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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.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Insurance Coverage Key to Nuclear Expansion Plans

[What I have always found interesting about this issue is how so many other industries have stronger liability limits, e.g., airlines, yet do not receive the press.]


Raymond J Lehmann

Released : Monday, June 30, 2008 1:09 AM

It is regarded among the thorniest, most unquantifiable of all risks. But with energy prices soaring to record highs, the case for nuclear power is receiving renewed public attention and, for the first time in decades, sparking significant political debate.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain has hit the campaign trail with a call to build 45 new reactors over the next 20 years, a nearly 50% increase, with a plan to speed up permitting and encourage domestic manufacture of key parts.

His Democratic opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, has been critical of the plan on grounds that McCain hasn't explained how he would handle nuclear waste. But Obama hasn't dismissed the nuclear option outright, calling it "reasonable – and realistic – for nuclear power to remain on the table for consideration."

Though often viewed as virtually uninsurable, those who regularly write and place nuclear risks paint a very different picture: that of a remarkably stable market with few claims and steady profits. Moreover, they say, a significant expansion like that called for by McCain would actually serve to grow, not shrink, available capacity.

Much of that is due to the structure of the 51-year-old Price-Anderson Act, the federal law governing liability for the U.S. nuclear industry. Last extended by 2005's Energy Policy Act, and not set to expire again until 2025, the law caps private industry liability at $10 billion, while requiring the nation's 102 nuclear facilities each to maintain at least $300 million in coverage.

Though any insurer could provide that primary layer, in practice, the only source is Connecticut-based joint underwriting authority American Nuclear Insurers, whose 22 members – each of whom must be rated at least A- (Excellent) by A.M. Best Co. – include such familiar names as American International Group Inc., Hartford Financial Services, Chubb Corp. and Ace Ltd. The balance of private coverage is provided through a secondary layer funded by post-event assessments on all facilities, which is why growth in the number of plants would actually increase available coverage, noted Gary Uricchio, ANI's vice president of underwriting.

"For every reactor that's in the program, they're liable for $100.59 million, so if you've got more reactors in there, that limit would go up, the secondary financial layer would increase," Uricchio said. "Our layer, at least for the time being, would still stay constant at $300 million."

That $300 million layer would be supplemented, in the event of a much-feared terrorist attack on a nuclear facility, by the $100 billion federal backstop erected by the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act, including coverage extended in the most recent TRIA renewal for domestic acts of terrorism. And though there have been no major U.S. nuclear accidents since 1979's Three Mile Island incident, ANI does pay claims, Uricchio notes.

"We can get claims on normal operations. It doesn't have to be an actual event, it could just be releases that are within regulatory limits," he said. "It could be meritless, where people come down with cancer and they're downstream from a reactor, but you still would have to defend."

More significant claims are often paid by Delaware-based Nuclear Electric Insurance Ltd., a captive mutual insurer that covers the U.S. nuclear industry's property and operational risks. Owned jointly by nuclear power providers like Exelon, Entergy and Florida Power & Light, NEIL – rated A (Excellent) by A.M. Best – paid out the second-largest claim in its 35-year history in 2007, a $173 million final adjustment for damages caused to FPL's St. Lucie Nuclear Plant by hurricanes Frances and Jeanne in 2004.

In addition, noted David Scott – managing director of Willis Risk Solutions' utility practice and a former NEIL underwriter – while ANI offers cover for liability claims filed by on-site contract workers, nuclear plants must procure workers' compensation coverage for their own employees in the private market, like any other employer.

"Workers' comp does not have a nuclear exclusion, so the commercial market would pick up the workers on a nuclear site," Scott said. "Now, post-9/11, there was a lot of concern about aggregation of risk, so that market is somewhat constrained, but the market will still provide workers' compensation insurance."

Price-Anderson's structure is unique among nuclear nations, Scott noted, but pooling arrangements are not. Similar national pools exist in Canada, Spain, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and a number of smaller nations. The Vienna Convention, signed by 20 countries in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl accident, requires limits of 700 million euro ($1.1 billion). Most national pools look beyond their borders for capacity by reciprocally offering facultative reinsurance, a system which seems to work even for less-mature insurance markets, Scott said.

"Willis is the broker for the next four construction projects in China for China Nuclear Power. We placed that within the Chinese market, though they did get facultative reinsurance," he said.

Still, Price-Anderson has its share of critics, ranging from Greenpeace to the consumer group Public Citizen to the free-market Cato Institute. Cato Senior Fellow Peter Van Doren said his group believes the system distorts markets and inappropriately places taxpayers on the hook for potentially hundreds of billions of dollars in losses.

Cato has estimated the cost of the Price-Anderson subsidy at 2 to 3 cents per kilowatt hour, but Van Doren notes that "anyone who tells you they know for sure isn't being honest." Moreover, even with that and other subsidies in place, private investors haven't shown much interest in nuclear, which could render McCain's plan moot.

"Nuclear power exists only because of the intervention of governments. There is no nuclear power industry anywhere in the world that's actually market driven," Van Doren said. "The big nuke burst may happen, but a lot of things have to happen first and a lot of opposition has to melt away for that to occur."

(By R.J. Lehmann, Washington bureau manager: raymond.lehmann@ambest.com)

Copyright 2008 A.M. Best Company, Inc.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

US nuclear to grow, but not fast enough

Current US policies are not enough to give nuclear power a leading role in climate protection. Although policies would promote a 15% increase in nuclear power capacity by 2030, American energy use overall would grow by 19%, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 16%.

The data comes from the US Energy Information Administration's (EIA's) Annual Energy Outlook 2008, which projects the effects of current energy policies to 2030 using the National Energy Modeling System. The report makes it clear that future US administrations must affect fairly radical changes in energy policy if they truly wish to control CO2 emissions.

Past editions of the report have been noted as sceptical about the possibilities for nuclear power in coming years, but this edition's reference scenario puts nuclear at a total capacity of 114.9 GWe in 2030 - up from 100.2 GWe now. The increase includes 2.7 GWe of power uprates at existing reactor units, plus 17 GWe of new nuclear build, and 4.5 GWe of retirements.

The projection of 15% growth in nuclear by 2030 is 33% higher than that in last year's report, but still compares less favourably to an overall growth in energy use of 19% as other energy sources grow faster. Under current policies, some 40% of new power plants are expected to be coal-fired; non-hydro renewables more than double.

Compared with these sources, nuclear power's growth rate looks essentially flat, apart from a small step change around 2018 which the EIA links to the helpful financial measures of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which also help renewables. The USA's second major source of low carbon electricity after nuclear, hydro, is not expected to grow.

The EIA puts forth two more scenarios based on low and high energy cost conditions, each of which vary from the reference case by 4% in generic cost of energy.

In the low energy cost scenario, natural gas suffers from its comparatively high fuel overheads while nuclear power benefits most and grows by an extra 10 GWe compared to the reference case.

The high-cost scenario sees the larger capital costs of renewables and nuclear hold those sources back, with 17% less renewable additions and no new nuclear at all until 2030. Under this scenario, natural gas grows fastest and takes 43% of new capacity due to its short plant construction times.

All the analyses foresee US CO2 emissions growing steadily. EIA did not think carbon capture and storage technologies would come into use without new policies and thus did not include them in the Outlook. Although the US fuel mix would shift to reduce carbon intensity, CO2 emissions would be expected to rise 16% from 2006 to 2030. Nevertheless, this increase is less than half that predicted in 2007's report.

(Source: World Nuclear News)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Philippines mulls revival of nuclear power plant

The Philippines said Thursday it is considering reviving a nuclear power plant amid the continued increase of fuel prices.

The Philippines has invited International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) experts to organize a multi-disciplinary and independent fact-finding and safety assessment mission to check if its Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) can be used as an alternative to generate energy, according to a statement of the Foreign Affairs Department released on Thursday.

The IAEA mission was to help determine whether: BNPP-1 could still be rehabilitated to generate power, and find out the corresponding technical, budgetary and safety requirements needed, the statement said.

The Philippine Department of Energy has received the final IAEA Mission Report and is now carefully reviewing it, the statement said.

The BNPP power plant is a complete pressurized water reactor that was mothballed in 1986.

The statement said the Philippines was cited in the IAEA's Annual Report for its efforts to finalize a Comprehensive Nuclear Law, which has been submitted to Congress and is now under active consideration.

Recently, Manila has submitted to the Vienna-based organization eight new proposals for national projects to be funded by the IAEA Technical Cooperation Fund for 2009-2010.

Two major projects include the establishment of an electron beam facility and the upgrading of the radio pharmaceutical laboratory, according to the statement.

"These projects will contribute to new applications of radiation technology in the country, and make nuclear medicine procedures widely available and affordable," it said.

Currently, the Philippines is a member of the IAEA Board of Governors.

(Source: Xinhua)

US Fearful of Iran's Power

Chairman of Iran's Expediency Council Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said the permanent US military base in the Middle East confirms that the West is wary of the solidarity among Muslims.

Rafsanjani, who is also the head of the Assembly of Experts, made the remark in a meeting with a number of clerics in Tehran Wednesday.

The United States and other hegemonic powers have established a military presence in Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon because they are afraid of the unity between the people and the clerics, Rafsanjani was quoted by press tv as saying.

"Iran and the Islamic Revolution are regarded by Americans as obstacles in the way of achieving their objectives in the region," he said, adding that the clerics have become the prime target of the United States.

The enemies are seeking to tarnish the reputation of clerics by downplaying their positive roles in the state affairs, he added.

Rafsanjani called on clerics and all Iranians to stay alert against the enemies' plots.

Iran and the United States broke diplomatic relations in April 1980, after Iranian students seized the United States' espionage center at its embassy in the heart of Tehran. The two countries have had tense relations ever since.

Iran and the Untied States have been locked in a standoff over Tehran's progress in the field of nuclear technology.

The United States and its close ally Israel accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon, while they have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations. Iran vehemently denies the charges, insisting that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

Tehran stresses that the country has always pursued a civilian path to provide power to the growing number of Iranian population, whose fossil fuel would eventually run dry.

Iran has also insisted that it would continue enriching uranium because it needs to provide fuel to a 300-megawatt light-water reactor it is building in the southwestern town of Darkhoveyn as well as its first nuclear power plant in the southern port city of Bushehr.

Tel Aviv and Washington have recently intensified their threats to launch military action against Iran to make Tehran drop what they allege to be a non-peaceful nuclear program, while a recent report by 16 US intelligence bodies endorsed the civilian nature of Iran's programs.

Following the US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) and similar reports by the IAEA head - one in November and the other one in February - which praised Iran's truthfulness about key aspects of its past nuclear activities and announced settlement of outstanding issues with Tehran, any effort to impose further sanctions or launch military attack on Iran seems to be completely irrational.

The February report by the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, praised Iran's cooperation in clearing up all of the past questions over its nuclear program, vindicating Iran's nuclear program and leaving no justification for any new UN sanctions.

Following the said reports by US and international bodies, many world states have called the UN Security Council pressure against Tehran unjustified, demanding that Iran's case must be normalized and returned from the UNSC to the IAEA.

(Source: Fars News Agency)

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd rejects push for nuclear power

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has rejected a push by labour movement figures to consider nuclear energy as a stopgap until renewable technologies become established.

Australian Workers' Union (AWU) national secretary Paul Howes and former NSW premier Bob Carr have called on the federal government to rethink Labor's opposition to the nuclear power industry.

Australia is a major uranium producer and exporter but is a heavy user of greenhouse gas-producing coal sources for its electricity generation.

The former Howard government commissioned a study into the prospect of nuclear reactors but Labor has consistently ruled out the technology as an energy source.

"On the question of nuclear, we believe that we have a huge range of energy options available to Australia beyond nuclear with which and through which we can respond to the climate change challenge," Mr Rudd said in response to the challenge.

Mr Howes said most of the developed world was now seriously looking at nuclear as an alternative energy source.

"In the UK, there's going to be the expansion of nuclear facilities there," he told the Fairfax Radio Network.

"France now has 80 per cent of its power generated from nuclear, all as short solutions, that is 20- to 50-year solutions until other technologies, such as fusion and hot rock ... are developed and are widely available as baseload power."

Nuclear power would always be a sensitive issue, he said.

"But we have 40 per cent of the world's uranium in Australia.

"Labor has overturned the three-mines policy and I think it's now a time for another healthy, sensible and rational debate about this issue without falling back to alarmist sentiments."

Mr Carr said nuclear power was the critical bridge between the carbon and renewable energy eras.

"There is no other bridging technology to get us from this catastrophic burning of coal and oil into the era of cheap and infinite renewable power," he told The Australian newspaper.

The Australian Greens slammed Mr Carr's logic.

Greens senator Christine Milne said renewable energy was closer than nuclear energy.

"A bridging technology can only be useful if it can be brought on much faster than the final intended technology. That is patently not the case with nuclear and renewables," she said.

"We don't need a dirty, expensive and dangerous bridge when we can leap across to the other shore if we make the effort to do so."

On other energy issues, Mr Rudd said the cost of petrol and electricity would not be insulated from the operation of an emissions trading scheme (ETS).

"If you act on climate change and the emissions trading system then obviously there's a flow-through consequence on the cost of petrol and the cost of energy," he said.

Opposition Leader Brendan Nelson said families must be protected from higher petrol and electricity prices caused by an ETS.

"We know that our economy, and that's all of us, are going to pay a price for it (climate change)," he said.

"The one thing that Mr Rudd must guarantee is on petrol and on electricity costs, that he will guarantee that he will protect Australian families."

(Source: APP)

Turkey Confirms Location of Second Nuclear Power Plant, Bids to Be Opened Sep 08

Turkey's energy minister announced on Thursday that Turkey would construct its second nuclear power plant in a Black Sea city.

Energy & Natural Resources Minister Hilmi Guler said that the plant would be built in the northern city of Sinop, and the tender would be held in 2008.

"The dimensions of the second nuclear power plant have not been determined yet, but it will not be smaller than the one to be constructed in Mersin's Akkuyu town (south of Turkey)," Guler told reporters.

Guler said that the second nuclear plant would be in Inceburun hamlet of Sinop, but told reporters that the type of tender and the details had not been shaped up yet.

Six firms/consortia have got specifications for the tender for 4,000-megawatt nuclear power plant in Akkuyu. They are AECL Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (Canada), Itochu Corporation (Japan), Vinci Construction Grand Projects (France), Suez Tractebel (France- Belgium), Atostroyexport (Russia), KEPCO (South Korea).

Bids for the tender will be opened on September 24th, 2008.

Originally published by Anatolia news agency, Ankara, in English 0725 26 Jun 08.

(Source: RedOrbit)

USA Politics: What To Do About Nuclear Waste

Obama says he might support more nuclear plants, but only with a solution for radioactive waste.

"What can bring gas prices down is a long-term, serious energy policy," Obama said during a meeting in Chicago with leaders of major American corporations, including Ford and JP Morgan Chase.

U.S. Sen. John McCain believes America should drill for oil off-shore and build dozens of new nuclear power plants. Obama has said "maybe" to nuclear power, but only if we can solve the problem of nuclear waste.

In Wednesday's "Truth In Politics," CBS 2 Political Editor Mike Flannery reports that is a mighty big "if."

From Illinois Beach State Park, it's a short walk to the old Zion nuclear power plant – shut down in the 1990s but still holding tons of radioactive poison. Scientists said that nuclear waste will still be lethal for 10,000 years.

Chicagoan Beverly Easterly said she would like to see that waste moved away from the lake. "A very unhealthy situation for it to be here."

Jane Dishman of Lake Villa said, "They need to get it off of Lake Michigan … soon. … Not anywhere. If they could put it in the mountains there in Nevada, you know."

With more nuclear power plants than any other state, Illinois politicians, including former House Speaker Dennis Hastert, fought for years to move the deadly waste, eventually forging a federal plan to bury it under Yucca Mountain in an empty Nevada desert.

Critics complained Yucca Mountain might leak, winning over another Illinois politician. Barack Obama regularly has attacked the Yucca Mountain plan when in Nevada, campaigning against McCain, who recently called for dozens of new nuclear plants.

"It makes about as much sense as his proposal to build 45 new nuclear reactors without a plan to store the waste someplace other than, guess where, right here in Nevada at Yucca Mountain. Folks, these are not serious energy policies," Obama said at one such campaign rally.

While opposing plans to move Illinois' nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain, Obama said he would do research to find another solution.

Illinois Congressman Mark Kirk said, "We have more than 30 nuclear plants around the Great Lakes, all that have stored highly radioactive nuclear waste, including plutonium, right next to the source of 95 percent of the fresh water of the United States."

All sides in the debate agree that having that much nuclear waste near the Great Lakes is as dumb as it gets. Kirk has been a strong supporter of burying the radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain.

The nation's largest operator of nuclear power plants is Exelon, the parent company of our electric utility, ComEd. A spokesman told us Exelon has a plan to build a new nuclear power plant in Texas and wants the Illinois General Assembly to repeal this state's current freeze on new nuclear plants, which, combined with renewable sources such as solar and wind power, would help free us from dependence on foreign oil.

(Source: CBS)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

An interesting web site about Russian nuclear sites

The site is a flash map showing radiological situation on Rosatom nuclear sites, including not just power plant but also chemical plants and other nuclear-related sites.
Unfortunately, only Russian version available. By clicking on the site map you may zoom the object you wish to get more information about, and then select the measuring station. Small black line on the graph shows the measured technical level of radiation, the green color indicates natural radioactivity level.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Obama criticizes McCain's nuclear power plan

U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama on Tuesday criticized his rival John McCain's proposal to encourage the building of 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030.

Obama, a Democrat, said the Republican candidate lacked a plan for storage of the waste. It was among several energy-strategy ideas that Obama said were "not serious energy policies."

Obama was speaking in Nevada, a state where proposals to build a nuclear waste disposal site at Yucca Mountain have generated strong opposition.

He also took aim at McCain's plan to allow more offshore U.S. oil drilling.

"It doesn't make sense for America," Obama said. "In fact, it makes about as much sense as his proposal to build 45 new nuclear reactors without a plan to store the waste some place other than right here at Yucca Mountain," the Illinois senator said.

The U.S. Energy Department has applied for a license to operate a long-delayed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, about 90 miles (145 km) from Las Vegas.

Opposition in the U.S. Congress to the Yucca Mountain waste site is among the hurdles it faces. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada, is among those who oppose it.

McCain, an Arizona senator, backs the project, while Obama is against it.

Asked his views on nuclear power in Jacksonville, Florida on Friday, Obama said, "I think that nuclear power should be in the mix when it comes to energy." But he added, "I don't think it's our optimal energy source because we haven't figured out how to store the waste safely or recycle the waste."

Obama supports using federal research and development dollars to explore whether nuclear waste can be stored safely for reuse.

(Source: Reuters)

'Indo-US nuclear deal should result in two-way trade'

The proposed Indo-US nuclear deal will have to be a mutually beneficial relationship, and not one-way imports of reactors and equipment by India, a top official said here Tuesday.

"We are looking for a relationship that is two-way: for India to be able to export and import," Nuclear Power Corp of India Ltd (NPCIL) chairman and managing director S.K. Jain told reporters after the successful launch of a prototype fast-breeder reactor (PFBR) safety vessel.

"We can absorb the pressurized water reactor technology and later export this to those who need it," he added.

Echoed Baldev Raj, director of Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR): "India is considered a world leader today in fast-breeder reactor technology. After the 1970s, no other country has built a fast-breeder reactor on a commercial scale, which is what India is now doing in building PFBR."

The Rs.34.92-billion 500 megawatt PFBR, being built by the Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (Bhavini), is a joint effort of IGCAR and NPCIL - with the former providing the technology, and the latter its expertise in construction of nuclear power plants.

Jain said Indian private sector manufacturers of nuclear power equipment were awaiting the nuclear deal with the US as it would enhance their business prospects and make them part of the international nuclear business community.

"While that is for the future, today the Indian nuclear establishment is looking at indigenous technology for its needs," he said.

The PFBR project site near IGCAR, Madras Atomic Power Station (Maps), is a beehive of activity as construction work progresses.

Officials the project is divided into two: the nuclear island - projects related to nuclear energy, and the power island - projects related to power generation.

"Most of the work pertaining to the nuclear island is nearing completion. The lowering of the safety vessel into the reactor vault, the first non-civil work, is a major step," Jain said.

The huge 200-tonne vessel with a 13-metre diameter and a 13-metre height can hold 1.1 million litres of liquid, said A. Ananth, Bhavini project engineer, planning and instrumentation.

"In another three months, the main vessel weighing about 100 tonnes will go inside the safety vessel and will be followed by the inner vessel," he added.

The PFBR project was started in 2003 and is expected to start producing power by 2010.

Jain said two more fast reactors will come up in Kalpakkam, about 80 kilometres from Chennai.

Queried on the declining plant load factor (PLF) of nuclear plants for want of uranium, Jain said NPCIL facilities would operate at 85 percent PLF in another three to four years. "We are in the process of developing uranium mines for that purpose," he said.

While trial production had commenced at the Turamdih uranium mine in Jharkhand after teething problems were sorted out, Jain said new mine projects were being planned in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Meghalaya.

(Source: The Economic Times, India)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Ukraine announces bid to construct nuclear power plant

Ukraine has suggested that Russia, France and the US to place bids in a tender to complete the construction of the third and fourth blocks of a nuclear power plant, the country's Fuel and Energy Ministry reported today. In order to win the commission, the ministry in cooperation with the national nuclear energy company Energoatom have outlined criteria for selecting the best bid for the construction of a new reactor facility. The tender will be closed on July 31, 2008.

Fuel and Energy Minister Yury Prodan pointed out that Russia could have a slight advantage in the tender, as in the past the criteria used to select bids for such facilities were drafted with reference to Russian-made nuclear power reactor.

(Source: RBC)


Hitachi Ltd. and General Electric Co. said Friday that their joint nuclear power operation GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy will partner with Canada's Cameco Corp., the world's largest uranium producer, to promote a new uranium enrichment business.

Cameco will acquire a 24 per cent interest in GE Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment (GLE), whose new technology uses laser energy to enrich uranium. The value of the acquisition has not been made public, but GE will remain the largest shareholder with a 51 per cent stake.

By joining forces, Cameco's uranium production business and GE Hitachi's fuel enrichment and power plant construction operations can be combined to offer utilities an all-in-one service encompassing everything from nuclear fuel to power-generation equipment.

Four firms now dominate the global market for nuclear enrichment, but GLE plans to enter this business with a new laser technology that is more efficient than the existing methods of gas diffusion and centrifuge enrichment. GLE hopes to begin to use its technology for fuel enrichment in 2012.

(Source: Trading Markets)

N.Korea invites media to nuclear plant blast

North Korea is to blow up a key part of its controversial Yongbyon nuclear reactor on Friday.

The destruction of the plant's cooling tower is part of an agreement with the United States aimed at denuclearizing the Korean peninsula in exchange for loosening some restrictions on the highly secretive Communist country.

The North Korean government has invited news organizations, including CNN, to witness the event.

Earlier this year, Pyongyang agreed to disable its nuclear reactor and provide a full accounting of its plutonium stockpile, "acknowledge" concerns about its proliferation activities and its uranium enrichment activity, and agree to continue cooperation with a verification process to ensure no further activities are taking place.

North Korea has been taking Yongbyon's main reactor apart, but imploding the cooling tower is an exceptionally important psychological step given that the highly recognizable shape of the structure is synonymous with nuclear power plants.

The United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, says it would take a year to rebuild if North Korea decided to go back on its agreement, and that the construction could not be done in secret.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice defended U.S. diplomacy toward North Korea last week, saying the deal with Pyongyang made Asia and the U.S. safer.

Speaking at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative Washington think tank, Rice said that "North Korea will soon give its declaration of nuclear programs to China."

China is the host of the six-party talks aimed at ending North Korea's nuclear program, along with Russia, South Korea, Japan and the United States.

Rice spoke in advance of her upcoming trip to Asia where she will be attending a meeting of G8 foreign ministers and meeting with her Asian counterparts.

Rice said once North Korea submits its declaration, President Bush will notify Congress he intends to remove North Korea from the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism and scrap some sanctions levied against North Korea because of nuclear concerns.

But she noted that there would be no practical effect to loosening the restrictions because North Korea still was under the same sanctions because of other areas of U.S. law.

Rice said a 45-day review would then begin to see if North Korea is telling the truth and living up to its end of the deal struck in the six-party talks.

"Before those actions go into effect, we would continue to assess the level of North Korean cooperation in helping to verify the accuracy and completeness of its declaration," she said. "And if that cooperation is insufficient, we will respond accordingly."

The United States softened its demand that North Korea publicly admit to having a highly enriched uranium program and to providing Syria with nuclear technology, key unanswered questions that have left negotiations stalled for months.

North Korea has already handed over about 18,000 documents on its nuclear past to the U.S., which the U.S. says are critical to verify North Korea's claims.

Rice said that the deal with North Korea wasn't perfect but offered the U.S. the best chance to learn about North Korea's nuclear history.

"We must keep the broader goal in mind: the elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons and programs, all of them," she said. "North Korea has said that it is committed to this goal. We'll see."

Rice said that "no final agreement can be concluded" unless the U.S. verifies North Korea's claims.
(Source: CNN)

Nuclear power plant to run school

Sellafield nuclear power plant will run a state school specialising in science and business enterprise, it has been revealed.

Sellafield Ltd, which runs the plant near Whitehaven, Cumbria, is one of three organisations that will manage the new West Lakes Academy.

The University of Central Lancashire and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority are the other organisations involved in the academy, which was formed by the merging of two secondary schools.

The academy will open in September in Egremont, near Sellafield. The institution will initially operate in the premises of one of the closing schools, while modern facilities are built in the next year.

A spokesman for the nuclear plant said: "Sellafield Ltd is key to Britain's energy future and our ongoing support for the West Lakes Academy is part of a wider strategy to help reinforce the nuclear skills base in the UK and secure the inclusion of west Cumbria in the UK's energy policy.

"Our business is a valuable strategic asset to the UK in terms of its operational expertise and also the capacity it has to develop that knowledge within a new generation of nuclear experts who will maintain Sellafield's position as global centre of excellence for nuclear skills."

(Source: The Press Association)

UAE invites bids for nuclear power plant: press

The United Arab Emirates has invited bidders for the construction of a nuclear power plant, which if built would be the first in an Arab country, a local daily said Monday.

Nine bidders are competing for the contract, Emirates Business said quoting unnamed sources.

Amec, a British-based engineering firm, told the daily that it was one of the nine companies short-listed to manage the nuclear power plant.

"We were asked to submit the initial document and we have done so. There are many more stages to go. We are expecting the contracts to be in place by the end of the year," Graham Bellwood, Amec's Middle East regional director, told the daily.

He said the tender is now in the pre-qualification stage.

In April, the UAE issued a white paper on potential plans to develop peaceful nuclear energy, stressing it would import nuclear fuel for any reactor it builds and not enrich uranium at home.

France signed a deal to help the UAE develop nuclear energy for peaceful ends during a visit by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Abu Dhabi in January. An atomic energy cooperation agreement was signed with the United States in April.

Amid concerns over neighbouring Iran's nuclear aims and regional clout, the Arab countries of the Gulf decided in December 2006 to develop a joint nuclear technology programme for peaceful purposes.

(Source: AFP)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Russia, EU start work on civilian nuclear power deal - Rosatom

Russia and the European Union are working on an agreement on the civilian use of atomic energy, a deputy head of Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom said on Friday.

"We are now starting consultations with the European Union on an agreement on the civilian use of nuclear power," Nikolai Spassky, who is in charge of international cooperation, said.

Spassky said Rosatom hopes the issue of supply quotas for Russian nuclear products for the European market will be resolved as part of a new cooperation and partnership agreement.

He said the EU is showing some progress in resolving this issue. "The EU has voiced its readiness to move to abolish the Corfu declaration," he said.

Russian supplies are restricted by the so called Corfu declaration, an internal EU document, to 20% of the overall amount of nuclear fuels and materials supplied for European nuclear power plants.

The previous partnership agreement between Russia and the EU expired in 2007.

(Source: RIA Novosti)

Thursday, June 19, 2008

IAEA to help Bangladesh set up nuclear power plant

Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will assist Bangladesh with technical assistance in setting up a nuclear power plant to meet its growing energy need.

A three-member Bangladesh delegation headed by SM Wahiduzzaman, secretary of the Ministry of Science and Technology of the caretaker government, recently visited Vienna at the invitation of the IAEA and got the assurance after talking with IAEA officials.

A government official who declined to give his name told Xinhua Thursday the talks of Bangladesh delegation with IAEA officials were fruitful.

"We got assurance from the agency beyond our expectations," he said.

The IAEA has developed a program for providing the technical assistance to Bangladesh who topped the list of eight developing countries received clearance from IAEA for setting up nuclear power plant last year.

The Bangladesh delegation apprised the IAEA officials of their country's existing infrastructural facilities for implementing the plant.

About cost of the plant, the official said, one Megawatt of such energy will now cost around 1.52 million U.S. dollar. Initially Bangladesh will go for a plant of 600 to 1,000 MW.

About availability of fund, the official did not name any country, but said several countries are interested to provide the required fund.

"Fund is not a problem," he said.

Bangladesh generates around 4,000 MW power a day against its demand over 5,000 MW. Due to inconsistent power supply, the economy of the country particularly the industrial and agriculture productivity are the worst hit.

(Source: ChinaView)

G-8 Funding Likely to Boost Indian Nuclear Power

The U.S. and other G8 countries have earmarked $10 billion for promoting clean energy in emerging economies such as India and China

Indian companies planning to set up nuclear power or renewable energy ventures can now look forward to offshore financing. The US, along with other G8 countries, is poised to create a $10-billion corpus for promoting clean energy in developing countries like India and China.

The US, UK and Japan have committed $5 billion between themselves to this end, while the other G8 countries are likely to participate in the fund. Nuclear power and renewable energy is believed to be the answer to climate change.

"The US and other developed countries have proposed a new clean energy technology fund over the next three years to counter climate change worldwide. The US has already committed $2 billion for this cause.

The fund will be given as seed money to private sector players for setting up clean projects," White House Council of Environment Quality chairman James L Connaughton said on Tuesday, at an event organised by Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Mr Connaughton further said: "The UK and Japan have collectively contributed $3 billion. Other G8 countries are likely to participate." The fund is aimed at encouraging deployment of all forms of cleaner and more efficient technologies in developing countries. This would help leverage local private sector capital by making clean energy projects more commercially attractive.

The White House confidante said the US has proposed to remove all tariff and non-tariff barriers to promote clean energy. The US government has also proposed $42-43 billion as long term guarantee for nuclear power projects. It plans to offer another $5 billion for research in carbon capture and carbon storage technologies, over the next five years.

India, which is a huge user of coal, will be a top beneficiary. "Three top energy companies—Coal India, NTPC and ONGC—were looking to initiate research on this. Now, we've learnt that the US has expanded the scope of the fund. So, there will be some modifications," Coal India chairman Partha Bhattacharyya said. ICC senior vice-president Sanjay Budhiaa observed: "Collective action is needed now and will be critical in driving an effective and efficient response."

(Source: Business Week)

Merkel Says It's `Wrong' to Close German Nuclear Power Plants

Finally, the Germans decided to go nuclear and realized that it's not very correct to keep seizing nuclear facilities while the rest of Europe is constructing new ones. My respect, Mrs. Chancellor!

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the government's policy of phasing out nuclear power plants was ``wrong'' and should be reversed.

``I think it's wrong to shut down nuclear plants that are among the safest in the world,'' Merkel said today in a speech to an economic conference of her Christian Democratic Union in Berlin. ``Whenever it's possible, and I'm still hoping that some may realize this, this policy must be corrected.''

Germany is committed to closing down its nuclear power plants by about 2021 under an agreement reached by the previous coalition government of then Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats and the Green Party.

While Merkel's coalition of Christian Democrats and Social Democrats agreed in 2005 to continue the policy, both parties are seeking to set out their differences before the next national election in September next year.

``We in Germany must conduct a prudent energy policy,'' Merkel said. ``What we are doing at the moment is eroding the diversity of energy production rather than taking steps to expand it. I believe that's the wrong course.''

It's not in the interests of Germany, Europe's biggest economy, ``if we have to buy nuclear energy from France and Finland only because we've switched off our own plants,'' Merkel said.

(Source: Bloomberg)

Global investors circle new nuclear markets

[It appears the investors are beginning to think more about nuclear...]


Investors see the USA as the best place in the world to engage in nuclear build projects. Next come the UK and China, followed by South Africa. Banks and utilities, however, are yet to make serious moves.

The list of countries comes from Ernst & Young research commissioned by the UK government, a summary of which was presented in London today by Adam Dawson of the country's department of business and enterprise as part of SMI's inaugural Financing Nuclear Power conference.

Delegates heard that there is widespread confidence in the new nuclear power markets among investors. Pieter Stor of RBS presented ABN Amro research which had nuclear power as the cheapest generation source of all when carbon costs were taken into account. He said his figures were based on conservative values of $60 per barrel of oil and €30 ($46) per tonne of carbon dioxide and concluded: "Why invest in nuclear new build? Because it's deemed to be profitable."

However, very large uncertainties remain in the market for new reactors, which is yet to see many significant orders outside of China. Items at the top of financiers' list of concerns according to both Stor and the Ernst & Young research concern political and regulatory stability as well as volatility in prices for energy and carbon dioxide emissions. Stor said each investor had to make up its mind what energy prices would do in the long term.

These concerns are compounded by the capital required to build nuclear power plants - the cost of financing construction amounts to around 55% of the final cost of electricity. Stor said that banks are not keen to finance individual projects, which they think have too much uncertainty during application and build, but would prefer to be involved in fleets of new reactors and are becoming more comfortable with that idea.

Ernst & Young's research consisted of interviews with 18 investors from Europe and North America. Dawson said the results indicated that the USA is "almost in a league of its own" because of its sheer scale, the ease of doing business and the relative regulatory certainty. In addition, the US government has announced certain amounts of funding and loan guarantees for the first companies to test the licensing process and begin building respectively. The 32 new reactors at various stages of planning are testimony to this.

Dawson said he was pleased the UK came in as the second best place to do nuclear business, with China at a similar level. Next he said South Africa was moving up rapidly, and was ahead of European countries which had the possibility of multiple new reactors. He added that the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states were not yet on the list, but they probably would be soon.

The US government's financial support for nuclear has helped to overcome nervousness among companies of being the first to try new regimes, said Malcolm Keay, a fellow at the Oxford Institute for Energy Studies. Referring to the USA and the UK, he said that once firm orders are made for new nuclear plants there could be a "stampede" from companies that don't wish to be left behind. Similarly, the current position of many companies expressing interest in nuclear is in some part due to strategic reasons. The real state of the market, he said, would only be known once companies begin to take hard decisions in a few years' time.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Brazil: AREVA Awarded Service Contracts for Angra 1 and 2 Nuclear Power Plants

AREVA (Paris:CEI) was awarded six contracts totaling over 45 million euros by Brazilian utility Eletronuclear, to carry out extensive service works on the Angra 1 and 2 nuclear power plants.

With a duration period of three to five years, the scope of the contracts mainly covers works on Angra 2 and comprises key service needs for a nuclear reactor in operation.

AREVA will carry out examination and maintenance operations on the reactors mechanical and electrical main components and will provide local support to meet its customers needs.

In the framework of these orders, AREVA will implement its proven integrated service concept not only during plant outage but also during operation. AREVAs comprehensive offer will lower operating costs for Eletronuclear while enhancing the reliability of its plants.

These new successes will further strengthen the cooperation between the two companies in Brazil.

The group already provides services for both Angra plants and, together with Eletronuclear, has been performing the yearly outages for Angra 2 since its connection to the grid in 2001.

(Source: Business Wire)

National Post, Canada: Nuclear's changing fortunes

Along-promised, never-quite-delivered revival of nuclear energy may finally be underway in Canada and one of the key reasons is, at first glance, counterintuitive -- the environment.

Unlike coal, nuclear power plants produce negligible greenhouse gases, meaning the once-unpopular energy option is gaining currency in a post-Kyoto world.

Another factor that was once considered a negative for nuclear energy has also become a benefit: cost. Unlike plants fired by natural gas, nuclear ones are relatively unaffected by the rising price of fuel.

And in comparison to 30 years ago, when local protestors fought plans to build nuclear facilities, communities now woo the projects. Ontario will soon announce the sites for two new nuclear plants, possibly as soon as today. New Brunswick, Alberta and Saskatchewan are flirting with their own projects. Everything finally seems to be in nuclear power's favour but, as one environmentalist put it, "never underestimate the sector's ability to fall on its own sword."

Canada's nuclear industry does have success stories, but they mostly occur overseas.

Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's construction of two of its Candu reactors in China took less time or money than expected when completed five years ago, while three Candu reactors operating in South Korea regularly rate among the world's most productive.

These triumphs are partly responsible for Canada's renewed interest in nuclear power, but more important are upswings in concern about global warming and fossil fuel prices.

"It boils down to a very simple calculus," said Steve Alpin, an Ottawa-based energy consultant. "Our major fuel sources are coal, nuclear and natural gas. Coal is politically incorrect, because of the greenhouse gas issue and air pollution. Up until three years ago, natural gas was a realistic alternative, but prices went up and people realized it is in very short supply [in North America]. That leaves nuclear. It's really that simple."

Recent moves toward putting a price on carbon emissions has only heightened the interest, Mr. Alpin said. Nuclear power emits one-twentieth of the greenhouse gases of gas-fired plants, a statistic that looks good for both the environment and the economy.

"When you look at options for baseload electricity generation that's environmentally friendly -- while being reliable and economic -- nuclear seems to come out on the top," Hugh MacDiarmid, AECL's president, said in an interview.

The notion of a nuclear reactor as a green energy source has caused deep divisions among activists. Several prominent environmentalists, including Greenpeace founder Patrick Moore, are vocal proponents. Others dismiss nuclear's environmental benefits as propaganda put forward by the industry. "You'd have to have a pretty high price on carbon for that benefit to start to show because of the large up-front costs involved in building a new nuclear plant," said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a Greenpeace campaigner. Indeed, a 2003 Massachusetts Institute of Technology study found a tax of between $100 and $200 per tonne of carbon would be needed to justify construction of new nuclear plants. By way of comparison, the carbon pricing plan recently announced by the NDP called for a price of $35 per tonne.

High construction costs remains one of nuclear's major drawbacks. The country's nuclear history is glutted with projects that cost too much, took too long to complete or never worked as promised. The Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, the last plant built in Canada, was five years behind scheduled when it was finished in 1993. Its price tag ballooned to $14-billion from $5-billion. The federally owned AECL last month cancelled plans to build new reactors to produce medical isotopes near Chalk River, Ont., while the refurbishment of the Bruce Power plant in Kincardine, Ont. is currently more than $300-million over budget. Dalton Mc-Guinty, Ontario's Premier, admitted last week that his province's $26.5-billion plan to refurbish old reactors and build two new ones is "an expensive proposition." Nonetheless, proponents argue the low operation costs -- and freedom from fluctuating resources prices --more than justify the sticker price. "When you talk about nuclear, the cost of the uranium is such a small portion of running a reactor," said Martyn Wash, president of the Organization of Candu Industries, an industry group. "With gas or oil, 80% to 90% of the cost of producing power is the fuel, compared with 10% for nuclear. The price of uranium can jump and it doesn't have a big impact of electricity prices."

With natural gas prices rising by more than a third in the past year, even provinces rich in natural resource, s such as Alberta, are starting to consider nuclear power as an option. The provincial government this spring appointed an expert panel to study Bruce Power's $10-billion proposal to build the province's first nuclear plant.

New Brunswick is also considering construction of new reactor in Point Lepreau, where the province's existing nuclear reactor is located. AECL and several partners are working on the $6-billion project, which could be the first nuclear plant in the world that is built and then operated by a private consortium.

"We are going to be breaking some new ground in taking that project forward," Mr. MacDiarmid said. "There's no question it raises the bar in terms of the economics and imposes the highest possible standard in terms of your power purchase agreements and ability to forecast demand."

Details of the ground-breaking plan will likely take months to work out, according to Mr. MacDiarmid.

(Source: National Post)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

46 Percent of Germans Want Nuclear Power, Survey Says

An opinion survey shows 46 percent of Germans want to keep nuclear power stations operating if that is the way to stop electricity prices soaring, a German newspaper reported Sunday.

Bild am Sonntag newspaper commissioned the survey, the resulty of which it published on Sunday, June 15. Pollsters Emnid questioned more than 500 people.

Eight years ago, Germany legislated a phasing out of nuclear power which foresees premature closure for all 12 existing German nuclear power stations. The last generator, reactor II at Neckarwestheim in southwest Germany, is currently set to close in 2022.

The poll found 46 percent approved of the closure plan or wanted nuclear power to end immediately. The rest did not know.

The recent surge in world energy prices has prompted a re-assessment of anti-nuclear policies in several European nations including Italy, which has ordered new nuclear plants to be built.

(Source: Deutsche Welle)

Uneasy over safety procedures at nuclear plants

An article I was curious to read because it represents an example of antinuclear discourse in the third world. Chernobyl story is an old story, and looks like the speaker does not really know WHY it did happen - not because of the reactor construction, but because of tests with all security systems off. Such things might happen if the reactor gets in hands of crazy people who hardly know the consequences of their actions. Explode a couple of chemical plants and you will get much more severe consequences then Chernobyl but that is not used as an argument to stop chemical production.

Again, here we find typical "poor us" and "evil and rich them", willing to leave us a dangerous technology that they do not want to have at home, and so on. Enjoy this propaganda piece :)

There are many who still oppose the use of nuclear energy to generate power. The Centre for Environmental Technology and Development Malaysia (CETDEM) executive-director Anthony Tan says that there is no technology for the safe disposal of depleted rods from power stations, which have a half-life of a few thousand years.

“The only thing they can do now is to store it deep underground or have it reprocessed,” says Tan, adding that the depleted uranium can be refined and used as raw materials to build weapons of mass destruction.

There is also the matter of the environment, says Tan.

As a result of the Chernobyl disaster, radioactive particles were strewn into the atmosphere from Soviet Union into a large part of Europe, resulting in the evacuation and resettlement of over 336,000 people.

“If such an incident happens in Malaysia, who would be safe?” says Tan.

The IAEA report on the disaster said that more than 4,000 thyroid cancer cases had been diagnosed in children, and it was most likely that a large fraction of these was attributable to radioactive particles in milk.

Tan also questioned the decommissioning of a nuclear power station after it has passed its usefulness.

“How does one disable a nuclear power station? This is one unseen cost the proponents of nuclear power did not see,” he says.

Tan adds that a huge amount of funding or incentives are needed to make the nuclear industry viable as the costs are astronomical.

“This funding could go into renewable energy (such as solar), making it cheaper for the middle class,” he says.

He adds that the known reserves for uranium are depleting and this would also increase its cost.

“The whole argument of using nuclear as a cheap source of power then becomes questionable,” says Tan.

The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) is also against nuclear energy as it alleges that Western corporations are pushing for nuclear power in developing countries because of opposition to it from environmental groups and civil society.

“They want to dump on us their technology (probably outmoded) and make a profit. Further, we will also be dependent on them for maintenance and spare parts. We should resist this pressure from them and their local agents linked to politicians,” says CAP president S.M. Mohamed Idris.

And although modern nuclear power stations are said to be safe, Tan believes that it is better not to take chances.

“It can be very safe, but if one mistake or oversight is made, there won't be any second chances,” says Tan.

(Source: The Star, Malaysia)

Exploration drives uranium resources up 17%

[An older article, however it is interesting how uranium resources are not as scarce as many people may believe.]

Current economic uranium resources will last for over 100 years at current consumption rates, while it is expected there is twice that amount awaiting discovery. With reprocessing and recycling, the reserves are good for thousands of years.

Uranium ore. There's plenty more where
that came from
Worldwide around 5.5 million tonnes of uranium that could be economically mined has been identified. The figure is up 17% compared to that from the last edition of the Red Book because of a surge in exploration for uranium prompted by a dramatic price increase.

In addition to these identified resources, the category of uranium that could be expected to be found based on the geologic characteristics of known resources has grown by 500,000 tonnes to 10.5 million tonnes.

The data comes from Uranium 2007: Resources, Production and Demand - often known as the Red Book - published every two years by the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Red Book figures are for deposits which could be mined for less than $59/lb. This compares to the current market spot price of around $70/lb. Based on 2006 nuclear electricity generation data, the 5.5 million tonnes of known uranium would be enough to sustain nuclear power's current contribution in electricity for more than a century.

For many years uranium traded for less than $15/lb, but the increase of interest in nuclear power together with the forthcoming end of an agreement to source uranium from dismantled nuclear weapons and speculation by investment funds led to a price spike.

From a starting point of $10/lb in May 2003, the price of uranium increased consistently until July 2007, when it reached a high of $138/lb. Spurred on by this strong price signal, expenditure on exploration rocketed to total over $774 million in 2006, an increase of over 250% compared to 2004. The NEA said exploration figures for 2007 would likely match those for 2006.

IAEA projections for the future of nuclear power see it expanding from 372 GWe today to 509-663 GWe by 2030. Such growth would cause an increase in uranium demand from 66,500 tonnes per year to between 94,000 and 122,000 tonnes. The NEA concluded that "currently identified resources are adequate to meet this expansion," noting that advanced reactors and the reprocessing and recycling of uranium "could increase the long-term availability of nuclear energy from a century to thousands of years."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ukrainian nuclear reactor leaks radioactive water

A nuclear reactor in western Ukraine was suspended from operating after it was discovered leaking radioactive water, causing no environmental damage, said a Ukrainian official.

A senior official of Rivne nuclear power plant said on condition of anonymity that 1.3 cubic meters of water for cooling the reactor leaked due to pipe break. The leakage was restricted in an enclosed area with no spillover.

An announcement from Ukraine's state unclear power company Energoatom said the leakage "did not exceed permitted norms" and "the reactor was stopped."

"No increase of radioactivity was registered at or near the plant," it said.

Ukraine is heavily dependant on nuclear energy with half of its electricity generated by nuclear power plant despite having experienced Chernobyl reactor explosion in 1986.

(Source: Chinaview)

Bush warns Iran again over nuclear plans

The US president, George Bush, raised the possibility today of military action against Iran, saying his first choice was for a diplomatic solution to the standoff over Tehran's nuclear programme, but that "all options are on the table".

The prospects of a diplomatic breakthrough looked slim, however, with Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, labelling his US counterpart a "wicked man" whose policies had failed.

Bush's comments came a day after a US-EU summit in Slovenia threatened new sanctions against Iran if it fails to end its uranium enrichment programme. He was speaking after talks with the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who appeared to support the US view.

"The first choice is to solve it diplomatically and that's exactly what we're doing," Bush told reporters in Meseberg, a German government rural retreat north of Berlin. "The message to the Iranian government is very clear."

Germany is Bush's second stop on a final visit to Europe before he steps down as president. He wants Iran to halt uranium enrichment in a verifiable way, claiming the nuclear material is intended for atomic weapons. Iran insists its nuclear programme is for purely civil purposes.

Merkel, a strong US ally, reiterated Germany's support for possible new sanctions against Iran if it does not suspend enrichment.

"The offer has been put to Iran, but ... if Iran does not meet its commitments, then further sanctions will have to follow," she said. "We again said we want to give diplomacy a chance, but we also have to stay on that particular issue."

The two leaders also discussed climate change, Afghanistan, rising food prices and the tortuous progress of World Trade Organisation talks.

Bush is in Rome tomorrow for talks with the Italian prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, ahead of a meeting the next day with Pope Benedict XVI. After a stopover for more talks in Paris he heads to London on Sunday followed by Belfast.

With Bush's presidency winding down rapidly before he leaves office in January the trip has attracted relatively little media interest and – unlike previous occasions he has been in Europe – almost no protests.

Addressing a crowd in the central Iranian city of Shahr-e-Kord, Ahmadinejad mocked Bush as a lame duck leader whose time "has come to an end".

"This wicked man desires to harm the Iranian nation," he said. "[Bush] made plans, moved into Afghanistan and then Iraq, and announced that Iran was the third target.

"I tell him your era has come to an end. With the grace of God, you won't be able to harm even one centimetre of the sacred land of Iran."

Iran would remain implacable against international pressure, he insisted. "If the enemy thinks they can break the Iranian nation with pressure, they are wrong. With God's help, we have achieved victory and the enemies cannot do a damned thing."

(Source: Guardian)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

China gears up civilian nuclear power

China's nuclear power firms aim to join the auto and electronic companies as export powerhouses, analysts say, but massive domestic expansion plans may not leave them the capacity to make an overseas push for more than a decade.

A $1 billion deal signed late last month with Russia to build and supply a uranium enrichment plant in China was another step toward civilian nuclear independence, less than two decades after its first nuclear generator came on stream.

The country last year sealed deals with France's Areva and US-based, Japanese-owned Westinghouse for several third-generation reactors, and the blueprints to allow them to develop domestic version.

And they have mastered the construction of older models at a speed that is impressing Asian neighbors who cannot afford or are not allowed to buy nuclear models sold by Western firms.

Countries like Vietnam and Indonesia are keen to build plants to convey a sense of modernity and to cut their fuel bills.

"They know the Chinese have a lot of money and they're not necessarily as rigid as Western investors," says Eurasia analyst Bob Herrera Lim.

"The Chinese could be the accelerator. They could say 'we're willing to take a longer-term look because these countries have a strategic value to us'. And obviously there's a lot of policy behavior in many of their companies."

And the timing couldn't be better for China, as the fight against climate change and the search for cheaper energy sources revives global interest in nuclear power.

"Their technology will improve, and worldwide demand is big so when it starts to grow at a high pace again, Areva, Westinghouse and other nuclear reactor suppliers cannot meet it on their own," says Colette Lewiner, analyst at Capgemini.

"I know it is serious because (the Chinese) told me they are looking for partners to export the technology."

But China is also ramping up its domestic nuclear expansion plans, targeting a total of 60 gigawatts by 2020. Its current nuclear capacity is only 9 GW, under 2 percent of its total installed power generation capacity.

And its own experts admit they will have to devote most of the country's technical know-how and a large portion of both listed and State-owned firms' capital to what will be the fastest nuclear build-out the world has ever seen.

It will need to start construction on about 4 new generators a year through 2015 to meet its ambitious target.

(Read more)
(Source: China Daily)

World major economies see new nuclear dawn

Top economic powers have declared that the world is entering a new era of nuclear energy amid rising concerns over high oil prices and global warming, but Germany stood firmly as an exception.

The Group of Eight industrial nations got together with China, India and South Korea at the weekend in Aomori, a hub of Japan's nuclear energy industry on the northern tip of the country's main island of Honshu.

The 11 nations, which together consume two-thirds of world energy said in their joint statement that "a growing number of countries have expressed interest in nuclear power programmes."

"We are on the verge of a new nuclear age," John Hutton, Britain's energy secretary, told reporters.

He argued it was a "positive thing for the world," arguing that atomic power emitted little of the carbon dioxide that causes global warming and ensured energy supply.

The United States, Canada and Italy have all relaunched construction of nuclear power plants as oil prices soared five-fold since 2003. France and Japan are longstanding champions of nuclear energy.

Canada's natural resources minister, Gary Lunn, agreed that nuclear power "will see a very important role in the coming years."

Canada has built no nuclear power plant for three decades but is the process of constructing new reactors.

"We are committed to the safe use of nuclear energy for safe and peaceful purposes," Lunn said.

Italian energy minister Claudio Scajora also said he "strongly" supported the statement on nuclear power.

Since right-leaning Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi returned to power last month, Italy said it would begin building nuclear power stations, reversing a 20-year ban in an initiative likely to spark strong resistance.

But Germany has been the notable exception. The country in 2000 declared its intention to shut down all of its nuclear power plants, fulfilling a pledge of the Green Party which was then in power.

"Having heard other countries' positions, I think there is a nuclear power renaissance," Germany's administrative energy secretary, Jochen Homann, said in Aomori.

"But Germany has decided to abolish nuclear power generation gradually," he said.

"There are pros and cons about nuclear energy in Germany. Public acceptance is important and I can't make any prediction" on changes in public opinion, he said.

Nuclear power has faced major criticism throughout the industrial world, with some environmentalists arguing that it poses too much of a safety risk.

A 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine contaminated large parts of Europe, killing thousands of people.

The world's largest nuclear power plant, in Niigata prefecture northwest of Tokyo, was forced to shut down last year due to an earthquake, although no one was injured.

Despite nuclear power's image problem, Japan said on Saturday it would help build nuclear power plants in the United States, sensing opportunities for Japanese companies.

South Korean minister Lee Youn-Ho hailed nuclear power as "cost-efficient, stable energy source" in the backdrop of spikes in oil prices.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency said in a recent report that halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 would require building an additional 32 new nuclear power plants every year along with 17,500 wind turbines.

"I don't think it's an unreasonable forecast or estimate," US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.

"We are really on the verge of a very substantial increase in the number of nuclear power plants," he said.

(Source: AFP)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Yucca Mountain safety plan is 'doomed,' nuclear company says

In an earthquake, casks of radioactive waste could bounce and roll in a 'chaotic melee,' Holtec International says of the Energy Department proposal.
The Energy Department's safety plan for handling containers of radioactive waste before they are buried at the proposed Yucca Mountain dump has become a "fool's errand," according to a major nuclear equipment supplier.

Under current plans, the casks of nuclear waste material awaiting burial at Yucca Mountain could be sent into a "chaotic melee of bouncing and rolling juggernauts" in an earthquake, according to Holtec International, one of the nation's largest manufacturers of nuclear waste storage systems.

The blistering critique of safety standards is in a newsletter that Holtec sent last week to its customers and suppliers, warning that the project has become a "doomed undertaking." Holtec supplies storage casks to power plants around the country.

Nevada officials say the harsh comments deepen their concerns about the site of the repository.

"It shows a lack of attention to safety," Robert Loux, executive director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects, said Thursday.

An Energy Department spokesman said he had not seen Holtec's critique and had no immediate response. The agency applied Tuesday for a license to build the facility, calling for 70,000 metric tons of waste eventually to be sent by truck and rail to the mountain.

Once the waste arrived, it would have to cool down -- for years in some cases -- before being placed in deep tunnels. Joy Russell, Holtec's sales and marketing manager, said the Energy Department wanted the material to cool down in casks without adequate seismic anchors or other restraints.

In May, the government rejected a proposal from Holtec for a temporary underground storage system that the company says would maintain safety in the event of earthquakes and airplane crashes. It instead chose two lower bidders who proposed unanchored systems, Russell said.

The company intends to develop the below-ground storage system at its own cost.

The government expects Yucca Mountain to experience earthquakes that produce ground movement comparable to a magnitude 6.5. In such a quake, "pigs will fly before the cask[s] will stay put," the newsletter said.

(Source: Los Angeles Times)

Power: The Nuclear Renaissance

When it comes to building nuclear power plants, fluctuations in political thinking and public opinion are crucial. Not long ago, Canada's nuclear industry found itself facing a crisis of confidence. The last Canada Deuterium Uranium, or CANDU, reactors to be built in Canada, at Darlington Nuclear Generating Station, east of Toronto, were ordered in the late 1970s. Its four units were to be completed by 1988 at a cost of $5 billion. Instead, they cost more than $14 billion and weren't completed until 1993, hammering Ontario deep into electricity-related debt. Other CANDU reactors have since been shut down long before their manufacturer's best-before date. Attempts to refurbish them have sometimes come in significantly over budget and behind schedule, as with rebuilt reactors at Pickering A Nuclear Power Station.

Tom Adams, executive director of Toronto-based Energy Probe, is a frequent energy commentator and a vocal critic of the nuclear industry. Just after the blackout that left much of North America in the dark in 2003, Adams told Canadian Business he was certain no new nuclear plants would be built in Canada because the experiences at Darlington, Pickering and other CANDU sites had been so bad. Today, he's not so sure. "Politicians are so excited, it's tough to say where things are going," he says. "There is a possibility they could overlook the record and the costs and just barge on forward."

The change is also felt at Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., which designs and manufactures CANDU reactors. David Torgerson, AECL's senior vice-president and chief technology officer, says governments "have realized that there is really no other option for large-scale energy production that can meet their requirements."

(read more)

(Source: Canadian Business Online)

Slovenia under fire for misreporting nuclear plant shutdown

Slovenia was caught in a nuclear controversy Thursday after admitting that it wrongly told other countries that a water leak that forced it to shut down a nuclear reactor was only an exercise.

The shutdown on Wednesday led to the EU raising a Europe-wide radiation alert for the first time since the system was put in place in the aftermath of the Chernobyl disaster 22 years ago.

After detecting a loss in the reactor's cooling system mid-afternoon Wednesday, Slovenian authorities decided to manually shut the plant down, and correctly alerted the European Commission -- but erroneously told neighbouring countries the incident was an exercise.

The Slovenian government apologised Thursday but insisted there was no safety threat from the water coolant problem, and that the reactor at Krsko, 120 miles (75 kilometres) east of the capital, Ljubljana, would be fixed within days.

Slovenian Environment Minister Janez Podobnik told other EU environment ministers he was sorry for the mistaken alert at a meeting in Luxembourg.

Neighbouring Italy said the incident was now "closed" but Austria, which also has a border with Slovenia, was furious at the mix-up, which Slovenian authorities blamed on using the wrong paperwork.

Austrian Environment Minister Josef Proell, whose country is deeply opposed to nuclear power, said: "It's not okay to set off an alarm in Europe and inform Austria, Italy and Hungary that it's only an exercise," he said.

"There is no absolute security when it comes to nuclear power," he added.

Podobnik said Slovenia's nuclear agency had "used the wrong form. It used a form that had 'exercise' on it. It was a mistake that was a genuine human error."

He said the error was spotted "in a few minutes" and corrected.

German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel said he would demand answers of Slovenia, but added: "I prefer to have an unnecessary alert, than to have too few alerts."

On Thursday the European Commission rejected accusations it had been "sowing the seeds of panic" by issuing its unprecedented radiation alert.

"I don't think we gave you any information that would cause people to panic. We just gave you the facts," Ferran Tarradellas, spokesman for EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs, told journalists in Brussels.

Slovenian Interior Minister Dragutin Mate said there was no environmental fall-out from the incident.

"The environment is not polluted, everything is OK. It's a stable situation," he said.

Italy and Austria both said radiation levels tested at their borders were normal.

The European Union issued a special radiation alert -- the European Community Urgent Radiological Information Exchange (ECURIE) system -- late Wednesday for the first time since its alarm system was set up after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

The Krsko plant was still cooling down Thursday and plant director Stane Ruzman said repairs would start Friday. The reactor was expected to be operating again by Tuesday or Wednesday.

Krsko, east of Ljubljana, was reopened last November after being shut down for a month for maintenance work.

In the town itself, local residents were phlegmatic about the potential risks from the nuclear power plant.

"We are too close to the plant to worry about it. The whole of Slovenia is too close and we could not help ourselves even if something would happen," said Andreja, the owner of a local tourist agency, who did not want to give her surname.

"I was not scared by yesterday's incident, but I do not like to live near a plant," added 17-year Uros, again without giving his full name.

Krsko's plant is jointly owned by Slovenia and Croatia. It produces 20 percent of all electricity used in Slovenia and 15 percent of Croatia's power needs.

(Source: AFP)

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Russian Nuclear Power Plants Generate Record Amount of Electricity in 2007

Russia's nuclear power plants generated a record amount of electricity - 157 billion kilowatt/hour - in 2007, Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency head Sergey Kiriyenko said.

"No such figures were ever recorded before in Russia or the Soviet Union," he said on Wednesday [4 June].

He stressed that the growth of production and payments to the budget "did not affect the safety of the nuclear power plants but on the contrary improved it".

Russian nuclear power plants are time and a half safer than their counterparts abroad, he said during the Government Hour in the State Duma.

According to Kiriyenko, a vertically integrated holding company, Atomenergoprom, was created a year ago. It had consolidated all civilian enterprises in the industry. The holding is still in its formative period as some of the state unitary enterprises are reorganized into joint stock companies and become part of Atomenergoprom.

The development of the country's weapons industry was also discussed in the Duma. Kirieynko did not name specific figures but assured the lawmakers that "the approved set of measures and adopted government resolutions will make the Russian nuclear industry competitive on the world market".

He also noted that the construction of two new topic power stations - Novovoronezh and Leningrad NPPs - had started in Russia in 2007 for the first time since the Soviet period.

The construction of two more nuclear power plants will begin this year, he said, adding that this pace will increase in the future.

Among achievements in 2007, Kiriyenko named the launch of the Tianwan nuclear power plant in China, the victory in the tender for the construction of the Belene nuclear power plant in Bulgaria, and the regaining by Russia's TVEL company of its leading positions on the nuclear fuel markets in Eastern and Central Europe.

This year has been marked by the decisions giving Russian nuclear products access to the world markets, particularly by an agreement with the United States on uranium supplies to the American market, and an agreement with Canada and Australia on uranium production.

At the same time, the Federal Atomic Energy Agency and the Ministry of Natural Resources have increased the financing of geological prospecting ten times over the past few years. Russia ranks third in the world in terms of uranium reserves, which are sufficient enough to meet the industry's needs for 60-80 years.

(Source: RedOrbit)

INTERVIEW-Lithuania targets 2015-18 for new nuclear plant

Lithuania is committed to building a new nuclear power plant and links that will make it an electricity hub between Europe, the Nordics and Russia, the top executive of newly formed national energy company LEO LT said on Thursday.

Two state and privately-owned power distribution grids and a state-owned transmission grid were merged into a 7 billion litas ($3.13 billion) venture to boost financial power for building a new nuclear plant and interconnections to Poland and Sweden.

"Setting up LEO LT will speed up preparations for building the new plant, and we are to start negotiations with our partners from Poland, Latvia and Estonia on June 16," Rymantas Juozaitis, the chief executive officer of LEO LT, told Reuters.

He said the talks would be about setting up a project development company.

"Our goal is to have a power plant of over 3,000 megawatts capacity ... Depending on the choice of reactor, it can be built by 2015 or 2017 to 2018," he added.

U.S. General Electric Co.'s (GE.N: Quote, Profile, Research), French state-run nuclear group Areva (CEPFi.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) and Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) have said they were interested in taking part in the tender to supply reactors to Lithuania.

"We would prefer smaller reactors as they give you more flexibility and require less reserve base load," Juozaitis said.

Preliminary results of an environmental study on the maximum possible capacity of the plant are expected in August.

Poland has said it wanted to get no less than 1,000 megawatts from the plant, while Latvia and Estonia were talking about 400-600 megawatts each.

Only after the reactor's supplier has been chosen and the final cost of the plan is known will generating capacities be shared among the partners, Juozaitis said.

"I expect the tender to be over in 2010," he added.

The cost of a 3,200-3,400 megawatts plant has been estimated at about $9 billion.

The majority state-owned LEO LT will also be involved in the planned construction of two power interconnections with Poland and Sweden, which are expected by 2015.

That will put Lithuania at the crossroad of three electricity systems - UCTE of continental Europe, Nordel of Scandinavia and the IPS/UPS system of Russia.

"Then Lithuania will be able to transmit electricity in all directions, earning on the transit and being able to provide reliable energy at the best price to our customers," he said.

He said that would also allow exporting Russian electricity to Western Europe. Lithuania wants to join UCTE, which will also have an influence on the choice of new reactor, but membership is only possible after 2020, Juozaitis said.

The new plant is to replace Lithuania's Soviet-era plant, which is to be shut down at the end-2009, as the European Union considers it to be unsafe.

(Source: Reuters)

IAEA monitors Slovenia nuclear plant after alert

The UN's atomic watchdog was Thursday monitoring Slovenia's only nuclear power plant following a leak in the cooling system that prompted an EU-wide radiation alert.

According to the Slovenian authorities there had been no radiation leak, the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

The Slovenian Nuclear Safety Administration (SNSA) had informed the IAEA's Incident and Emergency Centre about an "unusual event" at the Krsko nuclear power plant, said an IAEA statement released late Wednesday.

But the SNSA "said there was no radiation release to the environment."

Wednesday's incident had been at "the lowest level of emergency out of four levels as defined by the SNSA," the IAEA explained.

Acccording to the Slovenian authorities, plant operators had detected a loss in the reactor's cooling system at 3:07 pm (1307 GMT) "and decided to manually shut it down."

"SNSA said that the loss of coolant was detected in time and no radiation was released to the environment and there was no off-site impact," the statement added.

The SNSA had subsequently informed the IAEA that the reactor shut-down process was completed at 9:30 pm (1930 GMT).

At Slovenia's request, the IAEA Incident and Emergency Centre then informed the neighbouring countries Austria, Croatia, Hungary and Italy.

In Brussels, the European Commission issued an EU-wide radiation alert following the incident in the central European state that currently holds the European Union's rotating presidency.

Krsko, which is jointly owned by Slovenia and neighbouring Croatia, produces 20 percent of all electricity used in Slovenia and satisfies 15 percent of Croatia's power needs.

(Source: AFP)

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Slovenia nuclear plant shut down after water leak

LJUBLJANA, Slovenia (AP) — Slovenia shut down the reactor at its only nuclear power plant after a water leak Wednesday, but the country's atomic watchdog agency said there was no danger to people or the environment.

Slovene authorities reported a loss of coolant occurred in the primary cooling system at the Krsko electricity generating station and the plant was completely shut down, the European Union's executive body said.

The reactor was still cooling but there appeared to be no discharge of radioactivity from the plant in northwest Slovenia, the EU statement said. The Environment Ministry in neighboring Austria said radiation readings in the area had remained "within normal levels."

Slovenia's Nuclear Safety Administration said the reactor was shut down "as a precaution" so technicians could determine what caused the coolant to leak.

The head of the agency, Dr. Andrej Stritar, said in the statement that "there has been no impact on the environment and none is expected." He added that workers at the plant and other people in the area had not been affected.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. body that monitors nuclear accidents, said in a statement that its Incident and Emergency Center "is gathering information and there will be a better assessment when we have facts in our hand."

First word of the leak came in an alert issued by the EU's executive body to the bloc's 27 member nations that Slovene authorities had reported an incident at the nuclear plant.

The EU said later that the alert from Slovenia came at 5:38 p.m. The information was immediately passed on to all EU nations and an emergency team at the EU's energy directorate was placed on alert, it said.

The Krsko plant was built in the 1980s and is jointly owned by Slovenia and neighboring Croatia. The facility generates about 5 billion kilowatts of electricity a year, or roughly 40 percent of Slovenia's energy needs, its operators said.

(Source: AP)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Survey says 21% of Americans would support hometown reactor

[Looks like there is still public education work to do. At least it sounds like the LNG folks are in the same boat as nuclear (i.e., almost as unpopular despite a good safety record)].


Washington (Platts)--2Jun2008
Twenty-one percent of Americans would support a new nuclear power plant in their hometown, according to a survey released June 2 by investment bank RBC Capital Markets. This is up from 17% support in last year's survey, RBC said. Seventy-one percent of respondents said they would support an "alternative energy system in their hometown, including a wind or solar facility," 34% would support a clean coal technology plant, and 32% would support a liquefied natural gas facility. The survey of 1,007 online respondents was conducted May 17-23 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2%, RBC said.

UKRAINE: Nuclear Power Seen As the Answer to Russia

Ukraine is embarking on a costly and inefficient path of nuclear development, hoping it will halt its energy dependence on Russia.

Critical voices are mounting over the feasibility and desirability of Kiev's 'Energy Strategy of Ukraine' released in March 2006 in the wake of a Russian-Ukrainian gas price war.

Ukraine then accused Russia of raising prices as punishment for Ukraine's pro-Western orientation, whereas Russia claimed it had no reason to keep subsidising gas for Ukraine.

Ukraine wants to replace gas with coal and nuclear energy, a plan that includes the construction of up to 22 new nuclear reactors by 2030.

Ukrainian environmental NGOs have criticised the government for not carrying out a broad public discussion before approving the plan.

"The strategy was written during the gas conflict, and the whole idea was to decrease dependency on Russian gas and completely stop using it," Olexi Pasyuk, energy expert at the National Ecological Centre of Ukraine told IPS.

"It's a very unrealistic plan in terms of cost. It was not thought in terms of economic efficiency but rather on how to fulfil energy needs," Pasyuk says. "Even Russia, which is going nuclear, does not plan to build as many reactors."

The plan would imply changing from gas to electricity in house heating, which would require enormous infrastructural investment in a country where every village has pipelines bringing gas.

"Even if it would work, Ukraine cannot have a full nuclear cycle. We have Uranium but you cannot simply use it since Russian technology is required for that," Pasyuk says. "This would still leave us dependent."

Ukraine has the largest volume of discovered Uranium in Europe, but the possibility of enriching it could be politically sensitive for other countries, as it would give it the capacity to build nuclear weapons.

Ukraine also lacks a solution to the issue of waste management, with much of it being sent to Russia for reprocessing. The plan also neglects ecological and energy efficiency questions.

Ukraine's economy is one of the most energy intensive in the world, and is three times more wasteful than the average level within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD, a group of 30 wealthy nations).

According to the plan Ukraine's energy efficiency by 2030 would be at the present level of neighbouring Poland.

But a positive note in the recent gas spat with Russia is that since the eastern neighbour began increasing prices for oil, gas and uranium for nuclear fuel, there have been attempts at increasing energy efficiency.

The Ukrainian cabinet is not to thank for that: financial incentives and legislative conditions for improved energy efficiency and for developing renewable energies are lacking, according a Bankwatch report released in May. Ukraine's energy strategy also contradicts the country's European ambitions, leaving it half-way from the EU (European Union) goal of bringing the share of renewables in overall energy consumption to 20 percent by 2020.

Pasyuk is hopeful the ministry will back down on its plans. "Informally it is admitting reviewing the strategy, but officially they still deny any problems with it," he told IPS.

Bankwatch has also accused the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) of playing along with Ukraine's pro-nuclear plans by investing in infrastructure which further develops the country's nuclear industry.

The EBRD has hardly provided support to developing renewable energies, in contradiction with its own country strategy for Ukraine, in which it recognised great potential for wind, small hydro and biomass energy production in the country of 48 million.

In a bid to diversify sources, Ukraine's power utility Energoatom recently signed a deal with the U.S. company Westinghouse to import nuclear fuel.

Critics claim that in comparison with Russian fuel Westinghouse's is more expensive, of lower quality, and not tailored for Soviet-designed reactors, increasing risks.

Finnish and Czech nuclear plants had to stop using Westinghouse fuel in the past due to its incompatibility with Soviet-designed reactors.

The Ukrainian public is not enthusiastic over nuclear power ever since in 1986 a reactor of the Chernobyl nuclear plant (in Ukraine area) exploded, causing the biggest civilian nuclear catastrophe ever. But in spite of the Chernobyl tragedy, the nuclear industry remained stable throughout the country's transition from a Soviet republic to an independent state in 1991.

Between 1990 and 1993 the Ukrainian parliament imposed a moratorium on the commissioning of any new nuclear reactors, but power shortages in the early 1990s made nuclear energy attractive again.

Roughly half of current domestic electricity production is of nuclear origin, with the percentage increasing periodically.

While technical problems keep forcing frequent shut-downs at Ukrainian power plants, proponents of nuclear energy say safety has been continuously improving. Last March the Security Service of Ukraine admitted it was stepping up security at nuclear facilities due to instances of negligence. (END/2008)

(Source: IPS News)