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

Nevada's hidden ocean of radiation

‘A sea of ancient water tainted by the Cold War is creeping deep under the volcanic peaks, dry lake beds and pinyon pine forests covering a vast tract of Nevada. Over 41 years, the federal government detonated 921 nuclear warheads underground at the Nevada Test Site, 75 miles northeast of Las Vegas. Each explosion deposited a toxic load of radioactivity into the ground and in some cases directly into aquifers. But today, as Nevada faces a water crisis and a population boom, state officials are taking a new measure of the damage. They successfully pressured federal officials for a fresh environmental assessment of the 1,375-square-mile test site, a step toward a potential demand for monetary compensation, replacement of the lost water or a massive cleanup. "It is one of the largest resource losses in the country," said Thomas S. Buqo, a Nevada hydrogeologist. "Nobody thought to say, 'You are destroying a natural resource.'" In a study for Nye County, where the nuclear test site lies, Buqo estimated that the underground tests polluted 1.6 trillion gallons of water. That is as much water as Nevada is allowed to withdraw from the Colorado River in 16 years - enough to fill a lake 300 miles long, a mile wide and 25 feet deep. At today's prices, that water would be worth as much as $48bn if it had not been fouled, Buqo said.’

Deal making Sarkozy aims to capitalise on tarnished British image in Middle East

‘Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, will on Tuesday begin his third visit to the oil- and cash-rich Gulf this year as he seeks business deals and contracts that would capitalise on widespread disillusionment with America and Britain in the Middle East. Mr Sarkozy will arrive in Saudi Arabia laden with offers to sell nuclear power technology and air force jets, on the back of diplomatic initiatives that are reviving France's fortunes and reputation in the region. The country is already a front-runner in the race to provide the United Arab Emirates with its first nuclear power plants. As unlikely as it seems, Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil producer, is also on the verge of diversifying into nuclear power. Mr Sarkozy is negotiating the final stages of a pact to develop civilian nuclear uses with King Abdullah.’

Korea Gains as Nuclear-Plant Bidder

'Korea is emerging as an unexpected contender in the global race to build nuclear-power plants, turning up as a finalist for one of the industry's most-coveted projects. The Korean bid has surprised more-established competitors-including industry leader Areva SA of France-as well as officials in the United Arab Emirates, who are examining bids for a contract that could be worth as much as $40 billion to build and run the Arab world's first nuclear-power plants. U.A.E. officials could award the contract as early as the next few weeks. Three groups have been short-listed for the U.A.E. deal, according to people familiar with the situation. Early in the bidding process, many observers expected a two-horse race between a French consortium including Areva, GdF Suez SA, Electricité de France and Total SA and a U.S.-Japanese consortium including General Electric Co. and Hitachi Ltd. But the Korean bid has emerged as "far more competitive than anyone first thought," according to a person familiar with the situation. The bidding group is led by Korea Electric Power Co., construction units of the Samsung and Hyundai business groups, and Westinghouse, a unit of Japan's Toshiba Corp.’

Enriching uranium with 20% purity on table: Iranian MP

‘TEHRAN - A senior lawmaker said on Sunday that the "best option" to provide fuel for the Tehran research reactor is to buy uranium enriched to 20 percent without being involved in a discussions over a nuclear fuel exchange and the second option is that Iran itself enrich uranium with such a purity. "We think the best option to provide fuel for the Tehran reactor is to buy fuel," Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee rapporteur Kazem Jalali told the Mehr News Agency. Jalili said International Atomic Energy Agency is legally obligated to help purchase fuel for the reactor from countries member to the Nuclear Suppliers Group. He said an insistence on purchasing fuel will be put into test the sincerity of Western countries in selling fuel for the research reactor which produces radioisotopes for cancer patients. However, the veteran lawmaker added, "The second option to provide fuel for the Tehran reactor is to enrich 5 percent enriched uranium to 20 percent under the supervision of the agency."’

Jordan to begin nuclear technology selection process in January

‘AMMAN, Nov. 15, 2009 (Xinhua News Agency) -- Energy-poor Jordan on Sunday signed an 11.3 million U.S. dollar contract with an Australian company to conduct the pre-construction consultancy services contract for the kingdom's first nuclear power plant. "The pre-construction agreement will pave the way for the choice of the best reactor technology to be used by the plant and for the development of the plant's infrastructure," Head of Jordan 's Atomic Energy Commission Khalid Touqan said at the signing ceremony Sunday. In October, the Arab kingdom announced the launch of the site feasibility study for the country's first nuclear power plant, located about 12 km to the east of the Aqaba coastline. The plant, expected to initially generate 750 to 1,100 megawatts of electricity, is scheduled to be operational by 2020. At Sunday's signing ceremony, Touqan said the two-year pre- construction consultancy services contract, which will be conducted by the Australia-based WorleyParsons, is scheduled to kick off in January next year.’

Nuclear deal tops agenda during Harper's visit to India

‘New Delhi: Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's three-day visit to India, which started on Sunday, will be dominated by talks over a nuclear deal and new trade pacts in a bid to improve a relationship that turned frosty when Ottawa cut off nuclear support for India after New Delhi's 1974 nuclear test. Accompanied by Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon, International Trade Minister Stockwell Day and Parliamentary Secretary Deepak Obhrai, Harper was expected to land in Mumbai last night from Singapore after attending the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum summit. He is expected to meet top Indian industrialists at a luncheon at the Trident Hotel in Mumbai today before leaving for New Delhi. Harper will hold talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on a range of bilateral issues, including trade and investment, civil nuclear cooperation, the global financial crisis and climate change.’

Uranium in Iraq: the Poisonous Legacy of the Iraq Wars

‘Abdul-Haq Al-Ani's and Joanne Baker's indispensable book spotlights the appalling criminal enterprise now working itself out in Iraq: Deliberate contamination of the Iraqi nation, its peoples, and natural environment with radiation from previously unheard of weapons of mass destruction-deadly implements of war fashioned from a practically inexhaustible global garbage dump of depleted uranium (DU). Grisly newspaper photographs and televised images of the "Highway of Death" revealed in late February 1991 desert vistas of burnt-out, twisted Iraqi civilian and military vehicles destroyed in cold blood by US air strikes during Saddam Hussein's hasty exit from Kuwait. Surely the world will be repelled by such savagery, many thought at the time. Surely these pictures alone will push popular sentiment against war, and propel combatants toward peace? But the cavalcade of cruelty on the road from Kuwait to Basra signaled just the beginning of a crusade that would unfold for most of the next two decades. And no photograph, no television video, nor even the senses of sight, taste, feeling and smell of witnesses on the ground could have revealed the secret corruption of those searing images, the deadly radioactive and toxic refuse emitted in clouds of invisible vapour from fired US missiles, shells and other armaments composed of DU that will contaminate the Gulf area for a millennium.’