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.

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.