Top 100 Energy Stories April 5th -18th 2010

radbull This is a two week addition of the news.  Sorry, but I’ve had a rather severe medical emergency that put me in the Emergency Room at the local hospital twice. I’m doing a bit better after treatment for a rather severe urinary infection.
The biggest news was Obama’s global summit in Washington DC. There were many sub-stories taking place like Russia’s agreement to shut down its last operating plutonium production reactor or the push to secure HEU. One of the stories that missed the front pages on purpose was Israel’s nuclear weapons activity as well as a global movement to go far beyond the Obama spin (blather).  The real question of course is all about how Obama framed this issue and the global jump to claim to be concerned about loose nukes and Iran, vs. nuclear expansion! The bulk of the stories on this are in the weapons and policy sections.

One of the major stories to hit was in India where at least 7 people were sent to hospital after being contaminated by a cobalt-60 radiation source that ended up in metal recycling operations.

The nuclear waste issue is clearly taking over the lead issue as it should as more and more problems continue to bang into the nuclear clean theme. Internationally, there are currently waste battles in the UK, Germany, Sweden, Australia, the US, Russia, France, Spain, Italy and very likely many more places where the out of site out of mind agenda are in place.

Greenpeace carried out two different protests in the last week against Russia and France. The industry is attempting to promote the claim that Sweden has found a “Democratic” model for to getting community support for taking the most deadly wastes. However, anyone in their right mind will know that what they’ve done has found a pro-nuclear community that have been offered lots of bribes to accept the wastes.  This carrot stick approach has been used over and over again in the US, with small or indigenous communities.  There is clear indication that the underground repository model being pushed in Sweden and recently blocked in the US is now losing its footing as an appropriate solution for the world’s most deadly wastes.  On sight storage will continue to be the only option available in the US while country’s like France continue to push the idea of reprocessing.  Another option that has gained scientific support is the concept of putting the waste far deeper into the earth using super deep bore holes that would deposit the waste far below any water table.

The global nuclear push continues to be given a “get out of jail” card with how the media refuses to look seriously at the radioactive waste issue when presenting the nuclear option.  They’ve bought the idea that the fuel cycle that was originally set up to make bombs and power can be ignored, and in turn continue to buy claims that the only waste stream that is of concern is negligible in size.  Yet, in the US, where the government acknowledges that it faces at least a $270 billion cleanup bill doesn’t want the public to make the link or dare be told that it not continue to push more nuclear development until it proves that it has a way to clean up the mess it already has.

There is now a legal battle between with state’s like Washington and South Carolina attempting to keep open the Yucca Mountain repository.  These two state represent the locations of where this country’s largest nuclear wastes are currently stockpiled that want it relocated to Nevada (see below for more on South Carolina’s attempt to dump wastes on Utah).

The newsletter has regularly been following the attempt by DOE’s Savannah River facility in South Carolina to dump thousands of tons of Depleted Uranium (DU) at Energy Solution’s low level waste dump in Utah. The state’s regulatory body changed its regulatory position, ordering Energy Solutions to monitor the DU for ten thousand years.  As a result of the Utah’s block on the waste the DOE also started investigating the idea of sending the waste to the new Texas WCS dump which is technically only supposed to be available for wastes from Texas and Vermont.  But then WCS and the state has attempted to open the dump to wastes from across the country.  Go here for the alert. The DOE has backed off sending the DU waste to Texas for now until it figures out a permanent solution.

There was other news indeed, so as always be sure to scan through…

Top Nuclear Stories Index

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


Nuclear Reactor News

PM Says No to 3 New Nukes | YLE Uutiset |
“Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen says the government will not grant permits to all three applicants to build new nuclear reactors.

He rejected the notion that they should all be approved and then let the market decide which of them should be built and when – as Finance Minister Jyrki Katainen of the conservative National Coalition Party has suggested.

The PM says that the decision must be made based on laws governing nuclear energy. ”

Power company, opponents clash over Comanche Peak expansion | Dallas Business…
“Luminant, the power generator proposing a multibillion-dollar expansion of the Comanche Peak nuclear power plant, took issue Thursday with arguments that it failed to give sufficient consideration to renewable energy alternatives and catastrophic radiation leaks that might result from an event such as a terrorist attack.

The issues were debated by lawyers for Luminant and plant opponents at a hearing held in Granbury by a three-judge panel of the federal Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. The hearing is part of Luminant’s application for a license to expand Comanche Peak from two to four reactors. The plant is near Glen Rose, 45 miles southwest of Fort Worth.”

Sweden ignores dangers of nuclear energy | Baltic Review
“The conservative government of Sweden, which covers roughly half of its energy requirements with water power and half with nuclear energy, wants to build new nuclear power plants.

The daily Dala Demokraten scrutinises the energy debate in the context of the upcoming elections in September:

“Nuclear power has been represented as a virtually problem-free power source in the energy and environmental debates of the past few years. Therefore it is not surprising that the number of Swedes who want to use nuclear power has risen. The numerous problems that the use of nuclear power entails have been played down despite serious incidents.”

The Blade ~Scientists: Keep Davis-Besse idle Group wants leaks addressed
“Until FirstEnergy Corp. implements measures to ensure Davis-Besse nuclear plant’s reactor does not violate federal health and safety regulations, the Oak Harbor nuclear plant should not be allowed to restart, the Union of Concerned Scientists said.

The science group Monday asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to keep Davis-Besse idle until it solves problems with leaking cracks in its reactor. Federal regulations require reactors be shut down immediately whenever such leakage occurs, it noted.

FirstEnergy does not yet have a time line for when Davis-Besse – which was idled Feb. 28 for normal refueling and maintenance – is expected to be repaired and restarted, spokesman Todd Schneider said.

Several of Davis-Besse’s 69 control-rod drive mechanism nozzles were found to be cracked or otherwise damaged, and some had leaked. A repair plan is to be submitted to the NRC.”


Nuclear Health and Safety News

Health threat at Diablo » Ventura County Star
Federal regulators have begun to evaluate whether the two Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors in San Luis Obispo County deserve 20-year license extensions. Regulators have rubber-stamped 59 of 59 proposed extensions around the U.S., and approving Diablo Canyon means the reactors could operate until 2045.

Regulators are now working up an environmental impact statement, a document that will — like the ones for the other reactors — conclude Diablo Canyon poses no health threat to humans. But scientific evidence contradicts, rather than supports, this conclusion.

To produce electricity, reactors produce more than 100 radioactive chemicals — the same cocktail found in fallout of atomic bomb tests years ago. The equivalent of several hundred Hiroshima bombs is present at Diablo Canyon.”

NEC contests results of VY safety review – Brattleboro Reformer
“A safety culture survey conducted at Vermont Yankee in Vernon is pretty much worthless, said Ray Shadis, technical consultant for the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution, which opposes the continued operation of the nuclear power plant.

On Tuesday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission held a public meeting to discuss an Entergy fleet-wide nuclear safety culture assessment, an opinion poll of its employees conducted by Synergy Consulting Services Co.

The survey was primarily used to determine if employees felt that they had adequate safety training and if their safety concerns were handled discreetly, responsibly and without negative repercussion.

While it is true that the employees’ perception of Yankee’s safety culture has been moving upward since 2006, said Shadis, it is still below the levels reached in 2002, prior to Entergy’s purchase of the power plant from a consortium of utilities.

Before Entergy took over, said Shadis, worker confidence was at its highest. In 2004, it recovered slightly, he said, but then in 2006, it hit “rock bottom.” ”

AFP: 7 in hospital after radiation exposure in India
“Seven people have been admitted to a New Delhi hospital after being exposed to radioactive waste, police said Wednesday, raising fears over the lax disposal of hazardous material in India.

Radioactive waste was detected in a congested scrap metal market last week when five people were rushed to a hospital after they showed symptoms of radiation exposure. Two more victims have since been admitted.

“Seven people have been hospitalised and we are yet to find the exact source of the radioactive leakage,” senior police officer Sharad Agarwal told AFP on Wednesday. “No one has been detained or arrested as of now.””

The Hindu : One more case of mysterious radiation in capital
“One more suspected source of radiation has been detected in the sprawling scrap market at Mayapuri here in the Capital where two scrap dealers and five workers were taken ill this past week after being exposed to Cobalt-60 radioactive isotope.

Confirming this, B. Bhattacharjee, Member of the National Disaster Management Authority and former Director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, said on Tuesday: “We were informed about the detection of another radiation source today [Tuesday].”

Mohave County Downwinders | Arizona News |
“It’s the story of some Arizona residents who believe they have been victimized by the U.S. government not once, but twice.

In February, Rep. Trent Franks introduced H.R. 4712, a measure meant to remunerate Mohave residents who were adversely affected by above ground nuclear testing that took place in the 1950s and ’60s.

The bill would allow those in Mohave County to make claims under the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, which was designed to proved payment to those who developed serious illnesses, including cancer, as a result of radiation exposure in the wake of those tests.

Mohave County was not included as an eligible compensation area when RECA was passed in 1990. It was overlooked again when RECA was amended in 2000 to include more areas.”

North West Evening Mail | Ulverston man, 32, dies of liver failure
“A 32-YEAR-OLD nuclear scientist died of a liver problem he wasn’t aware of, an inquest heard.

An inquest into the death of Richard George Moore, held at Barrow Town Hall, was told his liver disease had developed naturally.

Dr Moore, of The Gill, Ulverston, was a Manchester University post-graduate of experimental nuclear physics. He was a team leader at the National Nuclear Laboratory, based at Sellafield, at the time of his death.

The scientist was found dead in his home on November 4 last year by a police officer, who immediately ruled out any possibility the death was suspicious.

Doctor Margaret Stewart, the pathologist, told the inquest the cause of death was most likely ketoacidosis – a condition that results in the production of harmful, acidic substances known as ketones.”

Safety failures at nuclear plant | The Japan Times Online
“Chugoku Electric Power Co. announced March 30 that it failed to conduct routine checks on 123 components of its Shimane nuclear power plant in Matsue — 74 in the No. 1 reactor and 49 in the No. 2 reactor. Some components, such as valves in piping and an emergency diesel power generator, had not been checked since 1988. The omission of these checks is serious negligence on the part of the firm. It is thought more similar cases may emerge.

The government classifies nuclear power plant components into four categories, depending on their importance for ensuring safety. Of the 123 components unchecked at the Shimae plant, 57 fall in the “most important” category. It is appalling that the firm failed to check a component in the emergency core cooling system of the No. 1 reactor — a system that would pour a large amount of water into the reactor core to prevent a meltdown. ”

Mayapuri Radiation Case: Accident level on International Nuclear Event Scale (INES) not revealed
Where are all the Indian workers suffering from radioactive radiation? How is occupational exposure recorded, how are victims diagnosed, provided legal remedy and compensated. A metal scrap dealer and four workers are being treated in Delhi for exposure to radioactive material, identified as Cobalt-60. They are in a serious condition. The radiation exposure happened in the Mayapuri locality of West Delhi in the last fortnight. A 1-kilometre radius around the shop was cordoned off as a precautionary measure. Experts from the Atomic Centre as well as National Security Guards have told police that the radiation is only in a limited area. This needs to be taken with a pinch of salt.

A team was requisitioned from Mumbai-based Atomic Energy Regulatory Board which found during screening that radio-active emissions were coming from the scrap. The workers were exposed to a radioactive isotope under mysterious circumstances at a scrap market in West Delhi. The police suspect that the scrap consignment containing the metal piece was brought from neighboring Faridabad and that it originated from abroad.

The Hindu: Radiation victims continue to be critical
“Doctors suspect extensive damage to bone marrow

The condition of all six persons exposed to radioactive material at a scrap market in the Capital’s Mayapuri area continued to be highly critical on Saturday with doctors suspecting extensive damage to their bone marrow, making them severely susceptible to infections.

Deepak Jain, who is admitted to Indraprashtha Apollo Hospital, is reported to be very critical and his treatment is being managed in consultation with senior Bhabha Atomic Research Centre officials.

Deepak is being treated for severe burns and his bone marrow is significantly suppressed. His condition is being closely monitored by a multi-disciplinary team of doctors,” said a statement issued by the hospital. ”

Radiation monitor at Oyster Creek nuclear plant is inoperable, officials say | –
“A monitor that measures radiation emissions at the nation’s oldest operating nuclear plant has been found to be inoperable.

But officials say the problem at the Oyster Creek plant in Lacey Township doesn’t pose a public health threat.

Exelon Corp., which owns the plant, recently notified the state Department of Environmental Protection about the problem. But it’s not clear how long the equipment known as a stack monitor has been out of service.

DEP officials say other monitors throughout the plant can be used to provide data about radiation levels. The agency also maintains a network of radiation monitors in the area around the plant.

“(We’re) confident that there have been no releases from the stack,” DEP Commissioner Bob Martin said. “Our independent monitoring system has not shown any elevated levels in the environment.””

Nuclear powered cancer clusters |
“For the past 20 years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has used an epidemiologically invalid study to reassure the public that the continuous release of radioactive material from power plants into the surrounding regions did not contribute to increases in cancer.

To correct that unsubstantiated claim, the NRC has contracted with the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a two-year study of both cancer incidence and mortality around former, current, and proposed nuclear reactor sites. The $5 million study, which is expected to take a year to design and two more years to complete, would be the first, comprehensive, government study of the health implications of the continuous release of radioactive into the air and water around nuclear facilities.

It would replace the 1990 study conducted for the NRC by the National Institutes of Health — National Cancer Institute titled “Cancer in Populations Living Near Nuclear Facilities.” That study concluded that the continuous release of radioactive gas, liquids, and particles  both intentionally and accidentally  did not contribute to the cancer mortality rates in the counties surrounding the 62 reactor sites housing 107 reactors. From an epidemiological standpoint, that study was flawed in its conception and implementation, and hampered by a dearth of data.”

Radiation leak in Delhi scrap shop, 5 people ill
“The Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) has confirmed to NDTV that it was indeed a radiation leak in a West Delhi scrap market where five people have taken ill.

A top DAE team is on its way to investigate the matter. The DAE says the radiation levels are quite high and radiation sickness is a serious matter.

Five people fell ill after coming in contact with a bright shining object at a scrap shop in west Delhi’s Mayapuri Industrial Area. They were hospitalised after they complained of dizziness, rashes and dry throat some who came in closer contact even suffered burn injuries. The police and doctors say is case of exposure to radiation.”

Raidoactive tritium found in storm drain at Salem 2 nuclear reactor | –
“Traces of radioactive tritium have been found in a storm drain system at the Salem 2 nuclear reactor on Artificial Island here, federal and utility officials said Thursday.

The tritium was found in water samples taken from the drain catch basin located north of the Salem 2 reactor.

The amount of tritium found in two samples closest to the plant structure registered 1.1 million picocuries per liter, according to Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Other samples taken farther away from the plant structure in the drain registered at 260,000 picocuries per liter and at 3,000 picocuries per liter.”

Beaver County Times: NRC plans study of cancer incidence near nuke plants
“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has enlisted the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study of cancer rates in areas surrounding nuclear facilities across the country, including Beaver County.

The study, which is expected to begin this summer and take up to three years, will examine cancer occurrence and mortality rates in residential populations living near nuclear facilities.

Shippingport was the site of the nation’s first commercial nuclear power plant, which was replaced by the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station owned by Akron, Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp.

A previous study released in 1990 found no increased risk of cancer death for people living near nuclear facilities. The study conducted by the National Cancer Institute looked at 107 counties near 62 nuclear facilities, including Beaver County. ”

Chattanooga Times Free Press | TVA reports tritium leak at Browns Ferry plant
“The Tennessee Valley Authority reported today that nearly 1,000 gallons of water containing the radioactive isotope tritium spilled from a water storage tank at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant on Wednesday.

In an incident report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission today, TVA said plant personnel at the Alabama plant discovered that a small valve at the top of tank near the plant turbine building was leaking at a rate of about two gallons a minute early Wednesday.

Don Jernigan, senior vice president of nuclear operation for TVA, said the federal utility is reporting the tritium leak to authorities under the industry’s voluntary reporting guidelines.”


NRC News

NRC: NRC Announces Availability of License Application and Hearing Opportunity for New Mexico Deconversion Facility
“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has made available on its Web site an application of International Isotopes Fluorine Products, Inc., for a license to construct and operate a depleted uranium deconversion facility in Lea County, N.M.

International Isotopes submitted the application Dec. 30, 2009, and NRC docketed the application Feb. 23. The proposed facility would process depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6) into commercially resalable fluoride products and depleted uranium oxide for disposal. The plant would be capable of deconverting up to 7.5 million pounds per year of DUF6 provided by commercial enrichment facilities throughout the United States.

The application and information on the agency’s review process are available at
An opportunity to request a hearing on the application, as well as instructions for filing a request for hearing and petition to intervene were published April 5 in the Federal Register at The deadline for requesting a hearing is June 4.”

NRC hits Oyster Creek with violation | Asbury Park Press
A contract employee who failed to disclose a prior arrest has caused the owners of the Oyster Creek Generating Station to receive a violation from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The employee’s arrest constitutes a violation of the plant’s license conditions.

An NRC investigation completed on Jan. 14 concerned a contract employee working for Bartlett Nuclear Inc. at the Forked River-based power plant. The worker failed to report a prior arrest in accordance with Oyster Creek security plan requirements.

The NRC confirmed the employee, who had unescorted access to vital areas of the plant, deliberately failed to report an arrest. Regulations require individuals with unescorted access to the facility to report any arrest or criminal charges.”

Endangered Planet Earth: The NRC’s Great Experiment on Public Health and Safety
“Pictured here is the stainless steel vessel of a nuclear reactor employed in a pressurized water system at commercial nuclear power plants like the Florida Power & Light Company (FPL), Turkey Point Nuclear Plant (TPN). Near the center of the nuclear reactor vessel you can see large welds which were made during the construction of this particular nuclear reactor vessel. The large weld which is near the center and extends around the vessel is called the “belt-line” weld.”


Nuclear Fuel Cycle News

Canon City Daily Record – Closed mine hikes uranium levels near Denver
“Cotter Corp. has until Monday to present the state with alternatives for remediating uranium contamination in a creek near its closed mine in Jefferson County.

Groundwater near the Schwartzwalder Mine contains uranium levels that are 1,000 times higher than the human health standards, according to an Associated Press article. The contaminated groundwater is near Ralston Creek, which flows into Ralston Resevoir. The resevoir supplies water to Denver and Arvada.

John Hamrick, Cotter’s vice president of milling, said the company had been working with the Department of Reclamation and Mining Safety to address the issue.

We have a plan that is due to them Monday about different remedial alternatives, Hamrick said. ”

Associated Press: Wyo. OK’ing uranium permits despite EPA concerns
“The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality is proceeding with permits to allow uranium developers to inject wastewater underground despite federal regulators’ concerns.

The department recently issued a draft permit to allow Ur Energy Inc. to operate five underground injection wells at the company’s proposed Lost Creek uranium mine in Sweetwater County. The agency is accepting public comments on the draft permit through April 26.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, meanwhile, has raised objections that could hold up federal certification of the Sweetwater County project and two other similar projects in the state. The federal agency is concerned that injecting wastewater underground could pollute drinking water supplies.”

Disposal of weapons-grade plutonium to cost Russia up to $3 bln || ‘RIA Novosti’ newswire
“Russia’s nuclear chief Sergei Kiriyenko has estimated the country’s program on the disposal of weapons-grade plutonium at between $2.5 billion and $3 billion.

At the nuclear summit in Washington on April 12-13, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed the Plutonium Disposition Protocol, which stipulates that Russia and the United States would each dispose of 34 metric tons of excess weapons-grade plutonium.

“The final cost of the [disposal] program will become known only when it is completed…We estimate it at between $2.5 billion and $3 billion,” Kiriyenko said, adding that the United States will contribute $400 million to the Russian program.

Kiriyenko, who heads the Russian state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, said the protocol meets Russia’s interests as it retains the goals of a framework agreement on disposing plutonium, which was signed in 2000.”

Letter to the Editor: The Coming Glut of Japanese Spent Fuel | Arms Control Association
“Frank von Hippel’s article (South Korean Reprocessing: An Unnecessary Threat to the Nonproliferation Regime, January/February 2010) on the proliferation risks of South Korea’s plans for reprocessing spent fuel from its nuclear power program elegantly frames what is likely to become a major controversy as South Korea’s agreement for nuclear cooperation with the United States comes up for renewal in 2014.

Von Hippel argues that the South Korean approach, based on an unproven technology known as pyroprocessing and yet-to-be-designed fast reactors, is unlikely to succeed on a scale sufficient to alleviate South Korea’s spent fuel management problem. Moreover, he stresses, it could introduce new proliferation risks by creating stocks of material from which plutonium could be more easily extracted than from spent fuel.

To underscore his point, von Hippel highlights the great difficulties Japan has encountered in its own spent fuel reprocessing program, based on classic reprocessing technology that is well understood, and conventional reactors. The situation in Japan, however, is considerably worse than von Hippel describes, making his core point all the more powerful.”

Is Reprocessing the Answer to Eliminating Fissile Materials from Bombs and Nuclear Waste?: Scientific American
“President Obama promised to eliminate 34 tons of plutonium from the U.S. nuclear weapons program as part of this week’s nuclear security summit. But how does one actually get rid of bomb-making material that has a half-life of more than 20,000 years?

One way is to burn it in nuclear reactors. Already, roughly half of the electricity generated from nuclear power plants in the U.S. comes from the fissile materials out of Russian warheads, albeit highly enriched uranium, the other fissile material used in bombs. Such reprocessing might also help cope with nuclear waste.

In fact, Obama’s recently appointed Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future has specifically chosen to investigate the possibility of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods.”

Time running out for nominations on uranium committee | GoDanRiver
“Time is running out for those wanting to nominate someone for the committee that will study to determine whether uranium can be mined and milled safely in Virginia.

There is no specified deadline for submitting nominations, but they are unlikely to be considered if they do not get submitted by the end of next week, said Jennifer Walsh, spokeswoman for the National Academy of Sciences and the National Research Council, citing an e-mail from the study director for the project.

The NAS/NRC is conducting the study that will focus on the scientific and technical aspects of uranium mining and milling. NAS/NRC officials expect it to be completed in the fall of 2011. ”

Nuclear Security Summit: Russia to Close Last Plutonium Reactor
“Nuclear terrorism is one of the most challenging threats to international security, and strong nuclear security measures are the most effective means to prevent terrorists, criminals, or other unauthorized actors from acquiring nuclear materials,” said the leaders and ministers from 47 nations in their message tonight at the conclusion of the landmark Nuclear Security Summit.

The major nuclear powers were among those at the round table today at the Washington Convention Center – China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, India and Pakistan. They all agreed to the “shared goals of nuclear disarmament, nuclear nonproliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy,” and stated, “we also all share the objective of nuclear security.” ”

Russia and US sign deal to dispose of plutonium that chagrins international enviro groups – Bellona
“Russia and the United States signed a new protocol Tuesday on a long stalled agreement to complete the disposal of 34 tons of excess weapons grade plutonium each, pumping new blood into the 2000 Plutonium Disposition Agreement that has been foundering on the shoals of bureaucratic foot dragging and mutual distrust for seven years.

Though the signing of the Plutonium Management and Disposition deal between Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be touted as one of the successes of the 46 nation, two-day summit convened by President Barack Obama alongside laudable agreements by Ukraine to relinquish its weapons uranium – it will also spark a new battle among non-proliferation officials and environmentalists both in Russia and the United States.

As has been clear for more than 15 years, Russia regards its stockpiles of weapons plutonium as a money-spinner for a new nuclear economy in Russia that relies on plutonium and reactors that produce it.

Ohio EPA approves additional Piketon cleanup  | Chillicothe Gazette
“The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has approved a new component to clean-up efforts at the U.S. Department of Energy’s former Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

On Tuesday, the state EPA said it has approved plans from the U.S. Department of Energy that will allow proper cleanup and, in some cases, tearing down of buildings that were used to produce enriched uranium until 2001.

Currently, the Department of Energy is conducting cleanup of soil and water at the site under a 1989 agreement, but the new agreement allows it to begin decontamination and decommissioning work in the buildings on the site as well.

The Energy department committed $303 million in cleanup funds for 2010, and an additional $118 million was awarded from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown’s office said $500 million is set aside for cleanup efforts in the 2011 Energy department budget.”

No explosive growth for uranium
“The slide in uranium prices from the June 2007 record $US136 a pound continues, with the radioactive material last quoted on a spot basis of $US41.75 a pound. The promised boom in prices as the world soaked up the stuff to fuel an explosive growth in greenhouse gas friendly nuclear power has not happened, not yet anyway.

Local investors in the sector know that all too well. The producers are down by 25-35 per cent from their 52-week highs and the explorers are generally showing falls of 50 per cent from their 52-week peaks.”

Canada to export spent nuclear fuel rods
Chalk River supply headed back to U.S.

Canada has agreed to ship an 11-year stockpile of highly enriched uranium back to the United States out of concern the spent fuel could fall into the hands of terrorists and be used to produce a nuclear weapon, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday.

Seeking to burnish Canada’s reputation with President Barack Obama on the opening day of a global summit on arms control, Harper said the world faced an “immediate threat” from nuclear terrorism unless nations moved to secure supplies of bomb-grade uranium.

The deal will result in supplies of spent inventories of uranium at the Chalk River Laboratories being shipped to the U.S. over an eight-year period, starting this year.”

Canada Loses Status as Biggest Uranium Producer After 17 Years –
“Kazakhstan boosted output to become the leading uranium miner last year, delivering almost 28 percent of the world’s nuclear fuel and ending Canada’s 17-year run as the top producer, Ux Consulting Co. said in a report.

Global output rose to 132 million pounds of uranium oxide concentrate, up 16 percent from 2008, with Kazakh production accounting for 80 percent of the increase as new mines started up, the Roswell, Georgia-based company said in a report yesterday.

Canada slipped into second place with 2009 production totalling nearly 26.5 million pounds, or 20 percent of world output, UxC said, adding that Canadian production increased 13 percent during the year. Kazakhstan mined about 36.5 million pounds, according to the report. ”

The Associated Press: Mexico to convert reactor to low enriched uranium
“Mexico is saying it will work with the United States and Canada to convert its highly enriched uranium reactor, removing the potential bomb-making materials.

The agreement is being announced at the 47-nation Nuclear Security Summit called by President Barack Obama to refocus world attention on the dangers of nuclear materials reaching terrorist hands.

The move is a step toward Mexico’s conversion to a reactor that operates on low enriched uranium, a lesser danger for weapons use.”

Nuclear-Fuel Recycling Debated as Obama Holds Summit  –
“A dispute over the recycling of nuclear fuel by reactor suppliers such as France’s Areva SA surfaced in Washington as U.S. officials sought to skirt the issue during President Barack Obama’s summit.

Former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans and former U.S. ambassador-at-large Robert Gallucci called for an end to the fuel-recycling practice yesterday at a conference of experts being held in parallel with Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit.

The summit focuses on keeping separated plutonium and highly enriched uranium out of the hands of terrorists, and Evans and Gallucci said that recycling creates stockpiles of dangerous materials ripe for theft. The practice is drawing attention as the number of nations pursuing nuclear power for their energy needs is expected to double by mid-century, according to the White House. ”

FR: DOE takes custody of uranium tailings
“Establishment of the U.S. Department of Energy as the Long-Term Custodian of the Maybell West Uranium Mill Tailings Site in Moffatt County, CO. and Notice of Termination of the Umetco Minerals Corporation Colorado Radioactive Materials License Number 660-01 for the Maybell West Site AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ACTION: Notice of establishment of the U.S. Department of Energy as the long-term custodian of the Maybell West uranium mill tailings site in Moffatt County, Colorado, under the general license provisions of 10 CFR 40.28, and [[Page 18552]] termination of the Umetco Minerals Corporation Colorado Radioactive Materials License Number 660-01 for the Maybell West site. ”

NRDC: make HEU safeguards top priority|
“There should be no greater prioirity on nuclear security than safeguarding highly enriched uranium, the Natural Resource Defense Council said in the run-up to the Nuclear Security Summit.

The NRDC said the nuclear material is difficult to detect, yet relatively easy for terrorists to use in making a crude nuclear device with the potential for devastation. Here’s statement from Thomas Cochran, senior staff scientist at NRDC:”

As U.S. attempted to remove nuclear material from Chile, earthquake struck
“When the shaking began just after 3:34 a.m. on Feb. 27, Andrew Bieniawski woke up with a start in his room on the 15th floor of the Sheraton Hotel in Santiago, Chile. A picture fell off the wall.

He raced to the lobby. He had arrived from the United States just the day before to oversee a delicate operation that the U.S. government and Chile had been quietly setting up for more than a month, and now an earthquake was tearing apart the center of the country. The magnitude-8.8 quake killed 486 people, set off a tsunami, cracked buildings and roads, cut off electricity and phone lines, and spawned dozens of aftershocks.

While the disaster unfolded, Bieniawski and his team from the Energy Department had another worry: They had packed 39.6 pounds of highly enriched uranium, enough to make a nuclear bomb, into a shipping container, ready for a secret evacuation by road to a port and then by sea to the United States. ”

U.S., Russia reach deal on disposing of plutonium from nuclear weapons
“The U.S. and Russian governments have reached a breakthrough in a long-stalled agreement to dispose of huge amounts of their plutonium from nuclear weapons, officials said Thursday.

The new protocol will be signed Monday, shortly before President Obama opens a summit in Washington on keeping nuclear material out of the hands of terrorists, officials said. More than 40 heads of state are expected at the summit.

The new protocol amends an agreement signed by then-Vice President Al Gore and the Russian leadership in 2000 under which the two countries pledged to get rid of 34 tons of plutonium each. The material came from weapons that had been decommissioned.

The total 68 tons would be enough for 17,000 nuclear bombs, officials said. ”

IEER: French-Style Nuclear Reprocessing Will Not Solve U.S. Nuclear Waste Problems
“France Uses Less than 1 Percent of the Natural Uranium Resource, Has Higher Waste Volume; Reprocessing Still Requires a Repository and Increases Costs, Proliferation Risks

WASHINGTON, April 8 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Contrary to some prevailing opinion, reprocessing would not eliminate the need for a deep geologic disposal program to replace Yucca Mountain. It aggravates waste, proliferation, and cost problems. The volume of waste to be disposed of in deep geologic repository is increased about six times on a life-cycle basis in the French approach compared to the once-through no-reprocessing approach of the United States.

A new report by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), a nonprofit scientific research group, shows that France uses less than 1 percent of the natural uranium resource, contrary to an impression among some policy makers. The report has several recommendations for President Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future, which was created to address U.S. nuclear waste issues after the administration’s cancellation of the Yucca Mountain program.” – Council supports mine’s position on uranium sales
“A government proposal to put substantial quantities of ‘weapons grade’ uranium on the open market at one time would have a significant effect on the economy of northwest Nebraska, because it would reduce the price for the uranium produced at the Crow Butte mine near Crawford, mine manager Jim Stokey told the Chadron City Council on Monday.

After hearing Stokey’s review of the large economic impact of the Crow Butte mine in the region, and an explanation of the more complicated issue of how uranium is marketed, the council approved sending a letter to Senator Ben Nelson seeking his help in forestalling plans to sell the radioactive material all at once.

According to Stokey, the Department of Energy wants to sell a large amount of material recycled from nuclear weapons for dilution and eventual use in energy production.”


Nuclear Waste News

Green Left – Brief: Nuke dump protesters target PM’s office
“We don’t need nuclear power, Sam Watson, Aboriginal community leader and Socialist Alliance Senate candidate, told a picket against the proposed nuclear waste dump at Muckaty in the Northern Territory, held outside PM Kevin Rudd’s electorate office in Norman Park on April 12.

It is a fundamental principle of Aboriginal culture that you preserve the land and the environment, to hand on to future generations. Nuclear waste means radioactive poison for hundreds of thousands of years.

This nuclear dump would mean toxic waste would be returned to Aboriginal land, to permanently contaminate the water table. There are much cheaper and cleaner options for generating electric power. ”

Critics say N-wastes cleanup plan for West Valley fails to meet need : Southern Tier : The Buffalo News
“A two-phase federal plan to clean up the former nuclear reprocessing plant near West Valley drew disappointment Friday from critics.

The U. S. Energy Department issued a record of decision late Thursday for the West Valley Demonstration Project in Ashford that will result in a gradual return to normal for the closed facility.

On Friday, Diane D’Arrigo, a member of the watchdog West Valley Action Network, said the plan falls short of what is needed.

There is widespread disappointment in the federal government’s decision to pursue only a partial cleanup of the site, D’Arrigo said. We have a big mess at West Valley, and we’ve been pushing for a full cleanup of [the site] for decades. ”

San Antonio Current – Vermont consultants urge delay of Texas nuke dump expansion rule
“A pair of Vermont consultants blasted an unfunded Texas commission this week for preparing legal language to govern the expansion of a two-state low-level radioactive waste dump in West Texas out of fear it may impact Vermont’s ability to dispose of its only nuclear reactor.

We are gravely concerned that this rulemaking is occurring in a rushed and ill-advised manner, wrote Margaret Gundersen, a consultant to the Joint Fiscal Committee of the Vermont State Legislature, and Arnie Gundersen, an appointed member of the public oversight committee advising on operations at the troubled Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. The Entergy-owned plant, recently found to be leaking radioactive tritium into area groundwater and ordered closed by the Vermont Legislature, is to be disposed of at the West Texas dump.

Greenpeace vessel in St. Petersburg for anti-nuclear waste protest  | ‘RIA Novosti’ newswire
“A vessel belonging to the environmental organization Greenpeace will arrive in St. Petersburg on Wednesday as part of an anti-nuclear tour in protest against the import of French spent nuclear fuel to Russia, Greenpeace Russia’s press service said.

The Esperanza will open its doors to the people of St Petersburg from 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (1300-1700 GMT). Visitors can go on free excursions leading them to the deck, the captain’s bridge and the cargo hold. They will also learn all about the vessel’s history, expeditions and campaigns.

On Thursday at 11:00 a news conference will be held on the boat about the import of depleted uranium to Russia.

Environmental activists gathered on the docks in St. Petersburg on Tuesday in protest against the arrival of Russian cargo ship Kapitan Kuroptev, carrying 650 tons of depleted uranium from the French company AREVA.”

Greenpeace says Gorleben is not suitable as a nuclear waste dump | Germany | Deutsche Welle |
Greenpeace said it had obtained partly classified documents which prove that Gorleben should not have been used as a nuclear waste site.

The environmental activist group Greenpeace said on Wednesday that it had obtained official documents, which prove that the salt mines in the German town of Gorleben should not have been used as a disposal site for nuclear waste.

“There was never a scientific selection procedure that concluded the salt mines in Gorleben would be the best choice,” Greenpeace nuclear expert Mathias Edler told reporters at a press conference in Berlin. “Geological criteria for a nuclear disposal site in the salt mines played a minor role.”

Greenpeace said the more than 12,000 pages of partly classified documents, which date back to the mid-1970’s, are from the Lower Saxony state chancellery, environment ministry, and the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources. ”


DU ‘New Agent Orange’ hidden agenda
“Evidence continues to mount that the 250,000 veterans of the first Gulf War who exhibit persistent unexplained medical symptoms are related to widespread use of depleted uranium that is known as the ‘New Agent Orange.” Inhumane effects of DU for securing a pipeline will be experienced for generations in Afghans and American soldiers, a “war crime against God and humanity,” according to Doug Rokke.

Genetic testing and functional brain imaging may shed light on the soldiers’ symptoms according to the Washington Post.

Iraq’s Ministry for Human Rights has been persuing a lawsuit against Britain and the US over their use of depleted uranium bombs in Iraq according to Press TV.”

State board imposes new regulations on depleted uranium – Salt Lake Tribune
“EnergySolutions can take no more depleted uranium until it shows its radioactive landfill can contain the radioactive waste for thousands of years.

After talking about DU for a year, the Radiation Control Board pushed forward Tuesday with new requirements despite the nuclear waste company’s past threats of legal action.

Meanwhile, board members opted against trying to regulate blending, the nuclear industry’s practice of mixing Class A low-level radioactive waste with more hazardous Class B and Class C material so that reactors can dispose of waste that now has nowhere else to go.

“I think the issues the board is addressing are all about protecting the public health and safety,” said Board Chairman Peter Jenkins, commenting on the common thread of six votes taken Tuesday. ”

Waste not … or get nukes  High Country News
“A few weeks ago the New Mexico Environmental Law Center’s media director, Juana Colon, suggested I should write a blog post about policymakers’ recent embrace of nuclear power as just a way to enrich the world’s economic elites while at the same time continuing to subject poor and minority communities to various kinds of radioactive pollution, and therefore continue to encourage wasteful energy consumption. Her words were actually a lot angrier and profanity-laced, largely because the office had been preoccupied with a series of preposterous pro-nuclear pieces of legislation during the state legislative session (Such as declaring nuclear power green energy [PDF] and seeking that it become part of the governor’s clean energy efforts [PDF]) Adding to that, President Obama had also just announced his intention to increase the subsidies the public would lavish on the nuclear industry.

I’ve thought a lot about Juana’s suggestion and there are a lot of interesting aspects to the nuclear power puzzle that deserve some ink.”

Goalpost moves on nuclear waste
“Shetland MSP Tavish Scott has voiced his support for the council’s concern on the government’s policies regarding the storage of high activity radioactive waste.

Back in March the council’s infrastructure committee agreed on a strongly worded response to the government’s consultation process.

At the time, heritage officer Austin Taylor had told councillors that the Scottish government’s position on radioactive waste storage appeared to be softening as proposals for storing radioactive waste under the seabed were being considered.”

Yucca Mountain nuclear dump locked in court battle  – Las Vegas Sun
“President Obama has told his Department of Energy to stop developing the high-level nuclear dump at Yucca Mountain, but it’s not that simple.

A legal battle has developed with three locations filing suit to stop the withdrawal, arguing the Department of Energy doesn’t have the authority to close down the proposed dump in Southern Nevada.

Nevada and the Energy Department have joined to ask the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., to withhold any rulings on the suits until the administrative issues are settled before the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.”

Seattle PostGlobe | The most contaminated site in the Western Hemisphere: WA’s Hanford Nuclear Site
“The most contaminated site in the Western Hemisphere is at Hanford, Washington state’s sprawling nuclear waste reservation on the Columbia River. The Department of Energy wants to dump more nuclear waste at Hanford before cleaning up what’s already there. The proposal doesn’t sit well with watchdog groups or the public.

Narration: A federal proposal to dump more radioactive waste at Hanford, the nation’s most contaminated nuclear site, has watchdog agencies and the public on high alert. Sending more waste to the sprawling nuclear reservation before cleaning up what’s already there could threaten the Columbia River for thousands of years, says the Heart of America Northwest. Gerry Pollett is Director of the non-profit which has monitored Hanford for over 20 years.”

Common sense prevails? – Las Vegas Sun
“One nation may have found a better way to store high-level nuclear waste

We were stunned when we came across this headline on a story in Tuesday’s New York Times about a mystifying occurrence in Sweden: A Town Says Yes, In Our Backyard’ to Nuclear Site. In fact, the Times reported, 18 Swedish communities located near proposed sites were intrigued by hosting a permanent nuclear waste dump. Ultimately, the Swedish Nuclear Fuel and Waste Management Co. narrowed the list to two towns, both of which have nuclear power plants. The company recently recommended that the government build the dump in Osthammar, 80 percent of whose 21,000 residents are in favor of it being built there.

In most countries, the Times drolly noted, people would sooner allow a factory hog farm or garbage incinerator in their backyards than a nuclear waste dump. Nevadans can attest to this, having vigorously fought our federal government’s efforts to bury nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.”

Turkey Point: Nuclear regulators question spent-fuel issues at Turkey Point – South Florida
“The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has called a special meeting next week to discuss three apparent violations involving a spent fuel pool at Turkey Point a critical issue as the long-held plans for storing waste in Nevada have completely collapsed.

Technically, the meeting in Atlanta on Wednesday involves the degradation of “a neutron-absorbing material called Boraflex in the Unit 3 spent fuel pool.” Used nuclear fuel has been building up at Turkey Point for the 35 years of its operation. The degradation involves systems intended to cram more spent fuel into the pools, according to Lawrence King, a former NRC inspector.

More than two million pounds of waste now sit at the South Miami-Dade site in pools of water although Florida Power & Light Co. spokesman Michael Waldron says it’s more accurate to think of the spent rods as occupying a 16-foot cube if bunched together.”

Utah Could Get More SRS Waste | Georgia Public Broadcasting
“A protest from Utah Governor Gary Herbert caused the Department of Energy to suspend shipments in January of depleted uranium from SRS to a disposal facility near Salt Lake City. Now regulators have determined that more than 3,000 tons of the waste meet Utah’s health and safety standards. That could mean shipments will start up again soon.”

Bill to ban blending’ nuclear waste fails » Knoxville News Sentinel
“A bill that would prohibit ‘blending’ of nuclear waste in Tennessee, a process that is being tested at an Oak Ridge facility, failed on a 3-3 tie vote Tuesday in a House subcommittee after a Roane County legislator said it would jeopardize East Tennessee jobs.

The bill was sponsored by Rep. Ty Cobb, D-Columbia, who said the blended waste could pose a health risk and wind up being permanently stored in Tennessee. That could include 20,000 tons of nuclear waste from Italy, he said.

But Rep. Dennis Ferguson, D-Harriman, said EnergySolutions Inc., which is testing the process, and other companies involved have a ‘great safety record,’ much expertise and employ about 600 people in Roane and neighboring counties at a time when the ‘economy is critical.'”


Nuclear Policy News

Radiation Expert Worried Over Renaissance in Nuclear Power | News | YLE Uutiset |
“A senior director at the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority(STUK) has expressed concern at current enthusiasm for nuclear power. Tero Varjoranta, Director for Nuclear Waste and Material Regulation at the Authority singles out, in particular, new nations joining the nuclear power fraternity.

Varjoranta will soon join the department at the International Atomic Energy Agency(IAEA) responsible for material regulation and nuclear waste.

About 50 nuclear power plants are under construction around the world with 100 more on the drawing board.

I don’t consider the renaissance in nuclear energy as a positive step. If it is used, then it must be utilized responsibly, he says. ”

Going to the heart of France’s nuclear power ambitions –
“As an intrepid producer for CNN, I have been in some strange situations. Possibly the strangest, however, was on a recent trip to France to produce a piece on nuclear energy for the latest episode of Earth’s Frontiers. We were about to be taken on a rare behind-the-scenes tour of Tricastin Nuclear Power Station’s nuclear reactor.

The core of a nuclear reactor comprises a central “fuel zone,” where fissile material, normally enriched uranium, is placed. This is how I found myself donning a radiation suit for the first — and probably only — time in my life. ”

No nuclear energy revival in the EU – Bellona
“A hearing on the risk of a nuclear renaissance in the EU was held at the European Parliament on April 7th. It discussed three projects for new units at existing nuclear power plants that are under planning or construction in Europe. While one project was withdrawn, one was caught in legal entanglements and a third was facing massive cost overruns and delays. Veronica Webster, 15/04-2010

The hearing was co-sponsored by German Member of the European Parliament Rebecca Harms from the Greens, and Finnish Member of the European Parliament Sirpa Pietikainen from the centre-right group EPP, in co-operation with green NGO Friends of the Earth Europe.

Three case studies were examined. The nuclear power plant units Mochovce 3
and 4 in Slovakia were permitted in the 1980s under the socialist regime and were partly built before the project was stopped after the economic changes of the early 1990s. The project has recently been revived, but it is still based on a reactor-design from the early 1970s, and offers, for instance, insufficient protection against plane crashes.”

Reuters AlertNet – Controversial Indian law on nuclear liability spells disaster – activists
“A controversial Indian law protecting companies from having to pay out major sums of compensation in the event of an accident at a nuclear power plant is pandering to foreign investors at the expense of the Indian people, say critics.

The Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill – which the government says is crucial for many foreign companies to tap into energy-starved India’s emerging nuclear power market – was slammed by critics last month, forcing the government to postpone its introduction in parliament.”

Interview with German Foreign Policy Expert: ‘A World with 25 Nuclear Powers Would Be Highly Dangerous’ – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International
“Nuclear knowledge, nuclear technology and the corresponding delivery systems are now more easily available internationally than ever before. This favors the nuclear ambitions of states that see their security at risk and that have ambitions to become regional powers. If they were to get nuclear weapons, this would then trigger a chain reaction among their neighbors, who would feel threatened by those arms. For example, a nuclear-armed Iran would raise for the Arab states the question of an “Arab bomb,” given that the main non-Arab actors in the region — Israel, Iran and the US — would all have nuclear weapons under this scenario. Large states like Egypt or Saudi Arabia might therefore want to join the club. ”

Walk for a Nuclear Free Future’ | Indian Country Today | Content
“The Central New York offices of Indian Country Today are typically rather quiet. But the sound of drums April 8 sparked the worker’s attention. A multicultural group of about 20 began a 700-mile Walk for a Nuclear Free Future March 7 in Salamanca, N.Y. to call attention to the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, which is scheduled for May 3.

According to an event announcement the treaty’s objective is “to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament.”

Alec Baldwin: The Human Costs of Nuclear Power
“In two previous posts, I wrote about the path I had gotten on, back in 1995, to shut down a research reactor at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island. The reactor, called a High Flux Beam Reactor, or HFBR, had its operations suspended and was eventually shut down, in 1999, after an investigation established that tritium had leaked from spent fuel pools and had contaminated ground water within and beyond the Brookhaven Lab site.

I met many people while working on the BNL issue, as well as other battles involving nuclear power. One of them was Randy Snell, a Long Island resident who raised his family near Brookhaven. Snell’s daughter developed a rare form of cancer, rhabdomyosarcoma, which was found in several other children living near BNL. The total number of cases was fifteen times the national average. Snell, and others who were struggling with “rhabdo” (and other soft tissue cancers) near reactors or enrichment facilities, told me that exposure to low-level radiation is a factor in the disease.”

RPT-UPDATE 1-France’s Areva signs nuclear deals with Italy | Markets | Reuters
* Areva signs deal to help build at least 4 EPR plants

* Signs co-operation agreement with Techint Group

French nuclear power group Areva signed a deal with Ansaldo Energia on Friday to work on an Enel-EDF project to build at least four EPR reactors to help revive Italy’s nuclear power industry.

The Italian government, which pulled out of nuclear energy after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, now aims to get 25 percent of its electricity from nuclear power.”


Nuclear Weapons News

MIDEAST: Israel Trapped in Nuclear Isolation – IPS
“As the world grapples with controlling the spread of nuclear weapons, it’s a time of complex choices in a Middle East edging between possible confrontation with Iran and possible movement towards Israeli-Palestinian peace.

It’s also a time of troubled relations between the United States and Israel. And yet at this critical moment, against expectations, there was a rare confluence of interests this week between the region’s closest allies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to skip the world nuclear conference convened by President Barack Obama in Washington. The U.S. leader may well have been quietly pleased by Netanyahu’s decision to stay away and to send a lower level delegation.

He had no wish to meet with Netanyahu while he’s kept waiting for an answer to his demand that Israel changes policy about making peace with the Palestinians. ”

US plans full European missile shield in 8 years | Reuters
“* Includes “proven” sea-based, land-based missile shields

* Bush-era plan would have covered only 75 pct of Europe

U.S. anti-ballistic missile systems will cover all of Europe by 2018, a senior Pentagon official said, laying out an ambitious target for defending against a perceived threat from Iran.

“One hundred percent,” Bradley Roberts, deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy, said in reply to a question at a hearing of a House of Representatives Armed Services subcommittee Thursday.”

kuar: : The New Republic: The Nuclear Fallout
“Call it the Obama doctrine. The central theme of Barack Obama?s foreign policy to date has been simple: He wants to lower the risk that a nuclear weapon will be exploded inside the United States. Think back. Obama?s first foreign policy address, delivered in Prague last April, called for a nuclear-free world?not a short-term practical goal, of course, but an ideal meant to shape our thinking and discourse. His top strategic priorities are stopping Iran from developing a nuclear bomb and stabilizing Afghanistan and Pakistan; Obama is investing billions of dollars and tens of thousands of U.S. troops in that region largely to ensure that Islamabad?s nuclear arsenal remains secure and out of the hands of jihadists. He convened a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council last fall to discuss the nuclear threat. He recently invested considerable prestige in the START treaty that mandates arms reductions with Russia. And he invited demagogic attacks from critics like Sarah Palin when he added new limitations to America?s nuclear-weapons doctrine.”

BBC News – Assessing Obama’s nuclear weapons agenda
“With the end of the nuclear security summit in Washington, it is time to do an audit of President Obama’s nuclear weapons agenda set out in Prague a year ago.”

Summit helps Israel skirt nuclear scrutiny, for now | Reuters
President Barack Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit was a high-yield event for Israel, with little of the diplomatic fallout that made the country’s leaders duck such forums in the past.

But it may be only a fleeting reprieve for the decades-old, U.S.-tolerated secrecy around Israel’s assumed atomic arsenal.

Obama’s drive to eliminate weapons of mass destruction and, more immediately, to defuse tinderbox Middle East standoffs will mean increased pressure on Israel to scrap its self-styled policy of nuclear “ambiguity” or “opacity,” some analysts say.

Europeans bring own nuclear security concerns to Washington summit | Deutsche Welle |
Deutsche Welle: What issues will the Europeans be most involved with in terms of nuclear security at the Washington summit?

Seaboyer: The Europeans will obviously be interested in any discussions on Iran even though it doesn’t feature on the agenda. They will also want to address the issue of dual-use goods – nuclear material with both civilian and military uses – and the freedom of movement of this material. The Europeans are much stricter than the Americans when it comes to this.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty is another area where the Europeans have a lot of interest and as this summit is a precursor to the NPT conference, most of the Europeans will want to talk about the decommissioning of weapons and how you can make signatories of the NPT who are not complying to reduce their arms.”

BBC News – Summit agrees to protect nuclear stocks ‘in four years’
“The leaders of almost 50 countries have pledged to secure all vulnerable nuclear material within four years.

US President Barack Obama said the joint action plan agreed at a summit in Washington would make a real contribution to a safer world.

The plan calls for every nation to safeguard nuclear stocks and keep material out of terrorists’ hands.

Earlier, Russia and the US signed an agreement to dispose of 68 tonnes of surplus weapons-grade plutonium. ”

AFP: Summit produces ‘manual’ for keeping fissile material safe
“Nations will leave the first nuclear security summit Tuesday with a step-by-step instruction manual on how to keep nuclear stockpiles and fissile materials out of the hands of extremists.

A work plan issued after the two-day summit in Washington listed steps nations should take to secure stocks of separated plutonium and weapons grade uranium and advises states on how to dispose of the dangerous materials.

“Participating states will consider, where appropriate, the consolidation of national sites where nuclear material is held,” the document, obtained by AFP said.”

The Associated Press: Obama: Agreement to secure nukes within 4 years
“President Barack Obama says all 49 leaders attending a nuclear security summit have endorsed his goal of securing nuclear materials around the world within four years.

Obama acknowledged Tuesday that the goal won’t be easy.

He says, however, that the group agreed that the threat of nuclear terrorism is among the largest challenges to global security. He says the urgency of the threat brought leaders together around his four-year goal.

Closing the session in Washington, Obama said leaders made several specific promises to change the way nuclear materials are handled.”

AFP: French president: will not give up nuclear weapons
“France will not give up its nuclear weapons, because doing so would “jeopardize” its security, President Nicolas Sarkozy has said as global leaders gathered for a summit on nuclear security.

“I cannot jeopardize the security and safety of my country,” Sarkozy told CBS News hours before US President Barack Obama opened the landmark summit of 47 nations in Washington.

The French leader said on Monday he could not abandon his nation’s nuclear weapons program “on a unilateral basis, in a world as dangerous as the one in which we live today.”

He also hinted that countries like the United States and Russia should take the lead in whittling down their own huge nuclear stockpiles, rather than expecting France, which has a much smaller number of atomic weapons, to disarm.”

The Associated Press: Report: Pakistan’s nuke materials at greatest risk
“Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani said Monday that his country’s nuclear weapons are well-guarded, rebutting misgivings by nuclear experts about the safety of the small but growing arsenal.

“Islamabad has taken effective steps for nuclear safety, security and nonproliferation through extensive legislative, regulatory and administrative framework,” said Gilani, who was in Washington for a historic 47-nation nuclear security summit.

A new report from a Harvard nonproliferation expert, released Monday, finds that Pakistan’s stockpile faces “immense” threats and is the world’s least secure from theft or attack.”

The Associated Press: Turkish PM does not want any country to have nukes
“Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Monday that his country does not want Iran or any other nation to have nuclear weapons.

Erdogan is among dozens of world leaders in Washington for President Barack Obama’s nuclear security summit. He spoke Monday at George Mason University’s new Center for Global Islamic Studies, just outside the U.S. capital.

Turkey currently holds one of the rotating seats on the U.N. Security Council, and the United States is hoping Turkey will cooperate with efforts to impose sanctions against Iran as punishment for its alleged work toward creating nuclear weapons.”

Could Russia emerge as a nuclear security leader at two-day US weapons summit? – Bellona
“A two-day, 47 nation nuclear security summit beginning Monday in Washington opens a door for Russia to promote itself as an international leader on the critical issue, but many non-proliferation experts have insisted Moscow must do more to guard its own enormous and disparate stocks of bomb-grade nuclear material and asserted the world’s second nuclear superpower does not have the resources to do it.

But even if more security is added and more materials made safe on paper, Bellona experts assert that Russia’s active pursuit of big nuclear business with all comers, and its unabated interest in continuing to do so, is the one of the world’s biggest threats to non-proliferation, and at cross purposes with the intentions of the US summit.”

AFP: World nuclear summit confronts ‘growing’ threat
“Ukraine renounced its bomb-grade uranium on Monday in a boost for President Barack Obama’s summit on securing the world’s nuclear materials, as a US official warned of the “growing” risk of nuclear terrorism.

Obama called the 47-nation summit in Washington, the biggest hosted by a US leader since 1945, to try to secure loose materials in military and civilian stockpiles worldwide within four years.

The gesture from ex-Soviet republic Ukraine, site of the horrific 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion, gave early impetus to the summit.”

Pentagon points to loopholes in nuclear road map
“The latest Defense Department nuclear road map, released this week, reflects President Obama’s repeated declaration that the United States will not build new nuclear warheads or conduct underground nuclear tests. But Pentagon officials have since made clear that the policy contains loopholes.

Using language hammered out to satisfy senior Defense Department officials who are looking ahead 30 years, the Nuclear Posture Review allows for new nuclear components to be deployed in older warheads if that is necessary to make them safer and more reliable and if the president and Congress approve, according to Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. ”

Nuclear review gets thumbs down – Duxbury, MA – Wicked Local Duxbury
“The reviews were not too good Tuesday night as Nuclear Advisory Committee members gave their feedback on the open house format instituted by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for review of the annual safety assessment of Pilgrim Station Nuclear Power Plant.

Rather than give a presentation reviewing the results of the assessment for 2009, the NRC held a question and answer session for the public during an open house held at Hilton Garden Inn.

Plymouth Nuclear Advisory Committee Chairman Jeff Berger and member Richard Rothstein were disappointed by the format. They agreed that one person’s question asked of the NRC team could give others a greater understanding of an issue they might not otherwise know to ask about.

All in all, Berger said he considered it to be a poor educational experience.

I don’t like the format because it puts people at a disadvantage, Berger said. It makes a difference when you hear questions asked of other people.

Rothstein added, “I prefer they go back to the previous format.”

Backgrounder: Major nuclear states’ stances on disarmament and non-proliferation
“U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev signed a landmark nuclear arms control deal on Thursday in the Czech capital of Prague.

The following are the world’s major nuclear states’ stances on disarmament and non-proliferation.”

Obama, Medvedev sign treaty to reduce nuclear weapons
“President Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a sweeping new arms reduction pact Thursday that pledges to reduce the stockpile of deployed, strategic nuclear weapons in both countries and commits the old Cold War adversaries to new procedures to verify which weapons each country possesses. ”

BBC News – Nuclear milestone on a long, long road

The Russian and American presidents have signed a long-awaited nuclear weapons pact in the Czech capital that will replace the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (Start).

The new treaty marks a milestone in the arms control process, as the BBC’s Diplomatic Correspondent Jonathan Marcus reports from Prague.” – European protests against US nuclear weapons
“Protests were held in several European countries over the weekend against the last American nuclear weapons remaining on the continent. The hundreds of protesters who turned out were a far cry from the massive demonstrations of the 1980s.
By Marjolein van de Water in Uden

* Archive – Labour party wants US nuclear weapons removed from Dutch soil
* Opinion – ‘We must play an active role to establish a nuclear weapon free world’

Will I get fined if I pee against a tree? a young man with dreadlocks asked a police officer. The officer, pointed him in the direction of a couple of portable toilets 50 metres away. The boy trudged over to answer to nature’s call. ”

Obama to take middle course in new nuclear policy –
“A year after his groundbreaking pledge to move toward a “world without nuclear weapons,” President Obama on Tuesday will unveil a policy that constrains the weapons’ role but appears more cautious than what many supporters had hoped, with the president opting for a middle course in many key areas.

Under the new policy, the administration will foreswear the use of the deadly weapons against nonnuclear countries, officials said, in contrast to previous administrations, which indicated they might use nuclear arms against nonnuclear states in retaliation for a biological or chemical attack.”

NPR Will Test President Obama On Transforming Nuclear Policy | Union of Concerned Scientists
“The Obama administration is expected tomorrow to release its Nuclear Posture Review, which has been in preparation for a year. The review will set the direction of U.S. nuclear weapons policy for the next five to 10 years, laying out the purpose of U.S. nuclear weapons, the number of nuclear weapons needed to fulfill that purpose, and plans for how to maintain them in the future.

The review was developed through an interagency process headed by the Department of Defense (DOD) and approved by President Obama. Nonetheless, it will only serve as a guide. Actual policy will be set by presidential orders and directives, congressional budget decisions, and other steps over the coming months.”

A Layman’s Guide to Obama’s Nuclear Posture Review – Political Hotsheet – CBS News
“Don’t worry. You don’t have to read all 72 pages of the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) to understand some of the finer points of Armagaddeon-gery.

Here’s a guide to some of the key debates — and key questions — about President Obama, nuclear weapons, and terrorism. In other words, a layman’s guide to understanding what the wonks are talking about?”


Department of Energy News

Plutonium level in waste to triple | The Augusta Chronicle
“The amount of plutonium in high-level waste converted to glass at Savannah River Site will nearly triple this year as a consequence of the U.S. Energy Department’s decision to abandon its Yucca Mountain waste repository.

The SRS-based Defense Waste Processing Facility uses a process called vitrification to convert liquid radioactive wastes into a solid glass form suitable for long-term storage and permanent disposal.

Plutonium is among many dangerous materials in the 36 million gallons of waste left behind at SRS by decades of nuclear weapons production.

In 2008, as the department prepared its application to license the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada — where vitrified waste was to be buried — SRS lowered plutonium levels in vitrified waste from 2,500 grams per cubic meter to 897 grams per cubic meter.”

Energy auditors suggest keeping uranium at SRS | The Augusta Chronicle
“A plan to temporarily store two trainloads of Savannah River Site’s depleted uranium in Texas after it was rejected by Utah’s governor might be unnecessary and could waste taxpayers’ money, according to the U.S. Energy Department’s Inspector General.

“The only apparent driver in this case was a Recovery Act-related goal established by the Department to accelerate the general disposition of the SRS material,” said the report, released Tuesday as a “management alert” based on information received from a “reliable and credible” department source.”

Munger: 5,600 tons of nickel finds a new home » Knoxville News Sentinel
“An estimated 5,600 tons of nickel is being relocated to prepare for the upcoming demolition of the K-33 building in Oak Ridge.

LATA-Sharp of Westerville, Ohio, recently won a $51 million contract to demolish 1.4 million-square-foot building at the East Tennessee Technology Park.

The large inventory of radioactive nickel is a Cold War legacy of the uranium-enrichment operations. It was extracted from equipment by BNFL Inc., which decommissioned three of the process buildings – including K-33 – as part of a late-1990s contract with the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge office.

Under the original terms of the contract, BNFL was to take ownership of the nickel and other potentially valuable metals as partial payment for the cleanup work. The company planned to recycle the metals to remove the radioactive constituents and then resell the metal on the commercial market.”

POGO says U.S. should cancel UPF|
“In the run-up to the Nuclear Security Summit, the Project On Government Oversight said cancellation of the Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 should be among the U.S. commitments. Here’s what POGO said on UPF:

“The U.S. should cancel the construction of the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) at Y-12 National Security Complex, which creates a long-term mission for large stocks of HEU to be available for the production of up to 200 new secondaries per year. The highly-respected JASON group’s recent study found that the nation’s nuclear warheads, including the HEU secondaries, can continue to be extended safely and certifiably for decades. Without the UPF, the U.S. still has the capacity to manufacture new secondaries. The $3.5 billion estimated cost of UPF can be reallocated towards the downblending budget.””

Separation of benefits at ORNL/Y-12 |
“Here’s the staff memo today from ORNL Director Thom Mason, explaining the separation of benefits between ORNL and Y-12. It is followed by a Q&A on the separation, which includes the split up of the pension fund. The change is supposed to take place sometime later this summer, according to the lab.

Y-12 has not responded to multiple requests for info.


GAO Report Takes Some Wind Out of NIF Hype – The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) Blog
“In the last few months, the PR team for the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Lab has certainly earned its keep. Even though the project is not complete, 400 percent over budget, at least 10 years behind schedule, and hiding its costs within other Lab program budgets, it has gotten a lot of buzz in the media.

However, today, the GAO released a report stating that it is too soon to say that the project is a success, and that the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Lab have conducted weak oversight of the project. From the report:”

Courthouse News Service: DOE Appeals Yucca Mountain Decision
“The Department of Energy on Thursday served notice that it will appeal a decision that could delay plans to officiallly kill the Yucca Mountain project, a proposed nuclear waste facility just outside Las Vegas that was axed by President Obama shortly after taking office.
The department challenges an order by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission earlier this week that a federal appeals court rule on legal issues involving the shut-down, including whether the department had the authority to pull the plug on the controversial project.”


Other Energy News

Public Citizen: By Meeting Renewable Energy Goal 15 Years Ahead of Schedule, Texas Shows Policies Work
“We are thrilled – but not surprised – that because of a growth spurt in the development of wind energy, Texas has met its renewable energy goal 15 years ahead of schedule. Each time Texas has set a renewable energy goal, the state has achieved it far in advance of the deadline set by the Texas Legislature. That’s because Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) policies are incredibly effective at stimulating new technologies and economic growth.

RPS policies are also remarkably successful at reducing air pollution and global warming gases. This program has resulted in 9 million fewer tons of carbon dioxide and reduces emissions of nitrous oxide by more than 15,000 tons a year, and as such should be heralded as one of the state’s most effective environmental programs. The success of this initiative goes to show the positive outcomes that can be reached when environmentalists and business communities work together.”

Russian closed city Zelenogorsk opens to nuclear opportunity – Telegraph
“Zelenogorsk, a remote centre of nuclear technology, is a closed city with big ambitions. A French multinational has arrived with new technology and an eye toward renewable energy

A Soviet-era nuclear plant in a closed city in Siberia is making a bid to become a player in the future of sustainable energy.

Since 1995, Zelenogorsk, a former closed city, has processed fuel for the nuclear reactors that supply many Americans with their electricity. Now it hopes that embracing a French company with new technology could lead to a more significant role. ”

Public supports energy over environment: poll | Reuters
“For the first time in 10 years Americans are more likely to say the United States should give more priority to developing oil, natural gas and coal than to protecting the environment, according to a poll on Tuesday.

U.S. | Green Business

The poll was conducted a few weeks before President Barack Obama announced he would open offshore oil drilling in some parts the U.S. East Coast, Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico.

Half of 1,014 U.S. adults, who were surveyed March 4-7 by Gallup, said the country should give more priority to developing and producing the fossil fuels. Only 43 percent said protection of the environment should be given priority, even at the risk of limiting the amount of energy supplies.”


Nuclear Editorial and Opinions

The true cost of nuclear power: Rutland Herald Online
“I am responding to the letter that stated that nuclear power was “cheap, green and safe;” that “the only accident was at Three Mile Island,” the radiation from which was “contained;” that the “solution” to the problem of nuclear waste was to “neutralize and ‘recycle'” it (the word is reprocess), a process that has been “perfected by France.”

Cheap: The decommissioning fund, which in Vermont is now close to or over a billion dollars, is almost sure to be foisted off, by means of corporate monkey business, on the taxpayers. There are those of us who would gladly pay more for power if without nuclear reactors, for to us, human life is not cheap.

Green: Each ton of uranium mined produces 27 tons of greenhouse gases. The enrichment process, which provides the military with “depleted” uranium free, uses low grade coal.

Safe: An “accident” at Vermont Yankee would make most of New England uninhabitable for about 250,000 years.”

Sara Barczak: Consumers will pay if nuke power rules eased
“Wisconsin’s Clean Energy Jobs Act could be a job killer — but not from energy efficiency or renewable energy, as some are claiming, against all evidence. The nuclear portion of the bill is far more likely to raise electric rates by opening the door to building expensive new nuclear reactors and allowing for prepayment schemes to fund them.

I was born and raised in Wisconsin but have spent the past decade in Savannah, Ga., working with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. I’ve seen firsthand how the push for risky new nuclear reactors has impacted Southeastern states. It’s not an experience that Wisconsinites would want to replicate.

In recent years Georgia, Florida and South Carolina have all passed legislation to encourage building new nuclear reactors. What’s happened next — particularly in Florida and South Carolina — is that ratepayers already dealing with tough economic times have seen their electricity bills increase.”

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