US nuclear power plans hit by waste dispute
‘The Obama administration’s efforts to foster a renaissance in nuclear power in the US are coming up against an old dilemma - what to do with the waste. The climate bill before the Senate envisages the construction of the first US reactors in more than three decades as a solution to both global warming and the country’s addiction to oil; an expansion supported by President Barack Obama and Republicans at a time of new concerns about the safety of oil drilling. But the issue of spent fuel storage is haunting US nuclear ambitions. In March, Mr Obama announced that Yucca Mountain, the country’s only prospective nuclear waste repository, would be shut before ever opening. The 20-year-old facility outside Las Vegas has cost the government about $9bn (7.1bn euros, £6.1bn). Mr Obama promised during his election campaign that he would kill the project on the urging of Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, whose Nevada constituency opposes it. The closure has shaken the nuclear power industry during what some are calling its long-awaited revival. The largest nuclear power company, Exelon, has said it will not construct new plants until progress is made on storage. ‘This is a major impediment to the development of new nuclear sites,’ said John Rowe, Exelon’s chief executive.’

Carbon Plan’s Price Controls May Hurt Nuclear, Barclays Says
‘May 13 (Bloomberg) -- Measures to prevent price spikes in a proposed U.S. carbon market may hold back construction of new nuclear-power plants and thwart the development of technologies that capture emissions from coal-fired plants, London-based Barclays Plc said. Senators John Kerry and Joseph Lieberman unveiled legislation yesterday that aims to cut the emissions that scientists have linked to climate change 17 percent from their 2005 levels by 2020. Power plants and factories would be regulated by a cap-and-trade program in which companies buy and sell a declining number of carbon dioxide allowances. Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, have proposed a minimum price of $12 an allowance and a maximum of $25 in 2013. The ‘price collar’ for allowances, which each represent one metric ton of carbon dioxide, would rise over time. ‘When you’re looking to make some pretty big reductions in your carbon emissions, there needs to be the promise of fairly good carbon prices,’ Trevor Sikorski, director of carbon market research at Barclays Capital, said today on a conference call with reporters. If lawmakers want to motivate power companies to build nuclear or carbon-capture plants, ‘then having a price collar on the price of carbon is not going to do it,’ Sikorski said.’

Britain's nuclear industry wakes up to an explosive problem as Chris Huhne moves in
‘A potentially explosive problem is brewing for the nuclear industry now that the Department of Energy and Climate Change has gone yellow. Companies from EDF to Centrica are likely to be privately rattled by the announcement of Chris Huhne as Britain’s new energy minister. It is a highly surprising choice by the Prime Minister given fervent Liberal Democrat opposition to a cornerstone of Tory energy policy: ten new nuclear power stations in the next couple of decades to ensure security of supply and a zero-carbon source of electricity. This is what Cameron and Clegg have to say about the policy clash in their agreement: ‘Liberal Democrats have long opposed any new nuclear construction. Conservatives, by contrast, are committed to allowing the replacement of existing nuclear power stations provided they are subject to the normal planning process for major projects (under a new national planning statement) and provided also that they receive no public subsidy.’ However, there remains a sizeable threat that the Liberals could force a time-consuming and costly public inquiry that delays the new build. The idea that Chris Huhne will have to formulate regulatory policy and set out a timetable for nuclear is likely to be a considerable worry. Most destabilising is the fact that policy will probably not be clear for some time, for Mr Huhne is going to have to square his Department’s theoretical support for nuclear with his own views (in a previous speech on energy) that: ‘No private sector investor has built a nuclear power station anywhere in the world without lashings of government subsidy since Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. The World Bank refuses to lend on nuclear projects because of the long history of overruns. Our message is clear, No to nuclear, as it is not a short cut, but a dead end.’

Seoul searching for new nuclear export deals
‘SEOUL, May 13 (Reuters) - After undercutting its main rival by a cool $16 billion on a single Middle East nuclear power deal, South Korea aims to use its pricing prowess to win orders in Turkey, Poland and the emerging powerhouses of China and India. But turning a decent profit from a global push into nuclear power is looking tough as major rivals wake up to the South Korea threat. A consortium led by Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) and with very public backing from the government, undercut traditional suppliers such as France to win a $40 billion contract to build and operate four reactors in the United Arab Emirates late last year. KEPCO officials said France's Areva and Japan's Mitsubishi beat off the South Korea firm as preferred bidders in a Jordan bid. A difficulty for KEPCO in the Turkey and Jordan bids is that both must include financing -- up to around $4.4 billion, or about 50 percent of each order. India's reactor project does not. Analysts pointed to a bilateral agreement with India on nuclear power cooperation to be signed in July as helpful for the Koreans. "The Indian project is to build a reactor with land and money provided. If the Koreans
win, it will become a catalyst (for more Indian deals)," said Deok-sang Yoo, analyst at Dongbu Securities.’

Top North Korea general and Kim confidant out of job
‘SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea has pushed one of its highest-ranking military officers into retirement, its media said on Friday, in a rare announcement that experts said may indicate frustration with yet another policy blunder. "Kim Il-chol was relieved of the posts as member of the National Defence Commission of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and first vice-minister of the People's Armed Forces for his advanced age of 80," the North's official KCNA news agency said, without offering further details. Kim, 80, was a close confidant of leader Kim Jong-il who served since 1998 as a vice chairman of the National Defence Commission, the centre of power in the secretive state. What is unusual is the report itself announcing an official's retirement, when normally only deaths are reported in the North's media. "One possibility is that Kim Il-chol was sacked to take responsibility for the announcement on nuclear fusion," said Yang Moo-jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul. Pyongyang said this week it had succeeded in creating a nuclear fusion reaction to produce energy, a claim experts said was absurd for a country so poor it cannot generate enough power to light itself at night.’

Japan gov't approves nuclear fuel programs
‘TOKYO, May 13, 2010 (Kyodo News International) -- The government Thursday approved programs to build and operate a plant for the processing of plutonium-uranium mixed oxide, or MOX, and a facility for storing spent nuclear fuel in Aomori Prefecture. They are Japan's first such facilities and are key components of a nuclear fuel cycle. Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd. plans to build the plant in the village of Rokkasho to process MOX powder from an adjacent spent nuclear fuel reprocessing plant into fuel assemblies from 2015. But the company has indicated a possible delay beyond the year. Recyclable-Fuel Storage Co. plans to construct the facility in the city of Mutsu to store spent fuel from nuclear plants of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (OOTC:TKECY) and Japan Atomic Power Co. for some 50 years before reprocessing at the Japan Nuclear Fuel plant. Construction is scheduled to start in July and be completed by 2012.’

Japanese firms stick with Sellafield MOX Plant
‘Confidence gained through performance improvements and talks with ten Japanese nuclear utilities means the Sellafield MOX Plant (SMP) will continue to operate 'in the longer term.' The future of the underperforming fuel facility has long been uncertain, but improvements in output under new management regime appear to have made the difference. The NDA said that it talked with the ten Japanese nuclear utilities "to aim to convert all their plutonium recovered in the UK into MOX fuel." After work by the NDA's commercial subsidiary, International Nuclear Services, new arrangements are in place that the NDA said "make the continuing operation of the plant economically acceptable in the longer term." Business planning manager John Clarke added that, "Agreement has now been reached between the NDA and Japanese utilities on an overall framework for future fabrication of MOX fuel in SMP." The NDA has asked Sellafield managers, the Nuclear Management Partners (a consortium of Washington International Holdings, Amec and Areva), to make the improvements to performance "on the earliest timescale" to be ready to begin a new Japanese job as quickly as possible after current work is completed.’

Cauldron Energy kicks off drilling at Las Marias uranium project
‘Cauldron Energy (ASX: CXU) has commenced its first drill program at the Las Marias uranium project, located in the province of San Juan, Argentina. In total, 500 to 600 metres of HQ core drilling is proposed as an initial program, which is to be followed-up in the second half of the year with further drilling. Targets include undercover extensions to surface mineralisation that have returned assays of up to 1,305 ppm U3O8 and exploration drilling results are expected to be returned my mid to late June 2010. Cauldron’s Chairman, Tony Sage, stated ‘while the company is currently drilling in South Australia and has committed to drilling on its main projects in Australia over the next six months, discretionary exploration programs and budgets subsequent to that are likely to focus more on the overseas projects.’