Top 100 Energy Stories Feb. 1st – 7th 2010

radbull A very busy week indeed, with several big stories breaking internationally.  The stop story IMHO, is the news about Russia dumping nuclear waste into the Baltic Sea near Sweden!  This is a breaking story, but if it is true, it could have dramatic impacts on the waste issue and Russia’s controversial nuclear role. France just sent a huge load of deadly material into Russia, and the country just experienced a serious accident at its Kola facility, and attempted to cover the incident up.  A Canadian story also details that non-existent state of repairs on Chernobyl’s sarcophagus.  The UK Iraqi inquiry continues. France just sent another major spent-fuel delivery to Japan.  There is also a major break in the news about how Italy’s (Berlusconi is behind this) push to restart its nuclear industry is facing major opposition in most of the country.

In the U.S. the Obama administration has finally closed the door on Yucca Mountain. You wouldn’t believe how many outraged opinion pieces against this erupted at most DOE communities.  The legal battle over DOE spent-fuel fund will now go into full scale attack mode by the industry.

Also, in another major news story, the industry has announced (quietly) just as stories have hit about their huge expenditures to promote a new generation of reactors, to open a whole new, massive lobbying campaign aimed directly at politicians nationwide.

The NRC opened its new Open-government portal, as required by Obama to counter the Bush era’s ultra secrecy tactics by government agencies.  There was a whole slew of news on safety issues, and also stories about uranium mining EIS delays in Wyoming , as well as new lawsuits against uranium mining in Colorado as well as a wrongful death suit in Pa.

Again, this is a must review the entire story listings week, as I just can’t begin to summarize all of the stories that took place…

Top Nuclear Stories Index

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


Nuclear Reactor News

German minister urges party to drop nuclear power | Markets | Reuters
“German Environment Minister Norbert Roettgen has urged his conservative party allies to consider dropping plans to extend the use of nuclear power because of a public lack of acceptance.

Roettgen told the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper his party “should carefully consider whether we want to make nuclear energy our unique feature” and that “even after 40 years there is no sufficient acceptance in the public for nuclear energy”.” | VERMONT YANKEE: Leak found?
“Officials at a Vermont nuclear plant said Friday they are investigating the possibility that a leak in an underground pipe connected to a sump pit may be responsible for a radioactive substance turning up in groundwater monitoring wells, while new groundwater tests found levels more than 40 times higher than a federal safe drinking water limit.

Vermont Yankee plant officials said they found levels of tritium in a sump pit at the plant that far exceeded those recently found in groundwater monitoring wells. The discovery suggested that an underground pipe connected to the pit might be the source of the leak, and officials said they planned to investigate that possibility over the weekend.

They said the 2.7 million picocuries per liter found in the sump sample was near the maximum that could be reached at the plant; water that passes through the reactor has readings close to 3 million picocuries per liter.”

Public gets a shot at CPS rate proposal
“CPS Energy has a potentially difficult week ahead of it as it prepares to tackle rate hikes and the future of its controversial nuclear project.

The utility has proposed a 7.5 percent rate increase for electricity and 8.5 percent for gas. The hikes, which would raise consumers’ total power bills a little more than 4 percent, would bring in $99 million for the remainder of fiscal 2010 and $110 million next year. The money would help pay for the new Spruce 2 coal plant, two natural gas units and other programs.

Residents will have a chance to weigh in at a public forum Monday evening. The utility’s board is expected to vote on the rate increases Wednesday, and the City Council will vote Feb. 18. The increases would take effect March 1.”

Energy Tribune- Italy’s Nuclear Plans At Risk
“The nuclear energy policy that was proposed in late January by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and foresaw the re-introduction of nuclear power was rejected by Italy’s inter-regional body.

The Conferenza Stato-Regioni is the consultation body that exists for the discussion of issues where competence is shared between central and regional government. Although the opinion of this consultative body is not binding, it sends a political message to the central government, especially given that center-right governors voted against their own party line. Prime minister Berlusconi and his economic development minister Claudio Scajola were given by the Italian parliament the mandate to frame a set of rules for the new nuclear energy policy after the nuclear development law was adopted in July.”

Interest in reactor cools as construction costs soar   | European Voice
“The European Union is heading for a clash with other major economies over the timetable for building an experimental fusion reactor.

European governments want to slow down construction of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) because they are paying for the bulk of the construction costs and are concerned that the budget is spiralling out of control. Other countries involved in the ITER project are, however, strongly opposed to any kind of delay.

The countries participating in the ITER project will hold a special high-level meeting on 23-24 February to try to resolve the dispute. ”

Crystal River nuclear plant to be repaired by midyear, Progress Energy says – St. Petersburg Times
“Repairs to a cracked reactor building containment wall could keep the Crystal River nuclear plant off line until midyear, Progress Energy says.

The company powered down the nuclear plant in September for a major maintenance project that was expected to be finished by late December.

But shortly after the job began, workers discovered that part of the containment wall had separated into two layers. The plant has remained off line since then while the company investigates its cause and comes up with a repair plan.”

Cost an obstacle to building reactors
“Nuclear reactors’ hefty price tag is the biggest obstacle to building more, the nation’s top nuclear regulator said Monday.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko said that permitting new reactors could take four years or more, and that storing the waste is not a pressing concern, but that paying for the new reactors remains a significant concern for most utilities.

The best estimate for a new reactor’s price tag is about $10 billion, he said.

“Very few utilities have the capability or market capitalization equivalent to that kind of cost,” he said. ”

Bataan nuclear power plant rehab needs $1B
“Taxpayers would have to cough up another billion dollars to rehabilitate the mothballed Bataan nuclear power plant, according to a study commissioned by the government.

The Marcos regime spent about $2.10 billion for the construction of the power plant, with successive governments setting aside P40 million a year for its maintenance even though the facility has yet to generate a single watt of electricity.

Opposition from various environmental and cause-oriented groups led the Aquino administration to mothball the Philippines’ lone nuclear facility in 1986.

Froilan Tampinco, National Power Cor p. (Napocor) president, said that Korea Electric Power Corp. (Kepco) has submitted its study on how much it would cost to run the facility.”

Nuclear Industry Spent Hundreds of Millions of Dollars Over the Last Decade to Sell Public, Congress on New Reactors, New Investigation Finds | Union of Concerned Scientists
“The nuclear industry claims that there is increased public support for nuclear power as a solution to climate change, and some members of Congress are arguing that massive incentives for new nuclear reactors are critical to passing a climate and energy bill. Today, the Obama administration is expected to propose tripling the amount of loan guarantees to the industry to $54 billion and there are proposals in Congress to add billions more through a new “clean” energy fund and other incentives to support nuclear power expansion.

Where did all this support for new nuclear reactors come from? Let’s follow the money.

Growing support for new nuclear power comes after an extensive decade-long campaign in which companies and unions related to the industry have spent more than $650 million on lobbying and campaign contributions from 1999 through 2008, according to a new analysis by former Los Angeles Times reporter Judy Pasternak, now with the Investigative Reporting Workshop at American University. In the first three quarters of 2009 alone, the nuclear energy industry spent $84 million lobbying Congress. ”

Vt Nuke Plant Leaks Renew Debate Over Aging Plants – ABC News
“Radioactive tritium, a carcinogen discovered in potentially dangerous levels in groundwater at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, has now tainted at least 27 of the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors raising concerns about how it is escaping from the aging nuclear plants.

The leaks many from deteriorating underground pipes come as the nuclear industry is seeking and obtaining federal license renewals, casting itself as a clean-green alternative to power plants that burn fossil fuels.

Tritium, found in nature in tiny amounts and a product of nuclear fission, has been linked to cancer if ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin in large amounts.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Monday that new tests at a monitoring well on Vermont Yankee’s site in Vernon registered 70,500 picocuries per liter, more than three times the federal safety standard of 20,000 picocuries per liter.”

Tripling Loan Guarentees for Nuclear Power Would Shift Unacceptable Risks From Industry to Taxpayers, Science Group Says | Union of Concerned Scientists
“The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) today leveled criticism at an expected Obama administration announcement that it will significantly boost federal loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants.

The Wall Street Journal reported today that the Obama administration plans to triple federal loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors, from $18.5 billion to $54 billion. Ellen Vancko, nuclear energy and climate change project manager at UCS, said “increasing loan guarantees for nuclear power beyond what Congress already has authorized would shift unacceptable risks from the nuclear industry to U.S. taxpayers. This is a prime example of pork barrel politics on behalf of special interests.” ”


Nuclear Health and Safety News

U.S. Department of Labor – Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) Press Releases
“Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC)”

Press Releases for all new cohort groups that have been impacted by radiation at DOE facilities

Tritium levels skyrocket again at Vermont Yankee –
“The Vermont Department of Health says levels of radioactive tritium in groundwater samples taken at Vermont Yankee nuclear plant have skyrocketed again to 2.7 million picocuries per liter.

The nuclear plant, located in Vermont’s southeastern corner, is now monitoring drinking water wells on site and the Connecticut River on a daily basis, although the radioactive isotope hasn’t been found in either.

Tritium has been linked to cancer when ingested in large amounts. The federal safety standard for consumption is 20,000 picocuries per liter.

State health officials say underground piping could be leaking the substances, which was first discovered at Vermont Yankee on Jan. 7.”

EnergySolutions employee hurt in accident; Bear Creek operations shut down |
“An employee at the EnergySolutions’ Bear Creek Facility in Oak Ridge was airlifted to a Knoxville hospital today after he was injured in an accident. Operations at the radioactive-waste processing plant were shut down immediately afterwards, and the accident is under investigation, the company said.

According to information released by EnergySolutions, the worker was injured when a crane moving a 10-ton metal block failed, with the block falling and hitting the worker’s leg. The worker’s name was not immediately released, but EnergySolutions spokesman Mark Walker said the worker — a 20-year employee at the site — was in stable condition at the University of Tennessee Medical Center. Walker said the injuries were not life-threatening.”

Kola Nuclear Power Plant first hides, then downplays incident – Bellona
“An energy transformer exploded into bits and pieces at the Kola Nuclear Power Plant located on the Kola Peninsula, in Northwest Russia. The incident led to a 50% reduction of power output from two reactor units leaving onsite spent nuclear fuel storage without energy supply. The authorities at the plant neglected to report about the incident. Igor Kudrik, 04/02-2010

On January 15, 2010 at 16:48 while the plant was operating at 1433 MW capacity, due to a failure in the energy transformer, two 330 kilowatt electric mains, which supply consumers in the Murmansk region, were switched off. The 3rd and 4th reactor units reduced their capacity to 50% of nominal output in accordance with the guidelines, reported the press service of the Kola Nuclear Power Plant on February 3rd, 18 days after the incident took place.

But the dry language of the press release disguised the severity of the event”

Jesse Lava: Hidden Health Crisis: Vieques Seeks Its Day in Court
“Vieques is a small island with a big problem. And the Obama administration is fighting to keep it that way.

A municipality of Puerto Rico just a few miles east of the main island, Vieques has the lamentable distinction of being the venue of six decades of training exercises and weapons testing by the U.S. Navy. Starting around the outbreak of World War II, our military has tested all manner of munitions there, from napalm to depleted uranium to Agent Orange. It has also released immense quantities of jet fuel, flame retardant, and other toxic substances. The place is contaminated.

Not surprisingly, Vieques’s 9000 residents — American citizens by birth — are a sickly bunch. Cancer rates are 30% higher than they are on Puerto Rico’s main island. In the case of diabetes, that figure is 41%; for hypertension, nearly 400%. And roughly 80% of residents test positive for heavy metals like lead, mercury, and arsenic in their hair.”

Team 4: Neighbors With Cancer Sue Former Nuclear Plant Owner – Armstrong County News Story – WTAE Pittsburgh
“Some residents of the Apollo area say in a new lawsuit that they developed cancer from exposure to radiation and toxic chemicals at the former Babcock & Wilcox plant, Team 4’s Paul Van Osdol reported Wednesday.

It’s closed now, but the property in Parks Township, Armstrong County, was once the site of the largest private nuclear processing facility in the country. Neighbors and former workers there say all the radiation left them poisoned.

A new lawsuit says that “repeated releases of hazardous and radioactive substances into the area” around the plant caused three area residents to develop cancer.

One of those people — Eva Myers — lived 400 feet from the plant. She died of lung cancer two years ago.”

Nuclear Safety Researcher Falsified Findings | YLE Uutiset |
“A researcher at the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority STUK has been caught falsifying research findings.

The unnamed researcher was investigating the effect of radiation on cells. STUK notes that the work was not related to ongoing research on the possible effects of mobile phones on human health.

STUK did not reveal any more details about the falsified results.

The guilty party was caught by a colleague who began to suspect last May that some of the findings were doctored.

STUK has informed co-operative researchers both in Finland and abroad who might be using the results for their own research. The Authority says that since the fraud was discovered so early, no harm was done to other research. ”

Chernobyl: Leaking radiation and sucking up Canadian money – The Globe and Mail
“An honour guard attends a ceremony marking the 21st anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 2007.

Thirteen years after Canada and other nations pledged $768-million to render the destroyed nuclear reactor safe, the cost has ballooned to $2-billion and the job still isn’t done

Kiev — From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail Published on Tuesday, Feb. 02, 2010 10:17PM EST Last updated on Friday, Feb. 05, 2010 3:19AM EST

Almost a quarter-century after its explosion killed hundreds and shocked the world, the Chernobyl nuclear reactor still sits crumbling amid an uninhabitable wasteland in northern Ukraine, still emits surprising amounts of radiation, and still absorbs vast amounts of money.

Much of that money, at least $71-million of it, has come from Canadian taxpayers, intended to pay for a project launched in 1997 under a pledge from leaders of the G-7 countries to enclose the reactor in a permanent, sealed sarcophagus.”

Officials confirm childhood cancer cluster – Florida AP –
“Health officials in South Florida have confirmed a cluster of childhood cancer cases in one Palm Beach County community, though the cause remains uncertain.

Officials confirmed higher than normal rates of brain tumors and cancer among children in The Acreage, a semirural community about 20 miles northwest of West Palm Beach.

Investigators have interviewed affected families to try and determine any commonalities.

The state Department of Environmental Protection concluded last year that some homes in The Acreage have wells with elevated levels of radium and other radioactive substances that could result from natural causes.

The study also found ground water quality was “generally good.” ”

Daily Courier – Radiation agency offers informational lecture for ‘downwinders’
“When the U.S. Government began testing nuclear weapons between July 1945 and November 1962, about the only things test officials were sure of was that the bombs made big explosions and intriguing mushroom clouds.

Since then, scientists and doctors have identified the deadly effects of radiation poisoning.

Representatives from the Radiation Exposure Screening and Education Program (RESEP) offer an educational lecture forum at 9 a.m. Thursday at Sharlot Hall Museum Library and Archives, 115 S. McCormick St., in Prescott.

“Commonly known as the ‘Downwinder Program,’ RESEP helps individuals who live, or lived, in areas where U.S. nuclear weapons testing occurred,” Sharlot Hall archivist Scott Anderson wrote in a press release. “The RESEP website lists Arizona as a high impact state.”

The Health Resources and Services Administration, which is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, oversees the radiation exposure program.

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Program offers compensation payments from $50,000 to $100,000 for specific cancers and chronic diseases that may have resulted from radiation exposure. Sharlot Hall Museum Archives is one of the statewide locations where residents can search for proof of residency during the testing periods in order to file a claim for compensation.”

Island residents sue U.S., saying military made them sick –
“Nearly 40 years ago, Hermogenes Marrero was a teenage U.S. Marine, stationed as a security guard on the tiny American island of Vieques, off the coast of Puerto Rico.

Marrero says he’s been sick ever since. At age 57, the former Marine sergeant is nearly blind, needs an oxygen tank, has Lou Gehrig’s disease and crippling back problems, and sometimes needs a wheelchair.

“I’d go out to the firing range, and sometimes I’d start bleeding automatically from my nose,” he said in an interview to air on Monday night’s “Campbell Brown.” ”

“Pennsylvania has the highest thyroid cancer rate of any U.S. state, and rates are especially high in the eastern part of the state, which has a large concentration of nuclear reactors, according to a new study released today.

From 2001-2005, the Pennsylvania thyroid cancer incidence rate was 44% above the U.S., according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Of the 18 U.S. counties with the highest rates, six are located in eastern Pennsylvania. There are 9 nuclear reactors in this area, the largest concentration in the U.S.

“Epidemic levels of thyroid cancer in eastern Pennsylvania suggest that radiation emitted by reactors may be driving up rates among local residents,” says Joseph Mangano MPH MBA “because exposure to radiation is the only known cause of the disease.” Mangano is Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project research group, and author of the article published in the current International Journal of Health Services.

The research found that in the mid-1980s, Pennsylvania’s thyroid cancer rate was 40% below the U.S. “Something occurred to change Pennsylvania’s rate from low to high,” says Mangano “and one of these possible factors is radiation from reactors.””

Workers at Former Huntington Plants Exposed to Plutonium, Neptunium – Huntington News Network
“HNN has confirmed through publicly available, unclassified documents that the workers at the formerly secret Huntington Pilot Plant/Reduction Pilot Plant (HPP/RPP) on the INCO campus were exposed to [at least] trace quantities of Neptunium and Plutonium. The Huntington facility received nickel from reactors at Hansford and Savannah River, as well as the Paducah and Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plants. The Portsmouth, Ohio, plant is located in Piketon, Ohio.

Vina Colley, a compensated Portsmouth (Piketon) Diffusion Plant former atomic worker and activist for compensation of workers, believes that plutonium and other residue on materials sent to Huntington for recycling and decontamination eventually made the Huntington plant contaminated beyond clean up. ”

San Clemente to ask about San Onofre safety | Orange County Register
“A local environmental group is rallying its members and supporters to appear at tonight’s San Clemente City Council meeting to question whether it is safe to restart the shut-down Unit 2 reactor at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

The City Council has scheduled an appearance by Greg Warwick, senior Nuclear Regulatory Commission resident inspector at San Onofre, to report on safety at the power plant just south of town.
Southern California Edison shut off the reactor in September for refueling and to swap out two aging 640-ton steam generators. On Jan. 19, Gary Headrick, founder of San Clemente Green, asked for the city’s support in delaying reactivation of Unit 2 until there is assurance it is safe. He cited reports about concerns of some employees at the plant, air pockets in some welds on one of the new steam generators and NRC investigations into safety practices at San Onofre.”

Health Assessment for Portsmouth, Paducah Construction Workers Came After Apology by Secretary Richardson – Huntington News Network
“Years after the Manhattan Project, the Department of Energy learned that workers exposed to nickel powder at various sites, including those at Oakridge, Pudacha, and Portsmouth Gaseous diffusion Plants, were at high risk. In fact, the data strongly suggested that women and African Americans were most susceptible.

What did the DOE do? According to a paper, NUCLEAR POWDER/ NUCLEAR WEAPONS: The Untold Story, the agency in 1976 created a political study that falsified the true mortality for workers exposed to nickel power in the workplace. Urine testing had revealed purposefully negligent air monitoring. The nickel levels found in the urine of the K-25 workers were ten to hundreds of times higher than any other nickel workers in this country and around the world.

In short, as the global warming emails have accused scientists, two-third (the women and African Americans) were excluded due to the government’s need to have an outcome that would show workers unharmed by nickel dust. Waste handling operations at K-25 (Oak Ridge) nuclear waste operations — and other locations — reported hazy, smoky and foggy nickel dust conditions.

Is public at risk if nuclear plants are attacked? –
“Beneath a moonless sky, terrorists rip through the razor-wire fence ringing a nuclear power plant and quickly overpower guards.

Using explosives capable of destroying armored military vehicles, the terrorists blast a hole in the side of a huge concrete canister holding spent nuclear fuel.

No one is sure what could happen next.

Could the attack cause radiation to leak into the atmosphere? Would the release be enough to endanger the public? Should security, which was beefed up at nuclear plants after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, be bolstered even more?

Although experts consider chances of such a nightmare scenario to be remote, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is considering whether it needs to change safety rules, including those at South Carolina facilities.

One possible revision would require operators to evaluate the impact of a bomb attack on dry cask storage units used to hold spent fuel at three of South Carolina’s four nuclear power plants.”

Lawsuit alleges death damages from Armstrong County nuclear plants – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
“A Rhode Island law firm that won major settlements against the tobacco industry filed a federal lawsuit Friday on behalf of three Kiski Valley residents who allege wrongful death, personal injury and damages from the operations of two former nuclear fuels plants in Apollo and Parks.

Although the lawsuit, filed by the Providence-based law firm Motley Rice, does not disclose a dollar figure sought in damages, the court document states that “… incidents to health, property and the environment are extremely dire and can be measured in the millions, if not billions of dollars.”

The defendants, Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group and the Atlantic Richfield, operated a uranium fuel processing plant in Apollo and a plutonium plant in Parks from 1957-86.”


NRC News

FR: NRC: ISL EIS Draft comment time extension
“Extension of Public Comment Period on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Moore Ranch In-Situ Recovery Project in Campbell County, WY; Supplement to the Generic Environmental Impact Statement for In-Situ Leach Uranium Milling Facilities AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). ACTION: Extension of Public Comment Period.

SUMMARY: This notice revises a notice published on Friday, December 11, 2009, in the Federal Register (74 FR 65806), which announced, in part, that the public comment period for the NRC’s Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (Draft SEIS) for the Moore Ranch In-Situ Recovery (ISR) Project closes on February 1, 2010. The purpose of this notice is to extend the public comment period on the Draft SEIS for the Moore Ranch ISR Project to March 3, 2010. DATES: Members of the public have been submitting written comments on the Draft SEIS for the Moore Ranch ISR Project since the initial notice of availability was published on December 11, 2009 (74 FR 65806). In response to multiple requests received in writing, the comment period on the Draft SEIS is being extended to March 3, 2010. The NRC will consider comments received or postmarked after that date to the extent practical. Written comments should be submitted as described in the ADDRESSES section of this notice. ”

NRC – NRC Launches New Open Government Web Page with Citizen Engagement Tool
“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission today launched an Open Government Web page to serve as the gateway for agency activities related to the White House’s Open Government initiative. The NRC is actively supporting the open government initiative and encouraging public participation through a new user-friendly citizen engagement tool accessible through this page. The Web page is at:

The public, including NRC employees, can use the tool to easily share ideas and comments on how the agency can work better with others inside and outside government, improve the availability and quality of information, and be more innovative and efficient. ”

IEA Awarded Contract by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) — NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., Feb. 4 /PRNewswire/ —
“Ian, Evan & Alexander Corporation (IEA) has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Under this contract, IEA will provide assistance for license renewal to the NRC for Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS) and Safety Evaluation Report (SER) documentation.

Since its inception, the NRC has approved 104 applications for commercial nuclear power reactors. In compliance with the Atomic Energy Act, these licenses authorize operation for up to 40 years and are renewable for an additional 20 years. For each license application renewal (LRA), the NRC staff publishes one draft SEIS, one final SEIS, one SER with open items, and one final SER. These documents can be as long as 1,000 pages each. IEA will provide project management, technical editing, and desktop publishing services to support this renewal application process.

“IEA is extremely pleased to have been selected by the NRC for this project. With energy independence as a core national security strategy, the focus on clean and safe nuclear energy has been revitalized, and we are pleased to be a part of the license renewal process,” said John E. Cochran, President and CEO of IEA.”

Areva wins U.S. approval for nuclear safety system | Reuters
“Areva (CEPFi.PA) has won U.S. approval to upgrade a nuclear safety system at a plant in the country, a move that could help ease concerns over the security systems of a new generation of French nuclear power reactors.

Nuclear safety bodies in France, Britain and Finland last year had asked Areva to make the controls and safety systems within the reactor more independent of each other to avoid both systems failing at the same time. [ID:nL2386389]

Areva, the world’s largest nuclear plant builder, said on Tuesday that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission had cleared the upgrading of the digital instrumentation and controls (I&C) system included in the design of new nuclear plants.”


Nuclear Fuel Cycle News

Aquifer mysteries hold key to effects of uranium mining  | The Coloradoan
“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said Thursday a decision about whether Powertech USA will be permitted to conduct an aquifer pump test for its proposed Centennial Project uranium mine northeast of Fort Collins will be announced by mid-April.

If approved, Powertech will be allowed to test the feasibility of in situ leach mining for uranium at the Centennial Project site. The test could help regulators find answers to questions about how the underlying aquifer works and how any contamination from the mine could move through it and affect groundwater elsewhere.

Powertech’s in situ leach mining method would pump a baking-soda-like fluid into the ground, which would loosen uranium from the underground rock formation, then pump the fluid back out of the ground, taking the uranium with it. The proposed pump test would allow Powertech to pump water out of the uranium-containing aquifer, store it and reinject it.

The mining could have the greatest impact on the Laramie-Fox Hills aquifer, which many surrounding landowners have tapped for their well water. ”

UC Davis may have solved mystery of chemical contamination – Breaking News –
“A dangerous chemical on the site of a former animal-testing laboratory at UC Davis may not have come from experiments there, but rather from a chemical reaction underground in the years since.

For 30 years starting in 1958, the Laboratory for Energy-Related Health Research was, for some, a place of discovery. For others it was a source of nightmares.

The lab conducted Cold War-inspired research for the U.S. Department of Energy, including exposing beagles to lethal radiation to judge how humans might survive.”

EDF, Areva reach deal on used nuclear fuel | Reuters
“Two groups plan to sign contract by end of Q1 2010

* Deal covers transportation, treatment and recycling

French energy giant EDF and nuclear specialist Areva said on Friday they had reached an agreement on used nuclear fuel management after the state stepped in to mediate fraught talks.

The two state-controlled firms — whose chief executives are locked in a public spat — were on Jan. 20 given a two-week deadline by the French government to resolve their differences over how to apply a 2008 framework agreement on nuclear waste.”

U.S. Energy Dept cancels surplus uranium transfers | Reuters
“Uranium transfers canceled for 2011, continue for 2010

* Department doesn’t want too much uranium in the market

* Uranium transfers help pay cleanup of enrichment plant (Adds uranium transfers continuing for 2010)

WASHINGTON, Feb 4 (Reuters) – The U.S. Energy Department has canceled plans to put into the market during 2011 extra government-owned surplus uranium supplies, Energy Secretary Steven Chu told Congress on Thursday, but the uranium transfers will continue for this year.

The department had planned to transfer next year up to 1,125 tonnes, or about 2.48 million lbs, of its surplus uranium a year to raise money to pay for the cleanup of the Portsmouth uranium enrichment plant in Ohio.”

Conservation groups file challenges to uranium mill in western Colorado – KDVR
“Two Utah conservation groups are fighting a proposed uranium mill in western Colorado.

Moab-based groups Red Rock Forests and Living Rivers are challenging the company’s application to pump groundwater from the Delores River basin.

The Delores is a 250-mile tributary of the Colorado River that drains into Utah.

Energy Fuels Resources LLC needs the water to process uranium ore. It wants to build the mill a dozen miles west of Naturita, Colo.

The project is under evaluation by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment. It could take the agency 18 months to make a decision.

Red Rock Forests and Living Rivers filed their challenges Tuesday.”

Chamber snubs uranium inquiry call – ABC North West WA – Australian Broadcasting Corporation
“The Chamber of Minerals and Energy has rejected the call for a public inquiry into proposed uranium projects in Western Australia.

The Government yesterday upheld a decision by the Environmental Protection Authority to use an environmental and management review program to assess Toro Energy’s uranium project near Wiluna.

The Conservation Council of Western Australia wants a public inquiry, the highest level of assessment, and says it should be applied to all proposed uranium projects.

But the chamber’s Paul Frewer says he is confident the level of assessment determined by the Minister is suitable.”

Chattanooga Times Free Press | Sequoyah to produce bomb-grade material
“The Tennessee Valley Authority is preparing to make a key component for America’s hydrogen bombs at its Sequoyah Nuclear Plant near Soddy-Daisy.

In the White House budget released this week, the U.S. Department of Energy said it wants TVA to make bomb-grade tritium at Sequoyah, similar to what TVA has done at its Watts Bar plant near Spring City, Tenn., for the past decade.

TVA officials said Tuesday that adding military production to Sequoyah’s energy generation will have only a minimal impact on plant operations and fulfills the agency’s federal mission.

“We’ve tested and done this type of production at Watts Bar since 1999 with limited impact on our operations,” TVA Vice President Jack Bailey said.

PDF: DOE tritium facility

But critics said such plans could heighten the risk of a terrorist attack near Chattanooga and weaken U.S. efforts to limit nuclear proliferation abroad.”

Internationalizing Enrichment and Solving the Problem of Spent Fuel Stotage
“It’s a great pleasure to be back in the Bay Area, and be once again in the company of George Shultz, as he continues to lead us to address the most difficult questions before our nation.

We are grateful for your interest, your hard work, and your patriotism on the issues of energy and nonproliferation that threaten our economic future, our national security, and international stability.

The Obama administration is working on many fronts to solve some of our toughest problems, including health care, the economy, climate change, and terrorism. I was actually pleased not to be a member of Congress last summer, when I would have had to host a town hall meeting or two. Let me say how honored – and relieved – I am to be here today.”

Federal regulators investigating SC uranium spill – South Carolina & Regional – Wire –
“Federal regulators are at a South Carolina nuclear fuel plant investigating a spill of wastewater containing uranium.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Monday a team had arrived at the Westinghouse Electric Co. plant near Columbia.

The NRC says about 200 gallons of wastewater containing ammonia and uranium spilled Jan. 24 after a pump failed. No workers were injured or needed medical attention.

The team is examining Westinghouse’s response and will issue a report in about a month.

Westinghouse’s 550,000-square-foot plant near the Congaree River makes fuel rods for nuclear power stations across the country. ”

Old radioactive mill tailings unearth old issue |
“The city of Grand Junction and private property owners are not held to the same regulations regarding the removal of uranium mill tailings uncovered during construction projects.

FCI Constructors Inc. is dealing with radioactive waste as they dig up Main Street for the Downtown Uplift restoration project.

The sand-like mill tailings were widely used in the Grand Valley during the 1950s and 1960s as fill dirt until federal officials halted the practice, citing health risks from exposure to gamma radiation and radon gas.

FCI employees have hauled nearly 500 cubic yards of tailings to the temporary storage facility at the city yard along West Avenue, where the material awaits permanent disposal at the Cheney disposal cell, south of Grand Junction. ”


Nuclear Waste News

BBC News – Sweden wants explanation on Baltic nuclear ‘dumping’
“The Russian military allegedly dumped nuclear waste into the Baltic Sea in the early 1990s, according to a report on Swedish television.

Radioactive material from a military base in Latvia is thought to have been thrown into Swedish waters.

For many the biggest shock is that the Swedish government may have known at the time and done nothing about it.

The partly enclosed Baltic Sea is known as one of the most polluted seas in the world.

But now it seems it was also used as a dumping ground for Russian nuclear waste and chemical weapons. ”

EnergySolutions ‘rising’ jeopardizes Salt Lake City’s future – Salt Lake Tribune
“Two projects of unprecedented size and scope are under way near the shores of the Great Salt Lake. One is the highly publicized, multibillion-dollar revamp of downtown Salt Lake City (dubbed Downtown Rising), which aims to transform the Beehive State’s stodgy capital into a world-class cosmopolitan center. It is currently one of the largest private construction projects in the United States.

The other, just 80 miles west of Downtown Rising, is EnergySolutions’ Clive facility, currently the largest low-level radioactive waste disposal site in the country. Equally as ambitious, yet steering its recent activities clear of the public eye at all costs, Clive aspires to be the world-class center of the nuclear waste disposal realm. ”

Talking with Yucca author John D’Agata – Las Vegas Sun
“While John D’Agata’s About a Mountain is, in large part, about a mountain (Yucca, specifically), it attempts to gather in much, much more. The story of a young suicide victim named Levi; the politics of nuclear waste; the nature of Las Vegas; and, at a deeper level, language, uncertainty, time and the unknowability of things. Also, his mother.”

Publish nuclear dump list – MP – The Campbeltown Courier
“THE Ministry of Defence should come clean once and for all about whether or not it plans to use the base at Machrihanish to store radioactive waste from old submarines.

Alan Reid MP for Argyll and Bute has vowed to campaign to stop the waste ending up at Machrihanish or any of three other sites in Argyll and Bute and he has called on the MoD to go public.
Defence Minister Quentin Davies MP has refused to reveal the sites on the secret list but has said Argyll and Bute is one of four regions being considered, along with Devon, Fife and Berkshire.

This would appear to narrow the shortlist of sites in Argyll and Bute down to Coulport, Faslane, Glen Douglas and Machrihanish,’ said Mr Reid, and I am disappointed that the Government is still refusing to publish its shortlist. The secrecy will only lead to speculation.’
He added that all four in Argyll were unsuitable for the job.”

Sveriges Radio International – Russian Nuclear Waste – Reinfeldt “We Know Nothing”
“Sweden’s prime minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has asked for explanations from a previous government on Russia’s alleged release of toxic waste into Swedish waters in the Baltic sea over 15 years ago, a secret unearthed by Swedish public service televsion SVT.

SVT reported on Wednesday that Russia dumped chemical weapons and radioactive waste off the shores of Gotland between 1991 and 1994.

Reinfeldt’s spokeswoman told the press that he “didn’t know about the issue.””

Sveriges Radio International – Radioactive Waste Dumped in the Baltic
Foreign Minister Carl Bildt denies that he had any knowledge of the radioactive waste and chemical weapons, that Swedish Television reports say could have been dumped in the Baltic Sea by the Russian military as late as the 1990s.

According to Swedish Television’s programme Uppdrag Granskning, the Swedish government at the time was aware of the dumping, but the Ministry of Defence decided it would be too difficult to investigate the matter.

Swedish secret service agent Donald Forsberg holds that the Russians unloaded the chemicals near the island of Gotland between the years 1989 and 1992. “They just sailed out at night and dumped in two areas,” he told the television programme.”

EnergySolutions flips on deal not to expand waste site – Salt Lake Tribune
“EnergySolutions » Huntsman waste cap “unnecessary,” possible expansion could accommodate waste from world, nation for 120 years

EnergySolutions Inc. put the brakes on expansion plans for its Tooele radioactive waste site two years ago in an agreement with then-Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., who hailed the deal as a “monumental win” for Utah residents.

But, now that the U.S. District Court for Utah has ruled the waste site is not under the thumb of regional waste authorities, the company says the deal is obsolete.

“When the district court ruled that the Northwest Compact lacked jurisdiction over the Clive [Tooele County] facility,” company president Val Christensen said in an e-mail to The Tribune this week, “the standstill agreement with Gov. Huntsman became unnecessary.” ”

The world’s radioactive rubbish is piling up | The Japan Times Online
“The Pacific Sandpiper, a specially built cargo ship with safety features far in excess of those found on conventional vessels, left Britain’s Barrow port bound for Japan the other day.

The security surrounding its departure on Jan. 21 indicates that something out of the ordinary is aboard. The Pacific Sandpiper and several sister ships make no port calls on their voyages between Europe and Japan because they carry potentially lethal nuclear material.

In the Pacific Sandpiper’s hold on this journey to Japan via the Panama Canal is only one item of cargo — a giant cylinder weighing more than 100 tons.”

The Environment Report: Nuclear Waste & Dr. James Hansen, Part 1
“President Obama is supporting more nuclear power plants. But what about the nuclear waste? Shawn Allee reports on a new plan from the government. And… Dr. James Hansen – the author of ‘Storms Of My Grandchildren.’ Dr. Hansen was the first NASA scientist to tell Congress about climate change. Lester chats with him about global warming and politics.”

Ship carrying nuclear waste arrives in St. Petersburg | ‘RIA Novosti’ newswire
“A ship carrying 650 tons of uranium waste arrived in Russia’s second largest city, St. Petersburg, Greenpeace said on Monday.

The dangerous cargo of uranium hexafluoride (UF6), which belongs to the French nuclear energy group Areva, was then loaded onto railway cars to be transported to the Siberian Chemical Combine in the Tomsk region, the statement added.

The Russian vessel, the Kapitan Kuroptev arrived in St. Petersburg in the early hours of Monday. The ship had already been a source of controversy after a group of nature activists tried to stop it from entering the port in 2005 when it was carrying a similar cargo of spent nuclear fuel.

According to international standards, however, uranium hexafluoride is not considered nuclear waste, and can be transformed into fuel to release energy for nuclear power stations.

France’s Areva and Britain’s Urenco, a European consortium which supplies equipment to enrich uranium for the nuclear industry, has shipped some 140,000 tons of nuclear waste over the last 15 years to Russia.”

Poll: Radioactive waste not welcome here – Salt Lake Tribune
“Utahns strongly support a federal ban on importing radioactive waste from foreign nations.

And, even more strongly, they oppose the disposal of thousands of tons of depleted uranium in their state.

Whether they were Republicans or Democrats, men or women, members of the LDS church or not – the majority of registered voters who responded to a recent poll conducted for The Salt Lake Tribune objected to low-level radioactive waste coming to the state.

The question made Grantsville resident Anne Watson recall the story of scientist Marie Curie, who died from exposure to the radioactive material she studied. ”

Nuclear waste storage in limbo as Obama axes Yucca Mountain funds / The Christian Science Monitor –
“Plans to bury America’s nuclear waste inside Nevada’s Yucca Mountain, a project that has long been the subject environmental and political opposition, appear all but dead.

Funding for the nuclear repository was eliminated in President Obama’s budget proposal released Monday. What’s more, according to the Las Vegas Sun, the Department of Energy has moved to suspend licensing for the desert storage site. ”

Feds file request for suspension of Yucca Mountain license – Las Vegas Sun
“The Energy Department today filed a request to suspend Yucca Mountain’s license application and announced plans to withdraw the license completely within a month — a critical, crushing step to end the nuclear waste dump in Nevada.

The Obama administration’s new budget for 2011 out today promises to zero out funds and withdraw the license, but it had been unclear whether the president would begin taking steps to pull back the license as he promised while campaigning in Nevada.”

Obama to zero out Yucca Mountain funding, pull license – Las Vegas Sun
“President Barack Obama plans to zero out funding for Yucca Mountain and “take steps” to withdraw the project’s pending license application, according to a preview of the 2011 budget that will be announced Monday.

The president’s intention to pull the license application — a promise he made while campaigning in Nevada — would be one of the most critical moves yet in stopping the proposed nuclear waste dump in Nevada.”

NUCLEAR: Panel named to make recommendation on Hanford vit waste  | Tri-City Herald
“A Blue Ribbon Commission was named Friday to recommend what the nation should do not only with its spent commercial nuclear fuel but also weapons waste, such as the glassified high level waste from Hanford’s vitrification plant.

The waste was expected to go to the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository until President Obama said last year said the Nevada site was not suitable. The nation has spent $10 billion to $12 billion over the last 25 years to study the site.

The commission will look at options for storing, processing and disposing of the waste, which are expected to include reprocessing commercial nuclear fuel that now is used just once in U.S. reactors. ”

Presidential Memorandum — Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future | The White House
“Expanding our Nation’s capacity to generate clean nuclear energy is crucial to our ability to combat climate change, enhance energy security, and increase economic prosperity. My Administration is undertaking substantial steps to expand the safe, secure, and responsible use of nuclear energy. These efforts are critical to accomplishing many of my Administration’s most significant goals.

An important part of a sound, comprehensive, and long-term domestic nuclear energy strategy is a well-considered policy for managing used nuclear fuel and other aspects of the back end of the nuclear fuel cycle. Yet the Nation’s approach, developed more than 20 years ago, to managing materials derived from nuclear activities, including nuclear fuel and nuclear waste, has not proven effective. Fortunately, over the past two decades scientists and engineers in our country and abroad have learned a great deal about effective strategies for managing nuclear material. My Administration is committed to using this advanced knowledge to meet the Government’s obligation to dispose of our Nation’s used nuclear material.”

Radioactive dump still a toxic issue for Russia’s Angarsk – Bellona
“A public hearing in the Siberian city of Angarsk, the reluctant hometown of a uranium enrichment enterprise, was another testament to the nuclear industry’s endless foot-dragging over unsafe practices of storing radioactive waste. City authorities rejected the plant’s proposal to leave its uranium tails storage facility on Angarsk’s territory, while legally taking it out of city limits. Angarsk is still waiting for its toxic inhabitant to provide more efficient solutions to handle the waste. Below is a comment by Andrei Ozharovsky. Andrei Ozharovsky, 29/01-2010 – Translated by Maria Kaminskaya
Radioactive waste next door

The uranium enrichment enterprise Angarsk Electrolysis Chemical Combine (AECC), founded in 1954, is located right on the outskirts of Angarsk, a city of 241,000 in Russia’s Irkutsk Region in Southeast Siberia. In fact, AECC’s production-related sites including open-air yards housing containers with highly toxic radioactive waste are within city limits.”


Nuclear Policy News

Nuclear renaissance could stall, Canada group says | Reuters
“Expectations of a sharp rise in nuclear generating capacity over the next two decades are likely overblown, a Canadian think tank said on Thursday, disputing conventional wisdom that a nuclear renaissance is in full swing.

In a report based on a 3-1/2 year study of the nuclear industry, the Waterloo, Ontario-based Center for International Governance Innovation said new reactor construction will be held back by a series of economic, security, and waste disposal issues.

“Despite some powerful drivers, a revival of nuclear energy faces too many barriers compared to other means of generating electricity,” Trevor Findlay, the report’s author, said in a statement.”

Nuke industry announces advertising blitz | Eco Speak | STLtoday
“The Nuclear Energy Institute on Tuesday revealed the details of a new, seven-month advertising campaign aimed at federal and state policymakers.

Print advertisements will appear in publications aimed at polticos – like Congressional Quarterly as well as a web-based campaign that will take place primarily in the Washington D.C market.

As our federal and state leaders develop energy and environmental policies, it is more important than ever that they recognize the full range of benefits that nuclear energy provides to consumers, said Scott Peterson, NEI’s vice president of communications.

No doubt these advertising dollars began flowing after President Obama voiced a need for new safe, clean nuclear plants during his state of the union address last week.”

At least 15 Vermont towns to vote on Yankee: Times Argus Online
“Voters in at least 15 Vermont town will be asked whether they support calling on the Legislature to block the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant from operating past 2012.

A resolution circulated by critics of the Vernon reactor and its owner, Louisiana-based Entergy Corp., also asks the Legislature to hold Vermont Yankee to its pledge to clean up nuclear waste on its site.

Activists had to gather signatures within towns to include the Vermont Yankee resolution on warnings for Town Meeting, which is held the first Tuesday in March.”

Opposing Views: NRDC: Subsidies to Nuclear Industry “A Mistake”
“The White House is widely reported to be proposing additional billions of dollars in loan guarantees for the nuclear power industry. That would be a mistake, according to experts at the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Following is the statement of Christopher Paine, Director of the Nuclear Program at NRDC:

“A massive increase in taxpayer subsidies for nuclear power would be a mistake.

Energy sources should compete for public dollars based on how well they provide the clean, efficient and affordable power we need. On that basis, nuclear power has a long way to go. It remains a high-cost, subsidy-dependent, radioactive-waste generating, water-depleting, non-renewable energy source that still carries with it the low probability of a high-consequence accident.”

American Thinker: Obama’s Nuclear Lie
“The president’s pants were smoldering during his State of the Union address. One fib in particular that he offered was deviously cloaked beneath a thin veneer of truth. In order to create clean energy jobs, Mr. Obama said that America needs to be “…building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country.”

In an apparent move to make good on his promise, two days after the address, Bloomberg reported: “President Barack Obama, acting on a pledge to support nuclear power, will propose tripling guarantees for new reactors to more than $45 billion …”

Received as a standalone promise, it’s a pretty sweet proposition. Nuclear power plants are safe, clean, reliable sources of inexpensive energy, and building such facilities will provide thousands of permanent jobs. Offering utilities a cheap source of financing to afford construction costs makes the deal appear even sweeter. However, once again, half-white man speaks with forked tongue.”

Public Citizen – Nuclear Renaissance Dealt Blow by South Texas Project Troubles
“A critical court ruling today rang the first chime in what could be the death knell of the so-called nuclear renaissance, starting with the failed expansion of the South Texas Project (STP).

This afternoon’s ruling by 408th District Court Judge Larry Noll that CPS Energy can safely withdraw from the proposed STP expansion project without losing all its investment offers the utility and the city of San Antonio the cue they’ve been waiting for to exit the national nuclear stage. Combined with the NRG Energy CEO’s announcement during a shareholder and press conference call this morning that NRG would wind down the project as quickly and economically as possible if CPS withdraws or STP does not receive federal loan guarantees, this news marks a major blow to those who claim nuclear power is a viable alternative to fossil fuel energy. The expansion project calls for two new nuclear reactors at a site with two existing reactors.”

WRS | Talks stall over nuclear power plants
“The cantons of Bern, Solothurn and Aargau say they will not sign the agreement on the allocation of tax revenues from new nuclear plants.

The three say not one of the solutions is satisfactory either legally or politically and it should be the electricity companies who come up with an agreement.

The Senate had asked each canton to submit a proposal in anticipation of the building of new nuclear plants.”

Nuclear Engineering International: Areva to restructure
“Areva is to set up two new divisions for nuclear and renewable activities, so that it can be in a better position to capitalize on the development clean technologies.

The new operational structure will be made up of six business groups (Mining, Front End, Reactors & Services, Back End, Renewable Energies and T&D, which is in the process of being sold to Alstom/Schneider). Previously there were four Business Groups (see chart below).

UK Government nuclear consultation farcical say locals – The Ecologist
“Local residents say they have been insulted rather than consulted over Government plans for new nuclear power stations

Local campaign groups have given a damning verdict on Government engagement with local communities over its plans for new nuclear power stations and have called for a new round of consultations to take place.

The groups, representing residents in ten of the communities earmarked by the Government as potential sites for new reactors, gave evidence to MPs from the Energy and Climate Change Committee earlier this week.

Jim Duffy, from campaign group Stop Hinkley, told MPs that the timing, advertising and location of the consultations had been unacceptable. ”

Energy Tribune- Obama’s Clean Energy Pandering: His State of the Union Contains More Meaningless Sloganeering on Energy
“Never underestimate a politician’s willingness to pander.

That’s the obvious lesson to be had from Barack Obama’s State of the Union address on Wednesday night. The speech was so predictable that it wasn’t even the most important news story of the day. That spot was claimed by Steve Jobs and Apple’s new iPad.

There are many reasons why Obama the man who just a year ago was seen as the one who would deliver American politics from the mundane has fallen so far, so fast, in the eyes of the public. (Full disclosure: I voted for Obama.) But surely one of Obama’s biggest problems is that he’s allergic to speaking the plain truth. His entire candidacy and presidency has been built on carefully crafted phrases and buzzwords that, in the end, have no meaning at all. ”

Energy guru: Use efficiency, renewables, not nukes –
“Energy thinker Amory Lovins will speak at Salisbury’s Catawba College on Feb. 23. Lovins is co-founder of Rocky Mountain Institute, a think-and-do tank that applies market-based solutions to efficient use of resources. Time magazine last year named him one of the world’s 100 most influential people. He talked with energy and environment writer Bruce Henderson; comments are edited for clarity and brevity.”


Nuclear Weapons News

ITAR-TASS: Russia says US tactical nukes must be withdrawn from Europe – FM
“US tactical nuclear arms should be withdrawn from Europe, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said on Thursday.

Issues of further nuclear disarmament, including tactical nuclear arms, should not be addressed as such, but only in close relation with other types of weapons, including conventional armed forces in Europe and the ballistic missile defence systems, he said.

Russia is adamant that nuclear arms should be deployed only in the territory of the states possessing such weapons.

In this context, withdrawal of American tactical weapons from Europe back to the United States would be welcome. It should be accompanied by complete and irreversible demolition of the entire infrastructures supporting the deployment of such weapons in Europe, he noted. ”

Biden outlines U.S. nuclear weaponry plan –
“Vice President Joe Biden says the Obama administration will spend what it takes to ensure the security and quality of the United States’ nuclear arsenal.

Biden said in an op-ed piece in The Wall Street Journal Friday while the Obama administration seeks to reduce nuclear weapons worldwide, the United States will maintain an “effective nuclear arsenal” to protect national security.

“For as long as nuclear weapons are required to defend our country and our allies, we will maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal,” Biden said.

Highlighting a 2009 warning from the Strategic Posture Commission about a lack of attention to the U.S. nuclear complex, Biden said he and Obama propose spending $7 billion implementing a nuclear-security agenda.”


Department of Energy News

Vapor concerns stop Hanford tank work | Tri-City Herald
“Concerns over chemical vapors from an underground tank have stopped work to retrieve radioactive waste from Tank C-104, the only leak-prone tank currently being emptied at Hanford.

A Hanford worker has been diagnosed with a medical issue after several workers smelled fumes, and a determination has not been made about whether the medical problem could be linked to the vapors.

Late at night Jan. 25, workers who were in a control trailer for the work outside the C Tank Farm fence at Hanford came outside and smelled a strong odor linked to vapors vented from the tanks, said Fred Beranek, director of environment, safety, health and quality at Washington River Protection Solutions. ”

Hanford News: Hanford Advisory Board: Lung disease risk too high at Hanford
“The Hanford Advisory Board is questioning whether the Department of Energy is doing enough to protect Hanford workers from an incurable lung disease caused by exposure to beryllium.

DOE officials in Washington, D.C., are about to launch a review of the Hanford beryllium protection program because of the concerns of some workers.

But by the time that review is finished, three more cases of chronic beryllium disease could be diagnosed if current trends continue, said board member Mike Korenko at a meeting Thursday of the advisory board in Kennewick.

“How can you not look at that data and have adrenaline flowing?” he asked Doug Shoop, deputy manager of the DOE Hanford Richland Operations Office.

Ten months have passed since the advisory board last recommended that DOE improve its beryllium protection program, and since then three more Hanford cases of chronic beryllium disease have been verified. That brings the total with the disease to 32 and the number of workers determined to be sensitized to beryllium to 95, up from 88.”

Bond calls for new study on toxins at KC defense plant –
“U.S. Sen. Kit Bond on Wednesday called for a new federal investigation of health concerns at a sensitive Kansas City defense plant.

In a letter to a federal investigator, Bond noted that he was responding to reports on KSHB-TV that more than 100 former co-workers at the federal complex on Bannister Road fear their illnesses may be linked to toxins at the facility.

Bond asked the inspector general for the General Services Administration, which acts as the federal government’s landlord, to advise him on the full extent of the problem and what steps GSA is taking to protect employees deemed at risk.

Will DOE be fined $3.375 million? |
“Such a hefty fine certainly seems doubtful, but that figure is contained in a Jan. 26 letter to DOE from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The letter notifies DOE of failure to meet multiple milestones for “excess material removal” at the K-27 Building in Oak Ridge.

DOE’s Oak Ridge manager, Gerald Boyd, said today there may have been a misunderstanding or miscommunciation and that his staff is researching it. “There’s a difference of opinion about whether or not the milestone was missed, and that’s what we’re trying to sort out.””

POGO is Shocked by Wasteful Spending in DOE Budget – The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) Blog
“In the midst of initiating a federal spending freeze, it is shocking that President Obama’s FY 2011 Budget Request released this week pours billions of dollars into two unnecessary nuclear weapons construction projects. There is no demonstrated requirement for either the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) at the Y-12 National Security Complex nor the Chemical and Metallurgical Research Replacement Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF) at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL).

“Contrary to the spin, neither of these facilities are needed to ensure the safety, security and effectiveness of our weapons, says Peter Stockton, POGO Senior Investigator.

In addition, DOE does not even have an estimated cost for completing the projects, as the budget describes their total costs as TBD. To Be a Disaster, is what POGO fears that term means, based on DOE’s atrocious record of soaring construction costs and overruns. For example, the cost of the Highly Enriched Uranium Manufacturing Facility (HEUMF) at Y-12 ballooned from $97 million to $549 million. ”

NTI: Global Security Newswire – Obama Requests $11 Billion for Nuclear Agency
“The agency, a semiautonomous branch of the Energy Department, would receive a 13.4-percent budget increase in fiscal 2011 to maintain the country’s nuclear stockpile and conduct nonproliferation activities around the globe, according to the White House funding request.

More than $7 billion would be devoted beginning Oct. 1 to “weapons activities,” which ensure the safety and performance of the nation’s atomic stockpile. The amount is a $624 million increase from this year.

Another $2.7 billion would be funneled to the agency’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation program, a hike of 25.8 percent above fiscal 2010. That effort seeks to secure nuclear materials around the globe that could be used for weapons and convert them for peaceful purposes.”

Hanford News: 2011 Hanford budget bump proposal includes increase for vit plant
“The fiscal 2011 budget for the Hanford nuclear reservation would increase at least $22 million from the current year’s budget to about $2.1 billion under the Obama administration’s proposal released Monday.

That money would be in addition to $1.96 billion in federal economic stimulus money being spent on Hanford cleanup from spring 2009 through fiscal 2011.

In early budget talks, the administration had considered cutting the budget for environmental cleanup of nuclear weapons sites such as Hanford by 20 percent, or about $1 billion, nationwide.

But the Washington congressional delegation stepped up to get funding restored in the proposed budget, with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., personally visiting the White House to discuss her concerns, said Gary Petersen, vice president of Hanford programs at the Tri-City Development Council.”

Obama 2011 budget request: Energy Department –
“The Energy Department would get the ability to guarantee an additional $36 billion in loans for the construction of new nuclear plants under President Obama’s budget request, twice as much as the previous loan guarantee program. The loan guarantees would sharply reduce the financing cost of capital-intensive nuclear plants, and proponents hope it would help jump start an additional half-dozen nuclear power plants.

The budget would eliminate funding, however, for the long-discussed Yucca Mountain, Nev., repository for nuclear waste. The budget proposal says that Yucca “is not a workable option.” ”

Budget Analysis By Issue: Energy and Environment – Political Junkie Blog : NPR
“Making good on a promise made during last week’s State of the Union address, President Obama has included new money for what he describes as clean energy development. That includes authorization for the Department of Energy to guarantee loans for new nuclear power plants. This money is not a direct payment but will be available to back up investments in what many regard as a financially risky enterprise. The spending comes as DOE appoints a commission to study how to dispose of high-level nuclear waste. Last year the administration decided to end efforts to bury it at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

The budget also extends credit subsidies for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. Spending on renewable energy projects will also rise for solar, biofuels and energy efficient buildings. ”

NNSA is biggest winner in proposed Energy Department budget –
“The Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration would receive a 13 percent increase to $11.2 billion in 2011 to support the Obama administration’s efforts to manage the nation’s stockpile of nuclear weapons and achieve the president’s goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material in the world within four years.

Overall, the department’s discretionary budget would increase more than 7 percent to $28.4 billion.

Energy programs outside of NNSA would increase less than 3 percent overall. The budget proposes $300 million for the new Advanced Projects Research Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which would bankroll cutting-edge advanced energy technologies that will reduce the country’s dependence on foreign energy imports and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. ARPA-E, which was modeled after the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, was created in 2007 but only recently funded with an initial $400 million from the Recovery Act.

Energy’s budget proposes $5.1 billion for science research, an additional $217 million; $108 million above the $371 million approved this year to advance research into wind, solar and geothermal energy sources; and $500 million in credit subsidies that would support between $3 billion and $5 billion in energy-efficiency and renewable-energy projects.”

Company planning Piketon uranium plant gets $45M in federal aid | The Columbus Dispatch
“Its bid for a $2 billion federal loan guarantee is still pending, but the company trying to build a $3.5 billion uranium-enrichment plant in Piketon, Ohio, will get a promised infusion of $45 million from the Department of Energy.

The promise to USEC was made in August when the Energy Department turned down the loan-guarantee application, with federal officials saying they didn’t think the technology had been proven commercially viable.

USEC says the loan guarantee is critical to its ability to build the plant, and the company won a temporary reprieve and the ability to reapply for the loan guarantee at a later date.

That reapplication is expected to happen this year. In the meantime, the $45 million will help USEC keep working on the plant’s technology, and the company says it will match the federal money with $45 million of its own. The federal cash comes from the Energy Department assuming $45 million worth of depleted uranium “tails” counted on USEC’s books as a liability.”

ORNL 2011 budget proposed at about $1.65B |
“The budget request for Oak Ridge National laboratory is about $1.65 billion, based on what I’m told by lab officials and seeing in budget info released by the administration. The actual budget request for ORNL is about $1.18 billion, but once you add the work for other agencies, such as NOAA and DOD, etc., the total budget is expected to be about $1.65 billion.

Energy and nonproliferation are key areas.

I’m still working to get information on Y-12. I’m told there is a full allotment in place for the Uranium Processing Facility, perhaps in the range of $130 million, but I haven’t found any documents that say that — at least not yet. NNSA chief Tom D’Agostino is supposed to have a media briefing at 4 p.m.”

Wash. stimulus update shows more about $2B spent | Seattle Times Newspaper
“About $2 billion in federal stimulus money has been spent in Washington state, creating or retaining tens of thousands of jobs in the state, state officials said Monday.

State and local government workers submitted an update to the federal government this past weekend to track stimulus spending. The federal government reported Friday that about 600,000 jobs have been saved or created under President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan.

Gov. Chris Gregoire said about 45,000 jobs have been retained or created since the stimulus money first started being released early last year. About 14,000 of those have come since October.

Job creation at a time when the state is in the midst of a 9.5 percent unemployment rate is especially important, Gregoire said.”

Hanford News: Swarm of 2,000 temblors at Hanford in 2009
“People living close to Hanford, particularly those just across the Columbia River, may have felt a whole lot of shaking going on over the past year.

The swarm of small earthquakes that started in January 2009 continued periodically through December, numbering about 2,000 total, said Alan Rohay, a seismologist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

The swarm of quakes appears to be over now, with just one detected last month. But during the year they were active, scientists were able to learn more about the phenomena.

In February and March 20 to 40 quakes were detected, including a magnitude-2.9 earthquake measured Feb. 22. Although the number declined in April, the quakes continued at a background level.”

Per Peterson named to DOE panel on nuclear future
“Per Peterson, professor and chair of nuclear engineering at the University of California, Berkeley, with expertise in advanced reactor systems, nuclear waste processing, and inertial fusion energy, has been named to a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future.

DOE Secretary Steven Chu, former director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and a former UC Berkeley physics professor, announced the 15 members of the commission on Friday, Jan. 29. The panel is charged with providing recommendations for a safe, long-term solution to managing the country’s used nuclear fuel and nuclear waste.

The recommendations will provide an alternative to storing spent nuclear reactor fuel at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, a proposal that the Obama administration rejected in 2009. ”

Obama to seek major increase in nuclear weapons funding > Alliance for Nuclear Accountability > Library
“The Obama administration plans to ask Congress to increase spending on the U.S. nuclear arsenal by more than $5 billion over the next five years as part of its strategy to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and eventually rid the world of them.

The administration argues that the boost is needed to ensure that U.S. warheads remain secure and work as designed as the arsenal shrinks and ages nearly 18 years into a moratorium on underground testing and more than two decades after large-scale warhead production ended.

The increase is also required to modernize facilities – some dating to World War II – that support the U.S. stockpile and to retain experts who “will help meet the president’s goal of securing vulnerable nuclear materials worldwide … and enable us to track and thwart nuclear trafficking (and) verify weapons reductions,” Vice President Joe Biden wrote in a Friday Wall Street Journal opinion piece.

The administration will seek an initial $600-million increase for nuclear weapons programs in the proposed 2011 budget it submits to Congress on Monday. That would increase annual spending on those programs by about 10 percent, to almost $7 billion.”


Other Energy News

Wind energy sailing through European Union –
“The European Union looked to wind energy to provide 39 percent of its new power capacity in 2009, trouncing natural gas and solar power, statistics reveal.

The European Wind Energy Association in statistics published Wednesday show the EU looked to wind energy in 2009 more than other sources.

New wind power in the EU made up 39 percent of the new energy projects in 2009, with natural gas making up 26 percent followed by 16 percent for solar energy, the EWEA said.

Meanwhile, the EU decommissioned more coal and nuclear facilities than were installed in 2009, suggesting renewable energy made up 61 percent of the new capacity in 2009.”

Proposal to Link the Nation’s Grid Sparks a Debate –
“The Tres Amigas transmission project in New Mexico, which seeks to link the nation’s three power grids to share wind power across the United States, has attracted both eager allies and some determined foes.

Scandia Wind Southwest LLC, a venture led by Norwegian wind power developers, has proposed to build an initial 2,250 megawatts of wind power in the Texas Panhandle, with a potential capacity of 10,000 MW. That amount of power, the equivalent of 10 large nuclear power plants, could move into the Eastern and Western grid interconnections, and to Texas’ independent grid, over the Tres Amigas transmission linkage.”


Nuclear Editorial and Opinions

Sunday Perspective: An atomic awakening is at hand –
“OVER THE last century, burning coal has been a sensible way to produce electrical power. Coal is cheap, plentiful, and we do not have to import it from abroad. There is still enough coal right here in the United States to make electricity for centuries to come. There is, however, a nagging problem with continued use of coal. We seem to have finally reached a point of crisis, in which the combustion of hydrocarbon fuels, such as coal and oil, may be altering the atmospheric chemistry in disadvantageous, irreversible ways.

But a durable, fully developed alternative to coal already exists. Prototype plants to replace coal have already been built and have been subjected to more than 60 years of testing and refinement. The fuel for these plants is cheap and available domestically or on the highly competitive world market. France, a country that lacks our berth of economic resources, has already implemented this plan, which is nuclear power. ” | READER OPINION: Radiation must be taken seriously, by Kevin Kamps
“The U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has repeatedly affirmed that any exposure to radioactivity, no matter how small, carries a health risk.

In its 2006 BEIR VII report (Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation, 7th iteration), NAS even reported mounting evidence that low dose radiation carries a supra-linear health hazard. That is, low doses are disproportionately more harmful, per unit dose, than high dose radiation.

The bottom line is, exposure to low dose radiation, such as intentional routine discharges or accidental leaks of tritium into the Connecticut River and downstream drinking water supplies and food chains, risks human and wildlife health impacts.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 20,000 picocuries per liter limit on tritium in drinking water is not a conservative health standard. The state of California has a goal to limit tritium in drinking water to 400 picocuries per liter, a fifty-fold strengthening. The state of Colorado’s goal is 500 picocuries per liter, a forty-fold strengthening. EPA’s and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) radiological health standards are inappropriately based on Reference Man faulty assumptions, which leaves more vulnerable women, children and fetuses at increased risk.”

News & Star | Opinion | Sellafield nuclear build plan full of flaws
“The Lake District National Park Authority and Cumbria County Council are in agreement that Sellafield is now the preferred option’ for proposed new nuclear build.

On Wednesday, January 27, Radiation Free Lakeland gave evidence in Westminster before the Energy and Climate Change Parliamentary Select Committee.

Our message to the committee: No site in Cumbria is suitable for new build especially not Sellafield. Any money available needs to be focussed on minimising the dangers that currently exist.”

John LaForge: Think nuke power is safe? Think again
“Your recent report No nukes for now, by Lavilla Capener and Mike Ivey, states without qualification that Wisconsin’s two nuclear facilities “have operated quietly and safely since the 1970s.

It is easy to prove this statement false.

Every U.S. government agency that regulates radiation exposure agrees that there is no safe level of exposure.

The Environmental Protection Agency says, There is no level below which we can say an exposure poses no risk. … Radiation is a carcinogen. It may also cause other adverse health effects, including genetic defects in the children of exposed parents or mental retardation in the children of mothers exposed during pregnancy.”

AURILIO: New nuclear subsidies are a terrible idea – Washington Times
Giant loan guarantees could stick taxpayers with the bill

At a time of deep partisan and ideological divi -sion in Washington, there aren’t many issues that bring together forces from across traditional divides. So when scholars at conservative think tanks like the Heritage Foundation and taxpayer groups such as the National Taxpayers Union agree with environmentalists on something, it’s time to sit up and take notice.

That’s exactly what’s happening on the issue of federal subsidies for new nuclear power plants. Fiscal conservatives know that nuclear subsidies are a potential multibillion dollar boondoggle, while environmentalists know that – even beyond the environmental and public safety threats posed by the reactors themselves – there are far better and much cheaper solutions to our energy and global warming challenges.”

A loan bubble that could go nuclear – Opinion – Orange County Register
“After his State of the Union address, we expected environmental groups to protest President Barack Obama’s declaration to advance nuclear power. We’re pleased the outrage already spans the political spectrum, with many stops in between. Add us to the complainers.

The new federal budget proposes to triple loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants, from $18.5 billion to $54 billion. This worsens a bad situation. As usual in Washington, it also relies on taxpayers to pay for the grief.
Article Tab : In this Jan. 20, 2010 file photo, Energy Secretary Steven Chu addresses the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington. In an effort to win over Republicans and moderate Democrats on climate and energy legislation, President Barack Obama is endorsing nuclear energy like never before, calling for a new generation of nuclear power plants to be built around the country.

Mr. Obama’s nuclear power push irritates environmentalists, to whom all things nuclear are nonstarters. But the president proposed this payoff to the nuclear lobby to win GOP support for his horrendous energy bill, stalled in Congress. The greenhouse-gas limiting legislation was bad enough already with the crippling economic consequences of its carbon cap-and-trade regulations. Mr. Obama’s commitment would pile on even more federal interference and potential costs. Some critics rightly describe the scheme as another potential multibillion dollar.

The nuclear option is hardly a viable one | – Houston Chronicle
“Nuclear power is not a viable answer to climate change. Houstonians and Texans have cheaper, smarter and safer ways to meet our energy needs.

Nuclear power is heavily subsidized by taxpayers and ratepayers, is prone to delay and cost overruns, and incurs radioactive risks, including the apparent impossibility of safely storing radioactive waste. Nuclear reactors consume vast quantities of precious water. Investing billions of dollars in more nuclear power would divert funding that would be better spent on energy efficiency and safer, cleaner renewable energy such as solar, wind and geothermal.”

HeraldNet: Nuclear power isn’t clean or safe; it’s a menace
“I am increasingly convinced that in order for us to survive the 21st century, we (individually and collectively) must accept two principles of living:

1) We are all connected to each other and to our environment.

2) All energy for our homes, firms, factories and farms must be clean and renewable.

We probably have less than two generations to transition. Right now things are not looking good.

We stand at a crossroads concerning how we fuel our vehicles and power our homes. Electric vehicles (EVs) are a good replacement for carbon-fueled cars, but only if we charge them with renewable energy (geothermal, wind, solar, tidal, even biomass). Any other approach will require greater demand for increasingly limited electricity. In fact, if every household in America suddenly bought an electric car averaging 5 kilowatt-hours to top off each day, household electric demand would increase about 20 percent (adding perhaps 10 percent more demand to an already overloaded grid nationally).

More nuclear power won’t help this country  | The Tennessean
“It seems to me that if letter writer Ron Barrett is so concerned about the environment, he would understand that solar and wind technology are the only true green power sources around (What exactly is it the greenies’ want? Jan. 23).

If he is in favor of more nuclear plants, I think he should volunteer to take the waste to his property for disposal, because, Mr. Barrett, it has to go somewhere or is it only all right with you if it goes somewhere else?

Since the Yucca Mountain site was never finished and utilized, where now, do you suggest we put the deadliest stuff known to mankind? Your local landfill? Down your well? Where, Ron? ”

The Free Press – Harvey WassermanL Will Obama guarantee a new reactor war?
“Amidst utter chaos in the atomic reactor industry, Team Obama is poised to vastly expand a bitterly contested loan guarantee program that may cost far more than expected, both financially and politically.

The long-stalled, much-hyped “Renaissance” in atomic power has failed to find private financing. New construction projects are opposed for financial reasons by fiscal conservatives such as the Heritage Foundation and National Taxpayers Union, and by a national grassroots safe energy campaign that has already beaten such loan guarantees three times.

New reactor designs are being challenged by regulators in both the US and Europe. Key projects, new and old, are engulfed in political/financial uproars in Florida, Texas, Maryland, Vermont, New Jersey and elsewhere.

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