Originally posted by Justin on April 30, 2010 5:32 PM.

Today's big stories from the nuclear industry:

Coolant system mishap at Japan's long-stalled Monju fast breeder are "inevitable" in such reactors
‘NEW YORK - The Monju prototype fast breeder nuclear power reactor, which has been gearing up for an early May restart after a 15-year stoppage, suffered a temporary glitch in a coolant leakage detector Tuesday that the Japan Atomic Energy Agency reported had no impact on the environment, Japanese media reported. However, one Japanese nuclear industry source familiar with the Monju project was quoted as saying in Japan Today that malfunctions of this type - and worse – are "inevitable" in such reactors. The government-affiliated agency said the sodium detector, housed in an auxiliary building to the reactor at the Monju centre in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, came to a halt after a fan motor overheated, triggering an alarm at 11:59 p.m. Monday. A fire accompanying a sodium leak shut down the reactor in December 1995, and the project has not been restarted since.’

Helium-3 Shortage Could Mean Nuke Detection 'Disaster'
‘Stopping nuclear smuggling is already tough. But it's about to get a lot harder. Helium-3, a crucial ingredient in neutron-particle-detection technology, is in extremely short supply. Rep. Brad Miller (D-North Carolina), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, chided the Departments of Energy and Homeland Security at a hearing on the issue late last week, suggesting that they created a preventable "disaster." The Energy Department is the sole American supplier of helium-3, and DHS is supposed to take the lead in spotting and stopping illicit nuclear material. The helium-3 isotope represents less than 0.0002 percent of all helium. Of that, about 80 percent of helium-3 usage is devoted to security purposes, because the gas is extremely sensitive to neutrons, like those emitted spontaneously by plutonium. Helium-3 is a decay product of tritium, a heavy isotope of hydrogen used to enhance the yield of nuclear weapons, but whose production stopped in 1988. The half-life decay of tritium is about 12 years, and the U.S. supply for helium-3 is fed by harvesting the gas from dismantled or refurbished nuclear weapons. However, production of helium-3 hasn't kept pace with the exponential demand sparked by the Sept. 11 attacks.’

New nuclear plants for Iowa, California?
‘Developments in two US states could lead to the construction of new nuclear power plants. In Iowa, legislation has been passed to enable utilities to study building new power reactors, while in California Areva has firmed up its agreement to participate in a plant near Fresno. The governor of Iowa has signed into law a measure which encourages utilities to conduct studies into the possible expansion of nuclear energy in the state. On 28 April, at the Des Moines offices of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Governor Chet Culver signed a bill which requires rate-regulated public utilities to undertake analyses of and preparation for the possible construction of nuclear power plants in Iowa. Meanwhile, in California - where a moratorium introduced in 1976 on new nuclear build is still in place - France's Areva has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Fresno Nuclear Energy Group (FNEG) to develop a "clean energy park" near Fresno. The MoU follows the signing a letter of intent to cooperate in December 2009. The park, in California's Central Valley, is eventually to include nuclear and renewable electricity generation.’

Savannah River communities outraged by Yucca decision
‘For decades now, workers and local residents have fully expected that giant canisters of nuclear waste put into temporary storage at the Savannah River Site would eventually be relocated from their backyards to a permanent nuclear repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. But the decision last month by the Energy Department not to finish construction at Yucca Mountain has angered leaders of the communities surrounding the Savannah River Site, who say they've been misled, lied to and ignored by the government - and some say they're frightened about their region's future. "The government's unexpected action took communities like ours by surprise," said Sue Parr, president of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce. "We knew the schedule had been delayed and the pace was slow, but we thought we could count on the government to follow the law and complete Yucca Mountain as promised." Parr and other business and community leaders were in Washington Wednesday to enlist members of Congress from Georgia and South Carolina in their fight to get the Energy Department to reconsider its decision and find a home for much of the nuclear waste now stored at the Savannah River Site.’

Japan, power firms reportedly plan nuclear venture
‘TOKYO (MarketWatch) -- The Japanese government and three major power companies will set up a firm to sell the country's nuclear power technology overseas, the Asahi Shimbun reported Thursday. Tokyo Electric Power Co., Chubu Electric Power Co., Kansai Electric Power Co. and the Japanese government will each invest Y100 million in the company, which could be established this fall, the report said. Toshiba Corp., Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Hitachi Ltd. Are also considering investing in the venture, the report said’

EdF develops its partnerships in China
‘Electricité de France (EdF) has reaffirmed partnerships in China and launched a new trial of electric cars in Strasbourg with Toyota. During a visit by President Nicolas Sarkozy, EdF chiefs signed further agreements with China's two current nuclear operators, China National Nuclear Corporation and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation. A text on the implementation of a 'global partnership' was agreed with CGNPC, following on from a joint venture deal concerning the construction and operation of the two Areva EPRs being built at Taishan in southern Guangdong province. EdF said the latest agreement "complements" the previous one and "provides a broader framework for cooperation... particularly in the fields of engineering, purchasing and research & development." "It is also a reminder of the determination of EdF and CGNPC to identify the opportunities for joint development projects, both within China and internationally," said EdF.’

Nuclear firm China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group to rope in new strategic investors
‘Nuclear power plant operator China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group (CGNPG) is planning to rope in new strategic investors as part of its plan to launch an initial public offering (IPO), a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday. "CGNPG is planning to bring in new investors to replace some of the existing shareholders, and is a precursor to the company's long term plan of going public," the source told China Daily on condition of anonymity. Earlier reports said China Three Gorges Corp, which operates the Three Gorges project, is in talks to buy the 45 percent stake owned by China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) in CGNPG. According to a report by Guangdong-based newspaper 21st Century Business Herald, China Three Gorges Corp plans to increase its share holding in CGNPG to 70 percent over the long term. The paper said the two companies would be merged at a later stage. The plan has been sent to the State Council, and is expected to be announced in two months, said the report.’

Namibia: Final Report On Uranium Rush in Erongo Out Next Month
‘THE expected increase in uranium mines in Namibia's Erongo Region will necessitate the establishment of a special office to manage the Strategic Environmental Management Plans (SEMP) in the expected uranium rush, an expert said. Dr Rainer Ellmies, one of the experts currently completing a study on the impact of the envisaged large-scale uranium mining on the economy, the infrastructure, tourism and the environment of the Erongo Region, said the SEMP Office would be located in the Geological Survey department of the Ministry of Mines and Energy. Speaking on Wednesday night at a presentation of preliminary findings, Ellmies, who is from Germany's Federal Agency for Geosciences (BGR), said the office would implement and monitor the SEMP process uranium mines would have to follow. "There will be a SEMP steering committee, which will include representatives of civil society and the Namibia Coastal Conservation and Management Project (Nacoma). The public can approach that office and can raise objections there," Ellmies added. Preliminary findings presented show that the availability of sufficient water for uranium mining, even from the new desalination plant, remains an issue.’