onofre.

I’m very disappointed with what PG&E has done, CEC Vice Chair James Boyd said at the hearing. “I think now it’s time to single out Edison for their statement of wanting to collaborate and cooperate on all the commitments while another utility has chosen to kind of go around behind us.

I can’t speak for Commissioner [Jeffrey] Byron, but I for one know there was great disappointment with that action, Boyd said. But we’ll address it in due time.

A nuclear reactor in Egypt? – Haaretz – Israel News
“Egypt will not enjoy its sovereignty unless it has the strength to implement a just peace, and therefore developing a nuclear program is part of national security,” says Dr. Rashad Al-Qubaisi, the former head of the International Center for Nuclear Weapons at the United Nations and the person responsible for preparing a report on establishing a nuclear reactor in Egypt. “I am of the opinion that possessing an atom bomb is essential if you want to enjoy power and sovereignty. I will not forget what the Indian ambassador said to me when we discovered that India was holding nuclear experiments in 1997 – ‘Our national security is more important to us than water or food.'” Qubaisi, who criticizes the Egyptian government for not approving nuclear supervision in its territory, says no country in the region, including Israel, has conducted nuclear experiments because they are so simple to trace. “Israel conducts its experiments via computer simulations – impossible to detect,” he says.

Nuclear power plant of Marhleberg wins unlimited licence – swissinfo
An environment ministry decision to grant an unlimited licence to the Mühleberg nuclear power station has prompted mixed reaction.

The operators of the plant outside the capital Bern said they welcomed the move because it finally puts all five nuclear power stations in Switzerland on par with each other.

The Marhleberg facility became operational in 1972 and had a licence that was due to run out by the end of 2012. An application has already been handed in to built a new reactor in ten years’ time.

However, critics of nuclear power described the decision as irresponsible and scandalous. They pledged to challenge it in court.

China to launch 2-3 Westinghouse nuclear projects -media | Reuters
China will start building another “two or three” third-generation Westinghouse nuclear reactors by the end of next year once they have been approved by the government, the China Daily newspaper said on Tuesday.

The newspaper, citing unnamed sources, said the AP1000 reactor projects would also be the first to be built in the country’s interior provinces, with central China’s Hubei, Hunan and Jiangxi likely candidates. All of China’s existing reactors are located along the eastern coast.

China signed an agreement with Westinghouse Electric in 2006 to build four AP1000 reactors in the coastal provinces of Shandong and Zhejiang.

t r u t h o u t | Helen Caldicott Slams Environmental Groups on Climate Bill, Nuclear Concessions
Dr. Helen Caldicott, the pioneering Australian antinuclear activist and pediatrician who spearheaded the global nuclear freeze movement of the 1980s and co-founded Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), has joined with left-leaning environmental groups here in an uphill fight to halt nuclear power as a “solution” to the global warming crisis. “Global warming is the greatest gift the nuclear industry has ever received,” Dr. Caldicott told Truthout.
The growing rush to nuclear power was only enhanced, experts say, by the weak climate deal at the Copenhagen 15 climate conference. The prospects for passage of a climate bill in Congress – virtually all versions are pro-nuclear – were enhanced, most analysts say, because it offered the promise that China might voluntarily agree to verify its carbon reductions and it could reassure senators worried about American manufacturers being undermined by polluters overseas. But at the two-week international confab that didn’t produce any binding agreements to do anything, Caldicott and environmental activist groups were marginalized or, in the case of the delegates from Friends of the Earth, evicted from the main hall.

VPR News: Yankee May Close Down Without Approval Of Spin-off
The owners of Vermont Yankee say they might shut the plant down in 2012, if Vermont doesn’t approve of a new spin-off corporation that would own the reactor.

Legislative leaders say they remain strongly opposed to the spin-off.

VPR’s Bob Kinzel reports.

(Kinzel) In the next few months, the PSB is expected to rule on the spin-off plan. Under the proposal, the current owners of Vermont Yankee, Entergy, would reorganize six of its unregulated nuclear power plants into a new corporation known as Enexus.

Jay Thayer is a vice president for Entergy. He says it’s a good plan because Enexus will have greater financial resources available to help support Vermont Yankee for the next 20 years:

The Associated Press: Univ. of Ariz. plans to shut down research reactor
The University of Arizona plans to shut down its 51-year-old nuclear reactor by mid-2010, ending a half-century of specialized nuclear research and training at the Tucson school.

The writing has been on the wall for the reactor’s demise since the late 1990s, said the professor who runs the UA Nuclear Research Lab. That’s when falling demand for nuclear engineers led the university to end specialized degree programs that had fed hundreds of engineers into the nuclear Navy and private nuclear industry.

The reactor’s license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission expires next year, and with a rigorous re-licensing process, the decision was made to shut the reactor down.


Nuclear Health and Safety News

BBC News – Brazil landslides ‘may close nuclear plants’
Two nuclear power stations near a city in southern Brazil hit by deadly landslides may be temporarily shut down, the mayor has said.

Mayor Tuca Jordao, of Angra dos Reis, said main roads had been blocked by landslides and could obstruct any evacuation in the case of an emergency.

He said the plants – Angra I and Angra II – were not damaged or threatened but should be shut down as a precaution.

A landslide that hit a nearby resort on Friday killed at least 29 people.

The Valley News Online: Elevated tritium levels found at Fitzpatrick plant
A sample taken from the west storm drain at Entergy’s James A. Fitzpatrick nuclear power plant has tested positive for tritium, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Station management was notified Dec. 23 that a sample taken from the west storm drain tested positive for tritium. The sample results were confirmed at a level of 984 picocuries per liter of tritium. The sensitivity of the analysis is 800 picocuries per liter of tritium.

The increase level in tritium, however, poses no health risk, officials state.

Fire at Indian Nuclear centre raises worries about the country’s nuclear program
Fire broke out in a chemical laboratory near India’s financial capital Mumbai. The incident that took two lives and left one person injured happened in a lab at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre on December 30th.

According to authorities fire broke out on the third floor of the lab at the research centre and the dead are said to be the research students who couldn’t escape the laboratory in time.

Officials have ruled out any radioactive leakage but incident has many worried about the safety of the Indian Nuclear program.

PETITION For Congress to Pay Benefits to Workers


The implementation of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000, as amended, (EEOICPA) has been fraught with mismanagement, violations of due process, misrepresentation, and misplacement of workers medical and dosimetry records. The responsible federal agencies — U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Department of Labor (DOL) — have, for seven years, followed policies that have resulted in delaying compensation for thousands of workers who served in The Cold War at the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex.

Sheep farmers still stuck under a Chernobyl cloud | UK news | The Guardian
Lakeland sheep farmers, like the rare-breed Herdwicks many still rear today, are of hardy stock and refuse to be moved by a forecast of rain. It was no different during the first few days of May 1986, when an unseasonably intense downpour lashed down on the Cumbrian fells, topping its tarns and lakes, and driving walkers and day-trippers towards the sanctuary of the tea rooms.

David Ellwood then a 30-year-old sheep farmer who had just taken on a National Trust tenant farm above the hamlet of Ulpha in the Duddon valley remembers that week well. “It was lambing time,” he recalls. “It was really, really wet. And then we got the message from the ministry. All the sheep farmers in the area were told there was to be a fortnight-long restriction on the sale and movement of our sheep.”

Radiation mishap prompts inquiry – John O’Groat Journal and Caithness Courier
They want to find out why a group of workers were subjected to a higher than expected dose while moving a flask containing intermediate-level waste (ILW) on November 25.

Checks are ongoing to determine the exposure levels of between six and nine workers, though it has been established they do not breach legal or site-imposed limits.

The probe follows an incident in the summer when two workers had to have low-level contamination removed from their hands while working on a clean-up job in the site’s sphere-shaped reactor.

The two problems come in the wake of a steady improvement in both the nuclear and industrial safety record of operators, Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd.

It is understood management are keen to tighten up standards in the site’s Fuel Cycle Area – which houses the complex of reactor and waste stores – to maintain the recent progress.

DSRL spokesman Colin Punler yesterday gave details of the latest incident. / | Tritium spills into Lake Ontario after Darlington accident
Investigation into why Darlington workers were filling wrong tank

CLARINGTON — Workers at the Darlington nuclear station filled the wrong tank with a cocktail of water and a radioactive isotope Monday, spilling more than 200,000 litres into Lake Ontario.

Ontario Power Generation is investigating how the accident happened and officials say hourly tests of the lake water show that the level of tritium the radioactive isotope of hydrogen  poses no harm to nearby residents.

2 exposed to plutonium at SRS  – The Augusta Chronicle
Two Savannah River Site workers were discovered with traces of plutonium 238 on their clothing in November, but followup monitoring concluded they received no internal exposure.
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In this case, the two people had contamination on their clothing, but not on themselves, said Will Callicott, spokesman for Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, the site’s primary contractor. The contamination was detected through routine monitoring while exiting the work area, so the radiation detection system worked as designed.

The incident occurred the week of Nov. 13 in the site’s Solid Waste Management Facility, according to a report made public this month by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

France compensates nuclear test victims
France’s parliament has passed a law to compensate victims of nuclear tests in Algeria and the South Pacific, a response to decades of complaints by people sickened by radiation.

The law cleared France’s Senate on Tuesday, its final legislative hurdle following approval in the National Assembly in June.

France “can at last close a chapter of its history”, Defence Minister Herve Morin said in a statement.

He called the law “just, rigorous and balanced.”

The text, hammered out with help from victims’ associations, recognises the right for victims of France’s more than 200 nuclear tests to receive compensation.

Some 150,000 people, including civilian and military personnel, were on site for the 210 tests France carried out, both in the atmosphere and underground, in the Sahara Desert and the South Pacific from 1960-1996.

$41M ASU project targets nuclear disasters – Phoenix Business Journal:
Arizona State University will lead a $41 million research project to develop systems to help first responders assess radiation exposure in the event of a large-scale nuclear disaster.

The five-year contract with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority will focus on the development of prototypes to enable more rapid triage of patients.


NRC News

Nuclear commission upgrades safety regulations – The Augusta Chronicle
Commercial nuclear power plants — including Plant Vogtle — might be asked to tighten security for spent nuclear fuel stored onsite, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

In a notice published Dec. 16 in the Federal Register, the commission said it is in the early stages of updating the methods used to protect such wastes from theft or terrorist attack.

“The objectives of this action, as stated in the Federal Register Notice, are to update current security requirements to improve consistency and clarity and use a risk-informed and performance-based structure,” said Holly Harrington, an NRC spokeswoman in Washington. “Exactly how the final rulemaking will compare with existing regulations won’t be known until some time in the future.” –Davis-Besse should have issued alert, NRC says
FirstEnergy Corp. faces disciplinary action because its Davis-Besse operators failed to recognize the hazard to the station’s operations caused by a June 25 explosion inside the electrical transmission switchyard, according to a letter the Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent to the utility.

The NRC’s letter, dated Monday, said operators should have immediately recognized the explosion met federal emergency action level conditions for declaring an alert. The agency said it will allow FirstEnergy to explain in greater detail what happened before deciding whether to proceed with enforcement.

The explosion occurred as repairs were being made to electrical equipment. There were no injuries or radiation releases and the nuclear reactor never stopped operating.

IG Found Former NRC Commissioner Merrifield Violated Ethics Laws
The Project On Government Oversight has obtained hundreds of pages of internal NRC documents from an NRC Inspector General investigation into then-Commissioner Jeffrey Merrifield. The documents outline, among other things, how he disregarded advice from NRC’s General Counsel and voted on two matters that “could have potentially” financially benefitted three companies ”Shaw Group, Westinghouse, and General Electric—during the time he was directly involved in employment negotiations with those companies. The IG investigation found that in the two months before accepting a job created for him at the Shaw Group, Commissioner Merrifield voted both to approve China’s purchase of AP 1000 reactors (in which the Shaw Group had a financial interest) and to change criteria of emergency cooling systems that would directly benefit Westinghouse (of which the Shaw Group owned a 20 percent interest). The IG referred the case to the Department of Justice.

U.S. agencies responsible for nuclear data leak : GAO | Reuters
Several federal agencies share responsibility for the inadvertent publishing by a government office of sensitive U.S. nuclear power information on the Web last May, Congressional investigators said on Wednesday.

The Government Printing Office published the 266-page document, which gave details on nuclear power sites, locations, facilities and activities, on the Web on May 7.

It included 14 diagrams of buildings or facilities at U.S. nuclear sites, two of which were marked “Official Use Only” and described activities at national laboratories.

None of the agencies that had prepared the draft document for the International Atomic Energy Association — the Departments of Energy and Commerce and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission — had made sure it was marked with U.S. security designations, the Government Accountability Office said in a report about its investigation.


Nuclear Fuel Cycle News

16 million tons of uranium mill tailings moving away from Colorado River site
Crews have taken the first bites out of the old uranium mill-tailings pile in Moab, Utah, beginning a yearslong process of transferring it far from the Colorado River.

Abut 630,000 tons will have been moved from Moab to the disposal cell near Crescent Junction by year’s end, said Wendee Ryan of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Energy Department and its contractor, Energy Solutions Corp., began moving the tailings pile this year.

Moab residents and downstream water providers lobbied for years to have the 16-million-ton pile of mill tailings moved from its spot along the north bank of the Colorado River to a cell up against the Bookcliff Mountains at Crescent Junction that is deemed less likely to contaminate the river.

The pile is being moved by train from Moab to the disposal cell 30 miles north.

Two companies push Uranium mining in region
The uranium industry was born on the west end of Energy Alley, the run from Green River, Utah, to Rifle. It has burst into bloom and sputtered to obscurity more than once.

Like the half-lives by which radiation is judged to decay, though, the industry never has died. Two companies are burrowing into the red bluffs and canyons of western Colorado and eastern Utah to dig out uranium and start the process of generating electricity.

Although the history of the uranium industry in the region goes back to Madame Curie and her discoveries in the late 19th century, the supply is far from played out.

Miners dug out about 250 million pounds of uranium for the World II and Cold War efforts, said George Glasier, president and CEO of Energy Fuels Inc., a Canadian, publicly traded company.

Boom and bust of the area uranium industry
The uranium industry was born on the west end of Energy Alley, the run from Green River, Utah, to Rifle. It has burst into bloom and sputtered to obscurity more than once.

Like the half-lives by which radiation is judged to decay, though, the industry never has died. Two companies are burrowing into the red bluffs and canyons of western Colorado and eastern Utah to dig out uranium and start the process of generating electricity.

Although the history of the uranium industry in the region goes back to Madame Curie and her discoveries in the late 19th Century, the supply is far from played out.

Miners dug out about 250 million pounds of uranium for the World II and Cold War efforts, said George Glasier, president and CEO of Energy Fuels Inc., a Canadian, publicly traded company.

Little Chicago Review -Barrasso grills the DOE over excess uranium management
Tuesday, during a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing, Senator John Barrasso criticized the Department of Energy’s (DOE) management of its excess uranium stockpiles. He noted that DOE’s policy of forcing too much of its uranium stockpile into the market will artificially drive down uranium prices, undercutting domestic uranium mining and hurting jobs in Wyoming.

“There is a lot at stake for Wyoming jobs and the uranium industry’s investment in Wyoming. The Department’s short-sighted proposal promises temporary jobs in Ohio at the expense of long-term jobs in Wyoming,” said Barrasso.

Residents voice uranium project concerns | The Coloradoan
Speakers at Nunn meeting share opinions about proposed uranium mine and pump test

NUNN – Standing before a crowd of more than 100 people Monday night, Fort Collins resident Diane Marschke said she doesn’t think it matters if Powertech USA’s proposed Centennial Project uranium mine pollutes the water.

“When people hear there’s a uranium mine 10 miles away, they aren’t going to come here,” she said.

Marschke and about 15 others confronted U.S. Environ-mental Protection Agency officials at the Nunn Community Center with their opinions about a proposed water pump test that will tell Powertech if its in situ leaching method of uranium mining is viable in the area.

To conduct the test, the company needs a “Class V” permit from the EPA, which will allow Powertech to pump water out of the uranium-containing Fox Hills aquifer, store it, then reinject the water back into the aquifer. The permit will not allow the company to mine for uranium.

Uranium ghost returns to haunt Meghalaya in 2009
Hopes were rekindled in mid 2009 that the proposed uranium mining project in Meghalaya will finally see the light of the day but these were dashed towards the end of the year by renewed protests prompting the government to put it in on the back burner.

Within three months of clinching power after the collapse of the NCP-led coalition of regional parties, the Congress-led government headed by Chief Minister D D Lapang sought to break the deadlock over the uranium mining project that has been hanging fire over two decades now.

The Lapang cabinet on August 24 decided to lease 422 hectares of land to the Uranium Corporation of India Limited (UCIL) for 30 years in the uranium-rich West Khasi Hills district for “pre-project” developmental works.

The weapons-to-power nuclear argument |
There’s been a lot of megatons-to-megawatts activity in recent years, but some folks aren’t too sure if that’s going to continue to be a big factor in the downsizing of the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals. Of course, a lot of folks are skeptical, period, about a nuclear renaissance.

Darrel Kohlhorst isn’t one of them. I’ve had a couple of opportunities in recent weeks to talk to the general manager at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant. During a conversation at a hearing for Y-12’s Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement, he offered some views on nuclear power.

Here’s what he said:

Powertech USA on track for Centennial Project uranium mining northeast of Fort Collins | The Coloradoan
“Hot Town,” a 1971 story in Time Magazine, begins this way:

“Except on the coldest days of the Colorado winter, the doors of the Pomona Elementary School annex, on the outskirts of Grand Junction, are opened during recess. The reason is that the building is radioactive.

“Unless the rooms are aired, radioactive gases and particles seeping through the floors cause radiation in the school rooms to rise dangerously above safe levels.”

The school, just like 593 other homes and buildings across the city, was built on radioactive fill from a uranium mill on the south side of Grand Junction.

Radiation-related illnesses began to appear, spurring a massive federal cleanup project that lasted for more than 15 years.

Since cleansed of much of its radioactive waste, Grand Junction’s nuclear legacy remains near the heart of Colorado’s colorful 139-year uranium mining history, which is full of stories of uranium boom, bust and massive cleanup efforts statewide.

Uranium digs up major players | | The Coloradoan
In situ leach uranium mining has a lot of followers these days.

Also called solution mining, it is the method Powertech USA plans to use in extracting uranium at its Centennial Project site in Weld County, about 15 miles northeast of Fort Collins.

But Powertech isn’t the only solution uranium mining player in Weld County. Two other companies, Geovic Mining Corp. and Black Range Minerals, are on the sidelines waiting for the right time to push their in situ leach uranium mining plans forward.

In situ, or “in place,” leach mining works this way: Water infused with sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda, is pumped underground and into the formation containing uranium.

The uranium is dissolved in the sodium bicarbonate solution as it is pumped through the ore and then to the surface, where the solution is processed and the uranium is recovered.


Nuclear Waste News

Feds let Indian Point put reactor in ‘storage’ |
Indian Point and federal regulators have reached an agreement that will allow a reactor to sit dormant under monitoring for as long as 50 years while its parent company accrues enough money to safely tear it down.

The agreement comes eight months after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission discovered a $38.6 million shortfall in the decommissioning trust fund for Indian Point’s Unit 2.

Federal laws require Entergy, Indian Point’s parent company, to show it would have enough money to shut down and dismantle the unit by the end of its life.
Entergy also wants license adjustment

Entergy is also seeking a change to its license that would allow an auxiliary feedwater pump in Unit 3 to be out of commission for a longer period of time.

The license currently allows the pump to be out of service for 72 hours. Entergy wants permission for it to be inactive for 106 hours so that it can evaluate and fix high vibrations that are affecting the pump.

The pump is important because it provides water to a steam generator. The steam then turns the turbines and creates electricity.

Because Entergy’s request involves a chanage to its operating license, the public is allowed to submit requests for a hearing until mid-February. Requests should be submitted to the NRC.

Adam Bosch

Unit 2 is licensed until 2013, but Entergy is seeking a 20-year renewal.

Entergy’s investment fund for decommissioning had fallen behind because of the slumping economy, company spokesman Jerry Nappi said.

Radioactive waste soon to find home in Utah – Salt Lake Tribune
It’s not really a question whether Utah will be the disposal site for three trainloads of depleted uranium from a government atomic-weapons complex cleanup in South Carolina.

It’s a matter of how soon.

Under an agreement Gov. Gary Herbert reached two weeks ago with the U.S. Energy Department, the answer appears to be about six weeks — much sooner than the state Radiation Control Board expects to complete its review of safety issues surrounding depleted uranium.

After spending most of 2009 looking at DU, the board anticipates it will be at least another year before it is ready to say what engineering standards are needed to minimize the long-term hazard posed by DU disposal at the EnergySolutions site, located about 80 miles west of Salt Lake City.

But under the governor’s oral agreement with the Department of Energy, state regulators have until mid-February to develop science-based conditions for burying the Savannah River cleanup waste at the EnergySolutions Inc. disposal site in Tooele County.

Czech in Sumava again protest against nuclear waste repository – ÄŒeské
Some 300 people from 19 municipalities situated at the foothills of the Sumava Mountains took part in a 10km-long march copying the imaginary boundaries of the 300 hectare are on which the planned nuclear waste repository is to be built today.

All 19 municipalities concerned have clearly rejected the repository in referenda or self-rule bodies´ resolutions, Chanovice mayor Petr Klasek told CTK.

The project is also resolutely opposed by the civic association Nuclear waste – thank you, we do not want it! that has about 5000 members.

The Czech Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (SURAO) has proposed six localities in the area between Chanovice and Pacejov for the possible nuclear waste repository.

Deseret News | Uranium storage rule drafted
Attempting to safeguard the future up to at least 10,000 years, state radiation-control regulators have a new rule that will be out for public comment regarding the disposal of depleted uranium.

Created specifically as a result of EnergySolutions’ intentions of storing “significant” quantities of the radioactive material at its Clive facility in Tooele County, the proposed rule requires the company to conduct a performance assessment if it accepts more than 1 metric ton of depleted uranium.

The rule would also mandate adjustments stemming from any new restrictions handed down by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is going through its own revisions on storing the waste.

Tulsa World: Vian, Cherokees fight waste-well plan
The Town of Vian and the Cherokee Nation are asking the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to overturn a decision that re- commends approval of a commercial disposal well in the city limits.

I-MAC Petroleum Services of Muskogee is seeking to construct the well for disposal of salt water that comes from the natural gas drilling process at wells in Arkansas.

Greg Riepl, a geologist for I-MAC, said that Arkansas doesn’t have a lot of underground rock formations that are conducive for water disposal.

“Arkansas put a moratorium (on salt water injection wells) until they can gin up some regulations,” because some of the gas companies were not following the existing rules, Riepl said.

Ideal sites for injecting salt water are thick formations that are porous and permeable so that fluids can move through them, Riepl said.

Court expected to rule early next year on nuclear waste dump in Barnwell County  | The Greenville News
After a six-year legal war over safety at a nuclear waste dump, South Carolina environmentalists hope a pending court decision will force stricter disposal practices for the Barnwell County site.

The S.C. Court of Appeals, which heard the case last fall, is expected to render a decision early next year on the Sierra Club’s challenge to the site’s operating permit. The landfill closed to the nation in 2008, but remains open to bury low-level nuclear waste for South Carolina and two other states.

If the appeals court sides with the Sierra Club, it could force Chem-Nuclear to improve the way it buries garbage, which would better prevent leaks of radioactive material into groundwater, club lawyer Jimmy Chandler said.

For years, landfill operators have allowed rainwater to fall on open trenches lined with clay, instead of plastic. Burial vaults also have holes in them, allowing water to escape.

EnergySolutions Launches Ad Campaign Against Reps Who Oppose Italian Nuclear Waste Storage
EnergySolutions Inc. has started airing commercials critical of a U.S. congressman who wants to prevent the company from importing Italian nuclear waste for disposal in Utah’s west desert.

The company is fighting a bill in Congress sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, that would ban the importation of foreign low-level radioactive waste unless it originated in the U.S. or served a strategic national purpose.

EnergySolutions contends jobs will be put at risk if it isn’t allowed to dispose of the waste at its facility, about miles west of Salt Lake City. Meanwhile, Matheson said that any country that creates nuclear waste should dispose of it itself.

EnergySolutions, Matheson duel over nuke dump – Salt Lake Tribune
U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, and EnergySolutions Inc. are going public with their complaints about one another, with dueling press conferences Wednesday and mailers.

EnergySolutions also aired an ad last weekend on four television stations to attack what the Salt Lake City radioactive waste company calls the congressman’s “playing politics with Utah jobs” and “catering to left-wing fringe groups.” The company accused the congressman of inciting fear and misleading the public about the safety of their operations.

“Everything we put into our ad is factual,” said EnergySolutions President Val Christensen.

The company operates a specialized landfill in Tooele County that serves as the sole disposal site for
low-level radioactive waste from 36 states.

Dealing with nuclear waste
Recently, columnist Murray Mandryk, in writing about a nuclear waste facility for this province, suggested that because we have been responsible for digging up uranium since 1953, we are hypocritical in not dealing with the end waste.

I should like to point out that, for decades, we were assured that our democracy was under threat and we needed nuclear weapons for self-defense. Mining uranium seemed the right thing to do at the time. Were we mislead or misinformed?

In the days of Tommy Douglas (and ever since), we were always assured by the nuclear industry not to worry. A safe, long-term method of waste storage would be established.

Depleted uranium shipment arrives at Utah site – Salt Lake Tribune
State inspectors will be on hand today as EnergySolutions Inc. begins unloading a trainload of depleted uranium from the federal government’s Savannah River cleanup site in South Carolina.

The low-level radioactive waste, which arrived Sunday night, won’t be buried just yet, thanks to an agreement hammered out last week between Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and the U.S. Energy Department.

Instead, the 5,408 drums of low-level radioactive waste will be placed in a specialized landfill for storage until Utah regulators can finish updating state disposal requirements, provisions aimed at making sure the state does not get stuck with radioactive waste that cannot be effectively contained at the EnergySolutions disposal site.

Dane Finerfrock, director of the Utah Division of Radiation Control, said his staff was on hand Monday to review the shipping papers for the waste and check the manifests against the content of a sampling of drums.

EnergySolutions, which operates the landfill about 80 miles west of Salt Lake City, had little to say about the controversial cargo.

Bringing radioactive waste to Utah is madness | Standard-Examiner  Ogden, Layton, Brigham, Weber, Davis, Top of Utah News
)I have lost a lot of sleep lately thinking about the nuclear train that is headed to Utah. During that time I have tried to think of something that I could do to help reverse the path that we are now on. The only thing that I could think of is to tell you my story and hopefully it will only be one of many, many Utahans putting a voice this issue.

I know the effects of past radiation policies. I lost my father to leukemia after the nuclear testing in the 1950’s and early 1960’s that blanketed Utah. This has affected my entire life since I was 12 years old.

I also fought my own battle with cancer in 1995. Ironically, it was radiation that saved me then BUT oh what a price I have paid! I was never really afraid of hell until I faced the effects of going through that treatment. The effects still linger even after 14 years. If I had known the true short-term and long-term effects of radiation treatment then, I would not have gone through with having the treatment.

We should be asking what Utah gets out of the Energy Solutions deal to become the nuclear dumping ground for the world.

How can we place short term gains and profits by gambling the entire future of Utah? – Toxic dump for sale for $15,000 per acre
U.S. EPA’s severe limits on use of Uniontown site might put damper on chance of a transaction

UNIONTOWN: A federal Superfund site, contaminated but slightly cleaner, is for sale.

Any new owners will be severely limited in what they can do at the now-closed Industrial Excess Landfill off Cleveland Avenue Northwest.

Depleted uranium train arrives at Utah site – Salt Lake Tribune
EnergySolutions Inc. opened its gates Sunday night to the latest shipment of depleted uranium from the Savannah River cleanup site in South Carolina.

But the waste won’t be buried just yet, under an agreement between Utah Gov. Gary Herbert and the U.S. Energy Department. Instead, the 5,408 drums of low-level radioactive waste will be unloaded tomorrow and placed in a specialized landfill cell for storage until Utah regulators have an opportunity to wrap up a proposed license change and a proposed regulation change.

Dane Finerfrock, director of the Utah Division of Radiation Control, said his staff was on hand Monday to review the shipping papers for the waste and check the paperwork against the content of a sampling of drums. They will also be on hand to watch the drums be placed into the landfill cell, probably on Tuesday.


Nuclear Policy News

Majority in Taiwan favors replacing nuke power with renewables – The China Post
Nearly 70 percent of the population favors the notion of replacing nuclear power with renewable energy, while 50 percent think nuclear power should be maintained as an option, according to the results of a poll released Monday.

However, Taiwan Power Company, the sole supplier of electricity in Taiwan, said that renewable energy may not be a realistic path as the average consumer would complain about its much higher price.

In a telephone poll conducted by Shih Hsin University on randomly chosen citizens over the age of 20, it was found that 49.1 percent support nuclear power as one of the energy production options, while 69.9 percent favor replacing nuclear power with renewable and clean energy.

Harvey Wasserman: A quiet but Huge no nukes triumph
As the Copenhagen climate talks collapsed, an unheralded but hard-fought No Nukes victory moved us closer to a green-powered Earth.

It happened in upstate New York, where the Unistar Nuclear Energy front group asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to delay its application to build a reactor at Oswego, near Syracuse. Meanwhile, in Texas, the San Antonio city council’s deliberations over building two new reactors has disintegrated into recriminations, resignations and firings over a multi-billion-dollar price jump in projected cost estimates, a furor that could doom reactor construction there as well. In Vermont, Entergy has threatened to shut its Yankee reactor if the legislature does not approve a complex maneuver that would allow its owners to escape certain financial liabilities.

Councilman shone in nuclear debate
In 2009, the local political sleeper was drumroll, please District 8 Councilman Reed Williams.

Williams was anything but a brand name when he was elected. He’d worked 35 years in the oil industry but wasn’t part of the small clique of local business leaders who regularly influence City Hall.

At 62, Williams has an unassuming demeanor and zero political ambitions. Yet when it came to the debate over expansion of the South Texas Project, he played a critical behind-the-scenes role. He offered expertise and common sense that has made him a key voice in charting the city’s energy future.

He started out inclined to support the nuclear expansion. When he had an interview with the Sierra Club during the campaign, one of the leaders asked where he and the organization would differ.

Nej tak to nuclear after all
Danes don’t support the use of nuclear power despite a poll indicating a majority is in favour

A new study on attitudes towards nuclear power counterclaims one published two weeks ago, which demonstrated a majority support the use of the energy source, reports trade publication Ingeniøren.

Two weeks ago, a Gallup/Berlingske Tidende newspaper poll claimed a majority of people supported the use of nuclear power. The new A&B Analyse poll, conducted for political news website, shows there is considerable resistance to atomic energy.

Nuclear Power | Renewable Energy
The fall-out from Copenhagen has left the world’s biggest “carbon criminals”, among them Australia, exposed on climate change. With the overthrow of Malcolm Turnbull in the Liberal party along with the proposed ETS, the ascension of Tony Abbot and his emphasis on “direct action” it was inevitable that the federal Opposition would revisit nuclear power as an option for a low-carbon future in Australia. Given the recent sobering Government report on carbon capture and storage, “clean coal” seems less and less as the likely saviour.

Ottawa is right to get out of the reactor business
Almost every vision of a world with much less greenhouse gas includes nuclear power. And no wonder: Nuclear power has the lowest carbon footprint of any stable and substantial energy source.

True, nuclear technology presents challenges of its own, but as the world focuses on climate change, nuclear technology becomes more and more appealing.

So this might seem like a strange time for the federal government to be selling off the nuclear-reactor branch of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. But, in fact, the long-expected pasting of a “For Sale” sign onto the reactor side of AECL is just the right thing for Ottawa to be doing.

Nuclear Energy – The New York Times
Nuclear power plants use the forces within the nucleus of an atom to generate electricity.

The first nuclear reactor was built by Enrico Fermi below the stands of Stagg Field in Chicago in 1942. The first commercial reactor went into operation in Shippingport, Pa., in December, 1957.

In its early years, nuclear power seemed the wave of the future, a clean source of potentially limitless cheap electricity. But progress was slowed by the high, unpredictable cost of building plants, uneven growth in electric demand, the fluctuating cost of competing fuels like oil and safety concerns.

In pushing nuclear power, Udall battling the Homer Simpson factor « Colorado Independent
Turns out Colorado U.S. Sen. Mark Udall is battling environmentalists and public fear of nuclear meltdowns on his new pro-nuke bill less than he’s battling the lingering stigma that Homer Simpson and his scofflaw boss Mr. Burns generated at their Springfield nuclear power plant.

homer simpson

Where does this bit of wisdom on the hurdles facing the nuclear industry revival come from? From the staid Wall Street Journal, which Tuesday blogged about a Canadian professor who’s been talking up the Simpson factor on north-of-the-border radio shows in the wake of the regulatory rejection of a nuclear power plant in Saskatchewan.

The Associated Press: Canadian nuclear company strikes deal with Japan
Atomic Energy of Canada Limited has signed a multimillion-dollar contract with Tokyo Electric Power Company, the Canadian government-owned corporation’s first contract in Japan.

The Canadian energy company announced the deal Tuesday, but did not reveal specific financial details of the agreement.

AECL said the first pump seal was installed in early November on the boiler system of a Japanese nuclear power plant that began operations earlier this month.

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited is a full-service nuclear technology company, providing services to nuclear utilities around the world.

AFP: Areva wins 200-million-euro Dubai contract
French nuclear energy giant Areva said Monday it would supply Dubai with 11 electricity substations for 200 million euros (286 million dollars), as the emirate grapples with a serious debt crisis.

“The order is the largest ever for Areva T&D (Transmission and Distribution) in the United Arab Emirates,” Areva said in a statement.

Philippe Guillemot, chief executive of Areva T&D, called it a “prestigious contract” that would strengthen his company’s presence in the region.


Nuclear Weapons News

BBC News – Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu arrested
Israeli police have arrested Mordechai Vanunu, a technician who spent 18 years in prison for revealing details of Israel’s clandestine nuclear programme.

He is being held on suspicion that he met foreigners, violating conditions of his 2004 release from jail, police say.

At a Jerusalem court hearing, Mr Vanunu was placed under house arrest for three days until the case proceeds.

U.S. missile shield holding up nuclear deal: Putin | Reuters
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Tuesday U.S. plans for a missile defense system were the main obstacle to reaching a new deal on reducing Cold War arsenals of nuclear weapons.

The two largest nuclear powers say they are close to agreeing on a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), although U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have yet to clinch a deal.

Asked by a reporter what the biggest problem was in the talks, Putin said: “What is the problem? The problem is that our American partners are building an anti-missile shield and we are not building one.”

Japan presses India to sign CTBT
As Japan on Tuesday renewed its call to India to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), India put the onus on the US and China for taking a lead by ratifying the agreement and reiterated its commitment to ”universal, verifiable and non-discriminatory” nuclear disarmament.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, left, shakes hand with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after signing a joint statement in New Delhi, on Tuesday. APJapanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh that Tokyo expected New Delhi to sign the CTBT soon. Singh reminded Hatoyama about India’s impeccable non-proliferation record and its unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing.

“I expressed the hope that India would sign and ratify the CTBT,” Hatoyama told reporters here at a joint press conference with Singh. “Prime Minister Singh told me that if the US and China signed the treaty, it would create a new situation.” Hatoyama is currently on a tour to India. He and Singh held the annual India-Japan summit on Tuesday.

Investigation panel confirms three secret Japan-U.S. agreements | The Japan Times Online
A government panel has confirmed the existence of three secret Japan-U.S. pacts involving the 1960 revision of the bilateral security treaty and the 1972 reversion of Okinawa to Japan, government sources said Tuesday.

It has long been suspected there are four secret pacts.

The pacts that have been confirmed involve Japan’s agreement to allow stopovers and passage of U.S. craft carrying nuclear weapons, use of U.S. military bases in the event of a crisis on the Korean Peninsula, and allowing the U.S. to bring nuclear weapons into Okinawa in times of emergency.

The Manhattan Project: The building of the Atomic Bomb (Part 1 of 4) | Troy Media Corporation
On July 16, 1945, the world’s first nuclear device was tested at a remote location in New Mexico, the Alamogordo Test Range, the Jornada del Muerto (Journey of Death).

The word bomb was never used. Instead, it was referred to as the gadget or the thing. The Manhattan Project was named after the Manhattan Engineer District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where most of the early research was conducted. While more than 30 research and production sites were used, the bulk of the Manhattan Project was secretly conducted in Hanford, Wash,, Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Los Alamos, N.M.

The Manhattan Project: The building of the Atomic Bomb (Part 2 of 4) | Troy Media Corporation
The beginnings of the Manhattan Project can be traced to early science and technology research into uranium-238 conducted at the University of California, Berkeley. U-238 is the most common radioactive element, making up about 99 percent of the Earth’s supply of uranium.

Uranium-238 does not sustain a fission chain reaction, however, and must be modified into an isotope that can. It can be bombarded in a nuclear reactor to make U-235, the fuel used for the Hiroshima bomb. That isotope was made and separated at labs in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The Manhattan Project: The building of the Atomic Bomb (Part 3 of 4) | Troy Media Corporation
While Oak Ridge, Tenn., would make U-235, the fuel for the Hiroshima atomic bomb, Groves looked for a site in the West that was far from population centers. It also needed a generous supply of electricity to run the bomb factories and water to cool the reactors.

Hanford, Wash., downriver from the just-completed Grand Coulee Dam and adjacent to the Columbia River, fit the bill. To develop plutonium, the Hanford Site in Benton County in south central Washington was carefully chosen in December 1942 as the perfect place.

The Manhattan Project: The building of the Atomic Bomb (Part 4 of 4) | Troy Media Corporation
Right up until practically the last minute, only an elite few knew about the building, testing and ultimate plans to drop the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When the gadget was about to be tested, project manager Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves who ran the project from its inception  tried to explain it as the explosion of an ammunition dump.

As a precaution, Groves alerted the governor of New Mexico that it might be necessary to evacuate the state if something went wrong. The physicists working on the project jokingly bet that testing the gadget could set fire to the atmosphere, says Cameron Reed, a professor and chairman of the physics department at Alma College in Alma, Mich., and an expert on the Manhattan Project.They didn’t know what to expect.

Russia’s New Military Doctrine Stipulates Preventive Nuclear Strike – Pravda.Ru
In October 2009, Nicolai Patrushev, Russia’s Security Council Secretary, announced that the new military doctrine was on its way. The old one was dated back in 2000 and written even earlier, under Yeltsin. Patrushev named the announcement of Russia’s right for a preventive nuclear strike the key provision of the new doctrine. He kept his word, and this provision does exist in the text of the doctrine approved by the Security Council. The President of Russia is expected to sign the document by the end of the year. Experts believe that the doctrine is fair and properly reflects the current state of affairs.

Israeli Whistleblower Helped Us Daunt Others
Former head of Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission says the Israeli nuclear whistleblower has served the regime because his revelations helped Tel Aviv intimidate others.

Yet Uzi Eilam, a retired army brigadier-general who ran the commission between 1976 and 1986, says the whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu did a service by alerting foes to the country’s military might.

Vanunu was sentenced to 18 years as a traitor in a secret trial in 1986. He was abducted at that time from Italy after revealing information about an illegal nuclear program at Israel’s Dimona reactor to Britain’s Sunday Times newspaper.

2010 to be key year in fight against nuclear arms | Reuters
In April, U.S. President Barack Obama declared in a speech in Prague that the United States was committed “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” In September he chaired a meeting of the U.N. Security Council that unanimously supported this vision.

Analysts and Western government officials say Obama’s ability to begin delivering on his promise will be tested next year when Moscow and Washington resume haggling on an arms reduction pact and again at a key U.N. nuclear arms conference in May.

They say success of a month-long review of the troubled 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will depend largely on whether U.S. and Russian negotiators can first agree on a successor pact to replace the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty

Priest who protests nukes convicted of trespassing
A jury has convicted a 76-year-old Roman Catholic priest from St. Louis of damaging and trespassing on a nuclear missile silo facility in northeastern Colorado last August.

After the verdict Tuesday, Carl Kabat was immediately sentenced to 137 days in jail, which he has already served since his arrest Aug. 6. He is now free.

Since 1980, Kabat has been protesting nuclear weapons on the anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Hiroshima in 1945. Authorities say that last summer he went to a Weld County missile silo site, hung banners for his cause, cut a hole in the fence, waited inside and prayed until he was arrested by authorities from Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyo.

Kabat acknowledged entering the property and cutting the fence.

Report: BLM OKs plan to drill near Colorado nuclear-blast site – Denver Business Journal:
The federal Bureau of Land Management has agreed to Noble Energy’s plan to drill 79 natural-gas wells in western Colorado near the site of an underground nuclear blast 40 years ago, according to a news report Monday.

The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reported that Noble Energy will drill the wells over the next three to five years, and that gas produced by the wells will be tested for radioactivity.

In 1969, a federal test called Project Rulison was conducted to determine if nuclear blasts could be used to retrieve natural gas deep underground. A nuclear device was set off about 8,400 feet underground near Rulison, Colo.


Department of Energy News

Probe finds distrust at SRS –
An investigation into serious allegations of misconduct at the Savannah River Site found no specific wrongdoing, but did discover “unusual levels of distrust and acrimony” as well as failures by key officials.

The investigative body that oversees the Department of Energy released its report, painting a picture of SRS with disorganized lines of leadership, discrimination, racism and many different stories about controversial incidents.

Sparked by an anonymous complaint from an SRS employee, the Inspector General’s office came to investigate five specific allegations “concerning improprieties by a senior official with the Office of Environmental Management.”

The 12-person investigative team interviewed 80 DOE and contractor employees and scoured through about 150,000 e-mails.

Hanford’s Year-End Report Card From Washington State Ecology
It’s been a big year at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Cleanup there was one of the biggest items in the federal stimulus package. And the largest federally funded construction project right now — Hanford’s Vitrification plant — reached the halfway point. But are we closer to cleaning one of America’s dirtiest places?

If Hanford were a student, Washington State Ecology’s Ron Skinnarland says he’d give the site an “A” on its end of the year progress report. Here’s Hanford’s list of got–it–done in 2009: A newly negotiated Tri–Party Agreement that sets deadlines for cleanup. A massive factory to treat nuclear waste is 50 percent complete. And 51 buildings were taken down. Ecology’s Skinnarland says without the stimulus funding many projects would have been put off.

Hanford News: Obama moves to curb federal secrets
More than 400 million pages of Cold War-era documents could be declassified as the federal government responds to President Barack Obama’s order to rethink the way it protects the nation’s secrets.

Among the changes announced Tuesday by Obama is a requirement that every record be released eventually and that federal agencies review how and why they mark documents classified or deny the release of historical records. A National Declassification Center at the National Archives will be established to assist them and help clear a backlog of the Cold War records by Dec. 31, 2013.

Obama also reversed a decision by President George W. Bush that had allowed the intelligence community to block the release of a specific document, even if an interagency panel decided the information wouldn’t harm national security.

DOE: Bechtel Jacobs out as contractor at K-25 site » Knoxville News Sentinel
Department of Energy Manager Gerald Boyd said it’s “sort of doubtful” that Bechtel Jacobs Co., DOE’s cleanup manager in Oak Ridge, will complete the demolition of K-25 by the end 2011 – when the company’s contract is due to expire – and federal officials are starting to make other plans.

Last year, DOE extended and modified the BJC contract, valued at $1.48 billion, to allow the contractor to finish work on the mile-long and massively contaminated building that once processed uranium for the nation’s Cold War arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Schmidt asked DOE for investigation of Areva – Chillicothe Gazette
U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt said it was her initial complaint that has led the Department of Energy’s Inspector General to investigate Areva, a competitor with USEC’s American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon for federal loan guarantee money.

Schmidt said federal law prohibits the DOE from entering into contracts with companies that have business operations in the Sudan under the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007.

Areva is a French company and, according to Schmidt, it conducts gold mining operations in the Sudan.

Nuclear Bomb Researchers Accidentally Blow Up Building – Science – Gawker
According to an “Occurrence Report” obtained by the non-profit Project on Government Oversight (POGO), researchers blew up their building with a powerful cannon used to study the types of forces produced by a nuclear explosion:

“On December 16, 2009, Shock and Detonation Physics Group researchers heard a loud unusual noise from Technical Area 15, Building 562 after firing a shot from a large-bore powder gun (LBPG)…. the researchers conducted surveillance outside TA-15-562 and observed that two doors had been blown off the facility and concrete shielding blocks on the west and east side of the building were separated from the wall.”

Although no one was hurt, a POGO source puts the damage at around $3 million. We’re going to say it: That was $3 million of taxpayer funds well-spent. Forget those stem cell thingies. Blow up a couple buildings every month and we’ll have high school students flooding science classes like they were Jonas Brothers concerts.

DOE to Study Storage Options for Spent Nuclear Fuel, Small Reactors — Official –
The Energy Department is close to naming a blue-ribbon committee to consider new policies for dealing with spent nuclear reactor fuel but has further to go in completing negotiations on loan guarantees for a first group of new nuclear reactors, Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman said.

Poneman also said he is interested in the possibilities for development of smaller modular nuclear reactors, calling this a potentially important carbon policy option in the United States and abroad. “I certainly agree with the premise that small, modular reactors are a very interesting path to explore,” Poneman said in an interview this week. | Business: Magnum Minerals will buy WIPP salt 12/23/09
The Energy Department’s Carlsbad Field Office has reached an agreement to sell salt from the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, N.M., to a Hereford company that will use it as a livestock feed supplement.

In 2008, Washington TRU Solutions issued a request for interest in salt tailings that have accumulated on the surface at the WIPP site since mining began in the 1970s. Through the years, uncontaminated salt has been mined from the WIPP Plant, which stores radioactive waste in rooms mined from ancient salt formations 2,150 feet below the surface, according to information from the Department of Energy. WIPP, which began waste-disposal operations in 1999, is 26 miles outside Carlsbad.

Hereford-based Magnum Minerals, which is owned and operated by Tim and Keith Ann Gearn and sons Jason and Dustin Gearn, specializes in providing minerals for the livestock industry.

DOE officials said the project will save taxpayers money and benefit private industry. The salt tailings normally would be disposed of in a landfill. Magnum Minerals will pay the government about $600,00 for the contract, which could have cost the government $4.5 million in disposal costs, said Tim Gearn, president of Magnum Minerals.


Other Energy News

Special Focus on Bill Joy’s Hi-Tech Warning – The Center for the Study of Technology and Society
The same technologies that will let us cure diseases, expand the economy, and overcome everyday inconveniences can theoretically bring about catastrophes. Is the risk of apocalypse serious enough for us to relinquish the current pace of technological innovation?

AFP: China adopts law to boost renewable energy industry
China’s national assembly Saturday signalled the country’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by adopting a law supporting its renewable energy industry.

The new law, an amendment to one on renewable energy adopted by the National People’s Congress standing committee, obliges electricity grid companies to buy all the power produced by renewable sources.

It also empowers the State Council’s energy department, the electricity regulatory agency and its finance departments to determine the amount of renewable energy available in the country’s overall power generating capacity.

Power companies will be obliged to take up all of that capacity, and those refusing to do so will be fined an amount up to double that of the economic loss of the renewable energy company, Ni Yuefeng, vice-president of the assembly’s environmental affairs commission, told reporters.

Innovation in solar technology helps conserve water, create jobs – Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009 | 2 a.m. – Las Vegas Sun
It seems cruelly ironic that tapping into Southern Nevada’s vast solar energy potential could slowly drain our desert. Traditional solar thermal power plants that use wet cooled technology require millions of gallons of water over time in the process of converting solar rays into clean, renewable power for our community.

Southern Nevada received some good economic news last month when Solar Millennium, a division of one of the world’s top solar power generators, announced new plans to use a “dry-cooling” system on two proposed solar power plants in Amargosa Valley, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. This dry-cooling system will use 90 percent less water than previously planned.

Sunny days ahead? – Las Vegas Sun
NV Energy deal, legislation in Congress could help state develop solar power

SolarReserve, a California energy company, is planning to build a 100-megawatt solar thermal power plant near Tonopah, and on Tuesday it announced that NV Energy had agreed to buy power from the plant.

As Stephanie Tavares reported on the Las Vegas Sun’s Web site, the plant is designed to use heat storage technology that will allow its steam turbines to run at night.

The Crescent Dunes Solar Energy Project is being vetted by the Bureau of Land Management. The company says it could break ground by 2011 and expects construction to last two years.

Selfishness Abounds: Copenhagen Reveals a Vicious Circle of Mistrust – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International
Who is to blame for the summit disaster? The US? China? The EU? The G-8? In fact, all of the above. It was a coming together of states that killed off a vital resource for the world: trust.

In Copenhagen, the outlines of a dangerous world were there for all to see. The climate summit did not end in a fist fight between tens of thousands of people, despite the fact that serious global problems were not resolved. Barack Obama did not have to fly out from the roof of a burning conference center. Nevertheless, it was palpable that this is a world in which trust is harder to come by than oil, and where there is more mistrust than CO2 emissions.

And yet Copenhagen has proven that trust is the most important resource for the transformation of the current oil-based system into a green civilization. It is more important than all the money that will be required for new technology, more efficient machines, dams and the survival of forest inhabitants.

BBC News – What did the Copenhagen climate summit achieve?
It is difficult to foresee the order that may result from the chaos of the Copenhagen climate change conference (COP15), but as the dust settles, traces of a path forward are becoming visible.

The outcome – a decision to “take note of” an accord drawn up by a core group of heads of state on Friday evening – is far from the legally binding treaty which some had expected and for which many hoped.

However, this does not change the fact that the Copenhagen conference was a unique moment in history.

What Copenhagen changed:


Nuclear Editorial and Opinions

Gulf Times Qatar’s top-selling English daily newspaper – Opinion
More than five years ago, Mordechai Vanunu, a former technician at the Israeli nuclear facility in Dimona, was released from prison after serving 18 years for revealing Israel’s nuclear weapons secrets. This week he was arrested again in Jerusalem, accused of talking to foreigners, in breach of conditions imposed on his release.

It was in 1986 that Vanunu told his story to the Sunday Times and was lured to Italy by a Mossad agent, where he was drugged and sent back to Israel, charged with treason and espionage. He emerged from prison in 2004 believing even more passionately in a nuclear-free world, and non-violence as a solution to the problems in the Middle East.

Letters: Vanunu’s courage | World news | The Guardian
Once again the Israeli authorities have shown their disregard for human rights and unremittingly vindictive behaviour towards Mordechai Vanunu (House arrest for Israeli nuclear whistleblower, 30 December). Despite having known of Mordechai’s two-year relationship with his Norwegian girlfriend, the authorities chose now, over Christmas (a repeat of what happened two years ago), to once again arrest and detain him and his girlfriend for 24 hours, on the basis that he was mixing with foreigners. Mordechai has been discouraging his many supporters from contacting him. But the authorities have shown little sympathy to his response to their requests that he should keep a much lower profile.

New Times SLO | fault should be considered
PG&E should not be allowed to apply for a 20-year license renewal until state-of-the art seismic studies for the newly discovered earthquake fault offshore from the Diablo Canyon plant and its high-level waste site are completed. This is the position of the California Energy Commission, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the California legislature.

This leaves the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility and many others wondering why the state Superintendent of Schools, Jack O¹Connell, appeared in support of PG&E’s premature application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). We know there are two major active earthquake faults within two miles of Diablo Canyon; that a previously unknown fault knocked 8000 megawatts of nuclear energy offline in Japan in 2007 and commercial generation has yet to be restored, and the NRC has not required new information on the seismic adequacy of aging reactors to be reviewed when it evaluated the 54 license renewals already granted. In fact, the NRC has denied all contentions on earthquakes in relicensing proceedings.

Toward Freedom – The Dangers of Nuclear Energy and the Need to Close Vermont Yankee
With nuclear energy, uranium atoms split inside a reactor, and radiation heats water to its boiling point creating steam to spin a giant turbine. It all seems like ingenious, efficient, and clean energy production. So where’s the mess?

Now consider plutonium, a horribly carcinogenic and highly fissionable substance, radioactive for more than half a million years. If exposed to air, it will ignite. Like little pieces of confetti, very fine plutonium particles will disperse after ignition. A single particle — like talc, to give you some perspective — can give you lung cancer. In the words of Helen Caldicott, M.D.: “Hypothetically, if you could take one pound of plutonium and could put a speck of it in the lungs of every human being, you would kill every man, woman, and child on earth” — not immediately, but over time “from lung cancer,” Caldicott explains.

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