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

Democrats Change Tune on Nuclear Energy

‘During the 2008 presidential campaign, it was Sen. John McCain, not then Sen. Barack Obama, who touted nuclear power. Obama, for the most part, was noncommittal on the subject. But in the year since being elected, President Obama and congressional Democrats increasingly appear to be embracing nuclear power. Democrats' support has not been entirely rock solid. Obama's decision, last spring, to scrap a decades-old plan to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada was interpreted by some critics as an early sign of an antinuke stance within the administration. But many less high-profile moves, especially in recent weeks, suggest that Democrats in the White House and on Capitol Hill, far from turning their backs on nuclear power, now see it as a way of advancing their goals on energy and climate policy. Perhaps the most telling sign is that representatives of the nuclear industry are giving the administration relatively high marks for its nuclear policies thus far. "This administration has been very seriously engaged on nuclear issues," says Alex Flint, the Nuclear Energy Institute's top lobbyist. "There is no longer a political stigma associated with it." "We are pleased with the of support the administration has expressed," says Buzz Miller, who heads up nuclear development for Southern Nuclear, which operates three nuclear plants in the Southeast and is starting to work on building two more reactors near Augusta, Ga.’

Areva hopes nuclear option won't go into meltdown

‘Unqualified welders and badly-mixed concrete are just two among 1,700 "quality deviations" that have dogged the construction of Europe's first nuclear plant since Chernobyl. It has turned into a costly €2.3bn (£2.1bn) nightmare for Areva, the company, leading the severely delayed build at Olkiluoto, a tranquil, pine-forested island off the coast of Finland. But Rob Davies, director of UK new nuclear for the French state-owned group, insists Britain's fleet of new reactors will not meet in the same fate. According to Mr Davies, Britain is at the forefront of Areva's plans to show it can deliver a fleet of stations on time, in budget and without safety hitches. For the UK to meet its 2020 targets on cutting emissions –which may even be tightened at the Copenhagen summit next week – it will be vital for Areva to deliver a flawless reactor ready for EDF's first plant in 2017. But these new safety features only exist because UK, French and Finnish regulators warned that the original designs did not adequately separate operational and emergency systems. "It's part of the regulator's 'no surprises' policy, where it's not going to tell us at the last minute the reactor can't be built," Mr Davies says soothingly, creating the impression that all reactors start off a bit dodgy and evolve into impenetrable fortresses.’

India - Larsen Forms JV With Nuclear Power Corporation

‘MUMBAI -- Larsen & Toubro Ltd., India's largest private sector engineering and construction company by sales, has entered into a joint venture with the Nuclear Power Corporation of India to manufacture nuclear forging and other power equipment in the western Indian town of Hazira, a company statement said Monday. "The joint venture will be a major strategic step toward achieving the target of 20 gigawatts of nuclear power (generation in India) by 2020," said S.K. Jain, chairman of state-run Nuclear Power Corporation of India, the country's monopoly nuclear power producer. Larsen will hold a 74% stake in the company, with the remainder being held by NPCIL. The plant, for which land has already been acquired, will supply finished nuclear forging, pressurizers and generators for nuclear reactors expected to come up in India over the next decade.’

Alstom and Schneider in Exclusive Talks to Buy Areva Division

‘Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Alstom SA said it has undertaken ‘strong commitments’ with Schneider Electric SA regarding employees at Areva SA’s power-grid subsidiary as it confirmed the two companies are in exclusive talks to buy the unit. The companies propose “a project which maximizes the value of the company and creates a coherent framework to develop Areva T&D’s activities, supported by strong commitments to Areva T&D’s employees.” Alstom said in a statement on its Web site. Alstom plans to take Areva’s transmission operation and Schneider plans to take the distribution unit, Alstom said. There will be no site closures at the transmission and distribution unit up until 2013 and there is “no mass redundancy plan,” Alstom said.’

Nunavut group launches uranium mining petition

‘A new citizen's group in Nunavut wants the territorial government to hold a public inquiry into uranium exploration and mining. A petition calling for the inquiry was introduced Saturday at the public launch of Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit, a new non-governmental organization that aims to provide a public forum on uranium development in the territory. About 40 people, including civil servants and prominent local citizens, attended the group's launch meeting in Iqaluit on Saturday. Nunavummiut Makitagunarningit — which means "Nunavummiut can rise up" in Inuktitut — was formed "just so that the residents of Nunavut feel there's more of a democratic process on such an important issue," said Sandra Inutiq, one of the group's six founding members. Among those who attended was longtime Iqaluit businessman Kenn Harper, who told the audience he welcomes a forum to express dissent about uranium development.’

Russia's ARMZ eyes Mongolian uranium in Khan bid

‘MOSCOW, Nov 30 (Reuters) - Russian state uranium miner ARMZ plans an offer to acquire Canada's Khan Resources in a $33 million all-cash deal that would secure access to a large uranium field in Mongolia and boost its drive to expand abroad. ARMZ, or AtomRedMetZoloto, will offer to buy Khan Resources at 0.65 Canadian dollars ($0.61) per share in a rare attempt by a state-owned Russian miner to acquire 100 percent of a public company listed in the West, its general director said on Monday. The offer was 48 percent above Khan Resources' closing price on Thursday, the day before ARMZ made its offer. The company's shares had risen to 0.61 Canadian dollars by Friday's close. "We're one of the pioneers," ARMZ General Director Vadim Zhivov told reporters. "We're doing this in line with our strategy of diversifying our resource base." Russia, which holds more than a tenth of global uranium reserves, is positioning itself as a major player in meeting growing demand for the metal from the nuclear power industry and is also looking abroad to secure valuable raw materials. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin this year granted $1.5 billion to state nuclear giant Rosatom, the parent company of ARMZ, to boost the war chest of the world's second-largest uranium miner by resource base as it pursues assets abroad.’

Japan Diplomat Takes IAEA Helm Amid Iran, North Korea Defiance

‘Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Yukiya Amano, a disarmament negotiator for the only nation attacked with nuclear weapons, faces immediate tests from a defiant Iran and provocative North Korea as he takes over the International Atomic Energy Agency today from Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei. Amano, 62, handled nuclear proliferation issues for Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for three decades. He joined the IAEA’s 35-member board of governors in September 2005 and was elected the agency’s director general in July. Amano assumes his post two days after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Cabinet ordered Iran’s nuclear agency to begin building 10 uranium enrichment sites within two months, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency. Iran says the fuel is for civilian use while the U.S. claims it is for weapons development. “Iran seems to be saying its last ‘goodbye’ to ElBaradei and saying ‘hello’ to Amano,” said Takehiko Yamamoto, a professor of international relations at Waseda University in Tokyo. “There’s a tough road ahead of Amano, with his first and major task being to beef up the agency’s inspections of Iran’s nuclear sites and shoot down the country’s ambitious nuclear armament plans.”’

Westinghouse to Fuel Koeberg

‘Westinghouse Electric Company has been selected by Eskom to provide three reloads of fuel for the Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant beginning in late 2011 and ending in 2015. The contract is worth $30 million. Under terms of the contract executed with Westinghouse Electric Sweden AB, Westinghouse will produce fuel at its fabrication facility in Sweden. In commenting on the fuel contract, Rita Bowser, regional vice president, Westinghouse Electric South Africa, said: “We are pleased to be able continue to assist the Republic of South Africa in its ongoing and successful effort to generate the safe, clean and reliable electricity necessary to fuel continued economic growth. Furthermore, we believe this agreement further demonstrates our commitment to South Africa, and we look forward to additional mutually beneficial partnerships in the years to come.”’

South Korean President Proposes Nuclear Summit With Kim Jong Il

‘South Korea's president last week offered to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il at "any time and anywhere" in order to break the impasse over the North's nuclear program, the Yonhap News Agency reported. "I have no political reason to hold a summit (with Kim), but I can meet him at any time if it will help convince North Korea to give up its nuclear programs and resolve humanitarian issues," President Lee Myung-bak said in a television broadcast. Though the nations' last two summits were held in North Korea -- suggesting that the next meeting should take place in Seoul -- Lee said he would waive that right "because the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is such an important issue, I plan to meet (Kim) at any time and anywhere as long as our objective of such a summit will be achieved." Lee said that any conversations between Seoul and Pyongyang would be held in the open and not secretly. There have been recent media reports of a secret meeting in Singapore between senior officials from the two countries in which a possible summit between two leaders was rumored to have been debated (Byun Duk-kun, Yonhap News Agency I, Nov. 28).’