Thursday, January 17, 2008

Nuclear Energy cannot replace oil, gas, say environmentalists

January 14, 2008

The British government's decision to build a new generation of nuclear plants will do little to replace the country's dependence on oil and gas, according to environmentalist group, Greenpeace.

"Nuclear power is an almost irrelevant response to our fuel dependency," said Greenpeace executive director John Sauven, pointing out that plants only supply electricity.

"Most of the gas we use is for heating and hot water, or for industrial purposes," Sauven said. "Almost all oil is used for transport - nuclear power can't take its place either," he said.

In a letter to the Guardian newspaper Monday, he said that as much as 86 per cent of Britain's oil and gas consumption is for purposes other than producing electricity.

The warning comes after the British government gave the go ahead for the building of up to 10 new nuclear plants, arguing that they were "intended to provide Britain with energy security by reducing dependence on imported gas and oil."
But Greenpeace, which is opposed to the plans on grounds of safety and the massive costs, warned that "nuclear power, which only supplies electricity, cannot replace that energy."
The environmentalist group said it was working instead for energy efficiency, cleaner and more efficient use of fossil fuels, renewables and decentralized energy.

"Together they can deliver reliable low-carbon energy quicker and cheaper. They are also safer and globally applicable, unlike nuclear," Sauven said.

The Green Party, which is also against the nuclear option, is arguing that the government's own figures show that there is the potential to save more than 30 per cent of all energy used in the UK solely through energy-efficiency measures.

"About two-thirds of the energy used in electricity generation from large, centralized power stations is wasted before it ever reaches our homes, and by itself accounts for a full 20 per cent of UK CO2 emissions," said the party's principal speaker Caroline Lucas.

Lucas, who is a member of the European parliament also told the Guardian that that "combined heat-and-power stations, which capture and use-waste heat, must have a crucial role to play, alongside investment in renewables."

France planned to give Saddam nukes

January 14, 2008§ionid=351020101

An Iranian commander has revealed that France had plans to equip Saddam Hussein with nuclear weapons during the Iraq-imposed war on Iran.

According to General Mir-Feisal Baqerzadeh, the now retired French general and former intelligence official, Philippe Rondot, had made the offer to the Iraqi Baathist regime during a visit to the country as an advisor to the French prime minister .

Baqerzadeh made the remark citing a document registered at the defense ministry of the former Iraqi Baathist regime dated April 20, 1987.

The document was prepared by the Iraqi General Adnan Khairallah reporting to Saddam about his meeting with the visiting Rondot, said the Iranian general.

During the meeting, Rondot expressed his delight with the measures taken by Saddam's regime against the Iranian forces.

In the meeting, Rondot also informed Khairallah about the meeting held earlier at the French military headquarters on ways to tackle potential moves by the Iranian forces and suggested the idea of using high-flexibility boats against them.

For his part, Khairallah briefed Rodot on the vast amount of satellite-based information on the Iranian military formations made available to the Iraqi side by the US.

Based on the document, the former French general emphasized the advisability of occupying Iranian cities, with particular reference to the southwestern city of Abadan.

Baqerzadeh says that Rondot also spoke of his 'effective' role in persuading the French authorities to provide Iraq with Mirage aircraft and Ronald missiles.

According to the document, the French had been looking at the possibility of giving Iraq 'a very small type' of nuclear weapon. It is underlined in the document that the matter must be kept confidential.

Rondot is reported in the document as having told Khairallah that possessing such a weapon, despite its being small, would be necessary and effective in helping Iraq impose its conditions on Iran.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Navajo Uranium Miners Fight for Compensation

This is to bring out in the open what has been happening on the Indian reservations for the last 60 years or more.

Navajo Uranium Miners Fight For Compensation

The following article is based on an interview conducted in the Navajo Nation in Shiprock with the director of the Office of Navajo Uranium Workers Timothy Benally Sr. - December 29, 1993. Interview by Nic Paget-Clarke.

To read personal stories by miners and their families go to: Memories Come To Us In the Rain and the Wind, Oral Histories and Photographs of Navajo Uranium Miners & Their Families

On the reservation back in the '40s and the '50s, jobs were pretty scarce. In 1958, I had just returned from the Armed Services. I couldn't find a job and I had the chance to get into the mines. The first time, after about 3 months, I complained about the safety of the mines. The boss didn't like it so he said at the end of the work week, "Don't come back Monday." So I didn't.

Then the mine ownership changed. Kerr-McGee took over, and I applied for a job and got work again. Again I complained, this time about the wages. I said the federal law requires that the workers be paid $1.25/hr. and these people are getting anywhere from 80 to 90 cents/hr. for their labor. Again I got fired.

Mining the Navajo Nation

Mining here started as early as 1918 around the Carrizo Mountain area, which is just about 30 miles west of Shiprock. They first mined vanadium and then they discovered uranium, more by accident.

At that time, uranium was not the ore that was mined. They did'nt know what it was so they just kept a lot of the stuff around in those mines. One of my constituents says that they had uranium in gunny sacks stacked in the trading post at Beclahito. It had been there for a number of years before they found out what it was.

Right after World War II, when the government found out what uranium can do, they decided to mine some of those areas and a lot of it was found on the reservation. People just went crazy looking for uranium, prospecting all over the reservation.

The Vanadium Corporation of America and Kerr-McGee were the principal owners of these mines and they have taken advantage of the Navajo workers. Not only with paying low wages, but by not informing the workers about the hazardous effects that uranium has on their lives.

Here they probably thought we were expendable so they just said go ahead and put them to work and not worry about them, their health or the effects of the radiation. We were just used in that manner. And not only us, in Utah one of the former miners said he lost one side of his lung. The radiation is working on the other side now. He said he felt that the miners were used as guinea pigs, and that's what I think actually happened.

Uranium Radiation Victims Committee

They never bothered telling anybody about it, and people just worked there. By early 1960, people who worked there the longest began to get sick. Eventually many of them died, and the people, the family members, the widows and the children got real concerned.

People talked about it and finally they organized themselves into a union. They started having regular meetings and after some time they consulted with some legal services and worked with them. In that process they got involved with more and more people. The group, the Uranium Radiation Victims Committee, provided education to people of how uranium was hazardous, but often people wouldn't listen to them because of the work situation -- there was no other employment.

The end result has been this group pursued compensation for their loss. "We went to the Arizona State Court then to the Supreme Court level, and lost all the way. We started again in the federal court and lost again all the way to the Supreme Court. At that time we turned to Congress and Congress heard our complaint and thought it was legitimate," they said. In 1978 they floated a bill in the Senate. Pete Domenici from New Mexico sponsored the bill and it was defeated. Pete Domenici said we had to go after it again. We made it a partisan bill and we incorporated other states - Colorado, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming and New Mexico. The representatives from some of these states made some compromises on their original bill and we introduced a bill for radiation compensation that was passed in 1990.

Navajo Uranium Workers

The Navajo Tribal Council had been aware of all these goings on, so in April 1990 they established this Office of Navajo Uranium Workers. They wanted the statistics on the number of miners that we've had. So that's our job, to register Navajo uranium workers. Also we provide comprehensive medical care for living miners and keep the Navajo public informed about the development of the program.

We have today registered 2,450 eligible Navajo uranium workers. Eligible meaning that they worked between January 1, 1947 and December 31, 1971. Also we had 412 deceased miners from way back, those that began the mining process. Every month one or two more die.

There are other tribes that had some mines during this period who are also eligible for the compensation.

The Navajo Nation president has put a moratorium on the uranium mining.


These mine operators, these mill operators, they were not held responsible because they said we just did the mining for the government, and the government is the one that's responsible for it. But the Navajo people that live on the reservation, complained about the damages that were done by the mining.

As well as the harm to the miners, the Navajo people say the operators went up into the mountains and pushed a lot of the dirt that contained some radiation or uranium off the side of the mountains and they were just scattered down below. When it rains and when it thaws in the springtime, a lot of the water washes into the riverbed and flows down into the stream and eventually comes out on the farms and does other damage. It's like a chain reaction. The food you raise may have some radiation, and you eat it. They feel that a lot of this is taking place right now because of the way they handled the initial mining.

Human Radiation Experiments

Currently, Office of Navajo Uranium Workers staff has been working on an amendment of the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) legislation so it will be easier for miners to qualify. We testified before the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments, and the committee will make a recommendation to the president to liberalize RECA legislation.

Several conferences have been held on Navajo Nation with the miners, relatives, and others in this change request in RECA. It looks very good.

Also read:

* Memories Come To Us In the Rain and the Wind,
Oral Histories and Photographs of Navajo Uranium Miners & Their Families (Extracts)
Navajo Nation
Arizona and New Mexico

* Leetso: the Powerful Yellow Monster
A Navajo Cultural Interpretation of Uranium Mining
by Esther Yazzie and Jim Zion
Albuquerque, New Mexico

* Interview with Wahleah Johns and Lilian Hill
of Black Mesa Water Coalition
“We don’t have to be the battery for America” / Sustainable Development: It’s Old But It’s New
Kykotsmovi, Hopi Nation

* Interview with Tom Goldtooth
of the Indigenous Environmental Network
“First and foremost is our right to exist and to make our own decisions ...”
Johannesburg, South Africa

U.S. Nuclear Waste Repository Foes Speak Out

January 11, 2008

TAKOMA PARK, Maryland, January 11, 2008 (ENS) - A dozen national organizations, joined by 68 state and local grassroots groups from across the country, filed comments with the U.S. Department of Energy Thursday in opposition to the high-level radioactive waste repository planned for Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

The groups also oppose shipping thousands of tons of nuclear waste through 45 states to Yucca Mountain located 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

This marks the latest effort by Yucca Mountain opponents, some of whom have been active against the planned facility for nearly three decades.

Yucca Mountain is located in a desert on federal land adjacent to the Nevada Nuclear Test Site in Nye County, Nevada. It is about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nevada, the fastest growing metropolitan area in the United States.

DOE began studying Yucca Mountain in 1978 to determine whether it would be suitable for the nation's first long-term geologic repository for over 72,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste now stored at 126 sites around the nation.

In October 2007, the DOE announced it was seeking to double the size of the Yucca Mountain repository to a capacity of 135,000 metric tons.

The Department of Energy, DOE, has pledged to file its long-delayed construction and operating license application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission by June 30.

"The Bush administration’s rash rush to begin the Yucca licensing proceeding is a blatant attempt to make the dump a done deal before the next, potentially anti-dump, president enters the White House," said Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear, a national watchdog on nuclear power and radioactive waste issues.

"Shipping tens of thousands of high-level radioactive waste trucks, trains, and barges through 45 states and the District of Columbia risks severe accidents and terrorist attacks," said Kamps.

"This could release catastrophic amounts of deadly radioactivity in major population centers, representing potential Mobile Chernobyls and dirty bombs on wheels rolling past the homes of millions of Americans," Kamps warned.

The coalition urged DOE to thoroughly analyze the negative impact on property values along all road, rail, and waterway routes across the continental United States that would be used to ship wastes to Yucca.

Its submission states, "Courts, juries, and socio-economic studies have found that property values decrease significantly near declared radioactive waste transport routes. DOE must identify in detail all routes it plans to use for shipping wastes to Yucca…and should hold hearings in every state thus impacted."

Besides transport risks, the coalition exposed geological and environmental justice "show stoppers" at the Yucca Mountain Project.

The national groups filing comments include - Beyond Nuclear, Clean Water Action, Environment America, Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space, Greenpeace, Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, Peace Action, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Public Citizen, SUN DAY Campaign, and Women’s Action for New Directions.

The 68 regional and local groups hail from 27 states.

The groups object that Yucca Mountain is located above an earthquake fault line and that rainwater moves through the site even though it is located in an arid part of the country.

"DOE has known for over a decade that rainwater percolates relatively quickly through the proposed burial site, risking fast corrosion of the waste burial containers and release of catastrophic amounts of deadly radioactivity into the drinking and agricultural irrigation water supply below," said Kamps.

The coalition says the location of the facility is within the treaty lands of the Western Shoshone Indian Nation, as affirmed by the "Peace and Friendship" Treaty of Ruby Valley, signed by the U.S. government in 1863.

The groups say Yucca Mountain "violates environmental justice principles," an allegation supported by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

In 2002, the Yucca Mountain site was approved by the Congress and President George W. Bush as the location for the nation's first permanent spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste geologic repository.

In 2006 the DOE agreed upon March 31, 2017 as the date to open the facility and begin accepting waste.

But in the 2006 mid-term elections, the Senate majority was won by the Democratic Party and Nevada Senator Harry Reid, a long time Yucca Mountain opponent, became Senate majority leader. Reid has said that he will continue to work to block completion of the project, which is opposed by the entire Nevada congressional delegation, and most Nevada state politicians.

Reid has said, "Yucca Mountain is dead. It'll never happen."

In the 2008 Omnibus Spending Bill, the Yucca Mountain Project's budget was reduced to $390 million.

Lacking a repository, however, the federal government will owe to the utilities that operate nuclear power plants somewhere between $300 and $500 million per year in compensation for failing to comply with the contract it signed to take the spent nuclear fuel by 1998. This cost is paid by U.S. taxpayers.

The DOE is moving ahead with preparations to license Yucca Mountain. On December 13, 2007 Ward Sproat, director of the DOE Director of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, released two independent assessments of the Yucca Mountain repository program. Sproat says both reports concluded that the program's current quality assurance and engineering processes and procedures "are consistent with standard nuclear industry practices."

A Look at Nuclear Power Across Europe

January 12, 2008

Britain on Thursday approved the construction of a new generation of nuclear power plants. European governments have taken widely differing stances on the divisive issue. Several countries — including Denmark, Norway and Portugal — have no nuclear power. A look at atomic energy in several European countries:

_FRANCE: A world leader in nuclear power: 59 reactors provide more than 70 percent of the country's electricity. President Nicolas Sarkozy has campaigned for more countries to adopt nuclear power to combat global warming.

_GERMANY: Chancellor Angela Merkel has agreed to abide by a previous government's decision to close all the country's 17 nuclear reactors by 2021.

_THE NETHERLANDS: One nuclear plant still in operation. Was to have been shut down in 2013, but in 2006 the government won a fight to extend its life to 2033.

_ITALY: Banned nuclear power after a 1987 referendum; the government opposes its reintroduction.

_SPAIN: Has six nuclear power plants, but there is a 23-year-old moratorium on building new ones.

_SWEDEN: Decided in 1997 to phase out nuclear power, which accounts for about half of electricity production. But so far only two of the country's 12 reactors have been closed and the country is struggling to find alternatives.

_FINLAND: Four nuclear reactors provide about a quarter of the country's electricity; currently constructing a fifth.

New uranium mine gets go ahead

January 11, 2008

The South Australian Government has given final approval for construction of the Honeymoon uranium mine, near the state's eastern border.

Some conditions remain to be met by the company Uranium One, but production is expected to begin at Honeymoon, 400 kilometres north-east of Adelaide, before the end of the year.

The mine is expected to produce up to 400 tonnes of uranium oxide annually, generate about $40 million a year in exports and create about 60 jobs.

The company forecasts the mine, north-west of Broken Hill (which is across the border in New South Wales), will have a life of up to seven years.

Acid solution will extract uranium ore

SA's acting Minister for Mineral Resources Michael Atkinson says a comprehensive rehabilitation plan has been developed for the site.

He says it will be mined using an acid-solution method.

"It's been agreed that solution mining for uranium at Honeymoon is the most benign, environmentally-friendly method of mining uranium.

"There'll be no tailing or waste rock created."

David Noonan from the Australian Conservation Council believes ground water will be sacrificed so the uranium can be mined.

"They're essentially deliberately polluting ground water," he said.

"They're causing a pollution plume in ground water by the discharge of all of the mine waste there simply to suit the company's profits and to minimise costs in waste management to, in this case, an overseas uranium mining venture."

Honeymoon will be Australia's fourth uranium mine.

South Australia also has mines at Olympic Dam and Beverley and there is the Ranger mine in the Northern Territory.

IAEA to re-inspect quake-hit Japan nuclear plant

January 11, 2008

VIENNA, Jan 11 (Reuters) - International Atomic Energy Agency experts will revisit an earthquake-hit Japanese nuclear plant, the world's largest, to check safety standards as part of efforts to restart the complex, the IAEA said on Friday.

The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant leaked low amounts of radiation -- below the maximum permitted under safety rules -- when a 6.8 magnitude quake struck on July 16, exceeding the worst seismic impact the plant had been designed to withstand.

IAEA experts visited the plant in August and would now return on Jan. 28 and stay through Feb. 1 at the invitation of Japan's nuclear watchdog NISA, the Vienna-based agency said.

"The 12 members of the follow-up mission will hold discussions with Japanese experts and conduct an examination at the site in relation to the seismic safety of its seven units," it said in a statement.

The plant's owners, the Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) (9501.T: Quote, Profile, Research), and NISA will also brief the IAEA experts on results of studies and investigations undertaken since the earthquake.

U.N. inspectors said in August it might take more than a year to restart power production at the plant since in-depth examinations of the reactor vessel and the fuel elements still had to be done. (Reporting by Karin Strohecker; editing by Mark Heinrich)

IAEA seeks to soothe Pakistan ire over ElBaradei comments

January 11, 2008

VIENNA (AFP) — The UN atomic watchdog has attempted to smooth over a spat with Pakistan over recent comments made by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei on the issue of nuclear safety.

A spokeswoman for the International Atomic Energy Agency insisted Thursday that ElBaradei's comments were intended to "call attention to the need to bolster nuclear safety and security measures, not only in Pakistan, but also everywhere in the world where nuclear materials or facilities exist."

ElBaradei and the IAEA "follow closely all situations that could have a potential impact on nuclear safety and security anywhere," said the agency's spokeswoman Melissa Fleming.

"This remains the core of the agency's mission."

ElBaradei had wanted to underline the need to boost nuclear safety worldwide amid "concern about the possible ramifications of political violence and extremism in the Middle East region and nuclear security in Pakistan," she said.

The statement came after Islamabad angrily dismissed what it percieved to be ElBaradei's criticism of Pakistan's atomic weapons safety.

Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Mohammad Sadiq had told a weekly press briefing on Wednesday that ElBaradei should "be careful about his statements and ought to remain within his mandate".

"Pakistan is a responsible nuclear weapons state," Sadiq insisted.

"Our nuclear weapons are as secure as any other nuclear weapons state. We therefore believe statements expressing concern about their safety and security are unwarranted and irresponsible."

The day before, ElBaradei had been quoted in the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat as saying he feared "chaos... or an extremist regime could take root in that country, which has 30 to 40 warheads", and was "worried that nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of an extremist group in Pakistan or in Afghanistan".

There has been worldwide concern over the security of Pakistan's atomic arsenal since President Pervez Musharraf imposed a state of emergency in November, which was subsequently lifted.

Fears for the stability of the Islamic republic have grown since the December 27 assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

Sadiq said ElBaradei ignored the fact that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal was subject to multi-layered safeguards and controls.

"Our civilian nuclear programme is under IAEA safeguards and we have always fully complied with IAEA obligations," he said.

India must meet conditions before trade restrictions are lifted

January 11, 2008

India should be required to meet certain conditions before restrictions on
nuclear trade with New Delhi are lifted, more than 100 individuals and
organizations said in a letter to members of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers
Group and the 35-member IAEA Board of Governors. The signers of the January 7
letter, which was released January 9, urged the governments to reject any
proposals for so-called India-specific safeguards that depart from the IAEA's
standard safeguards arrangements -- for example, by making New Delhi's
safeguards commitments contingent on assured fuel supplies for Indian
reactors. The letter also said that if the governments agree to lift the
current ban on major nuclear exports to India, they should at least "clarify
that nuclear trade by NSG member states shall immediately cease if India
resumes nuclear testing for any reason."

Before countries can sell nuclear goods to India, the IAEA board has to
approve an India-IAEA safeguards agreement and the NSG has to approve an
exception to its current guidelines. Those guidelines generally prohibit
nuclear trade with countries, such as India, that do not accept IAEA
safeguards on all their nuclear facilities. A sample letter is on the web site
of the Arms Control Association,

Greenpeace sees case for legal challenge

January 11, 2008,Authorised=false.html?

Greenpeace, the environmental campaign group, is considering a fresh legal challenge to the government’s strategy of building nuclear power plants.

Ben Ayliffe, the group’s senior nuclear campaigner, said it was reviewing the evidence carefully and felt it could make a “very good case” that the latest consultation was a “sham” to disguise settled policy.

The government’s first attempt to replace Britain’s ageing nuclear capacity was torpedoed almost a year ago by the High Court.

Mr Ayliffe said Greenpeace lawyers were going through the nuclear energy white paper and other evidence before making a decision.

A focus of the analysis would be any statements by ministers – including Gordon Brown and his predecessor, Tony Blair – suggesting that the thrust of policy had been decided before the consultation took place, Mr Ayliffe said.

He pointed to Mr Blair’s decision on the day of the High Court judgment to rule out any change in nuclear strategy.

“It’s prejudging. Whoever has done this is in danger of landing the government in legal hot water.”

Greenpeace will also examine whether new proposals on nuclear waste disposal would involve the provision of potentially illegal subsidies to companies.

Some ministers have become more guarded in their statements about nuclear policy, suggesting that government legal advisers are keenly aware of the dangers.

Leading public law specialists agreed that ministers’ statements could be important. Paul Dacam, a partner at Lovells, the law firm, said last year’s High Court judgment had shown that simply going through the motions of consultation was not enough.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Uranium blues

January 11, 2008

Building nuclear power stations will have an impact that reaches far beyond our borders - to the places where the fuel for them is mined

The politicians' eyes will not be on those who suffer - and the conflicts caused - by their decision to give the green light to new nuclear power stations.

Now the government has announced its decision on nuclear power, perhaps we can begin to get a more widespread discussion of the issues, some of which have been below the radar for most of the public in the last two decades.

Let's hear, for instance, about where the uranium comes from. Renewable energy is free and delivered to the generator with no cost or impact. But nuclear fuel, alas, is not. Would consumers really want nuclear power if the reality of the uranium mines was brought home to them? Would the cabinet, in fact, like to work in one?

All over the world, greedy companies like the French Areva and the Australian Paladin are striking deals to plunder uranium with a haste not seen since the 1950s, and similar disregard for consequences. This is creating conflict between locals and governments, who are rushing to do deals with scant regard for the wellbeing of the people affected in the mines' locality.

One of the world's top producers of uranium is Niger. Last year, it mined 3,500 tonnes and issued nearly 100 exploration licenses. This year it plans to double production, opening two new mines. China is hovering around like a jackal, but its presence has made it a target for rebels who briefly kidnapped a Chinese mining executive in July. These rebels are the Tuareg nomads who roam in northern Niger's arid landscape, banded under the Nigerien Movement for Justice (known by its French acronym MNJ).

Their leader is Seydou Kaocen Maiga, and he accuses the Niger government of being a government of criminals. "The government extracts all the uranium without asking permission of the nomadic people and without giving anything to them," he claims. The MNJ has attacked an Areva facility. "For 40 years, Areva has extracted uranium while giving nothing to the people of the north," says Maiga.

The conflict is helping create a "belt of insecurity" that stretches across the Sahel, a remote, poorly governed swath of Africa awash with arms, says Olly Owen, a risk analyst at Economic Associates in Lagos, Nigeria. "There has been a kind of domino effect, with insecurity erupting in one country after another. And in Niger there are a lot of strategic interests involved and they are increasing that insecurity."

In Malawi, finance minister Goodall Gondwe said on January 9 that huge amounts are expected to flow into his coffers over the next decade from uranium mining, which starts next year. "The IMF and our treasury officials say, at current prices, uranium could generate output for a decade worth about $1.6 billion," he said.

But civil society groups in Malawi have asked Paladin to halt mining operations at Kayerekera in Karonga district until legal challenges initiated by the non-governmental organisations on the mining are concluded. Paladin claims that a settlement has been reached but unhappy NGO coalition members have indicated they will "continue with legal action to protect the Malawian people's constitutional rights, unless and until the company is willing to enter negotiations to change its proposal in a way that addresses the flaws, gaps and problems in the project that pose serious public health and environmental risks".

In India, The ministry of environment and forests has allowed Uranium Corporation of India to mine uranium in Meghalaya. But the local Grassroots Democracy Advisory Council appealed to the government not to allow it "at any cost" for the sake of future generations while calling all the national and state political parties to "specify in clear terms their stand on this serious matter". On October 30 last year, members of a special operations team of Meghalaya police killed five militants of the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council, claiming that they had planned an attempt on the life of Khasi Hills autonomous district council chief executive member H S Shylla for being in favour of uranium mining in Meghalaya.

In the Czech Republic, on December 30 2007, several hundred people held a demonstration at Osecná against the securing of the Osecná-Kotel uranium deposit for future mining. The state-owned company Diamo is attempting to secure the deposit for future opencast mining. The surrounding communities are opposed to this, instead being in the process of making the area into a recreational resource. They are still dealing with the legacy of the large-scale uranium mining carried out during the cold war era.

And in Namibia, Areva has no scruples about taking advantage of Namibia's very special regulatory regime: people have just two weeks to respond to planning applications such as the draft environmental and social impact assessment report for Trekkopje uranium Project.

This mine is to work the Klein Trekkopje deposit which is approximately 15 kilometres long and up to three kilometres wide and is located in the Namib desert 35 kilometres north of the long-standing Rössing mine. The deposit is very shallow - at a maximum depth of 30 metres - and covered with a layer of topsoil just one or two metres thick. It grade is less than half of that at the Rössing mine - which makes it much more energy-intensive (and therefore carbon-intensive) to process.

The rate of extraction proposed is astonishing: ore is to be mined from an open pit at 100,000 tonnes per day. The ore is crushed and then stacked on a heap leach pad with a capacity of 30m tonnes, 2.2 square kilometres in area, where it is leached with a sodium carbonate/bicarbonate solution. This leachate will be able to spread into the environment. After leaching, the spent ore is placed on unprotected waste dumps and/or back in the pits, and fresh ore is placed on the heap leach pad. The mine will require 20m cubic meters of water per year which is to be supplied by a desalination plant to be built at the coast at Wlotzkasbaken. The pipeline that will connect the mine to this plant will traverse and threaten unique lichen fields only found in this area, according to Professor Norbert Juergens, head of the BIOTA-Africa project.

Canadian mining company UraMin will sell 35% of the mine's output to China. Who cares about the environmental impact of this? Few people who have the power to do anything about it, as it is far from the prying eyes of consumers, tourists or campaigners.

There are many more examples of this type of frenzied activity - in South Africa, Zambia, Somalia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Russia, North and South Korea and so on. If you're interested, the World Information Service on Energy keeps tabs on it all. It's clear that Brown's cabinet sees nuclear power as good for business. They're oblivious to the fact that worldwide renewed demand for uranium that can only be accelerated by their decision.

The atomic age returns

January 11, 2008,,2238893,00.html#article_continue

After fierce protests and much delay, the government finally came clean yesterday and announced that it will encourage more nuclear power plants. A success, ministers and civil servants may feel. But only in the narrowest terms. Strategically, the decision represents a huge failure: a failure to get a grip on the imminent shortfall in domestic energy supply; a failure to ramp up renewables early enough; and a failure to think creatively about how Britain gets and uses its energy.

Article continues
What is so wrong with nuclear power? To answer succinctly: "its current economics make it an unattractive option for new, carbon-free generating capacity and there are also important issues of nuclear waste". That is not from a green pressure group or some malcontent scientist. It is from the government's own energy white paper, published in 2003. The problems have not been solved in the intervening five years; if anything the costs have increased. Official projections suggest around £70bn will need to be spent on winding down and cleaning up the plants already in the UK. As for running the stations, it was possible for a company to open one before yesterday - but none did because it would have been prohibitively expensive to do so unaided. Despite government protestations, without subsidy in some form, new reactors will not be built in Britain. Then there is the radioactive waste, a problem no country has yet solved (but which exists whether or not Britain builds new plants). It requires a huge financial fix and a moral choice: governments last mere years, but waste creates a problem that will hang around for centuries. All these drawbacks are well known and the nuclear industry has no clear answer to them. Instead, it points out that the volume of waste will be a tenth of that from the previous generation of stations and argues that the overall safety is better than the popular memory of Chernobyl allows.

So why back atomic energy? Put simply, for lack of better alternatives that will be available in time. Britain's old coal and nuclear stations are closing down, and the government has warned in rather thespian tones that the lights will go out unless replacements are built. It has not tried hard enough to find solutions. Even after yesterday's announcement, Britain is still on course for a domestic energy crunch. Plant closures mean nuclear will go from providing about 20% of electricity supply now to 3% by 2020. It is unlikely that the first new nuclear plant will open before 2021.

The choice is between the unappealing and the impractical. Compared to renewables, nuclear power has obvious disadvantages - but it is a proven technology that can be counted on to provide a large and regular energy supply. Onshore wind is cheap, but not always popular with local residents or reliable, and other forms of technology - such as wave and solar - are decades away from being either as big in scale or as dependable. None can fill the nuclear gap. And of all established big power sources, nuclear is the most carbon-friendly. Encouraging efficiency could bridge some of the shortfall but it still requires some power to be generated somehow.

Britain needs secure and low-carbon energy, which left the government little choice yesterday other than to opt for nuclear. It was right to do so. But new plants, if they ever actually arrive, are a long way off and the decision to build them should not be allowed to obstruct the development of an intelligent, less centralised energy policy of which nuclear can only be a part. A greener framework would rely on three big things: serious efficiency in energy consumption; much heavier investment in renewables; and a move from a command-and-control national grid to microgeneration and community power plants. These are big shifts, but other industrialised societies such as Germany and some states within the US are making them. Britain must follow suit.

Nuclear storage out West

January 11, 2008

PARTS of west Cumbria could host an underground storage facility for the most dangerous kinds of nuclear waste, officials at the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority confirmed today.

The news came as calls came for the area to be seriously considered as a likely site for one of the new nuclear power stations now approved by the government.

The government’s pro-nuclear stance is bound to fuel fresh demands for a solution to the problem of storing the high and intermediate-level radioactive waste currently held on the site at Sellafield.

For the first time, officials at the NDA said that there is no reason why west-Cumbria should not be a front-runner in the race to find a suitable location for an underground storage facility.

The government insists that the process can only follow expressions of interest from communities willing to host such a facility.

Once that has happened, a British Geological Survey team will investigate whether or not the area is suitable.

Underground storage – known as geological disposal – has already been investigated in Cumbria at a site near Gosforth but that was rejected after a public inquiry.

Chris McDonald, the lead inspector on that inquiry, said this week the site was not suitable because of its geology.

But speaking today, John Dalton, a scientist working for the Radioactive Waste Management Directorate of the NDA, said the process of finding a suitable site for the facility will have to come from a community volunteering to provide the site.

He added: “In the government’s criteria there are criteria which would rule out geological disposal but they don’t appear to rule out all sites in west Cumbria.

“There are parts of west Cumbria and Cumbria which would not be appropriate, but there are other parts that I would be very surprised if they were ruled out. The criteria don’t appear to rule out all parts of west Cumbria as potential sites.”

The government insists nuclear power is the best way to ensure that the UK has a secure and affordable long-term energy supply. Its experts also insist it is an acceptably low-carbon form of energy which will help combat global warming.

But Greenpeace today accused the government of failing to tackle climate change and called for a greater investment in green energy solutions.

Decision in a year on any nuclear role for Wales

January 11, 2008

WALES will not know for about a year whether it has a role to play in the Government’s plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations.

Wales’ only operating nuclear station, Wylfa on Anglesey, is due to shut in 2010, and Business Secretary John Hutton said yesterday decisions on where ministers want to see the new plants built would not be taken until next year.

There is huge local support for a new reactor on the island, with 1,500 people employed at the current site. But many Welsh politicians are vehemently against any expansion of the civil nuclear programme.

Unlike the Scottish Executive, the Assembly Government cannot block any new nuclear reactor. Welsh Secretary Peter Hain, a long-standing sceptic on nuclear power whose position has shifted slightly, said yesterday he hoped the nuclear industry in Wales could be “confined to Wylfa”, and called for more investment in renewable energy technology.

Announcing the Government’s widely-expected fresh commitment to nuclear power, Mr Hutton told MPs that, with atomic energy accounting for 20% of Britain’s electricity but all but one station due to close by 2023, the case for building new reactors was compelling.

But he ruled out any subsidy for the industry, saying new nuclear stations had to be commercially viable. New reactors will be built and run by the private sector rather than by the state, and a new independent body will oversee the financial aspects of storing nuclear waste and the costs of decommissioning, he said.

A Strategic Siting Assessment, to identify where new reactors should be built, will take until 2009 to complete, Mr Hutton said.

“Nuclear power has provided us with safe and secure supplies of electricity for half a century,” said Mr Hutton. “It is one of the very few proven low-carbon technologies which can provide baseload electricity... nuclear power can help us meet our twin challenges, ensuring secure supplies and tackling climate change.”

Anglesey Council has admitted it faces a “challenge” in persuading the nuclear industry to build a new facility at Wylfa.

Even a swift decision would mean a new plant being opened in around 2020, leaving a question mark over the local economy.

Mr Hain said, “As someone who has long pressed both inside and outside Government for a big expansion of renewable energy in Wales and right across Britain, I have nevertheless become convinced that in order to keep the power on, the nuclear energy option must be available.

“In practice in Wales this could be confined to the Wylfa site as a replacement for the existing nuclear power station.”

Mr Hain said he did not see a case for any other new nuclear power station in Wales.

Nevertheless the Government is braced for opposition to the policy from within its own ranks. Paul Flynn, the Labour MP for Newport West, said yesterday, “Why on earth are we repeating the nuclear folly of past years when one power station was 15 years late, [and there were] vast cost overruns of £75bn in managing the waste?

“The new thinking on waste is to bury it in a hole in the ground which was the answer 40 years ago.”

But Ynys Môn MP Albert Owen said the “case for nuclear has been made”. He said, “Wylfa has the skills base, the expertise and the infrastructure. It has the support of local politicians, the Welsh Affairs Committee and many in the local community.”

Friends of the Earth Cymru’s Gordon James said new nuclear stations were “simply not the answer” while John Matthews from the Wales Green Party said the decision to press ahead with nuclear generation was “a dangerous, irresponsible and costly distraction from the real challenge of tackling climate change”.

A Welsh Assembly Government spokesman said, “We will want to study the statement before commenting further. The question of particular sites does not arise in this statement and it would be premature to speculate about future site locations at this stage.”

The Government’s decision to press ahead with a new generation of nuclear power stations won’t go down well with everyone, as Tomos Livingstone explains

Perhaps it was appropriate that when John Hutton paused in the middle of his parliamentary statement on nuclear power while the Speaker dealt with a back- bench heckler, the dissenting voice turned out to be Welsh.

Newport West MP Paul Flynn was told he “must be quiet”. But there’s little chance of that – and he isn’t the only one with doubts about the Government’s policy.

Back in 1982 Mr Flynn, then a councillor, helped organise the famous “nuclear-free Wales” declaration. In February that year Clwyd County Council became the final Welsh authority to pass an anti-nuclear resolution.

Much of that opposition to civil nuclear power is as fresh today as it was 26 years ago. Mr Flynn and four other Welsh MPs have signed parliamentary motions against nuclear power, and the Liberal Democrats are opposed.

One of the main voices against nuclear power in the Cabinet was Peter Hain, although the Welsh Secretary has decided keeping the Wylfa nuclear station on Anglesey open is the right response – provided it comes with increased investment in renewable energy.

The Assembly Government also “sees no case” for new nuclear build, although with Wylfa in Deputy First Minister Ieuan Wyn Jones’ constituency, you can see a caveat coming. Mr Hain’s formulation that nuclear in Wales should be “confined to Wylfa” sounds like it will become the position at both ends of the M4.

Unlike Scotland, where the Edinburgh executive is the planning authority and is flatly rejecting new nuclear build, the Assembly Government cannot stand in the way. But even the faintest possibility of Cardiff Bay getting the same powers as Edinburgh may put off investors.

Opposition to nuclear power is likely to be vocal – outside Anglesey – and while there’s no chance of the Government being blown off course, Mr Flynn and others will ensure this is a lively and impassioned debate.

Backing for nuclear power stations 'the mistake of a generation'

January 11, 2008

GREEN campaigners last night hit out at the Government's decision to back a new generation of nuclear power stations, calling it "too little, too late at a high price".
Greenpeace is already considering a fresh legal challenge after winning a High Court ruling last year over complaints that the Government's consultation process into nuclear power was flawed.

Yesterday its executive director John Sauven said: "This is bad news for Britain's energy security and bad news for our efforts to beat climate change.

"Nuclear power can only deliver a four per cent cut in emissions some time after 2025, and that's too little too late at too high a price.

"We need energy efficiency, cleaner use of fossil fuels, renewables and state of the art decentralised power stations like those in Scandinavia. That's the way to defeat climate change and ensure energy security."

Friends of the Earth director Tony Juniper added: "New reactors are not the answer to UK energy problems and will do little to tackle climate change."

Mayor of London Ken Livingstone branded the decision the "mistake of a generation", adding: "New nuclear power stations will do little to combat climate change, but will poison Britain's future with a legacy of radioactive waste for dealing with which the Government has advanced no serious strategy."

Steve Webb, for the Liberal Democrats, said the nuclear technology could be obsolete by the time any plants were built.

The announcement was also criticised by a number of backbench Labour MPs, including Morley and Rothwell MP Colin Challen, who said: "This statement is as full of holes as the Sellafield reprocessing plant."

Meanwhile the Scottish Government's Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, John Swinney, re-iterated Scotland's stance against developing new nuclear power stations, saying: "The risks and uncertainties of new nuclear power, in terms of waste disposal, decommissioning, security and health concerns, or cost, are obviously far too great."

The Irish government also signalled its concern that safety issues, particularly from plants located along the Irish Sea, would impact upon Ireland.

But the plans were welcomed by pro-nuclear and business groups. The chief executive of energy giant E.On, Paul Golby, said: "New nuclear power stations can make a very real impact in the battle against global warming and ensure that we as a coun
try are less reliant on imported gas, particularly as world oil and gas prices continue to increase relentlessly."

The director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, David Frost, said nuclear power as part of a balanced and mixed supply of energy was essential if Britain was to secure energy at a time when traditional sources were threatened or in short supply.

The Conservatives also supported the plans.

Tory spokesman Alan Duncan said: "Our vision on nuclear is clear. We must refine the planning system, we must have a price for carbon to establish a long-term climate for investment, we must ensure there is clarity on waste and decommissioning.

"But on no account should there be any kind of subsidy for nuclear power."


What is the announcement?

The Government has formally backed a new generation of nuclear power stations to replace Britain's ageing reactors after a review was carried out into the future of nuclear power in the UK.

Why does the Government want more nuclear power stations?

The existing nuclear power stations, which are scheduled to close over the next 20 years, need to be replaced to ensure Britain is not over-dependent on foreign sources of energy as North Sea oil runs out.

Nuclear power stations currently provide 20 per cent of UK electricity.

What about renewable energy?

Ministers believe there should be a mix of electricity generating methods, to ensure continuity of supply.

How much will it cost and who will pay for it?

Legislation is expected to be unveiled protecting taxpayers from high costs by making the nuclear operators pay.

But critics say it could add as much as £250 a year to household electricity bills. A detailed consultation on how the costs are met is expected to be launched in the spring.

Opponents say the clean-up bill for the current generation of reactors could reach £70bn.

Where will the new reactors be sited?

They are expected to be built on or near the sites of existing reactors. The most likely location of new reactors is in the south of England. Although the exact locations have not yet been decided, a report prepared for Ministers last year identified 14 possible sites. A review into exactly where they
will be located is expected to report by 2009.

Where will the nuclear waste go?

Ministers want to continue to store it at temporary facilities at Sellafield, on the Cumbrian coast, until a suitable site for an underground bunker can be found. Another option might be to refurbish Sellafield's reprocessing plant or even build a new one.

What is the argument against the new plan?

It is expensive and a danger to the environment because it leaves waste that remains a hazard for tens of thousands of years. Campaigners say the sites could be targets for terrorists. They argue that instead of nuclear power the Government should increase investment in renewable sources such as wind and wave power, and carbon technology in order to meet its energy needs, maintain energy security and tackle climate change. Greenpeace is planning a legal challenge.

UK starts new push for nuclear power

January 11, 2008

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain gave the go-ahead to a new generation of nuclear power stations on Thursday, setting no limits on nuclear expansion and adding momentum to atomic energy's worldwide renaissance.

The ruling Labour government considered nuclear power unattractive as recently as 2003 but now says it will help Britain meet its climate change goals and avoid overdependence on imported energy amid dwindling North Sea supplies.

Nuclear power stations provide about 18 percent of Britain's electricity now, but many are nearing the end of their lives.

Energy Secretary John Hutton said the evidence in support of new nuclear stations was compelling and he would not set a limit on the construction of new plants.

"I therefore invite energy companies to bring forward plans to build and operate new nuclear power stations," he told parliament.

Nuclear operators welcomed the move and announced plans for at least four new reactors. British Energy, which already runs eight UK reactors, said it was "positioned to move quite rapidly" to get plants running by late 2017.

Environmental group Greenpeace, which succeeded in blocking an earlier pro-nuclear decision, said the public had been misled during recent consultations and its lawyers were already considering a fresh challenge.

"This is bad news for Britain's energy security and bad news for our efforts to beat climate change," Greenpeace Executive Director John Sauven said, adding that government plans to store highly radioactive waste underground were not safe.


Nuclear power is on the verge of a renaissance, having remained unchanged at 16 percent of the global mix for the last 20 years, when the Chernobyl disaster curbed its growth.

It is now becoming more competitive amid surging prices for oil and gas and buoyed by the need to cut carbon emissions to fight climate change.

Already, countries such as France and Finland are building new nuclear plants and, in the United States, companies have begun filing license applications, reinforcing the view atomic energy is part of the solution to the world's energy problems.

Irish energy minister Eamon Ryan called on Thursday for a public debate on whether to reverse a ban on nuclear power in Ireland, which depends on fuel imports and is situated at the very end of Europe's gas network.

There is opposition to nuclear among some states, however, including Germany, an anti-nuclear stronghold. Critics say the toxic waste from nuclear power generation remains a problem for thousands of years and is not worth the risk.

Hutton said the UK would not subsidize any new reactors, but the government would step in to help in case of a catastrophe.

Britain's opposition Conservative Party lent its support to the decision and vowed to "set aside political scrapping," but London Mayor Ken Livingstone called the decision "the mistake of a generation."

Nuclear operators say they could have new plants running in Britain by 2017, but analysts point to tough global competition for components and experienced nuclear workers.

"The UK will need to work hard to remain an attractive option," said Tony Ward of Ernst & Young, adding that more than 30 reactors were under construction around the world, and over 90 were in the pipeline.

Hutton said he expected several new plants to be running by the mid-2020s and France's EDF said it aimed to build four reactors in the UK.

Britain's Centrica, France's Areva and Germany's RWE and E.ON also said they were keen to get involved.

The government green light was accompanied by publication of an Energy Bill to be fast-tracked through parliament with the Climate Change Bill and the Planning Bill.

Hutton said the government would give more support to wind, wave and tidal energy.

The trio of bills form the backbone of the government's new energy and climate policy for the next decades.

Swedish alliance party calls for nuclear rethink

January 11, 2008

STOCKHOLM, Jan 11 (Reuters) - Sweden should rethink its commitment to phase out nuclear power and build four new atomic plants in the next few years, the leader of one of its ruling, centre-right alliance parties said on Friday.

The call for a rethink follows hot on the heels of Britain's decision to invest in new nuclear power stations and echoes a growing movement which sees atomic energy as a means to tackle global warming and meet climate change emission targets.

Liberal Party leader Jan Bjorklund said Sweden's parliament should scrap its ban on building new nuclear power stations soon after the next election, due in 2010.

The Liberal Party is one fo three junior members of the centre-right coalition government dominated by the bigger Moderate Party.

"As a first step, we need to invest in four new nuclear reactors," Bjorklund said in an article in daily Dagens Nyheter.

"In addition, the 10 existing reactors should be replaced in due course with new reactors."

Swedes voted in a 1980 referendum to phase out nuclear power, but recent opinion polls have shown them warming to the technology. Two of 12 original reactors have already been shut.

Sweden's nuclear industry has been sharply criticised over the past couple of years after a number of safety flaws and technical problems were revealed in the wake of an emergency shutdown of the Forsmark plant in July 2006.

At one point half of the country's reactors were off-line for safety inspections and Sweden now faces an international inspection of its nuclear plants in next month.


Still, opinion polls carried out following the incidents showed most Swedes wanted to keep or expand nuclear power generation in the Nordic country.

Around 45 percent of Sweden's electricity is from nuclear reactors. Much the rest comes from hydroelectric plants.

Bjorklund's party has been the most outspoken proponent of nuclear power while its partners in government, the Moderates and the Christian Democrats have also been largely favourable.

But the fourth governing party, the Centre Party, has traditionally opposed nuclear energy, though in recent years it has moved somewhat closer to the position of its allies.

Enterprise and Energy Minister Maud Olofsson, leader of the Centre Party, could not be reached for comment. However, Anders Flanking, Party Secretary for the Centre Party, said that the Liberal Party's position was well-known.

"The Liberal Party and the Moderates have promised not to push for the development (of nuclear power during the current mandate period), and we have promised not to push for a phase-out," he said.

The Social Democrats, who have ruled Sweden for much of the last 100 years, are against nuclear power, as are their traditional allies in the Green and Left parties. The Social Democrats carried out the closure of the Barseback plant's two reactors before losing power to the centre-right.

The opposition currently leads the government in opinion polls.

Sweden's neighbour, Finland, is much more positive about nuclear power.

It will see its fifth reactor come into service in 2011, the first new reactor to be built in Europe in more than a decade. France is just behind Finland in its nuclear plans with a new reactor coming on stream in 2012.

Lithuania is also planning a new nuclear plant whose output would be shared by Latvia, Estonia and Poland.

Swedish alliance party calls for nuclear rethink

US Republicans leap to show resolve against Iran

January 11, 2008

MYRTLE BEACH, S.C., Jan 10 (Reuters) - Republican U.S. presidential hopefuls leapt on Thursday to show their willingness to challenge Iran after an incident between the two countries in a critical Gulf waterway for crude oil.

At the same time, the candidates declined to second-guess the U.S. commanders who, according to American accounts, held their fire against Iranian speedboats that they said threatened to attack three U.S. Navy ships before turning away.

"I think an incident like this reminds us that we shouldn't be lulled into some false sense of confidence about Iran," former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani said during the Fox News Channel debate. "We have to be very focused on the fact that Iran should not be allowed to become a nuclear power."

Washington has accused Tehran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian nuclear energy program and interfering in Iraq, which Iran denies. But that has led to escalating tensions between the two countries.

This latest incident occurred in the Strait of Hormuz, arguably the most prominent "choke point" in the global crude oil trade, which handles 17 million barrels per day of water-borne crude oil, over a third of total global shipments.

"I believe it was a very serious act," former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney said. "And the Iranians continue to take acts like this, it points out that we have in Iran a very troubled nation."

The tough words about Iran by the Republican hopefuls came in South Carolina, a state home to numerous military bases that will hold its nominating contest on Jan. 19. The general election will be held Nov. 4.

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, winner in last week's Iowa caucuses and a Baptist preacher who has been criticized for having limited foreign policy experience, said Iran and other countries should not just expect a limited response from the United States if attacked.

"Be prepared, first, to put your sights on the American vessel. And then be prepared that the next things you see will be the gates of Hell, because that is exactly what you will see after that," he said.

Rep. Ron Paul, a staunch Iraq war opponent who has been unable to break into the top tier in opinion polls despite strong fund-raising, said he believed his presidential rivals were unnecessarily ratcheting up war rhetoric.

"I would certainly urge a lot more caution than I'm hearing here tonight," he said. "This incident should not be thrown out of proportion to the point where we're getting ready to attack Iran over this."

More on this issue:

IAEA's ElBaradei arrives in Teheran
Iran praises ElBaradei's trip
Top cleric: Close Iran nuclear case
IAEO: Iran's N-issue back on track
US Republicans leap to show resolve against Iran

IAEO: Iran's N-issue back on track

January 11, 2008§ionid=351020104

Deputy director of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) says ElBaradei's visit to Tehran will open a new chapter in Iran's nuclear talks.

Mohammad Saeedi, Deputy Director of IAEO pointed to Iran's active cooperation with the UN's nuclear body and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"Bringing Iran's nuclear issue back to IAEA from the Security Council is the result of such cooperation," saeedi was quoted by IRNA as saying.

The IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei came to Tehran following an official invitation from Iran's Atomic Energy Organization Head Gholam-Reza Aghazadeh.

During his stay in Tehran, ElBaradei will meet and confer with senior Iranian officials.

More on this issue:

IAEA's ElBaradei arrives in Teheran
Iran praises ElBaradei's trip
Top cleric: Close Iran nuclear case
IAEO: Iran's N-issue back on track
US Republicans leap to show resolve against Iran

Top cleric: Close Iran nuclear case

January 11, 2008§ionid=351020104

A top Iranian cleric calls on the UN nuclear watchdog to close Iran's nuclear case after the recent verification of its peaceful nature.

“We hope the International Atomic Energy (IAEA) Chief would present a realistic and positive report on Iran's nuclear issue and close the dossier at the IAEA after finding more truths about the case," said Ayatollah Seyyed Ahmad Khatami on Friday.

“We are a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and have fulfilled our commitments. Our people have repeatedly shown that they will never give up their rights,” he added.

Khatami said the world has realized that the country's nuclear activities are aimed at peaceful purposes and that the propaganda launched by certain powers against Tehran is baseless.

Khatami referred the upcoming Parliamentary elections and said it is a disgrace that the US has supported certain Iranian political parties.

He called on those political parties to reconsider their policies.

More on this issue:

IAEA's ElBaradei arrives in Teheran
Iran praises ElBaradei's trip
Top cleric: Close Iran nuclear case
IAEO: Iran's N-issue back on track
US Republicans leap to show resolve against Iran

Shevardnadze criticizes US policy

January 11, 2008

Former Georgian president has warned that faulty US policy could lead to a second cold war in the world, a Japanese newspaper reports.

The only successful US foreign policy since the collapse of the USSR has been to topple former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, Edward Shevardnadze said in an interview with the Asahi newspaper published on Friday.

Shevardnadze also blasted US pressure on Iran for its nuclear program.

Putting unjustifiable pressure on a country in which there have not been found any evidence of nuclear weapons program is unacceptable, the former Soviet foreign minister noted.

Washington wants to build a radar system in the Czech Brdy military district, 65 km southwest of Prague, as well as a base with 10 interceptor missiles in Poland within the missile defense shield program.

Shevardnadze said Russia was right to strongly oppose the deployment of anti-missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. He added Russia and other European states believe the plan is a threat to their national security.

More on this issue:

IAEA's ElBaradei arrives in Teheran
Iran praises ElBaradei's trip
Top cleric: Close Iran nuclear case
IAEO: Iran's N-issue back on track
US Republicans leap to show resolve against Iran

Iran praises ElBaradei's trip

January 11, 2008§ionid=351020101

Director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, and his deputies arrived in Tehran early Friday morning.

IAEA Deputy Director General for Safeguards Olli Heinonen and IAEA Director of External Relations and Policy Coordination Vilmos Cserveny, are accompanying ElBaradei.

He and his deputies were welcomed by deputy head of Iranian Atomic Energy Organization for International Affairs Mohammad Saeedi.

ElBaradei will stay in Tehran from January 11-12 upon the invitation of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

During his visit, he is scheduled to meet several high-ranking Iranian officials.

ElBaradei's last visit to Iran was March 2006 and his first visit was in March 2002.

More on this issue:

IAEA's ElBaradei arrives in Teheran
Iran praises ElBaradei's trip
Top cleric: Close Iran nuclear case
IAEO: Iran's N-issue back on track
US Republicans leap to show resolve against Iran

IAEA's ElBaradei arrives in Tehran

January 11, 2008§ionid=351020104

Director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, and his deputies arrived in Tehran early Friday morning.

IAEA Deputy Director General for Safeguards Olli Heinonen and IAEA Director of External Relations and Policy Coordination Vilmos Cserveny, are accompanying ElBaradei.

He and his deputies were welcomed by deputy head of Iranian Atomic Energy Organization for International Affairs Mohammad Saeedi.

ElBaradei will stay in Tehran from January 11-12 upon the invitation of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

During his visit, he is scheduled to meet several high-ranking Iranian officials.

ElBaradei's last visit to Iran was March 2006 and his first visit was in March 2002.

More on this issue:

IAEA's ElBaradei arrives in Teheran
Iran praises ElBaradei's trip
Top cleric: Close Iran nuclear case
IAEO: Iran's N-issue back on track
US Republicans leap to show resolve against Iran

Monday, January 14, 2008

How Schools Contaminate The Air Our Kids Breathe

January 10, 2008

After reading the article, "Tick, Tick, Boom" in the University of California San Diego student newspaper, one realizes a great deal of information is not being told to students (nor their parents) about issues of critical importance to their health and well-being

As best as I can tell, American college students are never informed that atmospheric radioactive explosions (under the term "testing") did not stop in 1962, but have actually been conducted continuously in the open air, right up to the present day

Many people still have no clue because the open air detonations of Depleted Uranium (and dozens of other toxics and radionuclides) since at least 1961 at what used to be called the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory in California (now Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) as well as at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico - have been kept fairly quiet, generally not covered by the mainstream media, and are kept below the radar of the general population.

A quote from this piece is all-telling:
“It’s not clear that the U.S. armed forces would ever accept this weapon without conducting nuclear tests first,” Isaacs said. “We’re afraid that if we go ahead with this weapon, we’ll break out of our ban on testing new nuclear weapons and conduct some explosive tests.”

Rather than being informed that "explosive [radioactive] tests" already *are* and actually *have been* going on since before the students were even born? America's college kids are instead being directed to continue on with the typical rhetoric of the age-old fight against proliferation of the nuke bomb.

Meanwhile, the bomb itself is being "modeled" or "simulated," as the lab detonators like to call these blasts ... via outdoor toxic & radioactive EXPLOSIONS, right under our noses in California, about 40 miles outside San Francisco.

Apparently, college students are never told about this. The fact that these Depleted Uranium explosions occur never appears in their newspapers, since the Universities are accomplices in these detonations, actually working in partnership with the nuclear weapons laboratories.

While our young people participate in sit- ins and hunger strikes organized by older, paid activists from anti-nuke/peace groups with mysterious foundation fundings and a pre-established agenda for the students to follow? The irony of it all is that the very air our kids are breathing outside during these protests contains contamination of hazardous, toxic, lethal radionuclides - such as Depleted Uranium used in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq - from these outdoor, university-backed, simulated nuclear explosions.

Controlled opposition is a HUGE deal on US campuses, and they have actual well-organized organizations set up in them to "lead" the students in one lame, pointless demonstration after another, always in the guise of stopping "the bomb."

If information is controlled and resistance is established for the students, it takes away the possibility that the students could actually come up with something that could effect real and necessary change of their very own.

What's an example of one such change students could work on if they were allowed to have a real agenda? They could try putting a STOP to open air Depleted Uranium explosions in the US, just for starters!

Propaganda around this issue is so slick that it is entirely possible that the writer of this piece for the UC-SD newspaper may not even know. Unless she were to read the environmental report for LLNL, how would she ever learn that the University of California, as the long-term manager of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory until October 1, is still working in close partnership with LLNS, LLC and Bechtel, Batelle, Texas A & M University et. al, immersed in the maniacal push for upping the open air detonations outside San Francisco from 1,000 lbs. of toxic, radioactive materials to 8,000 lbs. annually?

How can anyone in his right mind think that DU blasted in the open air - the same stuff the US military uses on our so-called "radical extremists/terrorists/enemy" in the Middle East is good for our American kids, I wonder?

So there you have it in a nutshell, folks. Our kids are being radioactively contaminated, courtesy of their own universities. No wonder the truth is being hidden on our college campuses.

If we realize that harm is being purposely brought about innocent citizens - our kids, no less - don't we have a moral responsibility to inform these students - and their parents, too? After all, how will our students ever know their health is being endangered if people like you and me don't share this information with them?

Shouldn't all Americans be allowed to know what toxic and radioactive materials are being exploded by their government into the air they breathe? And if ordinary people like you and me don't speak up and out, who else is this world is ever going to tell them?

The thought occurs to me this morning that never, ever before in the history of humankind has it been more important to be our brother's and sister's keeper than it is today.

After all, when a parent has to protect her kid from deadly radiological contamination from the very universities she is paying the big bucks in tuition to fund? It truly is a matter of grassroots activism, one parent-to-parent, one grand parent-to-grand parent exchange at a time.

It apparently is going to take nothing less than a nation of parents and grand parents to raise our kids and protect them from the very educators who we work so hard to scrimp and save to support via our kids' college tuition.

Good God in Heaven, what has happened to this world? Who in their right mind would have ever thought when we were kids that when we grew up and had kids of our own, we would have to fight against our own universities in order to keep our kids safe?

Hanford workers prepare for high-risk excavation of waste

January 10, 2008

Hanford workers are preparing to start next week digging up radioactive and chemical waste that could spontaneously catch fire when exposed to air.

"We're planning for the worst case," said John Darby, project manager for the Department of Energy's contractor, Washington Closure Hanford.

The 618-7 Burial Ground was used from 1960 to 1973 for waste from the Hanford nuclear reservation's 300 Area just north of Richland where fuel was made for Hanford's reactors and research was conducted.

"Burial grounds like this don't have a lot of documentation," said Stacy Charboneau, DOE deputy assistant manager for Hanford cleanup along the Columbia River.

When the waste was disposed of, it was not expected to be retrieved to meet future environmental standards. But Washington Closure has developed a list of the hazardous items it needs to be prepared to handle there, starting with hundreds of barrels of metals in liquids to keep out air that could start a fire.

It expects to find drums of depleted uranium chips likely left from research work.

Workers also will be on the lookout for drums of zircaloy or beryllium shavings, both metals used in the cladding or capping of N Reactor fuel.

The drums likely were filled with oil or water before they were buried. But if they have corroded, the liquid may have leaked out and could leave the contents vulnerable to spontaneously igniting when exposed to the right temperature and oxygen.

"We will be using aggressive controls," Darby said.

Workers will be bringing up the barrels one at a time from behind blast shields and wearing full radiation protection gear and supplied air respirators. They'll also expose no more than four drums at a time during the excavation to limit any potential fire.

Intact drums will be opened with remotely operated equipment inside an enclosure so more water or mineral oil can be added to stabilize them. Contaminated soil where barrels have leaked will be mixed with a fixative to prevent airborne contamination.

Piles of sand already stand ready at the burial ground to quickly smother any fire.

Washington Closure believes chances of a fire are slim, in part because of the size of the chips they expect to unearth. But similar material has caught fire at Idaho and Tennessee nuclear sites.

Among the risks is uranium that may have been roasted to create uranium oxide to reduce the possibility of catching fire and allow the uranium to be buried without liquids. Despite fires elsewhere, Washington Closure believes the oxidation process at Hanford was more effective and may have done a better job of stabilizing the material.

Some of what Washington Closure knows about the burial ground comes from incomplete historical documents, often written with code words such as "pure W product" for plutonium, during the Cold War. Workers have verified those by interviews with former Hanford workers who have given accounts of the waste they remember being generated at the 300 Area.

Among the contents retired workers have warned about are drums of thorium nitrate solution or thorium oxide left from research into fuel to be irradiated for a possible new type of nuclear weapon. If those drums of radioactive material have ruptured, they could pose a hazard for airborne contamination.

Washington Closure also has dug some exploratory pits to get a better idea of what's in the burial ground and used ground-penetrating radar to confirm the size and location of burial trenches and help determine what might be inside them. The burial ground includes three waste trenches, the two largest 650 feet long, 100 feet wide and 20 to 25 feet deep.

The burial grounds also are expected to hold miscellaneous trash, including chemical drums, solvents and oil.

Once waste is dug up, it will be treated for disposal and most of it buried away from the Columbia River at a lined landfill for low-level radioactive waste in central Hanford. Treatment methods may include incinerating the oil and encasing uranium chips in grout.

The Environmental Protection Agency, the regulator for the work, and DOE say Washington Closure has made the correct preparations to do the work safely, despite the high risk contents of 618-7 and its proximity to the Columbia River and Richland. DOE and Washington Closure believe that by working with a single drum at a time, the quantity of hazardous material is too small to present a risk to the public.

DOE has brought in experts to observe preparations, drills and mockups and is confident the contractor is ready to start excavating, Charboneau said.

"There have been a lot of lessons learned," not just at other DOE sites but in digging up other burial grounds at Hanford, said Alicia Boyd, EPA environmental engineer.

New processes and equipment have been incorporated into Washington Closure plans "so it should be much safer," she said.

DOE is required to have the burial ground cleaned up to meet a December 2008 deadline under the legally binding Tri-Party Agreement.

Reactor Cited for Minor Violations By Nuclear Regulatory Commission

January 9, 2008

Worker Exposed to Nearly a Year’s Safe Dose of Radiation in One Day

The MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory was cited by federal officials for violating regulations because a worker was exposed to nearly a year’s worth of radiation in just one day.

According to a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission report, MIT discovered on Oct. 17 that a worker had been exposed to four rems of radiation. This exposure is 80 percent of the yearly safe amount. A reading of 0.5 rem or less is typical for the type of work which led to the exposure.

The NRC investigated MIT’s reactor from October to November. It concluded that MIT had violated two safety requirements at “Severity Level IV,” which according to the NRC report means that they have very low safety significance. (Violations are assigned a severity level ranging from Severity Level I for the most significant to Severity Level IV for those of more than minor concern, according to the NRC.)

The worker, whose job was to load and unload material from the nuclear reactor, failed to survey the area for radiation levels as the procedure required, said NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan. The worker failed at least five times to survey the area for radiation levels when working with magnesium-encased silicon ingots. The worker’s oversight created “a plane source of radiation to which the individual was exposed during each work period,” according to the NRC report.

The worker also improperly attached his dosimeter, a device used to measure radiation levels, Sheehan said. While handling irradiated material, the worker wore the device, a finger ring, backwards — the sensor chip was facing outward instead of inward.

The violations are not serious enough to impose a fine, Sheehan told The Cambridge Chronicle. “If they have any additional violations in the next two years, they could face civil penalties,” Sheehan said.

The MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory responded to the report of irradiation by immediately stopping operations to study the problem, said Claude R. Canizares, vice president for research.

“Basically, a human error took place,” Canizares said. Canizares said the errors revealed the need for more stringent training, and MIT has reviewed its training procedures.

The NRC’s findings are “relatively minor,” said David E. Moncton PhD ’75, director of the MIT Nuclear Reactor Laboratory. The high dosimeter reading was an unexpected consequence of improving the way the worker handled the material, he said.

Handling procedures and the training process, which were “pretty good to begin with” have been revamped, Moncton said. “We don’t take [these findings] lightly” even though the dosimeter reading was well below any legal or health limit, he said.

According to MIT’s statement on the issue, “The MIT reactor lab has one of the best safety records of any reactor — research or power — in the country, based on routine inspections by the NRC. The situation posed no danger to public health and safety or to the environment.”