Nuclear: Mickey Mouse energy solutionToday's big stories from the nuclear industry:

French reactor shut down following loss of cooling

‘PARIS – One of four reactors at the Cruas nuclear power station in southern France was shut down late on Tuesday following a lapse in the cooling system, France's nuclear safety agency said. French energy company EDF reported the incident at 2250 GMT and followed its emergency procedures to shut down the reactor, it added. The agency said it was still evaluating the seriousness of the incident. The cooling system for the reactors use water from the Rhone River and the incident was due to a high level of plant debris in the river blocking intake, it added.’

No surprise ending in the Areva T&D pantomime

‘The French government's decision to hand Areva's transmission and distribution business to home-grown bidders - Alstom and Schneider Electric - is no exception to the old rule of continental European capitalism, especially when it comes to state-owned assets. The exception would have been if either GE of the US or Toshiba of Japan - the other two foreign bidders and both, incidentally, Areva's competitors in the nuclear sphere - had walked away with the prize. The Chinese seemed to have understood this full well having briefly flirted with the idea of encouraging one of their sovereign funds, the China Investment Corp, to enter the bidding. But they very quickly realised that it would be pointless and that the French state had probably already chosen the winner even before the competition began. The Chinese, no beginners in the fine art of economic patriotism, were well aware of the rules of the game. One presumes the Americans and the Japanese also knew that their chances of winning the competition were slim at best. They nonetheless felt that they could at least help drive up the price of the auction to make the acquisition more costly for their French rivals.’

France could face court challenge over sale of Areva arm

‘The French government could face a challenge in the country's highest administrative court over its decision to hand the transmission and distribution arm of state-owned Areva to domestic champions, Alstom and Schneider Electric, after a highly controversial auction. Lawyers for Toshiba, whose €4.4bn ($6.6bn) offer was rejected in favour of a €4.1bn bid from the French consortium, have advised the Japanese conglomerate that there are good grounds for an appeal to the Conseil d'État over an invalid privatisation. Guy Carcassonne, who has been hired as a legal adviser to Toshiba, yesterday told the AFP news agency that the procedure had "not been scrupulously respected - far from it". Another of Toshiba's lawyers, who preferred to remain anonymous, insisted the process had been "faulty", with opportunities given to the French consortium to improve their bid that were denied to foreign bidders. "There are definitely grounds to challenge," the lawyer said.’

Analysts Say Ahmadinejad Is Bluffing About New Enrichment Sites

'WASHINGTON -- Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad left no doubt about Iran's ambitions. "We need to spread out to numerous sites to produce nuclear fuel for us. We shall build 10 new uranium enrichment plants," he said on state television on November 29. "The new enrichment facilities will be the same size as our main enrichment complex at Natanz and work will begin within two months. So, in total, we need to have 10 new sites for developing our enrichment activities." James Acton, an expert in nonproliferation and disarmament issues at the Carnegie Endowment For International Peace who has advised the Norwegian government and lectured in the Department of War Studies at King's College London: "It's bluster. The resources required to build 10 centrifuge-enrichment plants are very considerable," Acton says. "I mean, I'm not only talking about building the facilities here but even just building enough centrifuges are very, very considerable and probably beyond Iran's reach. "So the idea that Iran will complete 10 enrichment plants in...five or six years is just nonsense." Acton says Iran is sending a political message that it isn't going to be intimidated by pressure from the international community.’

Australia - Two new uranium markets?

‘NOT being taken too seriously has its merits - one of them, so far as this correspondence is concerned, is being able to break from the media mob and take a different path. No, no - not voices in the head. Just ear-to-the-ground stuff. But here is one word of caution: don’t write off a Coalition win at the next Federal election. A week ago you would have been visited by men in white coats for uttering such an idea, and rightly so. However, I have been hearing from several Liberal supporters in the past 24 hours, and they are galvanised not just by the new leader but the belief that Tony Abbott can cut through and hold Kevin Rudd’s feet to the fire on emissions trading, a.k.a. a carbon tax. And just after noon today, Abbott opened up the prospect of a debate on nuclear power in Australia as a means of reducing greenhouse gases. What was particularly interesting was that deputy leader Julie Bishop not only took that ball and ran, but went on to urge a change of policy so that Australia can sell uranium to India. We would be helping that country reduce its carbon emissions by so doing, she argued.’

EDF Puts Bradwell Nuclear Land up for Sale, an Industrial Info News Alert

‘The process of selling land for a new nuclear power plant at Bradwell in southeast England is under way. EDF Energy (London, England), a subsidiary of French energy giant Electricite de France (Paris, France), has invited 'credible nuclear operators' to express interest. Bradwell is one of 10 suitable sites chosen recently by the U.K. government as being suitable for a new nuclear plant. The site was listed in the government's National Policy Statement on nuclear power, which outlined plans to build 16 gigawatts of new nuclear power, with the first new plant coming online by 2017.’

Loading of uranium fortress may begin in mid-February

‘Loading of the government's new storehouse for bomb-grade uranium is expected to begin in mid-February, according to the latest projections. Construction of the $549 million Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility was essentially completed in late 2008, and since then, workers have been installing equipment, applying finishing touches to the high-security structure and conducting test operations. B&W Technical Services, the managing contractor at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, recently completed its "operational readiness review" and is resolving some of the issues that were identified during that review, B&W spokesman David Keim said. Those results must be certified with federal officials at the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees Y-12 and the rest of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. The NNSA is scheduled to begin its own operational readiness review at the uranium storage facility on Dec. 7. Once that review has been completed and after any new issues have been resolved, B&W will request startup authority, Keim said.’

Melted Russian Bombs Needed to Ease Uranium Pinch

‘Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) -- The world’s atomic-power plants risk running short of fuel within a decade because uranium suppliers can’t build enrichment facilities or recycle Soviet-era warheads fast enough, according to the World Nuclear Association. The CHART OF THE DAY shows forecast global demand overwhelming fuel supply for reactors after 2017, potentially driving up costs for Exelon Corp. and Electricite de France SA, the largest reactor operators in the U.S. and Europe. Fifty-two nuclear reactors are under construction, from China and India to Finland and France, according to an October bulletin from the association. Atomic power is undergoing a revival partly because it produces far fewer greenhouse gases than conventional coal- or natural gas-burning generators. “Due to the wide range of risks and uncertainty for individual project deployment, the enrichment market could be subject to tight supplies by the end of the next decade,” the London-based trade group said in an August finding that it reiterated this month.’