Welcome to AtomWatch - world nuclear power news and analysis

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

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Finland nuclear reactor costs headed to arbitration -TVO


HELSINKI, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Franco-German consortium Areva-Siemens is to take TVO to arbitration in a dispute over delays and cost overruns at the Olkiluoto 3 reactor, the Finnish nuclear plant operator said on Wednesday.
In October, TVO was told by the consortium that the 1,600 MW reactor -- the first to be constructed in Western Europe for more than a decade -- would be further delayed to 2012 from its initial start-up target of 2009.
TVO claimed for compensation from the plant supplier consortium for losses and costs incurred due to the delay.
"The plant supplier, consortium Areva-Siemens, has filed a request for arbitration concerning Olkiluoto 3 delay and related costs," TVO said in a statement Wednesday.
"The request relates to a claim presented previously by the consortium to TVO, which TVO has studied and found to be without merit."
"TVO has a fixed price, turnkey contract with Areva-Siemens for the construction of the Olkiluoto 3 unit," TVO said.
TVO is owned by Finnish utility Fortum and Pohjolan Voima, a consortium of Finnish forestry and energy firms.

(Reporting by Sakari Suoninen; Editing by Mike Nesbit) Keywords: TVO/AREVASIEMENS/ (sakari.suoninen@reuters.com; +358 9 6805 0240; Reuters Messaging: sakari.suoninen.reuters.com@reuters.net)

Radiation Threat Still Permeates Chernobyl’s Entombment


By Peter Reina in Chernobyl

Thousands of workers daily take the train from their homes at Slavutich, across 55 kilometers of unpopulated woodland and marsh in northern Ukraine to their workplace. No ordinary commuters, they are workers at the Chernobyl powerplant, scene of the world’s worst-ever nuclear disaster. Nearly 4,000 people work at Chernobyl, safeguarding the destroyed reactor building No. 4 and tending to the three surviving shut-down units. Among the construction teams is Alexander Nikolayevich Plotnikov, project manager at contractor Utem Engineering, Bucha.

Background radiation levels determine type of protective gear and how long workers are allowed to toil in a particular area.

Utem helped build the plant until its completion a couple of years before the accident. Among local contractors on the current $1.4-billion Shelter Implementation Plan (SIP) to securely isolate the destroyed reactor, Utem claims the lion’s share. “Nobody in the world ever did a job like this at a facility like this,” says Plotnikov.

It’s not just the ubiquitous threat of radioactivity that makes Chernobyl a unique workplace. Because of its frantic construction in lethal conditions, the “sarcophagus” enclosing reactor 4 lacks normal engineering certainties. And when SIP was being established in the mid-1990s, Ukraine, emerging from Communism, was institutionally unprepared.

“It was thought to be a 10-year effort,” recalls Laurin Dodd, managing director of SIP’s project management unit (PMU). More than 10 years into the job, less than 60% of the $743 million committed has been disbursed and much more is needed.


Within three weeks of the April 1986 accident, Soviet engineers began de­signing a sarcophagus for a 15-year life to staunch leaking radioactivity. In November 1986, they completed the job with 400,000 tonnes of concrete and 7,000 tonnes of steel work.

The reactor building’s destroyed north wall was re­placed with a stepped concrete structure and the west wall was reinforced with 50-meter-tall buttresses.

To support the new roof, crews used cranes to lift two, 36-m-long beams onto internal walls. Steelwork was fixed without bolting or welding to reduce workers’ exposure. Surveying and checking construction was impossible.

Of some 200,000 people working on Chernobyl after the accident, 90,000 were used on the shelter's construction, according to operator SSE ChNPP. Of those, around 50 have since died from radiation, claims a study by U.N. agencies, which forecasted 4,000 deaths. The figure was challenged by a 2006 study for the environmental group Greenpeace, predicting nearly 100,000 deaths.

Since the accident, only about 40% of the shelter’s rooms have been surveyed. Nevertheless, scientists estimate that 95% of irradiated fuel remains in lava-like mounds, dust, core fragments and crystallized minerals. In Chernobyl’s 30-km exclusion zone, “there are open sources of ionizing radiation scattered all around,” says Eric Schmieman, PMU safety assurance manager.

In the absence of people, boars, horses and eagles are among creatures said to be thriving in the zone. Some 1,500 eld­erly former residents also have returned.

People at Chernobyl can be exposed to ionizing radiation, as well as airborne and solid contamination, warns Vladimir Borysovich Malyshev, ChNPP’s senior health and safety inspector. Daily working times for construction crews can range from seconds to hours. Ukraine’s legal exposure limit at nuclear plants is an average of 2,000 millirem per year over five years, not exceeding 5,000 millirem in one year. As a precaution, ChNPP operates at 70% of that limit, says Malyshev.

Inside PMU’s offices, radioactivity is below background levels of U.S. cities, says Schmieman. Yet floors are constantly mopped to pick up traces of contamination brought in on footwear. Highways and walkways in and around the plant have been cleaned and are relatively safe. “But I can’t tell you the level of contamination in the grass around here,” says Schmieman, advising visitors to sidestep vegetation and rainwater puddles.

Radiation levels rise closer to the reactor building, around which contaminated soil is covered with deep earth and, in places, concrete. Next to the building, radiation at around 20 millirem per hour would limit an individual’s annual working time to under 10 days.

Radiation on the reactor building’s recently repaired roof reaches 8,000 millirem per hour, rising to “tens of thousand” near the core, says Schmie­man. He’s been in there a few times, briefly, in full protective gear and with a safety team.

Chernobyl’s working days are punctuated by radiation checks. Crews pass through portal radiation scanners time after time, and get total body counts for cesium-17 in and out of shifts. At all times, they wear protective clothing ranging from impervious full body suits with respirators to cotton overalls and coats, depending on the risk.

Lapel dosimeters that record monthly exposures are mandatory. In riskier areas, units showing radiation accumulation in real time also are worn. On the new shelter project, expat workers will have a third dosimeter, for recording in home countries.

The productivity impairment of all the safety precautions is recognized in contract prices, says Schmieman. Labor costs also are inflated to overcome Chernobyl’s notoriety.

As an inducement, site crews work 15 days on and 15 off. They are eligible for longer vacations than other workers, and earlier retirement, says Malyshev. They also can earn bonuses of up to 25%.

“Any employee who plans to work at the shelter needs to take a biomedical examination,” says Utem’s Plotnikov. “It takes three day. About 40% fail.”

Successful applicants then must undergo 40 hours of health and safety induction by ChNPP. Sometimes workers “do not understand the difference between any construction site and this construction site,” says Plotnikov.

Training is not always successful. PMU staff have found workers not wearing dosimeters or tampering with them to extend allowable working times. “It happened too frequently,” says Dodd.

As purse holder of SIP’s multinational fund, the European Bank For Reconstruction and Development cares about health and safety at Chernobyl, says Director of Nuclear Safety Vince Novak. So far, there have not been any serious accidents after more than six million hours of work, he says.

The U.S. government and European Union began formulating SIP in 1995. Two years later, SIP’s elements were defined. A year after that, the PMU contract went to Dodd’s consortium of Bechtel National Inc., San Francisco, Battelle Memorial Institute, Columbus, Ohio, and Paris-based Electricité de France.

SIP’s 22 tasks aim to reinforce the un­stable sarcophagus for another 15 years, create a new shelter and introduce monitoring and other safety systems. Stabilization work is substantially complete, though some risk of localized internal collapses remains. The most visible stabilization project has been Utem’s erection of two 50-m-tall steelwork towers against the west wall. They substantially reduced the risk of sarcophagus collapse by taking 80% of the roof beams’ end loads.

Working in and around the reactor building is all about preparation, says Plotnikov. “The personnel were so well trained that we spent as little time as possible,” he adds. “If an engineer was trained to make a measurement using a tape, that’s all he did.”

After a long association with Chernobyl, Utem knew the plant well. But like other Ukrainian organizations, Utem was new to western methods. Now a joint stock company, Utem was created after the Russian Revolution to implement Lenin’s Soviet electrification plan.

SIP’s emergence represented a new world to many Ukrainians. “There was no experience at all in terms of contracting, the rules of FIDIC or procurement,” says Andrey Ivanovich Savin, ChNPP’s senior PMU representative and SIP’s chief engineer.

Savin suspects bidding rules have contributed to delays of some projects. They include a $70-million solid radioactive waste disposal system at three locations. Long-term storage is complete [see sidebar p. 84]) but the retrieval and storage units, due for completion in 2003, are delayed to next year, he says.

Work on Chernobyl’s liquid radwaste-disposal system halted two years ago when the contract was terminated. Redesign has begun “and will take up to two years” says Savin. The plant will solidify liquids kept temporality at the site for storage at the new solids facility.

Savin suspects different procurement rules might have avoided snags with the dry-storage facility for over 20,000 spent fuel rods. Last year, ChNPP recruited Holtec International, Marlton, N.J. to re­design the partially built plant after the original French team agreed to terminate its contract, signed in 1999. Fuel from the three surviving reactors, now stored in pools, will be placed in leak-tight containers just outside the plant.

Aspects of EBRD’s procurement still worry Savin. In the two-envelope bidding, technical proposals “do not provide details of how the contractor is going to do the work,” he says. The contract then goes to the lowest qualifying bidder “who may not have the best technical proposal,” he says.

Savin’s concerns “reflect a misunderstanding of the procedure,” believes the bank’s Novak. “You allow to the second [bidding] stage only those who fully meet all the requirements,” he says. Of the three troubled projects, “their circumstances are very different,” he adds.

Another snag in Ukraine’s recent emergence from the U.S.S.R. was old standards still governing safety equipment. “We had to use Soviet-era respirators,” says Schmieman. Now, they have western ones, but “it took five years fighting customs officials,” he adds.

PMU got “ a bit smarter” when introducing safety harnesses for high-level work instead of standard Soviet-style belts, says Schmieman. “Rather than getting them to change the standards, we wrote them into the contracts,” he adds.

SIP work so far has been a preamble to construction of the new shelter, to confine the reactor building for 100 years and provide tools for its re­moval. A turnkey shelter contract was awarded last September to Novarka, a joint venture of Paris-based Vinci S.A. and Bouygues S.A. The 150-m-long steelwork vault will span 257 m, rising 105 m over the sarcophagus.

Novarka will minimize work near the sarcophagus by setting up sites for offices, concrete casting and steelwork in locations a few kilometers away, says health and safety man­ager Dav­id Driscoll. Novarka must first deal with radioactivity at those sites.

Vault steelwork will be prefabricated into small modules abroad and shipped to Odessa, transported to site and bolted together at Chernobyl. “We want to avoid the necessity of excessive amounts of welding,” says Driscoll.

Using cable jacks on steelwork towers, Novarka will assemble the arch well away from the sarcophagus in a series of ribs. It will fit out the vault with decommissioning equipment and push it along large concrete runway girders over the building.

Novarka is now de­signing the shelter in Paris and Kiev, while setting up of­fices and homes at Slavutich. Thirty-five months of construction could begin next year. The total workforce will peak at about 1,300, including some 400 Novarka people, around 80 of them expatriates.

The shelter contract was worth the equivalent of around $500 million in dollars and euros when signed. The final figure will not be known until the contractor procures its 18,000 tonnes of steel­work and fixes other costs.

Dodd’s team is now revising SIP’s current $1.4-billion budget. With few change orders, the rise from the original $760 million reflects mainly inflation and currency fluctuations. By late next year, cost estimates should be sufficiently robust for donors to be recruited, says Novak. New grants raised will cover the new shelter and remnants of SIP. But the subsequent cleanup remains unfunded.

“I think the international community needs to really encourage Ukraine to provide the budgets to do the work that is required after we complete this new safe confinement,” says Dodd. “They ought to be planning that work today”.

Removing remains of the stricken reactor and its enclosure will take decades and cost at least $1 billion, estimates Savin. “The willingness of donor countries will depend on how successfully the new safe confinement is built,” he says.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

S.Korea to invest $28.5 billion in new power plants


S.Korea to invest $28.5 bln in new power plants | Markets | Reuters

SEOUL, Dec 28 (Reuters) - South Korea plans to invest 37 trillion won ($28.5 billion) from 2009 to 2022 on new power plants, including 12 new nuclear plants, to boost fuel efficiency and cut emissions, Seoul's energy ministry said on Sunday.

South Korea, the world's fifth-largest crude importer, will also build seven new coal plants, 11 LNG plants and one heavy fuel plant by 2022, but it will get rid of the existing three coal plants, six LNG plants and 13 heavy fuel units to boost efficiency, it said in a statement.

"The plan is to generate more low carbon power while decreasing the use of high-priced reserves such as LNG and coal. Under the plan, the fuel cost will be about 56 percent lower than this year," the ministry said.

The total number of nuclear power units will rise to 32, or 32.92 million kilowatts, by 2022 and account for 48 percent of the country's total power generation, from 34 percent this year.

LNG, which is the most expensive fuel, will account for just 6 percent of total power generation in 2022, down from the current 22 percent.

The overall electricity power capacity will increase to 100.89 million kilowatts by 2022, up from 71.36 million by end-2008. ($1=1298.9 Won) (Reporting by Angela Moon; Editing by Lincoln Feast)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

China's first nuclear power plant's expansion starts concrete pouring

Workers Friday began pouring the foundation for one of two new generating units planned as an addition to the first phase of the Qinshan nuclear power plant in Fangjiashan, Haiyan, on the northern coast of Hangzhou Bay, Zhejiang Province.

The nuclear power plant, not far from Shanghai, is the first Chinese facility of its kind.

Each of the two pressurized reactors to be installed will have an installed capacity of 1 million kilowatts.

The two generating units will be operational by 2013 and 2014.

The State Nuclear Safety Bureau, an affiliate of the Ministry of Environmental Protection, also presented a construction permit for a civilian nuclear facility to China National Nuclear Corp, Friday.

The first phase of Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant was the first nuclear power plant on the Chinese mainland built by domestic engineers. Construction of the plant began in 1985. It was built with a 300,000 kilowatt prototype reactor with a lifespan of 30 years It started generating power in 1991.

The plant also has second and third phases.

Chinese engineers have installed two generating units in the second phase and plan to add at least two more.

The third phase houses two Canadian CANDU heavy-water reactors.

According to the country's long and mid-term development plan of nuclear power plants, China's nuclear power installed capacity will reach 40 million kw by 2020 and will generate 260-280 billion kwh electricity each year, accounting for four percent and six percent of the country's total.

China has nuclear power stations with 11 generating sets and an installed capacity of nine million KW. These generating units are with three phases of Qinshan, and Daya Bay, Lingao, both in Guangdong province, as well as Tianwan in Lianyungang, east China's Jiangsu Province.

(Source: China View)

Belenergo thinking about electricity export to Baltic states

Belarusian state-run electrical company Belenergo is considering variants of exporting electricity to the Baltic states, Belenergo Director General Pavel Yakubovich told a press conference on December 24.

The Director General remarked, at present Belarus exports electricity to Poland. Next year the export will vary from 800 million to 1 billion kWh depending on Polands consumption, said Pavel Yakubovich. Next years export will be done according to terms favourable for Belarus.

In the future Belenergo plans to expand the opportunities of exporting electricity to Poland. We are now in negotiations with Polish companies about the construction of a direct current back-to-back station on the Ross-Bialystok line, which will enable synchronised power transfer. It will be possible to transfer energy from and to Poland, said Pavel Yakubovich. The work is serious. We will soon approach the Belarusian government with a proposal to implement the project together with Polish companies.

According to the Director General, the export of electricity to the Baltic states should become a new business avenue for Belenergo. On January 1, 2010 the last power unit of the Ignalina nuclear power plant will be shut down and the region will experience an essential shortage of electricity. Belenergo should increase its export potential in this area, he said.

The Belenergo head remarked, in 2009 the export will not be huge, but there are prospects of increasing it to a large number. As Belarus will commission 1,500 MW of power-generating facilities and taking into account the launch of the nuclear power plant later, Belarus will be able to export quite a large volume of electricity to the European Union, said Pavel Yakubovich, reported BELTA.

(Source: Trend Capital)

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Atom Watch wishes everyone who was reading us this year Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ostrovetskaya site chosen for Belarus’ future nuclear power plant

Belarus’ nuclear power plant will be built at the Ostrovetskaya site in the Grodno oblast. The State Commission for Belarus’ Nuclear Power Plant Location has taken the relevant decision, BelTA learnt from Lyudmila Zenkovich, spokesman for the Energy Ministry of Belarus.

The choice was made after the examination of the Ostrovetskaya, Krasnopolyanskaya and Kukshnovskaya sites.

Belarus plans to construct 2,000 MW nuclear power plant with the first stage to be introduced in 2016 and the second one – in 2018.

(Source: National Legal Internet Portal of Belarus)

German RWE signs nuclear plant deal

Germany's RWE AG signed a deal with Bulgaria's state-owned NEK power utility on Friday to become a strategic investor in the country's second nuclear plant.

At the signing ceremony, Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev hailed the project, saying that it would "guarantee Bulgaria's energy independence, electricity production and exports."

RWE outbid rival Belgian energy company Electrabel, owned by France's GDF Suez SA, for a 49-percent stake in Belene Power Company, which will own and operate the new nuclear power plant.

Gerd Jaeger, a senior official at RWE, said his company was in "active negotiations" with Electrabel to split the 49-percent stake in the nuclear plant.

The state-owned NEK power utility will hold the remaining 51 percent in the 2,000-megawatt plant. The plant's two reactors are expected to come into operation in 2013 and 2014, said NEK Chief Executive Lyubomir Velkov.

In January, Bulgaria signed a contract worth almost euro4 billion (US$5.6 billion) with Russia's Atomstroyexport to build a second nuclear plant at Belene, 250 kilometers (155 miles) northeast of Sofia.

Atomstroyexport will be the main contractor, using France's Areva and Germany's Siemens AG as primary subcontractors.

Bulgaria's government invested more than $1 billion in Belene, but froze the project in 1990 after environmentalists said it could pose a safety risk.

The project was revived to compensate for the closure of two units at its existing nuclear plant at Kozlodui. The closure was part of the requirements Bulgaria had to meet to join the European Union last year.

(Source: AP)

China: Nuclear power to get a big boost

China is aiming to have a nuclear power capacity of 60 gigawatts (GW) by 2020, a 50 percent jump from an earlier target outlined in its energy blueprint, industry sources said.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planning body, is pondering revising the target in the medium- and long-term plan (2005-20) in the first quarter of 2009 and submitting the revised plan to the State Council, sources close to the project said.

According to the earlier plan for the industry, China would increase its nuclear power capacity to 40 GW by 2020, accounting for 4 percent of the nation's total power capacity.

China currently has only 9 GW of nuclear power capacity, or about 1.3 percent of its total.

NDRC Vice-Minister Zhang Guobao said in March that the 40-GW-plan should be readjusted.

"We should increase the nuclear power capacity to 5 percent of the total power capacity in 2020," he said.

Zhang, who is also director of the National Energy Administration, said the agency would help further boost the development of nuclear power in the country.

During the reorganization of ministries at this year's National People's Congress, the management of the nuclear sector was transferred from the former Commission of Science and Technology and Industry for National Defense to the National Energy Administration.

China this week started the construction of the Yangjiang nuclear power plant in Guangdong province with an investment of 70 billion yuan.

The plant will have six 1,000-megawatt (MW) units with the first unit to begin operation in 2013.

Last month, the construction of a 100-billion-yuan nuclear power plant was kicked off in Fujian province.

The plant is designed to have six reactors each with a capacity of 1,000 MW and the first two reactors will become operational in 2013 and 2014.

The NDRC said in November that in order to boost domestic demand, construction of a series of large energy projects was due to start this year.

They include three nuclear power plants with a total of 101,000-MW reactors, including the plants in Fujian and Guangdong and another one in Zhejiang.

China's nuclear sector will continue to see accelerated development in the future, and is not affected by the ongoing financial crisis, Yu Jianfeng, vice-general manager of China National Nuclear Corp, said in November.

"With the development of such rapid pace, nuclear power capacity will exceed 60 GW with no doubt," said Fu Manchang, president of State Nuclear Power Automation System Co.

Industry insiders said China also plans to increase the capacity of wind power in the previous medium- and long-term plan, as the sector experienced 100 percent growth in the past three years.

According to the earlier plan, wind power capacity would reach 30 GW by 2020.

The government has aimed to cut energy use per unit of GDP by 20 percent in the five years through 2010 while reducing emissions of pollutants, but so far it has failed to meet the set targets.

(Source: China Daily)

NPCIL, Areva sign pact for uranium supply

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL) and the French company Areva have signed an agreement for supply of 300 tonnes of uranium to the fuel-starved nuclear plants of India which are virtually running at 45 per cent of their capacity.

With this accord, Areva has become the first private company to get the nod, after the approval by the Nuclear Suppliers Group easing restrictions on nuclear commerce with India.

Areva will supply uranium to nuclear reactors which will be under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. The contract comes as a follow-up of the nuclear cooperation agreement India signed with France when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited Paris in September.

India has so far signed civil nuclear cooperation agreements with the U.S., Russia and France.

NPCIL sources said they were approached by several companies, including from Kazakhstan and Canada, for uranium sale but such supplies could begin only after a few procedures such as ratification of the agreements in France and Russia were completed.

Reacting to the agreement with Areva, Minister of State for Power Jairam Ramesh said that with fuel supply resuming once again, it was expected that by June 2009, the country could generate nuclear power at at least 90 per cent of the plants’ capacity. The generation was likely to go up to around 4,100 Mwe from 1,800-1,900 Mwe now.

India plans to add at least 19 nuclear reactors with a total capacity of nearly 16,000 MWe in the 11th Plan period. Of these, eight would be indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors of 700 MWe each, 10 imported Light Water Reactors of 1,000 MWe each and an Advanced Heavy Water Reactor of 300 MWe.

(Source: The Hindu)

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Nuclear reactor on development fast track

[I worked in South Korea back in the 90's and they have been interested in nuclear energy for a long time. Today, South Korea has 20 reactors operating which is even more than Germany (17).]


December 18, 2008
Korea will accelerate development of an advanced indigenous nuclear reactor to enhance the country’s competitiveness in the international market, the government said yesterday.

The Ministry of Knowledge Economy said the development of the Advanced Power Reactor, or APR, will be complete by 2012, three years ahead of schedule. The reactor has greater power output than current models along with enhanced safety features. It could start commercial operation in 2022.

Efforts to develop key components like reactor coolant pumps and a man-machine interface system that acts as the “heart and nerve” center of all commercial nuclear power units are also coming, the ministry said.

Korea which started nuclear power generation in 1977, can design and build its own reactors, although it has not been able to secure overseas building contracts so far. One obstacle to this has been the country’s reliance on foreign technology for a handful of core parts.

Seoul announced the NuTech 2015 plan in 2006 with the aim of building the APR and becoming independent with regard to related technologies.

At present, the country operates 20 commercial reactors that provide roughly 36 percent of its electricity. Eight more reactors are under construction to be completed between 2010-2016, with 10 more to be built by 2030. Yonhap

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nuclear reading/book list

This is a list of books on nuclear power that I read in the last year.   Any of these books would make an excellent gift to a nuclear industry friend or colleague.
- Terrestrial Energy: Rethinking Nuclear Power in the Age of Global Warming; by William Tucker
- Power to Save the World: The Truth about Nuclear Energy; by Gwyneth Cravens
- 50 Years in Nuclear Power; by Salomon Levy; American Nuclear Society
- The Rickover Effect: How One Man Made a Difference; by Theodore Rockwell
- Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer; by Helen Caldicott (the best of the anti-nuclear books)
- Reactor Accidents, 2nd Ed.; by David Mosey; Nuclear Engineering International
- Plutonium; by Jeremy Bernstein
- Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons; by Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark

Three nuclear power projects moving forward with Areva’s design

Three nuclear power projects that would use Areva’s latest reactor design are moving forward this week to seek federal loan guarantees that could help them secure financing.

One other proposed reactor that would use Areva’s design, a UniStar Nuclear Energy project in New York, temporarily has been dropped from that process, due to stiff competition.

The second part of applications for the guarantee program is due Friday.

The Department of Energy’s loan guarantee program is designed to help companies get lower-cost financing to develop energy projects. If a plant covered by a loan guarantee were to default, the federal government would pay the lender.

Lynchburg has a significant interest in the outcome. Already one of the region’s largest employers, Areva is in the process of hiring 500 people to finish the detailed designs of its Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) and get several built in the U.S.

This year Congress allowed DOE to issue up to $18.5 billion of guarantees for new nuclear plant construction.

UniStar submitted two Part I applications for the guarantees, for a site in southern Maryland and a site in New York. Both proposed projects would use Areva’s EPR design.

Two other companies submitted Part I applications and named the EPR as their choice: AmerenUE in Missouri and PPL in Pennsylvania.

Those four applications had a lot of competition. DOE received Part I applications for a total of $122 billion in guarantees to support 21 new nuclear reactors. The department reviewed the Part I applications and gave a priority ranking to each project.

According to Bethany Shively, spokeswoman for DOE, the rankings were intended to help companies decide whether to submit Part II applications, which have a $600,000 filing fee.

The rankings were not made public.

Maureen Brown, spokeswoman for UniStar, said Monday that the company plans to submit a Part II application for its proposed reactor in Maryland. However, UniStar is delaying the submittal of a Part II application for the upstate New York site because “the program is significantly oversubscribed,” she said.

Because there is such a high demand for the loan guarantees, “We would hope that Congress would see the need to allocate additional loan guarantee funding for this program, and (we) would move forward with the (New York) approval process at that time.”

Spokesmen for AmerenUE and PPL confirmed this week that their companies intend to submit Part II site for their proposed EPRs.

Susan Hess, spokeswoman for Areva in Lynchburg, said Areva would not comment on UniStar’s decision to postpone the loan guarantee application for the New York site.

(Source: News Advance)

Experts urge Scotland to consider more nuclear power stations

The First Minister has come under pressure from his own financial advisors
to rethink his opposition to nuclear energy.

There is said to be a divide in Alex Salmond's Council of Economic Advisors on the country's energy strategy.

Some advisors are convinced that Scotland should have a combination of energy sources including nuclear power.

This move is against the SNP's resolution to concentrate on renewable energy including hydro electric, wind and wave power.

Westminster plans to install up to ten nuclear power stations in the UK by 2020, making nuclear power part of the country's overall energy supply.

However, the SNP would like to see the nuclear power stations at Torness, East Lothian and Hunterston, Ayrshire, stay in use until they come to a natural end and then dismantle them.

Nuclear power would move the government closer to its target to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2050.

Mr Salmond says that this reduction could be achieved by increasing the level of renewable energy used.

The Scottish Tories' deputy leader Murdo Fraser told the Daily Express: "Alex Salmond's own Council of Economic Advisers has twice warned that Scotland needs to consider all types of energy and has called for an independent report. We back that call.

"Alex Salmond must stop acting like a wise monkey, deaf to advice given."

Labour energy spokesman Lewis Macdonald said: "It would be a huge mistake to rule out future consideration of nuclear energy."

(Source: STV, Scotland)

Poland Needs At Least 2 Nuclear Pwr Plants;Eyes Private Owners-PM

Poland needs at least two nuclear power plants to cope with requirements of the European Union's climate package approved last week, Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Wednesday.

"Poland, especially its Northern part, needs at least two nuclear power plants. We need to find their owners among private companies," Tusk told radio TOK FM in an interview.

Tusk added that his recent visit to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait was aimed at finding potential investors in the Polish energy sector.

Poland won significant concessions to the initial version of the climate package, which allow its coal-intensive electricity generation sector to remain exempted from full auctioning of carbon dioxide emission rights until 2020.

Polish power plants will have to buy CO2 permits at auctions after 2020. According to experts nuclear power plants cannot be built before 2021-2022.

(Source: EasyBourse)

Bushehr nuclear power plant to come on stream next year: Borujerdi

Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee Chairman Alaedin Borujerdi said on Monday that the Bushehr nuclear power plant will come on stream during the next Iranian calendar year (March 2009-March 2010).

“With operating this power plant we achieve an important stage of technology,” he stated during his visit to Bushehr power plant.

Borujerdi emphasized that the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security of the IAEA monitors the Bushehr power plant and no security concerns exists.

He went on to say that the power plant poses no threat to the regional countries, adding, “Their officials have traveled to Bushehr and visited Iran’s nuclear activities many times; so, these countries have no concerns over the plant.”

“Iranian engineers are designing a 360 mw power plant and our country is entering a new stage of the important technology of power plant construction. If the Westerners decide not to participate in the tender by the Atomic Energy Organization (of Iran), this capability exists inside the country,” Borujerdi remarked.

He also expressed satisfaction over Iranian engineers’ the participation in the construction of the Bushehr power plant.

(Source: Tehran Times)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

No redundancies at Kozloduy nuclear station despite shutdown units

Five years after the shutdown of units 1 and 2 at Bulgaria's nuclear power station and two years after the closure of units 3 and 4, not a single employee of the power plant has been made redundant, Dnevnik daily reported on December 15.

Staff numbers have instead been gradually reducing, by about 130 people every year, through voluntary discharge or personnel reaching retirement age, according to the nuclear power plant.

Even so, the number of people assigned to the four decommissioned units is 1095, nearly a quarter of the power station's payroll of 4492, which is currently producing electricity at the twin 1000MW units 5 and 6.

The Economy and Energy Ministry has said that it has kept the employees on for two reasons. The first one was to prevent a “brain drain” and keep the specialists on payroll until they can be allocated to the nuclear power plant in Belene. The schedule for the opening of the first reactor of the new nuclear power plant will be in 2013-2014.

The other reason was that the Cabinet still hoped to re-start units 3 and 4 under concession. European Union officials, however, until now have been reluctant to indicate that they would agree to give its content for such a move.

Kozloduy power plant executive director Ivan Genov has confirmed that for the time being there will be no redundancies, reassuring the specialists for their immediate future, “unless of course some reach retirement age, or decide to terminate their own contract”. Some of the personnel has been relocated and employed at units 5 and 6.
(Source: Sofia Echo)

Areva inks pact with NPCIL to supply 300 tonnes of uranium

French energy firm Areva, the world’s largest nuclear power company, has signed an agreement with government-run monopoly Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) to supply about 300 tonnes of uranium annually. This is the first major nuclear fuel supply agreement by the Indian firm after the approval of the Indo-US civil nuclear deal early this year.

The fuel is enough to generate about 1,500 mw power, which is over 35% of the country’s installed nuclear power generation capacity.

Minister of state for power and commerce Jairam Ramesh confirmed the move. “Availability of fuel will help NPCIL’s existing plants to start operating at full capacity from June 2009,” he said. NPCIL plants are running at 45% plant load factor (PLF) due to fuel shortage. NPCIL operates 17 nuclear reactors at six locations with a total generation capacity of 4,120 mw.

India’s estimated uranium reserves are sufficient to generate only 10,000 mw. The quality of the domestic uranium ore is also low (0.1% uranium content against global standards of 12-14%). Uranium mining in India is insignificant and in most parts of the country is resisted by locals on health grounds, leaving little scope for stepping up production.

The fuel supply agreement with Areva also ends India’s nuclear isolation from the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG). So far, the country was dependent on domestically sourced uranium and some fuel from Russia.

Apart from the fuel supply agreement, Areva is also interested in supplying 1,700 mw nuclear reactors to NPCIL. These would be the largest reactors to be used in the country.

NPCIL is also getting 1,000 mw reactors from Russia for its 4,000 mw nuclear power plant at Koodankulam. “The first in the series of four 1,000 mw Russian reactors would be put up by September 2009,” Mr Ramesh said.

Besides France and Russia, the department of atomic energy (DAE), the nodal agency for coordinating nuclear power generation activities in the country, is negotiating with non- NSG countries such as Namibia and Niger to access their huge uranium resources.

Nigeria has around 10% of world’s uranium reserves. Shortage of uranium has already forced NPCIL to delay commissioning of two 220 mw units at Rajasthan Atomic Power Station.

It also forced the government to downsize additional nuclear power generation capacity to 3,880 mw in the 11th Plan (2007-12). NPCIL wants to add over 10,000 mw capacity in the 12th five-year Plan to cover for shortages in the existing plan.

(Source: The Economic Times, India)

ENERGY-US: Obama Faces Hungry Nuclear Industry

As Democratic President-elect Barack Obama prepares to take office in a few weeks, he faces a hungry nuclear industry that wants to be included in his energy plan.

At least 31 new plants have been proposed throughout the United States, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's (NRC) website. Twenty-six of these are already going through the NRC's environmental impact review and site approval process.

Obama has included reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and promoting alternative energies as key components of his campaign platform.

"I will set a clear goal as president," he said in his Democratic nomination acceptance speech. "I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power." He added that he would also use solar, wind, biofuels, and water as sources of energy.

"Nuclear power represents more than 70 percent of our non-carbon generated electricity. It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power as an option," Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden wrote in their energy plan.

"However, before an expansion of nuclear power is considered, key issues must be addressed including: security of nuclear fuel and waste, waste storage, and proliferation."

This assumes that nuclear fuel and waste storage are the only problems with nuclear power, however.

As previously reported by IPS, nuclear power also uses vast amounts of water and releases low levels of radioactive pollution, which one study has correlated with increased cancer rates in Burke County, Georgia.

"One thing I haven't seen them point to, which is the real sticker on this, is the problem of economics. The nuclear executives that want to build don't want to use their own money. You see them hat in hand here in Washington [seeking] loan guarantees. I can't see Congress doing that given we're in the hole financially," Jim Riccio, a nuclear policy analyst for Greenpeace, told IPS.

The Green Party of the United States said in a statement that it "rejects President-elect Barack Obama's reckless support for new nuclear power plants, as such an agenda poses unacceptable health and environmental risks and would be fiscally irresponsible in the extreme."

Many of the companies which are applying for new plants have done so under President George W. Bush's 2005 energy bill, which created government incentives for nuclear expansion and simplified the plant approval process.

"It is crucial for the new administration to continue with these and other efforts to shape a comprehensive energy policy that recognises the value of nuclear energy and other low-emission electricity sources," Frank Bowman of the Nuclear Energy Institute said in a press release.

"We must recognise as a nation that we cannot reach our energy goals without the reliable, affordable and carbon-free electricity that nuclear power plants generate to power our homes, businesses, telecommunications, military and transportation infrastructure," Bowman said.

It is unclear whether Obama plans to continue to support government incentives or deregulation for nuclear power. Obama voted for the 2005 bill, which included tax breaks for oil companies, although he later said he did not support everything in the bill.

Obama appears unlikely to throw the nuclear industry under the bus entirely, however. He was one of the most supportive candidates in terms of nuclear power during the Democratic primary and he has given mixed messages at best regarding his stance on the issue.

"I actually think we should explore nuclear power as part of the energy mix," Obama said during the CNN/Youtube Presidential Debate on Jul. 23, 2007. "There are no silver bullets to this issue... But we're gonna have to try a series of different approaches."

Obama was asked again about nuclear power during a meeting with the Editorial Board of the Keene Sentinel newspaper in New Hampshire, on Nov. 25, 2007.

"I'm not somebody who says nuclear is off the table no matter what because there's no perfect energy source," Obama said.

"There are a whole set of questions and they may not be solvable, and if they're not solvable I don't want to invest in it," Obama continued. "But if they are solvable, why not? I don't think there's anything we inevitably dislike about nuclear power. We just dislike the fact that it might blow up and radiate us and kill us; that's the problem."

Riccio believes that Obama is aware of the problems with nuclear power, even if he did not address all of them on the campaign trail. "Why on the campaign trail would you open yourself to an attack from McCain and say you oppose nuclear power?" Riccio said.

Obama has also been accused by former Illinois constituents of selling out their interests to the nuclear industry while he served as a U.S. senator.

Obama was criticised by residents of Godley, Illinois, who turned to Obama for help after they learned in December 2005 that the nearby Exelon nuclear power plant had been leaking tritium, a radioactive by-product, into the water supply without notifying residents.

The magnitude of the leak did not exceed federal guidelines, but residents were still concerned.

Obama had at first responded to the residents by filing a bill in the U.S. Senate on Mar. 1, 2006, the Nuclear Release Notice Act of 2006, which said it "shall require" all nuclear power plants to "immediately notify the Commission, and the State and county in which the facility is located, of [any] release."

The nuclear industry immediately opposed the bill. The Nuclear Energy Institute attempted to preempt the bill's requirements by offering voluntary disclosure by plants.

After opposition by Exelon executives, Obama changed the provision in the bill entirely, from requiring disclosure by plants, to encouraging the NRC to require disclosure by plants for some leaks smaller than the existing government limits.

But it allowed the NRC to decide which of those leaks, if any, would be required to be disclosed. The bill, S. 2348, never made it out of the Senate.

"When trying to get the nuclear industry to do anything, compromise seems to be in the cards," Riccio said.

When asked about his support of nuclear power at a campaign stop in Iowa on Dec. 30, 2007, Obama misled audience members about the outcome of the bill.

"The only nuclear legislation that I passed has been to make sure the nuclear industry has to disclose whether they emit anything that might be radioactive and share that with state and local communities. I just did that last year," Obama said.

However, this is not true; Obama had stripped the bill of language requiring disclosure and it never passed the Senate.

Incidentally, Exelon executives and employees had given over 269,100 dollars to Obama's congressional and presidential campaigns by February 2008, making the industry one of Obama's biggest donors early in his campaign, according to the Centre for Responsive Politics.

(Source: IPS News)

Construction starts on nuclear power plant in China

Construction began Tuesday on a major nuclear power plant expected to generate 45 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

The Yangjiang nuclear power plant in Dongping Town, Yangjiang City, is being built by China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group with an investment of 70 billion yuan (10.1 billion U.S. dollars).

The plant will have six 1,000-megawatt units with the first unit to begin operations in 2013. All the units will be built by 2017.

The plant will save 16 million tons of coal and reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the most prominent greenhouse gas, by 36 million tons, according to Zhang Guobao, vice minister of the National Development and Reform Commission.

Zhang said the plant would save energy and help protect the environment.

China plans to develop more nuclear power plants in response to an energy crunch resulting from fast economic growth. The country plans to have 40 million kw of installed nuclear capacity by 2020,which would be 4 percent of projected energy supply, or double the current level.

China is also striving to rely more on domestic demand to offset the impact of the global economic recession as external demand for its goods falls. The measures included the reduced interest rates, an investment of 4 trillion yuan within two years and 10 other major measures aiming to expand domestic demand.

On Nov. 21, the country began the construction of a nuclear power station in the eastern Fujian Province at an investment of nearly 100 billion yuan.

(Source: ChinaView)

Monday, December 15, 2008

PG&E workers picket outside Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant

[While I have heard of Canadian engineers being in unions and some utilities in the US having unionized engineers, this is the first time I heard of such unions protesting. Prior to the credit crunch, the projections showed increased pressure on wages due to the new plant efforts and retirements.]


Posted: Dec 12, 2008 06:22 PM EST
Reported by: Stacy Daniel

Employees at Diablo Canyon picket outside the nuclear power plant. They are trying to call attention to what they say are unsafe working conditions.

Nuclear engineers claim the plant is putting profits before safety. They say that employees are not paid enough and because of that, it makes retaining qualified workers difficult.

Senior Consulting Engineer Cory Pfau said, "Their heart is really in it as you can see. We're out here to make sure management knows that. We are united and we're going to fight for what's right and what's fair."

Their gripe: PG&E is putting profits before safety. Workers said the plant is doing nothing to attract new engineers.

As aging employees prepare to retire, more positions are outsourced. Employees said that compromises the safety of not only the employees at Diablo Canyon, but also the people who live close to the nuclear power plant.

Rob Martin is a Senior Electrical Engineer. He said, "Nuclear power is a very complicated industry and so we need the very best engineers to come here and keep this the best power plant in the country. I think San Luis [Obispo] County deserves that, and I think they expect that."

A representative for PG&E told Action News safety is the plant's number one priority.

PG&E spokesperson Emily Christensen said, "PG&E pays very competitive wages and it gives us the ability to attract some of the most talented highly skilled professionals, and we do believe that our employees here at Diablo Canyon are among some of the best in the industry - and their salaries, frankly, do reflect that."

Employees said if that were true they wouldn't be out here demanding change. Organizers said picketing was a last resort, but they felt it was neccessary to call attention to their grievances.

This is the first organized picket at the power plant since the engineers unionized eight months ago. Organizers said more will follow.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Russian expert suggests Kaliningrad nuclear plan for Baltics

If foreign investors are roped into building Baltic nuclear plant in Kaliningad, they’re most likely Baltic countries, who are interested in fortifying their energy security, Aleksei Ivanov from Kurchanov’s institute told Regnum, ERR News reports.

Planned power of Baltic nuclear plant (2300 mega watts) assumes export to neighbours, Baltic counties, since the plant is too powerful for Kaliningrad.

Declaration about investments into two energy blocks of Baltic nuclear plant was signed on November 21. Investment into that is 124.3 billion rubles (EEK 59.6 bln).

Considering the energy deficit in that part of the Europe, especially after Ignalina’s closure, only Baltic nuclear plan can guarantee energy supply, Ivanov said. No noted that other countires haven’t got further of words in he question of building nuclear plant.

(Source: Baltic Business News)

Britain's nuclear power ambition needs investment in training

Britain's nuclear power ambitions will only be realised if generators, contractors and consultants invest in training to upskill the UK supply chain, a lead contractor said last week.

Balfour Beatty chief operating officer Andrew McNaughton said that people working in the nuclear power plants supply chain would need retraining so they can deliver new nuclear facilities.

McNaughton was speaking as his firm agreed a deal to deliver French reactor manufacturer Areva's European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) in the UK.

"We need to start investigating the knowledge development that the supply chain needs to make [to deliver new nuclear power stations]," he said.

The National Skills Academy for Nuclear estimates the sector will need to recruit an additional 10,000 people over the next 10 years. At the same time 80% of the existing 50,000 strong workforce is older than 50.

Balfour Beatty will work with Areva to identify the skills and resources in the civils sector that are needed to deliver a fleet of EPRs. Rolls Royce is working with Areva on mechanical and electrical equipment supply issues.

Areva president Luc Oursel said the UK's new build programme could be as large as 20GW to 25GW, although to date only generators EDF and E.ON have ambitions to build new plants.

EDF is set to take over eight of the UK's 10 operational nuclear plants with a £12.5bn takeover of British Energy. It intends to build four new nuclear reactors in the UK, with the first to be operational by 2017.

E.ON plans to build two new nuclear reactors, although it has yet to secure any UK sites.

E.ON has signalled its willingness to use either Areva or Westinghouse
reactors in its facilities.

Both designs are making their way through a design assessment process, due to complete in 2011.

The government's Generic Design Assessment (GDA) process for the licencing of new reactors for use in the UK aims for only one or two reactor designs across all new nuclear plants.

This is intended is to reduce decommissioning costs. The current decommissioning programme will be relatively expensive because no two nuclear power stations are the same.

The government's GDA process is in its second phase. Despite uncertainty about which reactors will be approved, Oursel said it was time to start investing in the supply chain.

He added that he was confident the EPR would be approved in the GDA process and that Areva could deliver cost-eff ective nuclear power. But the only two EPRs currently under construction are running late and over budget.

Construction costs at EDF's EPR at Flamanville, Normandy are up by a fifth from initial forecasts. The EPR under construction at Olkiluoto, western Finland, is not expected to open until 2012, three years later than planned.

In a separate development, Balfour Beatty has formed a joint venture with Vinci Construction to help deliver project management, construction and civil engineering infrastructure for the EPR programme in the UK.

(Source: NCE)

Japan: Nuclear power company eyes decommissioning of 2 reactors due to stiffer quake standards

Chubu Electric Power Co. is considering decommissioning two reactors at the Hamaoka Nuclear Power Plant and building a new reactor in response to tougher earthquake resistance standards, it has been learned.

The power company is reportedly considering decommissioning the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the plant in Omaezaki, Shizuoka Prefecture, and building a new sixth reactor that would start operating from fiscal 2018 or later. Decommissioning work on the reactors, which are currently not operating, would be completed around 2035.

Since the 2007 Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake that struck Niigata Prefecture, the government has requested tougher earthquake-resistance checks, and it appears that the power company decided that, from a cost perspective, it would be difficult to resume operations of the aging No. 1 and No. 2 reactors.

Chubu Electric Power Co. had planned to resume operations of the two reactors in fiscal 2011 after improving their earthquake resistance. However, in the 2007 Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake, shaking at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture was 3.8 times more intense than had been predicted. Accordingly, major quake resistance reinforcement became necessary for the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the Hamaoka plant. Since there was a high possibility of major increases in the cost of restarting the reactors, the power company began looking at decommissioning them as an option.

If the company receives government approval of its decommissioning plans, it will spend about 10 years reducing the amount of radioactive material in the reactors and then dismantle the nuclear reactor buildings.

(Source: Mainichi Daily)

Construction of Bulgaria's Second Nuclear Power Plant to Begin Late 2009

The construction of Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant, AEC-Belene, may begin in the second half of 2009, nuclear regulator chairman Sergei Cochev said Saturday.

Prime Minister had made the first dig at the site this summer, but work can not begin without the regulator’s approval. All the documentation by Russian company Atomstroy Export, which is building the plant, is expected to arrive within days, said Cochev.

The regulator then has nine months to come up with a statement on the project. Expertise is to be done by 3 companies - a French one, a German one, and Bulgaria's N Pro Consult.

(Source: BNN)

India: First nuke power plant after N-deal may come up in Haryana

Haryana could become the first state in the country to set up a 2,800 MW nuclear power plant after India’s inking the civil nuclear deal with the US.
“Atomic Energy Commission has already approved our proposal to set up a 2,800 MW nuclear power plant at Kumaharia village in Fatehabad district in the state. We are waiting for the Centre’s nod,” Haryana Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said.
He was speaking on the sidelines of a function to attend the boiler drum lifting ceremony of the 1,500 MW Indira Gandhi Super Thermal Power plant which entails an investment of Rs 7,892 crore. The plant is being set up by the Aravali Power Company Pvt Ltd (APCPL).
“We expect the proposal to get through soon as no other state aspiring to set up a nuclear power plant has identified any site for that. We have no dearth of land and water at the identified site, which are the essentials for setting up a nuclear power plant,” Hooda said.
Chief Minister further said, “The two units of 500 MW each of this thermal power plant would start generation before the Commonwealth Games. The plant would be fully functional by the end of 2,010.”
Bhel Director Anil Sachdev, who was also present, said, “Bhel is making all efforts to commission the first unit (500MW) one month ahead of schedule by June 2010. The remaining two units would be commissioned with a gap of three month each.”
Bhel is supplying the main generating equipment, including boiler, steam turbine, generator and their auxiliaries. The company had bagged the supply, erection and commissioning order in July, 2007.
If everything goes well, Delhi would get its share of 750 MW before the Commonwealth Games. The power generated from the plant would be shared by Haryana and Delhi on 50:50 basis.
NTPC, Haryana Power Generation Corporation Limited and Indraprastha Power Generation Company Limited are jointly promoting APCPL. NTPC% has 50 stake in the company while the other two promoters have an equal share.
The debt equity ratio is 70:30. The equity requirement will be met from the promoter’s contribution, while the debt would be financed by the Power Finance Corporation.
(Source: LiveMint.com)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Hong Kong's CLP mulls expanding nuclear capacity


10 December 2008 - CLP Holdings, one of Hong Kong's two electricity producers, said it is studying the feasibility of investing in two nuclear power plants with a combined capacity of 2000 MW.

CLP already owns 25 per cent of a nuclear power joint venture at Daya Bay, in the bordering mainland Chinese city of Shenzhen, with partner China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding.

"We would like to make more investment. Right now it's a feasibility study only. It's not a firm commitment idea," Andrew Brandler, CLP's chief executive officer, told reporters.

The company is looking to generate 20 per cent of its power from renewable sources, including nuclear, by 2020, Brandler said. Renewables accounted for more than five per cent of its energy portfolio at the end of last year, according to its website.

Belarusian Protesters Seek To Stop New Nuclear Power Construction

ASTRAVETS, Belarus -- Protesters against the construction of a nuclear-power plant in the western Belarusian town of Astravets are seeking approval to hold a demonstration on December 27.

The protest organizing committee has requested permission from town authorities to hold the meeting, but a similar request was denied in the fall.

Committee leaders Mikola Ulasevich and Ivan Kruk told RFE/RL's Belarus Service that "the construction of a new nuclear power plant on the territory of the Narach-Vileyka National Park will appear to many as putting a new 'Chornobyl hole' on Europe's map."

(Source: Radio Liberty/Free Europe)

Pavilionis: exception has to be made for Lithuania in EU climate portfolio

An exception has to be made for Lithuania when passing decisions on the greenhouse gas emission quotas in the EU climate portfolio, related to the closure of the Ignalina nuclear power plant, claims Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Zygimantas Pavilionis.

The diplomat is quoted in the report of the Foreign Ministry released on Monday after the sitting of the General Affairs and External Relations Council, writes ELTA.

According to the Foreign Ministry, Lithuania will strive during the European Council this week for the new financial resources allocated for the revival of the EU economy to be used when solving the energy security challenges in the Baltic region after 2009.

The European economy revival plan submitted by the European Commission to speedy the financial stimulus for the extension of energy grids was discussed at the meeting.

"Now it is most important to mobilize financial mechanisms and to start implementing such projects as Swedlit urgently," Pavilionis is quoted in the ministry"s report.

"Lithuania will strive in the European Council on December 11-12 for the new financial resources allocated for the revival of the EU economy to be used when solving the energy security challenges in the Baltic region after 2009. It is strived to reduce the region"s dependency on a single exterior energy supplier," the ministry claims.

"An exception has to be made for Lithuania when passing decisions on the greenhouse gas emission quotas in the EU climate portfolio due to the difficult situation in the country related to the closure of the Ignalina nuclear power plant," Pavilionis said.

Pavilionis also expressed Lithuania"s support to the Eastern Partnership project presented by the European Commission. This initiative is designed to deepen bilateral relations with six neighbors – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus (when it satisfies the requirements), Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

(Source: Baltic Course)

Germany's RWE Torn by Power Strife over Bulgaria's Nuclear Plant "Belene"

Germany's second largest energy concern RWE is torn by a struggle for power related to the company's participation in the construction of Bulgaria's Nuclear Power Plant Belene.

One of the main contention issues between the company Director Jürgen Großmann, and RWE's supervisory board is the future Belene plant because of environmental concerns, and because of its location in a zone with high seismic risk, the Westdeutsche Allgemeine Zeitung reported.

The main issue at stake in the company is the role that each of its bodies has to play in the approval of large investment projects such as RWE's participation in the Belene Plant.

During its session on Thursday, the supervisory board is expected to change its statutes so that it could have a more decisive role in approving large-scale project that are now approved by RWE's governing board.

The former Minister of Economy and Labor of Germany Wolfgang Clement, who is a member of the supervisory body of the subsidiary RWE Power, is quoted as saying the Belene Project had been prepared perfectly, and that many zones with nuclear facilities in the USA, Japan, and Korea had much greater earthquake risk than the lower Danube.

Meanwhile, the protests of German environmentalists against the Belene project are continuing, the umweltruf.de portal reported

RWE has won the tender of Bulgaria's National Electric Company NEK for the purchase of 49% of the future Belene Nuclear Power Plant for EUR 1,2 B.

NEK representatives stated they were currently negotiating with RWE the form of the shareholders' agreement, and that they were expecting that it would be signed on December 15.

(Source: Novinite)

Russia, India advance strategic partnership

Russia President Dmitry Medvedev paid an official visit to India on December 4-5. During his two-day maiden trip to India, Russia and India signed 10 agreements involving cooperation in such spheres as space technology, military, nuclear energy, tourism and financial business, including the deal on the construction of four more reactors at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Station (NPS), located at Koodankulam in Tamil Nadu, south India. To date, the construction of two reactors has already completed at the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project.

In the field of bilateral trade, Russia and India plan to lift their trade volume to 10 billion US dollars by the year 2010.

President Medvedev has been the first foreign head of state to visit India in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks. Right after the terror attacks, the Russian government announced that there was no change in Medvedev's India visit plans. This shows the traditional and real bilateral partnership between Russia and India is deep-rooted and profound.

Russia and India are the traditional alliance. Out of their respective consideration of strategic interests, bilateral ties have been warmed up since the mid 1990s. And bilateral relations between the two countries have experienced sustainable, steady growth after Vladimir V. Putin became the Russian president. In 2000, Putin made his first ever visit to India, during which the Strategic Partnership Declaration was signed and the strategic partnership reached a new height.

In the new international situation and particularly with the global financial crisis as a backdrop, President Medvedev's India trip is of special significance. Due to a drastic drop in global oil prices, Russia's oil exports have been negatively affected. Hence, the expansion of the nation's economic and trade ties with India has become the important contents of the new Russian president's first visit to India.

Nuclear technology and military spheres are superior realms of Russia's India trade. In the field of nuclear matters, Russia and India signed an intergovernmental agreement on the construction of four more reactors, each worth 2 billion dollars. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh hailed the landmark nuclear deal signed with Russia on Dec. 5th as a "milestone in the history of our cooperation"in the sphere of energy.

Meanwhile, President Dmitry Medvedev, who had signed the agreement for Russia to develop four more nuclear reactors in Tamil Nadu, said: "Today we have opened a new page"in bilateral relations.

Russia's swift conclusion of an accord on the construction of four more reactors is also related to exterior factors. In early October, the U.S. Senate voted to ratify the U.S.-India Agreement for Cooperation concerning Peaceful Use of Nuclear Energy. The deal would allow India to buy American nuclear reactors and fuel for the first time in more than 30 years. Under such circumstances, Russia would not be able to enjoy the right for monopolizing India's nuclear energy field. So it takes for granted that Russia will ink the deal with India soon afterwards.

Military cooperation poses a vital link of Russia-India ties. Traditionally, India has been a principal buyer of Russia-made weaponry. President Medvedev has attached great importance to cooperation in this sphere and, during his India trip the Russian president cited military cooperation as one of the most crucial fields in bilateral cooperation. What worthparticular mentioning here is that arms Russia has sold to India is always is the most sophisticated and the quality is much higher than that of those weapons it sold to other countries. It also indicates from one aspect an extraordinary strategic partnership forged between Russia and India.

As a matter of course, there are some differences between the two nations. Citing the problem regarding costs for revamping Admiral Gorshko aircraft carrier Russia sold to India, which remains unsettled, the India found it impossible to accept its refit costs, as Russia has raised or increased the quoted prices by a very big margin.

So, it can be acknowledged that President Medvedev's India trip has continued the bid power diplomacy, energy diplomacy and geopolitics diplomacy prompted or spurred by former Russian President Vladimir Putin. This has indeed deepened the Russian-Indian traditional and real strategic partnership and, beyond any doubt, it constitutes a vital cornerstone of Russia's Asia diplomacy.

Source: People's Daily Online

Saturday, December 6, 2008

High oil prices may boost nuclear power

Oil, priced at US$147 a barrel three months ago, was predicted to hit US$200 a barrel, strengthening calls for alternative energy sources. Current oil prices, hovering at US$50 a barrel, have mostly muted the resistance to oil in the United States for the time being. However, the lower prices are only temporary, and US$100 a barrel is likely to end up being the norm.

In comparison, nuclear energy is cheaper. Organizations like Greenpeace are not as vociferous in their opposition to nuclear power as they previously were. This is probably due to the fact that future energy demands can largely be met with nuclear power, while alternate renewable sources like solar and wind energy can only supplement nuclear, coal and hydroelectric sources.

Coal, gas and oil can provide energy at current levels of consumption for the next 30 to 40 years. Although coal with clean technology will outlast oil, plans for alternative energy sources have to be put in place now, otherwise blackouts in the United States within the next 30 years are a distinct possibility. On the other hand, the excessive use of coal without the means to strip it of harmful carbon dioxide will contribute to global warming.

However, the possibility of nuclear energy becoming the main source of energy, setting aside the incidents of Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, needs to be reexamined. The United States has not granted a license for the construction of a new nuclear power plant in 30 years, while France continues to build them and produces around 78 percent of its electricity through nuclear power.

The French have advanced with closed fuel cycle technology, which minimizes the dumping of spent nuclear fuel. Stung by the high cost of energy and global warming, the United States has now begun considering nuclear energy as a feasible alternative. Six applications to construct new nuclear power plants have already been filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, two of which may receive a go ahead in 2009.

There is not much oil left in the world, except in Russia, Alaska and some offshore locations. The wells in the Middle East will run dry from around 2030 to 2040, while natural gas may last 30 to 40 years longer. The oil-producing Middle Eastern countries are aware of this fact and, wishing to maximize their advantage, have been raising oil prices over the past three years.

In the heydays of oil exports, oil-producing nations were spendthrifts. In order to maintain expensive lifestyles, they hiked oil prices. For example, Saudi Arabia needs a minimum of US$65 per barrel to pay for its expenses. Kuwait needs US$50 per barrel, Iran US$75 and Venezuela US$90 to balance their budgets. If oil prices fall below US$70 per barrel on average, these nations have to dip into their cash reserves, which will quickly be exhausted. So these nations wish to keep oil prices floating well above the US$75-$90 mark.

Now the question is whether or not nuclear power generation is cost-effective. Studies published before 2006 assumed oil prices to be US$50 per barrel. As the floor for oil prices will be higher than this estimate, it is necessary to take a fresh look based on present-day market conditions. Let us examine a few details of previous studies.

First, what is the kilowatt-hour power cost? A 2005 study undertaken by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development assumed oil prices at US$50 per barrel in 2010 and provided statistics for power generation costs for three energy sources – nuclear energy, coal and gas. Unfortunately, their studies were limited to developed and almost-developed countries.

(Figures in the following table are shown in cents/kilowatt hour for nuclear energy, coal and gas, respectively, at an 85 percent load factor.)

France: 2.54, 3.33 and 3.92

Japan: 4.80, 4.95 and 5.21

Canada: 2.60, 3.11 and 4.11

USA: 3.01, 2.71 and 4.67

Based on the above, oil at US$90 per barrel with corresponding increases in natural gas prices will push gas power generation costs much higher.

Reliable data on India and China is unavailable, but preliminary studies indicate China and India’s nuclear power generation costs are a bit higher due to local conditions.

The point is, geography also affects power generation costs. France and Canada are nuclear energy producers with the lowest costs, having mastered the art of nuclear technology over the past 40 years. The United States is not too far behind. Japan’s high costs are due to its geography and lack of natural resources.

Second, the main factors that drive up power plant costs are capital cost of the plant, operating costs, and fueling and refueling costs.

Each factor acts differently for different geographical locations. If a country is rich in gas or in close proximity to gas fields, an advantage is low transportation costs. Until a decade ago, coal was the cheapest source of energy and most countries had it in abundance. The impact of carbon dioxide on global warming has pushed most countries, except China, to look for alternate sources of energy.

Soon, carbon dioxide-emitting power plants will have to clean up their act at a high cost or cease operations altogether. Already, global warming has melted glaciers, reduced river water levels and is melting the all-important polar ice caps.

Natural gas is the next best option to coal. It creates less greenhouse gas. As it is found in abundance underground, it can be easily transported over long distances. However, due to excessive use, these wells will run dry soon.

Nuclear energy is likely to meet the world’s growing energy needs, as it is cost effective. Like coal, it has its disadvantages, including high capital costs for “brown fields” – properties contaminated with hazardous materials, blighted or functionally obsolete – the requirement of a highly trained workforce, problems with disposing spent fuel and the West’s monopoly on nuclear technology.

Supply needs for coal, gas and nuclear plants differ from country to country. Coal is abundant in most countries, except Japan. New sources of gas all over the world make it a better source of energy than coal.

In comparison, uranium, the raw material for nuclear power plants, is in limited supply. Well-developed mines in Canada, Australia, Russia, Central Africa and the United States supply uranium under internationally supervised safeguards. India and China have only a limited supply of uranium and therefore depend upon others for it. India was forced to seek out the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal this year, after its existing nuclear power plants began to run at 50 percent capacity due to scarcity of uranium.

A similar deal was negotiated by China a decade earlier. The Chinese are planning to construct 30 nuclear power plants with the help of Western nations in the next 20 years. Since China’s first preference is still coal over nuclear energy, they plan to continue building coal-fired power plants as well.

Sooner or later, a properly safeguarded uranium and plutonium supply cycle will be developed. The West holds a close monopoly on nuclear technology to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction. It has a point; the dual use of nuclear power scares everyone. Future technological developments will prevent plutonium from being extracted from spent fuel, which will reduce attention toward its potential ill use.

In summary, nuclear energy is a better option to meet the world’s energy needs. The United States must take the initiative for the sake of its own energy security and develop safer technology for others.

India supports the United States in this endeavor. While the United States has stopgap options, namely, exploiting oil reserves in Alaska and offshore reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, India does not have that luxury and so must build nuclear power plants quickly. In contrast, China, with its own mindset, will most likely continue building coal-fired power plants and polluting the earth.

(Source: UPI Asia)

Russia Russia, India to ink deals on arms, space, nuclear power

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's current visit to India is expected to see the two countries sign a number of high-profile deals.

The Russian president arrived in India on Thursday on an official two-day visit to discuss bilateral ties amid the global financial crisis and anti-terrorist efforts in the aftermath of the recent Mumbai attacks that left 174 people dead.

Medvedev is being accompanied by a host of officials and businessmen from various state-run and private agencies and companies during his visit.

Rosoboronexport, the state-run arms exporter, said on Friday it would sign a contract on the delivery of 80 Mi-17 Hip military transport helicopters to the Indian air force.

Russian nuclear power chief Sergei Kiriyenko said Russia and India would sign an agreement to build another four reactors at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant and a protocol on the delivery of nuclear fuel worth $700 million to Indian nuclear power stations. The visit may also see the signing of an agreement for Russia to build new nuclear power plants in the country.

Russia's space agency said Moscow and New Delhi would sign a new document on cooperation in space exploration, which includes plans to send two Indian astronauts to space on board a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in 2013.

Russia's Statistics Service earlier said accumulated Indian investment in Russia totaled $821 million, including $718 million of foreign direct investment. Russia invested $18 million in India in the first half of 2008.

The two countries plan to increase trade to $10 billion by 2010 from this year's expected level of $7 billion, and diversify economic cooperation in the future.

(Source: RIA Novosti)

India: 1500 MW of nuclear power to be added by 2009

Kakodkar says the aim is to generate 20,000 MW by 2020; half of this to come from PHWR.

First fast breeder reactor would get commissioned in 2010-11.

There is need to grow primary energy supply by at least 3-4 times.

Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Anil Kakodkar on Thursday expressed confidence that 1,500 MW of nuclear power would be added to the national grid in 2009 as the country was poised to benefit from the civil nuclear cooperation agreements with Russia, France and United States.

He was addressing the 11th India Power Forum meet here.

Dr. Kakodkar said he envisaged nuclear power plants comprising 6-8 units of 1000 MW each built over the next 9-10 years.
Fuel supply

The nuclear power programme was hitherto constrained by limited fuel supplies, but with the signing of the nuclear deal with the U.S. and strategies to enhance domestic uranium supplies, the country would certainly exceed the 2020 target.

The country’s first fast breeder reactor was under construction and on schedule to get commissioned in 2010-11.

“Two-three nuclear power units will be connected to the national grid next year and they would add about 1,500 MW. The nation now has a capacity to generate 4,120 MW of nuclear power, but due to shortage of nuclear fuel most of the units are running a little over half their capacity.”

It was aimed to generate 20,000 MW of nuclear power by 2020.

Half of this would come from indigenously developed Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR).

“We aim to produce 10,000 MW through PHWRs, about 5,000 MW through imported reactors and about 2,500 MW through Fast Breeder Reactors, he said.
Talks with vendors

India was in discussion with several foreign nuclear vendors. An important guarantee it was seeking from any vendor was life-time uninterrupted supply of fuel and the right to re-process the spent fuel.

This was important because for delivering a sustained growth of 8 per cent through 2031, India would need to grow its primary energy supply by at least 3-4 times and electricity supply by 5-7 times, he said.

India was fortunate that it had developed the recycle capabilities, a situation the world should tackle, as global fuel sources were coming under increasing stress, Dr. Kakodkar added.

(Source: The Hindu)

Friday, December 5, 2008


Eskom announced today its decision not to proceed with the proposed investment in Nuclear-1 project due to the magnitude of the investment.  The proposed Nuclear 1 project would have resulted in the construction of the country’s second nuclear power station.  

Eskom terminated the commercial procurement process to select the preferred bidder for the construction of the Nuclear-1 project.  The two bidders were the EPR consortium led by Areva of France and the N-Powerment consortium led by Westinghouse of the USA. 

However, South Africa will stay committed to its nuclear power programme in a bid to ease chronic power shortages and diversify the country’s energy sources, a government official said.

“The South African government remains committed to introducing nuclear because we have to deal with our carbon footprint and we have to diversify our energy mix,” Portia Molefe, director general at the Department of Public Enterprises, told reporters.

Eskom said last month that the plan to build a nuclear plant had to be revisited in the light of the economic climate.

It then said the project might have to be postponed as the credit crisis and the downgrading of Eskom’s credit rating had increased the costs of borrowing and would make it difficult for the utility to afford an investment of that magnitude.

Government said it supported the utility’s decision.

“This is just to confirm government’s support for Eskom’s board decision to not proceed with the Nuclear 1 procurement as it is not affordable at this present juncture,” Molefe said.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Final decision about location of Belarus' nuclear power plant to be made in late December, official pledges

A final decision on the location of Belarus' first nuclear power plant will be made in late December, Liliya Dulinets, a departmental chief at the energy ministry, told reporters in Minsk on Thursday.

The government is considering three possible locations for the plant: near the village of Kukshynava between Horki and Shklow, Mahilyow region; in the Astravets district, Hrodna region; and near the village of Chyrvonaya Palyana near Bykhaw, Mahilyow region.

The decision will be taken at a meeting that a special government commission headed by the energy minister will hold on December 22 and 23, according to the official.

"The deadline for the selection of the location was set for the end of 2008," Ms. Dulinets said. "The deadline is not being postponed."

An expert of the International Atomic Energy Agency will visit Belarus next week to give recommendations for the location of the nuclear power plant and assess preparations made in the country for the construction project.

The authorities earlier pledged that they would announce the location this past September.

Belarus plans to start the construction of the nuclear power plant in 2009. The 2,000-MW plant is projected to supply some 15 percent of the country’s electricity needs. One of the two 1000-MW reactors is to be put into operation in 2016 and the other in 2018.

(Source: Naviny.by)

IAEA nuclear power personnel training mission to arrive in Belarus in January

The IAEA mission for training personnel for the nuclear power engineering industry will arrive in Belarus in mid-January 2009, Liliya Dulinets, head of the office for international cooperation, personnel training and information support of the Nuclear Power Department of the Belarusian Energy Ministry, told a press conference on December 4, reported Belta.

She noted, the IAEA 2009-2011 technical aid programme includes a project for developing human resources potential and personnel training for Belarus’ nuclear power industry. The project budget exceeds $700,000. Its implementation will start in 2009, said the official.

In her words, the money will be spent on consultative aid for Belarus, on arranging educational seminars, visits to nuclear facilities, perfection of the legal base concerning personnel training.

The next consultations with IAEA experts are supposed to take place on January 14-15. Representatives of the IAEA secretariat will arrive in Belarus. Experienced specialists from Russia and Ukraine have been invited as experts.

Liliya Dulinets remarked, Belarus is implementing a programme for training nuclear power industry personnel. In line with the programme specialists will be trained for building and running the nuclear power plant, performing safety control functions and other functions. There are plans to send a group of Belarusian specialists for training in Russian universities in 2009. By the end of the year a relevant contract will be signed. The group will consist of 24 people. Their education is likely to take place in Obninsk.

(Source: Trend News Agency)

China to kick off inland nuclear power projects: state media

Construction of an 8.7 billion dollar nuclear power plant in eastern China is set to begin soon, as part of ambitious plans for more atomic energy in the nation's interior, state press said Thursday.

Work on the 60 billion yuan (8.7 billion dollar) Pengze nuclear plant in eastern China's Jiangxi province will begin, with authorities also approving plants in nearby Hubei and Hunan provinces, the China Daily said.

"As China has taken measures to boost domestic demand, China may speed up the construction of nuclear projects in the next few years," the paper said, referring to Beijing's effort to overcome the global economic downturn.

Earlier, the official Jiangxi Daily said construction of the plant, which will consist of the AP-1000 nuclear reactor produced by the US-based Westinghouse, would start in October.

Westinghouse, which is owned by Japan's Toshiba, last year signed a multi-billion dollar deal for four nuclear reactors with two each in the coastal provinces of Shandong and Zhejiang.

Westinghouse's representative office in Beijing refused to comment on its reported participation in the Jiangxi plant when contacted by AFP Thursday.

The official Caijing Magazine previously reported the China National Nuclear Corp had decided in October to use the AP-1000 as a standard for inland nuclear power projects.

Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui, Henan, Gansu and Jilin provinces have all applied to the central government to build plants, the report said.

China has 11 nuclear reactors in operation, all of which are located in the nation's coastal regions.

According to a published nuclear power development plan, China will need up to 30 more atomic power plants if it expects to realise its target of producing 40 gigawatts of nuclear energy by 2020.

China is seeking to diversify its energy structure away from coal which provides the nation with up to 70 percent of its power needs, but is highly polluting.

(Source: AFP)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Vilnius frets as EU prepares to cut off power

Here comes the original article on Lithuania from Financial Times mentioned in my previous post.

What one god gives, another takes away. Such is the dry humour with which Lithuanians greeted the imminent closure of the Ignalina nuclear power station, a featureless hulk rising from the snowy badlands of the frontier with Belarus and Latvia.

The god that gave Lithuania the Ignalina plant was the Soviet Union. "Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country!" Vladimir Lenin once proclaimed.

The god shutting down Ignalina is the European Union, which, as a condition of Lithuania's admission to the bloc in 2004, insisted on its closure.

To anyone who visited a Soviet factory or office in the 1980s, it appears as if time has stood still at Ignalina, with its shoddy paintwork, bad wiring, missing lights, elaborate security procedures, brusque staff and pungent, disinfected smell.

But as the clock ticks towards the shutdown date of December 31, 2009, the prospect of its closure is being greeted with incomprehension and anxiety in Vilnius, Lithuania's capital.

Ignalina provides 70 per cent of Lithuania's electricity, and when it shuts down the nation will have nowhere to turn for its energy supplies except Russia - the very country that, in its Soviet guise, annexed Lithuania in the 1940s, deported tens of thousands of its people to Siberia, and did not permit the nation's independence until the Soviet Union itself fell apart in 1991.

"We're becoming an energy-isolated island. I'd even call it a Russian monopoly," says Valdas Adamkus, Lithuania's president. "We don't understand the real reason why the EU insisted on closing the Ignalina plant, which is very safe operationally. Finland is building new nuclear power units, and Lithuania is being forced to close something that's not broken. If you ask if it's unfair or not, I don't believe it is fair."

For the European Commission, it is a closed case. Memories of the 1986 Chernobyl accident in Soviet Ukraine, the world's worst nuclear disaster, were fresh in the mind when the Commission negotiated EU entry terms for former communist countries in central and eastern Europe. Moreover, energy was cheap in Europe back then.

Soviet-designed nuclear reactors were unwanted and, it seemed, unnecessary. To make matters worse, Ignalina was a Chernobyl-type plant.

But in Ignalina the sense of outrage and injustice is intense. The plant's first reactor was shut in 2004 after 21 years. Sweden forked out millions of euros to upgrade the safety systems of the second reactor, which, according to senior staff, could carry on for another 20 years if the appropriate maintenance work were done in 2012.

"The reactor is 1.5 times more powerful than Chernobyl and 100 times safer," says Mikhail Demchenko, deputy head of the Lithuanian state nuclear power inspectorate.

Adding to the bitterness is the fact that 80 per cent of Ignalina's 3,000 staff are ethnic Russians. In fact, Ignalina has the highest density of ethnic Russians anywhere in Lithuania, of whose 3.6m people only 6.3 per cent are Russian.

When the plant closes next year, up to 2,000 staff will lose their jobs. Some will stay to decommission the two reactors, although that may be easier said than done. At present, there are not enough casks to store the spent nuclear fuel.

"Originally, in the Soviet period, it was planned to put the spent fuel somewhere in Siberia. Now it is a problem for Lithuania," says one Ignalina manager.

For the Russians facing redundancy, employment prospects are bleak. Many do not speak fluent Lithuanian, and the country is hurtling into recession.

Chief defender of the workers at Ignalina is Viktor Shevaldin, an ethnic Russian and the plant's director-general for the past 17 years. Animated, silver-haired, tie knotted loosely below unbuttoned collar, Mr Shevaldin tells it straight, as only a Russian from the Soviet era can: "If they let me do the negotiating in Brussels, this plant would stay open. But one side won't take me there, and the other side doesn't want me there."

Mr Shevaldin says Russia still operates 11 reactors like those at Ignalina and all have been successfully modernised. Ignalina's operators, he says, also still co-operate closely with Russians on safety issues.

But Mr Shevaldin is no representative of Russian interests in disguise. "I once had an offer to leave here to manage a Russian plant. I refused. Ya - litovsky patriot! " he declares in Russian ("I am a Lithuanian patriot!").

(Source: Financial Times)

Financial Times voices Lithuania’s concern over electricity and Russia

Lithuania is worried about the approaching term for closing the Ignalina nuclear power plant and its President Valdas Adamkus considers such requirement of the European Union (EU) to be unfair, the well-known British daily The Financial Times writes on Tuesday.

"Ignalina provides 70% of Lithuania"s electricity, and when it shuts down the nation will have nowhere to turn for its energy supplies except Russia – the very country that, in its Soviet guise, annexed Lithuania in the 1940s, deported tens of thousands of its people to Siberia, and did not permit the nation"s independence until the Soviet Union itself fell apart in 1991," The Financial Times noted in its website, writes ELTA.

Tony Barber, author of the article, quotes President Adamkus, who states seeing no reason for decommissioning the plant.

"We"re becoming an energy-isolated island. I"d even call it a Russian monopoly. We don"t understand the real reason why the EU insisted on closing the Ignalina plant, which is very safe operationally. Finland is building new nuclear power units, and Lithuania is being forced to close something that"s not broken. If you ask if it"s unfair or not, I don"t believe it is fair," The Financial Times quoted Adamkus.

The daily also pays attention to the fact that a lot of employees, the majority of whom are ethnic Russians, will lose their jobs after closing the Ignalina nuclear power plant.

"Chief defender of the workers at Ignalina is Viktor Shevaldin, an ethnic Russian and the plant"s director-general for the past 17 years. Animated, silver-haired, tie knotted loosely below unbuttoned collar, Mr Shevaldin tells it straight, as only a Russian from the Soviet era can: "If they let me do the negotiating in Brussels, this plant would stay open. But one side won"t take me there, and the other side doesn"t want me there," The Financial Times writes.

"But Mr Shevaldin is no representative of Russian interests in disguise: "I once had an offer to leave here to manage a Russian plant. I refused. Ya – litovsky patriot!" he declares in Russian ("I am a Lithuanian patriot!")," the daily quoted Shevaldin.

(Source: The Baltic Course)