Welcome to AtomWatch - world nuclear power news and analysis

This blog is aimed at tracing the world news related to nuclear power development internationally and in particular countries. Being an independent resource, we accept all kinds of opinions, positions and comments, and welcome you to discuss the posts and tell us what you think.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Iran receives more nuclear fuel from Russia

Xinhua, China
A second shipment of nuclear fuel to Iran's ongoing Bushehr power plant sent by Russia arrived in Iran on Friday, the official IRNA news agency reported.

"The second shipment of fuel for our Bushehr power plant arrived in Iran Friday... and the amount of it was equal to the previous consignment," Ahmad Fayazbaksh, deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, was quoted as saying. The shipment was in line with the schedule agreed with Russia, which would deliver 82 tons of nuclear fuel to Iran in eight consignments in two months, he added.

The first consignment of nuclear fuel from Russia was delivered to Iran on Dec. 17 after being checked by the experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Russian nuclear specialists.
(full story)

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Opinions around Iran nuclear program - another opinion

US and Middle East
Published in The Daily Star
Sultan Mohammed Zakaria
It is very interesting to note that President Bush, all of a sudden, has started walking anti-clockwise. A hawk who never knew anything besides war and war of words suddenly turns into a peace-broker! This move, however, raises some doubts among the critics. Is this a groundwork for initiating another war in the Middle East? Is this the preparation of Israel and the US for the so-called pre-emptive aerial attack on Iran's nuclear sites? The fear remains high. It would be interesting to examine the following issues.The US in the last several years has been recklessly trying to halt Iran's uranium enriching process, which Iran relentlessly claims to be only for peaceful purpose. On the other hand, Russia is trying the reverse, reinvigorating Iran's efforts in building more nuclear sites including supplying the needed raw uranium. The show came into intensity level during the last two years. The US was looking to use the UN Security Council to go ahead with its Iran venture instead. The Iraq experience barred the US from going unilaterally and pushed them to think that way. But a number of US initiatives supported by the western powers were blocked by two other permanent members of the Security Council -- Russia and China who have great economic interest in Iran. Yet, the US unilaterally imposed more rigid sanctions on Iran and continually considered attacking the Islamic Republic. Now, it is up to the Arab nations to assess the situation. If Annapolis can bring any positive results for the millions of Palestinians and the rest of the Middle East people, that would be a real milestone. But there are many questions that need to be answered before we get a clear picture.

Russia poised to build power plant in Belarus

RBC, 26.12.2007, Moscow 11:23:13.
Russia is willing to participate in the construction of a nuclear power plant in
Belarus if the latter country's government makes a decision to this effect, a
source in the Russian government told journalists prior to a meeting of the
Council of Ministers of the Union State in Moscow. Trade between the two
countries was somewhat inefficient, as energy products accounted for the most
significant part of Russia's imports to the republic. Nuclear power plant
construction is projected to improve trade and economic cooperation between the
two countries, the source said.

Reasoning given here for Russia's participation in Belarusian nuclear power plant actually does not seem to give a full picture of Russia's interest in this project. Russia is and has been for quite a long while the largest consuming market for Belarusian goods, and one can say that the trade turnover is large enough to say that countries are economically cooperating. An energy project in Belarus is important for Russia as a strategic point - Belarus is so far considered the only ally of Russia left out of the former USSR, and building an energy project in Belarus will only strengthen this connection. Such a step seems needed when Belarusian economy has stepped into crisis after gas prices were risen on 31st of December 2006. Moreover, own nuclear power plant means a lot for the country's political ambitions.

Editorial in NYTimes on Iran fuel delivery

Fuel for Bushehr
NY times Opinion, Published: December 27, 2007

President Bush is not eager to pick another fight with the Russians. So he
did the diplomatic thing last week and said that it is good that Russia finally
delivered fuel for Iran’s Russian-built nuclear power reactor at Bushehr. Don’t
believe it.
The Bush administration should remind everyone who will listen about the
dangers posed by an Iran that even knows how to build a nuclear weapon. But it
will have a lot more credibility if it backs that up with a serious offer of
comprehensive talks and real rewards if Iran is willing to give up its fuel
program and cooperate with international inspectors. That may not change Iran’s
behavior. It may be the only way to stop the rest of the world from following
Russia’s path to Tehran’s door.

I would rather leave this without a comment - it shows clearly the US tendency to point to the "rest of the world" where to stand in this case. Sounds so openly propagandistic - that it even awakes a nostalgy for press opinion articles in the former USSR.

Another similar article can be found in yesterdays Wall Street J0urnal -
Dealing With Iran's Nuclear Bomb Ambitions

The thoughtful commentary by ex-CIA chief and Secretary of Defense James
Schlesinger regarding the National Intelligence Estimate's stunning reversal on
Iranian nuclear proliferation is right on the mark ("Stupid
Intelligence on Iran
," op-ed, Dec. 19). This report has dashed most
remaining hope that China and Russia (and perhaps much of Europe as well) will
support stiffer sanctions against Iran's 24/7 uranium enrichment program.
Mr. Schlesinger points out, it's well known that it's a short, easy path from
uranium enrichment (the hard part) to an operable nuclear weapon (the easy part
-- it's just a simple pipe bomb). Thus Iran continues full-bore developing the
hard part right under our noses.

Again, the US is behaving as a "world watchdog", at the same time more focused on their own interest than anyone else's, and as soon as someone who is not an ally to the US is trying to make a successful deal or there is a certain risk of gaining more power (including nuclear power), this is an appropriate reaction one can expect from US state structures.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Iran: Bushehr plant ready by March

Today CNN has reported the statement of Iranian Energy Minister confirming that the Bushehr nuclear power plant will be launched withing 3 months, approximately in March. Russia has already made the first fuel delivery to this site.
Iran's first nuclear power plant will be operational within three months,
providing electricity to Iran's national power grid by the summer, according to
Iranian Energy Minister Parviz Fattah.

Russia, which is building the Bushehr plant for Iran, started delivering
nuclear fuel to the facility a week ago as part of a compromise effort to
alleviate concerns over Iran's nuclear intentions while supporting Iran's right
to a nuclear energy program.

However, Sergei Shmatko head of Atomstroyexport, Russian company constructing the plant, said 3 days ago in his interview to RIA Novosti:
"I promised to verify the timeframe for the construction of the Bushehr nuclear plant, but I can say with certainty that the plant will not be commissioned before the end of 2008."

End 2008 or beginning 2008 - which estimation to consider correct?
Time will show, but it seems as Iranian officials are eager to launch the plant as soon as possible while the construction agents are estimating the commissioning date of the plant including some extra time to finalize the work with maximum quality. Therefore one can expect the launch of Bushehr somewhere in between those 2 dates - let's say, summer 2008.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

How Russia's nuclear fuel delivery to Iran benefits nonproliferation

Analytical from Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
By Pavel Podvig
It's possible that by delivering the first 180 fuel assemblies to the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran on December 16, Russia scored a critical victory for the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Early acknowledgement of the event's importance came from an unlikely source--President George W. Bush. Commenting on the Russian shipment, he publicly urged Iran to now suspend its controversial enrichment program, arguing that with Russian fuel, Iran no longer needed to enrich uranium on its own. Of course, it's unlikely that Iran will stop its centrifuges--at least not any time soon. But if Washington accepts the shipment of rector fuel to Bushehr as legitimate--despite the continuing controversy surrounding the Iranian nuclear program--it will set an important precedent that should help build a workable system of fuel supply guarantees.
(full story here)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

NIE, IAEA reports influenced Russia’s approach toward Iran: politicos

This recent article from Tehran Times analyzes the situation around Iran nuclear program.

The recent IAEA and NIE reports have made Russia adopt a more realistic approach and finally ship nuclear fuel to Iran, MP Mohammad-Ali Rudaki said here on Wednesday.
The latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) report on Iran, which was compiled by sixteen U.S. intelligence agencies, and all the reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency have said that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program. Iran and Russia reached an agreement last week on a schedule to finish building the Bushehr nuclear power plant after years of delay. The first shipment of nuclear fuel arrived in Bushehr on Sunday.

“The process of nuclear negotiations between Iran and Russia clearly shows
that Iran must become self-sufficient in the production of nuclear fuel. Of
course, the best justification is Russia’s behavior in delivering fuel to the
(Bushehr) plant.”

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nuclear news 19-12-2007

This newsblock is mainly devoted to Iranian nuclear fuel delivery and it's political concequences - the US still demands sanctions on Iran in front of the UN while as for Russia and China it is obvious that Iran just like any other nation of the world has the right to proceed own peaceful nuclear program with enough technical assistance from foreign specialists. So far nuclear power is the only cost-efficient alternative to oil and gas,which becomes more an more obvious as such nations as India and Pakistan head on building new reactors. Although nuclear power is still a political issue which makes me think that the Cold War is to be continued - opposition Russia-US as two major nuclear export players in the game can be clearly seen in the news below.
(Alexandra Prokopenko)

Iran: Delivery of nuclear fuel - blow to American policy
Al Bawaba (Jordan)
Deputy Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council for International Affairs Javad Vaeedi said on Tuesday that delivery of nuclear fuel to Bushehr power plant would prevent a consensus on issuance of next UNSC resolution against Iran. Speaking to reporters, he said: "If the next UNSC resolution requires consensus, Russia will have to offer more evidences to approve it."

Iran to build nuclear power plant within 8 years: Saeedi
Bushehr power plant will be operated coming Iranian new year and Iran will be able to construct average nuclear power plants within 8 years, the international deputy of Iran's atomic energy organization said.
Besides launching bids among foreign companies to establish more nuclear power plants, Iran intends to cede the responsibility of building a number of stations including a small reactor in Iran's central city Araq to its own experts, Mohammad Saeedi pointed.

Plan panel pitches for Indo-US nuclear deal
The Hindu
The Planning Commission on Tuesday pitched for the Indo-US civil nuclear deal, saying the agreement will open doors for supply of fuel needed to augment the country's power generation capacity.
"The nuclear deal will remove restrictions on supplies... (otherwise) we will be limited to existing supplies," Deputy Chairman of the Commission, Montek Singh Ahluwalia, told reporters on the eve of the National Development Council (NDC) meeting to discuss the 11th Five-Year Plan.
"We have stated the factual position (in the draft document)," he said when asked to comment on the observations made in the draft document which states that India is making efforts to import nuclear fuel for power plants.

Security excellent at all nuclear plants: Musharraf
Daily Times, Pakistan
President Pervez Musharraf said on Tuesday that Pakistan stands as a respectable nuclear state having excellent safety and security standards at all its nuclear power plants.“Pakistan’s nuclear safety regulatory infrastructure is effective, functional and respected by the world bodies,” said the president while addressing a gathering at the Chashma Nuclear Plant-II. The president, who is also the country’s National Command Authority chairman, said the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) should work in unison towards the cherished goal.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Russia delivered first fuel to Iran

(see LA Times story)

After years of delay, Russia announced Monday that it had delivered its
first shipment of nuclear fuel to a reactor in southern Iran, a move Washington
had long tried to delay to pressure Tehran not to pursue its own enrichment

Seems like this step will make much noise both in mass media and nuclear circles. However, this shipment only means that Iran will be able to launch the plant within 6 months as planned.
One can spend a lot of time wandering for all the reasons US has to block the nuclear activities in Iran, and in most cases it sounds pretty much the same as finding bacteriological weapons in Iraq several years ago. In other words, a reason for certain statements and certain actions.

Jury Bandazhevsky calls Belarusian nuclear power plan a populist idea

Belarusian news portal Naviny.by recently interviewed professor Bandazhevsky in Brussels, and discussed the current situation with radioactive pollution in Belarus, mentioning also the perspective of the nuclear power plant construction.
"To my opinion, we just do not need a nuclear power plant, that's a
populist idea, first of all because for the world community this step will
automatically mean that Belarusians has forgotten about Chernobyl and they do
not need any assistance anymore. Second reason (and the most important one) is
th nuclear waste that will produce higher radioactive background. In case the
waste will be exported to Russia, we put ourselves into even more dependancy on
Russia then before. Third reason is that the plant will not solve the energy
problem. The apartments will get electricity, but the industry still needs large
amounts of oil and gas. The authorities tend to close the Chernobyl problem,
instead of taking care for the health of the nation. When the acciden in
Chernobyl happened, Belarus was openly announcing the problems, and the world
community was helping us. In November the UN Assembly closed the Chernobyl
issue, so to say, take care for your "zone" yourselves."
Jury Bandazhevsky is a former rector of Gomel Medical Institute, a scientist who studied the concequences of exposion to small radioactivity doses on the human body. In June 2001 he was sentenced for 8 years in prison (officially for receiving bribes, but many see the reason for his imprisonment in his research and critics towards the policies of the current government and president on polluted regions and health care connected to Chernobyl consequences). He was freed from prison in August 2005 and currently continues to work in France.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

16/12/2007 Nuclear news

Soaring energy needs, oil prices push SE Asia to nuclear power
The India Times
As oil prices and energy demand soar in tandem in Southeast Asia, many nations are turning to nuclear power -- to the horror of environmentalists who say it is not a safe option. Thirsting for energy to fuel their growing economies, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam have all put in place nuclear power strategies, aiming to build the first plants by 2015 at the earliest.

US firms eye nuke tie-ups with India
Press Trust of India
US fuel suppliers are queuing up to tap the vast potential of India's civilian nuclear industry notwithstanding the delay in IAEA negotiations, mandated by the Indo-US nuclear deal.Last week, representatives of over 20 US companies were in Mumbai exploring the possibilities of partnership in India, which could run into several billion dollars in nuclear fuel supplies alone.Concerned over the delay in the negotiations, US companies' representatives feared that India may lose out to China if it did not hurry. It is expected that at least 200 to 300 nuclear power reactors would come up globally and the fuel supply chain was very important.

IAEA in full control of Iran's nuclear program: Russia
Russia has said it believes Iran's nuclear programme is fully under control of the UN Nuclear watchdog and that in the presence of the international agency the Islamic country will not go for weaponisation.
'The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has full control over Iran's nuclear activities and the country will never obtain high enriched uranium while the IAEA is there,' Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak said Saturday.

Iran: No date for completion of Bushehr nuclear power plant
Al Bawaba
Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Hosseini on Sunday said that no date can yet be fixed for completion of Bushehr nuclear power plant. Addressing foreign and domestic reporters, he termed talks between Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and Russian officials in Moscow as "comprehensive and effective".
"We believe that Russians are serious in their commitments," he said adding, "But still no date can be fixed for completion of Bushehr power plant."

New era of nuclear power beginning, but at what risk?
Hattiesburg American
Power companies are beginning to file applications to build up to 32 nuclear plants over the next 20 years, the first since the 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island plant in Pennsylvania halted plans for new reactors and led to sweeping changes in safety regulations. It's partly a reflection of how, amid concerns about climate change, communities have become more open to nuclear power as a cleaner alternative to pollution-belching coal-fired plants.
Critics and advocates of nuclear power generally agree that improvements in equipment and employee training have helped to make nuclear plants safer since the partial meltdown of a reactor at Three Mile Island.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Nuclear news 1/12/2007

Nuclear power protesters moved on
BBC News
Protesters blocking the entrance road to a nuclear power station at Sizewell in Suffolk have been moved away.
Police said three women and a man had "locked" themselves into place outside the power station using concrete.

UN's IAEA inspects Russian fuel for Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant


UN nuclear officials completed five days of inspections of the first consignment of Russian fuel for Iran's nuclear power plant at Bushehr, a statement from the fuel factory said.

Russian officials sealed the containers of nuclear fuel in the presence of a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog, said a statement from the TVEL defence factory in Novossibirsk.

China gears up to become world's biggest operator of nuclear plants

International Herald Tribune
China, its safety reputation tattered by lead paint in toys, cancer-causing chemicals in seafood and antifreeze ingredients in toothpaste, is gearing up to become the world's biggest producer and operator of nuclear plants, and a nuclear exporter.
The country plans to build about 30 reactors by 2020, at a cost totaling 450 billion yuan, or $61 billion. It could add as many as 300 eventually, said an official from Atomic Energy of Canada.

Turkey's nuclear plant project to kick off in February
The New Anatolian
Turkish authorities are expected to invite bids for the construction of the country's first nuclear power plant in February, Energy Minister Hilmi Guler said late Wednesday.
"Turkish Electricity Trade & Contract Corporation (TETAS), the state-run company to market the plant's power production, could make the announcement on February 21," Guler said. "Turkey's Atomic Energy Institute (TAEK) is working on technical criteria for the plant, a process expected to conclude by December 21."

Iranian Pushes Nuclear Talks Back to Square 1
The New York Times
In a sign tha Iran hardened its position on its nuclear program, its new nuclear negotiator said in talks in London on Friday that all proposals made in past negotiations were irrelevant and that further discussion of a curb on Iran’s uranium enrichment was unnecessary, senior officials briefed on the meeting said.
The Iranian official, Saeed Jalili, also told Javier Solana, who represented the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany in the five-hour talks, that United Nations Security Council resolutions punishing Iran for not suspending its enriched uranium activities were illegal, the officials said.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nuclear news 27/11/2007

Lithuania still sees new nuclear plant in 2015 -PM
Prime Minister Gediminas Kirkilas believes Lithuania can still build a new nuclear power plant by 2015 but uncertainties over the timetable and capacity remain, he said on Monday.
The project, led by Lithuania and involving Latvia, Estonia and Poland, has already become bogged down by Warsaw's demand for one third of the new plant's output.
"We are keeping to the timetable of 2015 but it is difficult to answer very exactly," Kirkilas said in an interview to Reuters.

British Energy names likely nuclear plant sites
The Financial Times
Plans for a new generation of nuclear power stations will take a significant step forward today when British Energy names four sites in the south of England as the first it wants to link to the national grid.
Sizewell in Suffolk, Dungeness in Kent, Hinkley in Somerset and Bradwell in Essex have been identified as the most likely sites for new nuclear construction.

UN Checks Russian Nuclear Fuel for Iran
Inspectors from the U.N. atomic watchdog agency on Monday began checking uranium fuel that was produced at a Russian facility for Iran's first nuclear power plant, officials said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency's experts will certify and seal fuel intended for the power station Russia is building in the Iranian port of Bushehr, said Sergei Guryanov, a spokesman for the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrate Plant in Siberia. The plant is Russia's main manufacturer of fuel for nuclear power plants.

Five-nation nuclear inspection team in NKorea: officials
Officials from the five nations trying to end North Korea's nuclear ambitions arrived in Pyongyang on Tuesday to observe the disablement of the isolated state's main atomic facility, officials said.
The delegation, including senior US diplomat Sung Kim, will visit the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, which is slowly being disabled in accordance with an agreement struck in February, they said.

Debate about future nuclear energy use must begin - Czech prime minister
Nuclear power should be discussed as a future energy use to help maintain economic growth, Czech prime minister Mirek Topolanek said at a nuclear forum, the Czech news agency CTK reported.
It was the second time in a month Topolanek spoke in favour of the power source. However his government, with the involvement of the Green party, pledged earlier this year not to build new nuclear power plants during the current election cycle, ending in 2010, hindering plans of dominant Czech power producer CEZ to expand its nuclear power capacity.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Nuclear news 26/11/2007

China, France sign 8b-euro nuclear energy deal
China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group (CGNPG) and Areva of France signed an eight-billion-euro (US$11.86 billion) civil nuclear energy cooperation deal on Monday, according to which the French company will help build two reactors in Taishan City in the southern Guangdong Province.
North Korea will come clean on all its nuclear programmes, a pro-Pyongyang newspaper said Monday, as experts from five nations prepared to check progress on disabling its plutonium-producing atomic plants.
The report came as the US embassy said a State Department official had been stationed in the North Korean capital to assist the US-supervised drive to disable the plants by year-end.
The Times of India
An audit of the nuclear power industry has revealed that the rumours of the so called nuclear power renaissance might just be an exaggeration. The report, led by Mycle Schneider and accredited by The Greens, a European parliamentary group, indicated that a number of ageing reactors are due to close before 2030, and that 338 new ones would have to be built just to replace them.
Chomsky critical of Indo-US nuclear treaty
Daily Times, Pakistan
Noted intellectual Noam Chomsky has said that the Bush administration is trying very hard to push through an agreement that not only authorises India’s illegal acquisition of nuclear weapons, but also assists it.In an interview given to political website Information Clearing House, Chomsky said, “That’s what the US-Indo Nuclear Pact is about. And, furthermore, there happens to be an obligation of the states in the Security Council and elsewhere to move towards establishing a nuclear weapons-free zone in the region. Now that would include Iran and Israel and any US forces deployed there.”
Nuke to the Future
Santa Fe Reporter
The portable nuclear reactor is the size of a hot tub. It's shaped like a sake cup, filled with a uranium hydride core and surrounded by a hydrogen
Invented by scientist Otis Peterson, Hyperion's patent for a hydride reactor is still pending. atmosphere. Encase it in concrete, truck it to a site, bury it underground, hook it up to a steam turbine and, voila, one would generate enough electricity to power a 25,000-home community for at least five years.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Nuclear news 16/11/2007

Russian company is most likely to win contract to build nuclear plant in Belarus, researchers say
The researcher said that the Belarusian government considered Westinghouse Toshiba, a US-Japanese venture, France’s Areva Group and Russia’s Atomstroiexport as potential contractors. While offering the same quality of services and equipment as the former two, the Russian company is likely to charge Belarus less, he stressed. “Apart from this, if we opt for the Russian supplier, we will share the language and technologies, have the opportunity to obtain loans in the framework of the Union State, train staff at Russian schools of higher learning,” Dr. Tsimashpolski added.

Ignalina shutdown makes a mockery of extension call
The Baltic Times
The reactor at the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant (INPP) switched itself off on Thursday afternoon according to media reports.
An automatic shutdown system was triggered for reasons that have yet to be made clear, though it is not believed that there has been any leak or radiation or other public hazard. The last functioning reactor of Ignalina's two reactors recently underwent planned maintenance and was only brought back online on Sep. 28. Regardless of how serious or trivial the reason for the automatic shutdown turns out to be, the timing could barely be worse for campaigners hoping to persuade the European Commission to grant a stay of execution to Ignalina.

India to Start Safeguard Talks on U.S. Nuclear Accord
India's government will start safeguard negotiations with the global atomic energy regulator as part of steps to implement a civilian nuclear accord with the U.S., after communist allies lifted their objection to the move.
The communist parties, key allies of the federal ruling coalition, allowed the government to hold initial talks with International Atomic Energy Agency on condition the government won't enter into an agreement without their prior approval.

New life for India's nuclear deal
India's communist parties have approved the government starting crucial talks with a UN watchdog on a controversial civilian nuclear deal with the US.
The move by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's left allies has revived hopes that the deal is not dead.
Earlier, the communists had opposed the deal, threatening to pull out of the governing coalition.

Ahmadinejad calls on U.S. to apologize for accusing Iran of seeking nuclear bomb
International Herald Tribune
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday called for the United States to apologize to Iran for accusing it of seeking to develop nuclear weapons after a U.N. watchdog report found Tehran generally truthful about key aspects of its nuclear history.
While acknowledging Iran's relative cooperation, the International Atomic Energy Agency did say that restrictions the Iranians put on U.N. inspectors two years ago mean it still cannot rule out that it has a secret weapons program, as suspected by Washington and its allies.

Russia readies nuclear fuel bound for Iran
Reuters India
Russia on Friday gave the clearest indication yet that it was ready to send uranium to fuel Iran's first atomic power station, upping the stakes in a diplomatic crisis surrounding Tehran's nuclear programme.
Russia's state-run nuclear fuel producer said inspectors from the United Nations' nuclear watchdog would later this month start sealing nuclear fuel bound for the Bushehr plant, a major step to shipping the fuel to the Bushehr plant in Iran.

Asian countries cautiously promote nuclear power, plan massive tree-planting
Associated Press
Asian countries, along with Australia, would cautiously promote nuclear power and embark on a massive tree-planting campaign to battle global warming.
Such plans to ease climate change are among steps outlined in three declarations to be issued at next week's summit in Singapore of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and six economic powerhouses led by China, Japan, India and Australia.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Belarusian nuclear plant: gettin' organised

Belarusian nuclear power plant project is getting officially organised. On the 12 of November, the president of Belarus Alexandr Lukashenko has signed a decree officially announcing nuclear power plant construction plan.
Decree 565, 'On Certain Measures Relating to the Construction of a Nuclear Power Plant' defines the major players in the game. All organisational work at place will be made by domestic state-owned organisations, such as United Power & Nuclear Research Institute Sosny of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus, Belnipienerogoprom and others. Those structures are to be in direct contact with construction performing company - which is not yet made a decision upon.
Correspondents of European Radio for Belarus have studied the issue and found out that there will actually be no competition - only one type of reactor can be suitable for Belarusian weak electricity network, the one of Russian construction.
Belarusians were interested in a nuclear reactor of VBER-300 type. Designers
call it their “fad”. But, this is an experimental project, so far. No reactor of
this type is operational, yet.

“This reactor does not exist yet,
but it has been promoted actively. This is a new project which has drawn
interests from Belarus and Kazakhstan. The number of 300 means output. It is
rather little and local. The Russian energy system works on the basis of
VBER-1000 reactors. According to the Belarusian delegation, your energy networks
are not sufficiently powerful. Therefore, reactors with the output of 1000 or
1500, proposed by France, are too powerful for you,” Zaglyadnov said.

Full text of this article can be found here.
Currently it looks most likely that the plant will be built by a Russian company - several experts say it's 99% probability. Although Belarusian officials continuously make statements saying that it's not desided yet, moreover, even if the Russians will construct our reactor, that does not mean that Belarus will be dependent on Russia when it comes to nuclear fues support. French Areva group is mentioned again among one of the alternative suppliers. Here is a report on statement by Academician Aliaksandr Mikhalevich of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus.
Still, althought the topic is widely discussed, many things still look unclear, for example, the placement of the power plant is not yet desided, to be done in 2008. At present the officials speak about 2 possible places, one of them in Krasnopolje, Mogilev region, where geologists have already studied the ground base.
Letting the public know what's going on does not seem to be the priority for Belarusian authorities. Still noone says what shall be done with nuclear waste which will for sure remain when the plant is operating. Also, a Ukrainian company is assigned responsible for security control and consulting as an independent third part. This fact makes the project even more international. Considering all the existing political and economic contradictions between all possible parties in the project - who can judge whether it becomes a successful example of cooperation, or just something that will never start, for some reasons like financial lack etc.
Time will show. One thing is clear - Belarus has made a decision to become nuclear. Even now it is estimated that electricity costs by year 2020 will be decreased 15-20% fromwhat the Belarusian consumer pays nowadays.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Nuclear news 14/11/2007

Breakthrough over nuclear deal likely
Hindustani Times
The stalemate between the UPA government and its Left allies over the nuclear deal with the US is expected to be broken when the two sides meet for a fresh round of talks on Friday, government and political sources said.
Talks with the IAEA are to lead up to negotiations with the Nuclear Suppliers Group and the ratification of the bilateral 123 Agreement by the US Congress.

Russian government agency and Siemens to build nuclear power plants
Top officials of the Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency (Rosatom) and top executives of the German energy giant Siemens have signed a memorandum of intent for cooperation in developing the energy sector and nuclear power generation, Rosatom's press office reported.

Industry leaders embrace nuclear business option


When around 4,000 representatives of the world's energy industry gathered in Rome this week, two Greenpeace protesters suspended themselves from the ceiling and dropped a banner urging "quit nuclear madness".
They were a lone voice in the halls of a sprawling conference village, where CEO after CEO has lined up to hail nuclear energy as an essential part of the energy mix to keep the lights on and prevent global warming.

Italy, US to sign accord today on nuclear power, clean coal research
Italy's Minister for Economic Development Pier Luigi Bersani will sign an agreement today with the US Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman for research and development in the energy field and especially in nuclear power and clean coal technology, the ministry said in a note.
The Italian government is opposed to a reintroduction of nuclear power, believing the focus should be on renewable energy sources, but has said it welcomes scientific research into nuclear technology.

ASEAN summit to promote nuclear energy, solar power
Southeast Asian leaders will promote the use of civilian nuclear power, along with other alternative energy sources, when they meet in Singapore next week, a draft statement obtained Tuesday said.
Leaders from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will also agree to establish a "regional nuclear safety regime" to ensure that plutonium, a key ingredient for making atomic weapons, does not fall into the wrong hands.

Japan Oct nuclear plant usage lowest since 2003

Japan's nuclear power plant utilisation rate fell to an average 56.3 percent in October, the lowest since July 2003, industry data showed on Wednesday. The run rate at the 10 nuclear power companies has stayed relatively low since Tokyo Electric Power Co, Japan's top utility, shut down its Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant following a powerful earthquake on July 16.

Iran gives IAEA nuclear designs: diplomats


Iran has handed over to the UN nuclear watchdog a document containing design information that could help to make nuclear weapon parts, diplomats said on Wednesday.
But diplomats said it was unclear whether the gesture -- coming just days ahead of the publication of crucial IAEA report -- really was a sign of goodwill on the part of Tehran or a last-minute attempt to stave off further possible UN sanctions.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been demanding that Iran hand over the document, which diplomats said is a long way from being an actual blueprint for a nuclear weapon, for the past two years.

Iran's former nuclear negotiator charged with 'spying for Britain'
Times Online
Iran has embroiled Britain in an escalating domestic row over the country's nuclear policy by charging Tehran's former senior nuclear negotiator, Hossein Mousavian, with passing classified information to the British Embassy.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Nuclear news 11/11/2007

India, Russia sign agreement on nuclear power plants
NEW DELHI - Russia's President Vladimir Putin has signed an agreement in New Delhi to help build new nuclear power plants in India as part of moves to revitalise ties between the two former Cold War allies. In the memorandum of intent, Putin promised four more nuclear reactors for the flagship Kudankulam nuclear plant which Russia is building in southern Tamil Nadu -- a state that already has two Russian 1,000-megawatt reactors.

Turkish parliament approves nuclear power law
ANKARA - Turkey's parliament has approved a law allowing construction of nuclear power plants intended to help avert an energy shortfall, passing a long-delayed bill that had been vetoed by the last president.

North Korea to Declare Nuclear Programs in 1-2 Weeks
VOA News
A South Korean official says North Korea is expected to give the first complete account of its nuclear programs in one or two weeks as part of an international disarmament agreement.

Vattenfall Scientists Call for German Nuclear Plants to Restart
Scientists appointed by Swedish-owned Vattenfall Europe recommended that two of Germany's 17 nuclear power plants be put back online following a summer fire accident.

Lithuania nuclear plant shut down after short circuit
VILNIUS - Lithuania's Soviet-built nuclear power station was shut down on Thursday due to an electrical malfunction but there was no danger of any radiation, officials said.

British Energy Says Two U.K. Nuclear Power Plants Remain Closed
British Energy Group Plc, the U.K.'s biggest power generator, said its Hartlepool and Heysham 1 nuclear power plants will remain shut until inspections of the facilities are completed.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Emerging Nuclear Energy Countries

Nuclear programs are about to emerge in at least 20 countries, with totally different level of economy development.
Italy, Portugal, Norway, Poland, Belarus, Ireland, Estonia, Latvia, Turkey, Iran, Gulf states, Yemen, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, Ghana, Namibia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Chile, Venezuela, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Australia, New Zealand - here is the list.
Such data might give us a push to think that the tendency of nuclear development is taking place in world economy in general - if we consider that major nuclear actors like the USA and Russia are developing their nuclear capacities as well.

Full story here

Facts on Nuclear power in India

Recently India is on the headlines of nuclear power news discussing the perspectives of future development of its energy system. Here are some facts about what does nuclear power in India look like.
  • India has a flourishing and largely indigenous nuclear power program and expects to have 20,000 MWe nuclear capacity on line by 2020. It aims to supply 25% of electricity from nuclear power by 2050.
  • Because India is outside the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty, due to its weapons program, it is largely excluded from trade in nuclear plant or materials, which has hampered its development of civil nuclear energy.
  • The nuclear weapons capability of India has arisen independently of its civil nuclear fuel cycle and uses indigenous uranium.
  • Because of its relative isolation in international trade and lack of indigenous uranium, India has uniquely been developing a nuclear fuel cycle to exploit its reserves of thorium.

Indian nuclear strategy

Pachauri challenged over Indo-US nuclear dealHindustan Times, 29 Oct

A leading environmental group on Sunday challenged Indian climate change scientist RK Pachauri's assertion that the Indo-US nuclear deal would widen India's fuel choice, saying the risks associated with going nuclear should be considered by policymakers.

Friday, October 26, 2007

News digest

The atom and the windmill
The Economist, UK
Nuclear power draws nearer as renewables retreat
Environmentalists fret that new nuclear plants will come at the expense of eco-friendly technologies such as wind and wave power. On October 23rd those fears seemed to be confirmed. The Guardian newspaper published extracts from a leaked document suggesting that Gordon Brown was trying to wriggle out of a pledge made by Tony Blair, his predecessor as prime minister, that 20% of European energy consumption would be met from renewable sources by 2020. Civil servants described the target as “expensive” and said that it faced “severe practical difficulties”. That was a diplomatic way to speak of a target that Britain, which gets 2% of its energy from renewables now, has little chance of meeting.
Russia has enough uranium for nuclear power plants - minister
RIA Nowosti
Russia's natural resources minister said Thursday Russia will have sufficient uranium reserves for the construction of new nuclear power plants in the country.

Last week Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said the construction of nuclear power plants was one of the top priorities for the Russian nuclear energy system, adding that Russian specialists were currently constructing five nuclear power units in Russia and seven abroad.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Nuclear news - selected

Starting from today I will be posting selected links to several articles from various media related to nuclear issues - for sure those I find worth reading myself, and might advise you who follow the topic to read and be aware as well.

You are welcome to post comments or start a discussion over any article, suggest related ones on some topic etc. or even post your own article if you wish to.

Nuclear power output could double by 2030 - IAEA


The world's output of nuclear power could nearly double by 2030, fuelled by demand from energy-hungry emerging economies and fears about security of supply and climate change, the UN said on Wednesday.

But the share that nuclear energy will contribute to global electricity production is still set to decline over the same period, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in its latest annual projection of growth of nuclear power.

Seven of UK's 19 reactors closed

Nearly a third of Britain's nuclear power reactors have been out of action due to breakdowns and maintenance.

Iranian nuclear negotiators meet with European leaders

International Herald Tribune
The Iranian nuclear negotiators and European leaders met for another round of discussions Wednesday, facing a deadline next month for the delivery of a report on Iran's nuclear development to the Security Council.

After the meeting, the new negotiator, Saeed Jalili, who was appointed over the weekend, attended a news conference but did not speak. His predecessor, Ali Larijani, who joined him for this set of talks, struck an upbeat tone, speaking of a constructive tone at the talks "that might lead to further progress." Larijani did not offer details.

The Nuclear Gambit with Iran

The Moscow Times
When President Vladimir Putin was in Tehran last week, one image from the trip was indelible: Putin meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei while President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad sat in the corner of the sofa. Putin apparently made an offer directly to the supreme leader about a way to move forward in the nuclear standoff. According to the proposal, the six parties negotiating with Iran would pause on seeking sanctions in the United Nations Security Council if Iran would pause on its enrichment program. Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad appeared to be sidelined.

Iran stands firm on peaceful nuclear use

Iran will continue to uphold its right to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes, the country's chief nuclear negotiator said on Tuesday.

"The nuclear issue is a subject on which there is unity and consensus in Iran. The path that has been taken is supported by our entire nation and all interested parties," Saeed Jalili, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, was quoted by the IRNA news agency as saying.

S. Korea Says North Will Start Dismantling Nuclear Programs Next Month

VOA News
Senior South Korean officials say North Korea is ready to start dismantling key nuclear facilities within weeks. The moves are part of a multinational agreement aimed at ending the North's nuclear weapons programs. VOA Seoul Correspondent Kurt Achin reports.

Russia scraps 9 missile complexes under US-Soviet arms treaty

Zee News
Russia has scrapped nine nuclear strategic missile complexes under the 1991 US-Soviet Arms Reduction Treaty.
Under the strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START-I), nine old Topol missile complexes were scrapped between October 8-23, according to a statement issued by the country's strategic missile forces.

Volvo Trucks Nix Nuclear Power

Sveriges Radio International

Sweden’s Volvo, the world’s second largest truck maker, has announced that it will stop buying Swedish electricity generated by nuclear power.

Nuclear power to remain important energy source - IAEA

Nuclear power is to remain a major source of energy around the world in the coming decades, especially given the concerns over climate change and energy security, the UN nuclear watchdog said.

'Nuclear power's prominence as a major energy source will continue over the next several decades,' the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a new report, entitled 'Energy, Electricity and Nuclear Power Estimates for the period up to 2030.'

COST OF THE REVERSE - Not being in the nuclear club will hurt India’s energy supply

The Telegraph - Calcutta, India
Coming now to power, India can build nuclear power plants on its own, as it has; it may also be true that Russia will be prepared to sell it nuclear power plants and uranium enrichment plants. But if India became a member of the nuclear club, it could freely import and export power plants, fissile material, heavy water and other ancillaries. There would be far more suppliers of these things to India, and they would have to compete. India would obtain access to a much wider range of technologies, and be able to buy goods and technologies much cheaper than if it were to go alone.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Kasiwazaki Kariwa - new leakage of radioactive water

A new radioactive water leakage was detected at Kasiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power plant in Japan.

Japanese energy company TEPCO has confirmed the fact of radioactive water leakage in the building of block No. 7 of Kasiwazaki Kariwa plant, recovered after a powerful earthquake in July this year. This is the second leakage case this week.

As the company reports, the leakage was coming from the third floor of the reactor building, and the possible source of it was the exposure pool for spent fuel.

On the 21st of October a leakage was detected on the same block of the plant via a crack in a wall.

Source: www.atominfo.ru

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Rumors about Belarusian nuclear plant

Recently this issue was mentioned in sources of Russian origin - Belarus will build a nuclear plant! It's not any more on stage of a rumor, it is oficially confirmed by president Lukashenko and prime minister Sergey Sidorsky who said that

Belarus will hold a tender next year for a project to build its first nuclear power plant, at which Russian and Western partners are expected to bid
(full text of RIA Novosti article can be found here). Seems as Russia starts to get worried that such a "piece of cake" as Belarusian nuclear power plant will be cinstructed by a Western company in responce to the cool-down of Russia-Belarus relation. Belarus is even compared to second Iran, as a dictatorship regime willing to obtain a nuclear plant as an instrument of showing power on the international arena.
In fact Belarusian project although worth as planned up to 2.8 billion USD, to be first launched in 2017, and will cover as calculated around 15% of Belarus energy needs, total capacity 2 MWatt. On the other hand, Belarusian government is looking up a little West-North to Visaginas in Lithuania, where a new modern nuclear power plant is to be built in place of the existing Ignalina plant (to be closed). This object with capacity 3200-3400 MWatt to be launched in 2015, 4 EU countries are already participating in the project (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Poland). The plant will be located close to Belarusian border, and no doubt Belarus might get interested in joining it - high voltage connection with Lithuania already existing, so why not offer cheap energy transit and get involved? Again showing Russia that there are other energy options.
In case this plan with new Ignalina works out, Belarus might actually need no nuclear plant of its own, requiring so much investment and efforts, and at the same time creating local tension among the population (still suffering from Chernobyl syndrome).
Turn East or West - where? As usual Belarus is standing between the two forces and on the path of choise.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

European officials resisting nuclear power

At least some kind of activity on a high ranking level which is opposing the "nuclear renessaince", which is being so widely discussed recently as an alternative for fossil fuels and alternativenergy as sources of electricity.
How effective this meeting will be, time will show...

Representatives from Germany, Austria, Ireland, Norway, Italy, Luxembourg, and Latvia started a two-day meeting in Vienna on Sunday, Sept. 30, to forge a joint declaration against nuclear energy. Participating politicians called for more investments in energy-efficiency measures and renewable energies rather than nuclear power.

"We are no anti-nuclear coalition, but we want to show alternatives," said Austrian Environment Minister Josef Pröll. The declaration, focusing on the safety and security risks surrounding nuclear energy, said this form of energy was not the best way to fight climate change.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Nuclear power in Sweden - police VS Greenpeace activists

Recently this story is widely published and discussed in Swedish mass median brief this is what happened: several Greenpeace activists were trying to stop a boat carrying nuclear waste from Sweden to UK, but were blocked by police and coast guard.
Full story can be found here (Swedish):
A boat called Atlantic Osprey left this morning the port of Studsvik just outside the city of Norköping, with the cargo of nuclear waste left from the experimental reactor in Studsvik which was decommisioned by the government in 2005, to Sellafields in Great Britain. The activists of Greenpeace surrounded the vessel in rubber boats, some of them actually went swimming around the vessel. Police and coast guard picked them up and kept the rubber boats on distance so that the vessel could continue its journey on the way to England.
The story is being discussed in mass media in Sweden from the very moment when Greenpeace activists have put up tents near the coast in order to kepp an eye on the vessel when it passes by, and gave interviews to Swedish television. Their main argument is that nuclea waste should not be exported to other countries where it will not be possible to handle it properly. Moreover, the existing EU legislation prohibits export of any type of dangerous waste including nuclear outside EU and also within EU from one country to another without special allowance from the government of accepting country.
So on which side is the law? Police or those whom they fight? I will follow the development of the situation. One positive remark I would like to make regarding the work of Swedish journalists drawing attention to the issue.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Pro-Nuclear PR

Recently Belarusian informational agencies such as BELTA, BelaPAN, Interfax and others are frequently publishing news pieces and interviews that are focused on the future project of Belarusian nuclear power plant building.
Here is a digest I picked out of several day's reading of national news portal tut.by (for those of you who read Russian here are the links to the articles:

Ministry of Energetics: Electicity costs for Belarus to go down 25-30% after nuclear power plant launch
Message from press conference of Vladimir Bobrov, head of investment and development department of Ministry of Energetics
September 13, 2007
He stated that “…nuclear power plant can make Belarus’ energetics more balanced”. After launch of a nuclear power plant with 2 thousand megawatt productive capacity it will take over more then 14% of total volume of electricity produced in the country and will be able to influence the initial costs of electricity production cost in Belarus. “As preliminary estimated (sounds like figure "from the air" - Alexandra Prokopenko), the costs may go down 25-30%” – Vladimir Bobrov said. He explained that the calculations were made on the basis of information received from the experience of similar nuclear power plant construction projects in Russia and other countries.
The specialist stated that involvement of nuclear power into energetic balance of Belarus is one of the important issues of energy security of Belarus (the aim of the initial PR campaign - Alexandra Prokopenko).


No doubt, today Belarus stands in a difficult position when it comes to energy independency. But does the nuclear power plant building mean that Belarus may become less dependent from such large players as Russia? It's almost obvious that the construction of the plant will be done by Russian specialists (Atomstroyexport), and paid from national budget of Belarus that has a significant debt to Russia already (recent gas price rised this year were not planned into the budget initially). Nuclear power plant also needs well trained specialists, technical service, fuel and also storage or removal of spent fuel which adds on a lot of additional costs. Will the benefit of launching the plant cover these costs and is it possible that it will make Belarus even more dependent on Russia?
Myself I see nothing wrong in interdependency of countries while diplomacy and geopolitical interests sometimes turn useful connections into chains that the master holds the dog with.
The article above is a classical example of PR positioning stage of the campaign. Means the officials started acting, decision is already made, but how to make the public to accept it?
Another article:

Business plan of nuclear power plant construction in Belarus will be ready by 2008-beginning 2009. 13 september, 2007 BELTA
The same official, same press conference, same date, same agency but brought out into a different piece of news. Message this time is that the nuclear power plant’s project is being prepared “on basis of the similar projects in Russia, France, USA and other countries”.

Interesting fact that initially there were 3 main potential “constructors” for nuclear power plant in Belarus – Russia, France (AREVA group) and USA. American constructors were excluded from the beginning for political reasons, as for the French AREVA there were several rounds of talks that ended in nothing. As for Russia, it's more a matter of principle to take the project in its hands. Which is far not the worst variant for Belarus - but again if you consider the political concequences...

Next article, only the headline and lead is enough to recognise the trace of the same bear:

Zabolotets: Reliable energy supply of Belarusian economics can be reached only by own nuclear power plant 12 september 2007 BelaPAN
BelaPAN interviews vice-speaker of Chamber of Representatives S. Zabolotets.

Here is an official of a higher level, and his statements touch upon the legal basis of energetics in Belarus. For instance, law "About non-traditional and renewable energy sources" was already in the parlament but did not pass and was sent for improvement, while "About nuclear power usage" being actively developed.
He also mentiones that Belarus' 85% dependent on energy supply from abroad, and presents nuclear power plant construction as the only means of survival in conditions of world monopoly on oil and gas redistribution, hoping Belarus will finally overcome the "Chernobyl sindrome" and turn its face to nuclear power.

Here I would argue using the example of Sweden which has 3 active nuclear power plants and 2 closed ones, and plans to close all nuclear power objects by 2010 for ecological and many other reasons. One will say Sweden has hydropower from northern rivers - right! Sweden also uses wind power, thermal power, electricity and heat from trash and wood waiste burning... Belarus could as well develop those technologies thinking about future, considering that trash and wood is much cheaper for Belarus then nuclear fuel. From many points - both economical and political.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Nuclear accidents calendar

Here one can find a calendar of nuclear accidents day by day showing technical failures before 1996, listed by months.
There are for sure more recent ones, but this one can at least show the tendency for past 50 years. Chernobyl was for sure the biggest and most known accident, but far not the only one.

More recent IAEA report (pdf downloadable, more general but still to be considered)

Monday, September 10, 2007

Chernobyl far away - Sweden to abandon nuclear power

Althought it is not so often spoken about in relation to Chernobyl, not only Russia, Belarus and Ukraine were affected by pollution in 1986. The radioactive cloud's traces were found practically all around Europe. But first it was discovered in Sweden. Here is a map of Caesium fallout in Europe after Chernobyl:

Forsmark nuclear power plant's staff was first to discover the raise of radiation level - which was first considered as concequence of some failure on their own station.

Here you can find a detailed chronology of how it happened:

http://www.zetterberg.org/Papers/ppr1986b.htm - It's a paper by Hans L Zetterberg was prepared prepared for the Eleventh Annual Symposium of the Uranium Institute in London, September 2-4, 1986. It gives a lot of interesting data of public opinion surveys of the population's relation to nuclear power plants in Sweden before and after Chernobyl. One can notice a dramatic change from a rather positive position to quick raise of negative tendencies and actually fear of nuclear energy. In many ways those tendencies still exist today. Although the distance between Chernobyl and Stockholm is more than 1,000 km, Sweden was more polluted than many neighboring countries due to radioactive rain.

Quoting Zetterberg here:

Sweden achieved its consensus on nuclear energy in a referendum in 1980 which approved of the nuclear investment in 12 reactor blocks, and in a parliamentary decision later the same year that nuclear power should be phased out by the year 2010. Sweden is the only country in the world with a formal decision to eventually abandon nuclear power. There is even a law prohibiting anyone from making plans for future investments in nuclear energy.
The decision to abandon nuclear power by 2010 has not been taken very seriously in all quarters of government and industry. It has often been said that a future parliament may reverse the decision when reviewing the track record of nuclear power. The environmentalists fear that the talk of phasing it all out by 2010 is a ritual that is designed to protect the heavy investment already taken.
In the coming posts we will take a closer look at modern situation with nuclear power in Sweden and its neighbouring countries.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Some Useful Links on Chernobyl

http://www.chernobyl.info/index.php - Here is a good website of interest when it comes to information about Chernobyl, available in English, Russian and German. The site is positioned as a source of independent information on Chernobyl disaster concequences, ongoing event etc.

http://chernobyl.undp.org/english/ - UN page on Chernobyl. There you can find links to several international documents like UN studies and recomendations to governments of affected countries, could be worth considering :)

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/chernobyl/inf07.htm Chernobyl accident by World Nuclear Association, includes detailed information like Chernobyl-type reactor drawing and detailed explanation of what happened and how.

http://www.chernobyllegacy.com/ This site was produced for the 20th anniversary of the world's biggest nuclear accident and aims to draw lessons from “Chernobyl”. - Touches upon the issue of Chernobyl myth in the media - quite a curious number of article selected here - http://www.chernobyllegacy.com/index.php?cat=3&sub=8 . Looks alternative to what is mostly written about Chernobyl in Belarus, Russia and Ukraine where information sources tend to play on emotions more then facts (although, why not balancing both? Easy to write on a problem when it does not touch you directly :))

http://www.greenfacts.org/en/chernobyl/index.htm - Collection of Chernobyl facts.

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/nucene/cherno.html -Some interesting diagrams and facts on Chernobyl.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Concequences of pollution

In previous post, I presented a brief analysis of the situation in nuclear industry in Russia. Before going on with other modern analytical articles, I would like to turn back to the old days of 20-something years ago and give a description of one of the most severe accidents in nuclear history of the humankind - Chernobyl. For there are facts and figures that raise when we speak about Chernobyl - and they are not just history but also the precent and future.

One remark before we go over to facts. Chernobyl case as no other in history showed that certain policies and lack of information can be as well as harmful for the country and nation as the pollution itself. Will explain more later, just wanted to draw your attention to this.

(this post is partially based on my MA thesis Chernobyl Reporting in Belarusian Printed Media, (Örebro University 2006)

On April 26, 1986, a major accident, determined to have been a reactivity (power increase) accident, occurred at Unit 4 of the nuclear power station at Chernobyl, Ukraine. The accident destroyed the reactor and released massive amounts of radioactivity into the environment. After the accident, access to the area in a 30 km radius around the plant was closed, except for persons requiring official access to the plant and to the immediate area for evaluating and dealing with the consequences of the accident and operation of the undamaged units. Approximately 135,000 people were evacuated. Pripyat, the town near Chernobyl where most of the plant workers lived before the 1986 accident, was evacuated several days after the accident because of radiological contamination. It was included in the 30 km exclusion zone around the plant and is closed to all but those with authorized access. Up to 4,000 people eventually died of radiation exposure, many of them the on-site staff and emergency workers called to deal with the 1986 catastrophe at the nuclear power plant in the Ukraine.

The main problem for the population so far was a constant lack of information about the true state of things around the situation with radioactivity in the country and real health impacts for the people. Several groups of experts, including delegations from UN and the WHO had studied the case carefully to evaluate the impact of the nuclear explosion. Here is a list of major outlines on Chernobyl impacts found by medical commissions from one of the recent reports called “Chernobyl's Legacy: Health, Environmental and Socio-Economic Impacts” published on Sept. 5, 2005:
· Some 4,000 cases of thyroid cancer, mainly in children and adolescents, can be attributed to the Chernobyl tragedy. Although at least nine children have died, the survival rate stands at almost 99 percent. This cancer is slow-growing, however, the children need to be followed and checked.
· There may be a slight increase in the incidence of leukemia and of solid cancers and circulatory system diseases. [...]
· There is no evidence of decreased fertility among people who were exposed to the radiation, nor has there been any evidence of congenital malformation in their offspring.
· Mental health is a critical issue faced by survivor of the disaster. "People don't have timely and accurate information, and this has caused serious troubles," Mettler said (Dr. Fred Mettler, Jr., chairman of one of the three expert groups involved in putting the report together, a radiologist at Albuquerque Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New Mexico - A.K.). "Kids who were exposed who are now 20 years old have been called Chernobyl invalids. They have an annual medical exam by 20 doctors so they think for sure something's wrong."
· Experts noted an increased incidence of cataracts that may or may not interfere with vision. The problems occurred at doses lower than generally though to be a problem. [...]
· Except for the 30-kilometer perimeter immediately surrounding the reactor and isolated other areas, radiation levels have returned to acceptable levels. Strontium and cesium will remain a concern for decades to come.
· Some structural elements of the sarcophagus built to hold the damaged reactor have degraded and pose risks. [1]Gardner, Amanda (2005) Chernobyl Legacy Not as Dark as Feared http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=53259 (January 25, 2006)

I would like to pay special attention to the position mentioning the mental health issue. The biggest problem left by Chernobyl still is the lack of correct and trustworthy information about the situation with nuclear pollution and its consequences to the country. The lack of information and general distrust to what is told by officials and mass media cause even more serious problems for the society then the radiation itself, and it can be clearly seen from the independent medical report extracts from which is given above.

Unfortunately, looks like "nuclear disinformation" or simply hidden information is not only the case in Belarus. Neighbouring Russia and Ukraine were in pretty much similar cituation because they were part of the same system. But when it comes to information about nuclear industry in the world scale - what does an international reader have access to? In the interconnected world of today, problems and accidents in one country cannot remain without impact on other countries, even those located far away. SO what do we know?

In the coming post I will give a list of several resources available on the topic with brief comments.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Here comes an article briefly scanning the pespectives of nuclear energy development in Russia for the coming years, I translated it out of Russian sources such as www.atominfo.ru

Former prime minister of Russia Sergei Kirienko as current head of “Rosatom” (national atomic energy agency of Russia) looking forward to launch at least two new reactors in Russia each year within a five year period, and the same amount of reactors to be launched abroad by Russian specialists.

As Mr. Kirienko stated in his interview in Russian newspaper “Zawtra” that the security level of Russian atomic reactors has risen several times during the last 20 years. According to him, Russian nuclear power plant is a “totally different machine” comparing to the equipment used once in Chernobyl.

Probably such confidence in the abilities of modern Russian reactors causes Mr. Kirienko’s organization to set its main goals as organizational changes, restructuring of several enterprises, and also several large scale changes within the professional community. Nuclear specialist retire and get replaced by a new generation of economists and managers, keen on financial issues but not being aware of nuclear energy industry peculiarities.

In 2006 there were 42 accidents registered on nuclear power plants in Russia. 89% of those were caused by technical, not human factors. During 2007 the statistics appear to be even more unfavorable for “Rosatom”. Only in July 2007 Kursk nuclear power plant had four cases of decreasing the power of reactors. Atomic agency of Russia blames thunders and generally hot weather, although the personnel of the power plant in their non-official comments speak about the technical failure of the worn-out equipment, and also low labor discipline.

On the other hand, the growth of world prices for oil and gas together with global warming threat causes both developed and underdeveloped countries to think over the “renaissance” of nuclear energy industry. But isn’t the large-scale building of new nuclear power plants bring a danger of new catastrophes able to cancel all the great development plans and literally cross out the entire nuclear industry?

Journalists of Associated Press decided to find out the details about the security issues on the world’s nuclear power plants. How many accidents happened in general, and is there a tendency to decrease their amount? Unfortunately, the journalistic curiosity remained unsatisfied. Official IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) web site removes the data about nuclear accidents from public access once every 6 months, in order not to represent the nuclear states “in a negative angle”.

For instance, Japan still cannot recover from bad news. The owners of Kasiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant were hiding from the public the information about the true scale of damage caused by the earthquake on July 16, 2007. Part of the data was simply lost because of the computerized monitoring systems’ failure. But even the remaining detectors’ indications prove that the Japanese engineers made a miscalculation when considering the maximum possible power of earthquake in the region, which was understated several times.

Japan is currently not planning to launch a large number of new nuclear power plants.

The accident in Japan was commented by “Rosatom” as a “simple concourse of circumstances” (comments published by Russian information agency RIA Novosti). “Rosatom”s experts claimed that the messages about radioactive leakage outside the Kasiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant was “just someone’s unjustified fear and a bunch of emotions”, although the leakage fact was accepted by the owners of the damaged plant themselves.

The situation in “Rosatom” resembles much the USSR right before Chernobyl accident, when the aged members of Politburo decided that nuclear power plants were completely secure. Kremlin did not pay much attention to the vital needs of the atomic industry and started planning a large number of nuclear plants construction, together with reorganization leaving the management of the reactors to non-professionals. Everyone is aware of how it all ended. Isn’t that the same way Kirienko’s team goes now?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Atom Watch

What do you usually think about when you hear speaking about nuclear power plant? Hmmm...
Let's try to make a brain storming. Sit down, take a piece of paper and a pen... and write down anything that comes to your mind.
My row of words looks like this:
Chernobyl, explosion, radiactive, desertion, danger, top secret, zone...
Enough to applaude and say BRAVO you are brainwashed?!!
Could well be. Growing up in 80's Belarus and hearing about radiation all the time, mostly from gossips and people in streets and sometimes from doctors in local clinic (all kids in my class at school had enlarged thyroid, so had I and still do)... And as from media - we heard quite opposite. Usually silence. Or just some calm-down statements from higher officials. Needless to say, we all grew up suspicious ti media and relying more on what we hear with our own ears and see with our own eyes.
But anyway scared. This phenomenon is sometimes mentioned as "radiophobia" (read more here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radiophobia ).
Modern world opens doors to much larger informational flow then we used to have in ex-USSR or even in modern Belarus. Internet is able to open doors an borders. There comes another problem - how do we "filter" information? Are we still being manipulated, or we are able to create our own opinion on the issue? What do we know about modern world of nuclear technology? Is "peaceful atom" really a good alternative to oil and gas that cause global warming?
Questions to be answered by everyone interested, answered by him-her-self... But once it affects your life, you just cannot remain indifferent.
I am starting up this blog because I am indifferent already. Being a journalist, I made a detailed study of what they write about Chernobyl in Belarusian press, and made several conclusions one of which is that WE ARE NOT GIVEN the appropriate information (will publish some of it later on here). Some of the info is hidden, some "misused".
What I desided to do is to try (at least try!) to publish online some info which could be found on the web or picked from other sources, which can be debated, compared, and simply take into consideration... to see at least the part of the correct and true picture of nuclear energy today.

To collegues journalists: feel free to republish any part of this blog, but please refer to Atom Watch blog and send me the link to your article. I am open to cooperation, you can contact me anytime by email or ICQ. Also you are welcome to post your comments, both professionals, specialists and just anyone interested.
Let's watch - and maybe we together are able to see the true nuclear picture of the world where we live.