Today's big stories from the nuclear industry:
Uranium Major Niger Urged to Review Contracts
NIAMEY (Reuters) - The new junta ruling in Niger, one of the world's biggest uranium producers, should review and possibly renegotiate dozens of resource exploitation contracts, civil rights groups said on Saturday. The West African state, which produces 7.5 percent of the world's uranium, has a longstanding partnership with French nuclear group Areva as well as more recent ones with Canadian, Chinese, South Korean and other groups. "Given the opacity surrounding the granting of mining and oil permits in recent years, we urge the immediate creation of a commission of inquiry ... and any necessary steps, notably the renegotiation of contracts," the ROTAB group, a collective of anti-corruption pressure groups, said in a statement. President Mamadou Tandja was deposed in a February 18 coup after he forced through constitutional changes to extend his five-year term, due to have expired in December. Despite its resource riches, Niger remains one of the world's poorest and least-developed countries.'
Sick downwinder seeks trial
With the fingers of her right hand, Deborah Clark presses firmly on a gaping surgical hole in her neck. It's the only way she can speak. The words that emerge are painful. Clark, 60, has late-stage thyroid cancer, which has stilled her voice, stolen her energy and spread clusters of tumors to her lungs. The former hospital reimbursement specialist hasn't been able to work since 2004. She's had serial surgeries since 1997, but what hurt the most: When her youngest granddaughter was born 20 months ago, Clark couldn't hold her and talk baby talk to her at the same time. A Longview, Wash., resident with two sons in Spokane, Clark was born in Pendleton, Ore., on Dec. 15, 1949, two weeks after a secret military experiment called the "Green Run" dispersed radioactive iodine-131 from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation throughout portions of eastern Oregon and Washington, including Spokane. The iodine, discharged from a reactor making plutonium for atomic bombs, raised thyroid cancer risks for 16,000 infants and small children who drank milk from cows eating contaminated grass, a $27 million government study conducted a half-century later would conclude. The public wasn't told about the Green Run and other dangerous Hanford emissions until 1986, when the U.S. Department of Energy released documents in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from The Spokesman-Review and two environmental groups.'
Nuclear Liability Bill: Another storm in Parliament?
After the temporary bonhomie between the government, the BJP and the Left over the Women's Reservation Bill, it's going to be back to business as the opposition gears up for a battle in the Lok Sabha over the Nuclear Liability Bill today. The Bill aims at fixing liability in case of a nuclear accident. But the main opposition parties, the Left and the BJP are dead opposed to the Bill. India's most modern nuclear reactors are being built at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu. Russia is making these and when complete they will be operated by Nuclear Power Corporation. But should there be an accident who would be held liable? Sources in the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) have told NDTV that in case of a nuclear accident the Indian operator NPCIL will be liable but the liability is capped at Rs 500 crores. For compensation beyond that till Rs 2133 crores the government of India will be liable. Over this, India can seek compensation from foreign countries as per the IAEA pact after India joins it. Foreign suppliers of nuclear reactors will not have to pay.'
France asked again to reconsider nuclear compensation laws
A group of French Polynesian opposition politicians has written to the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, asking France to reconsider its nuclear compensation plans approved by the French legislature. This follows consultations with the assembly in Tahiti which overwhelmingly found that the French law was inadequate because the geographic zone set out for compensation claims is too limited. The letter has been signed by the Ia Ora Te Fenua group, which is made up of six opposition anti-independence politicians. The group says the French laws have to reflect the victims' right to reparation following a 30-year period of French nuclear weapons tests, which the group says has fundamentally changed the islands' society.
Namibia: Govt Aims to Go Nuclear in 20 Years
GOVERNMENT has decided to build a nuclear power plant in Namibia within the next 15 to 20 years, Mines and Energy Minister Erkki Nghimtina has confirmed. Nghimtina on Tuesday told Engineering News Online on the sidelines of the International Conference on Access to Civil Nuclear Energy in Paris that although no firm date has yet been set for the commissioning of the nuclear power station, it is likely to happen in the second half of the next decade - perhaps 2025 or 2027. "Although an earlier date is not impossible," the website quoted the Minister. "We're saying it will be built in the future. It will be a long process. But we have to start preparing now. Our policy is, that by 2030, Namibia will be an industrial country, and to be an industrial country you need energy," Nghimtina was quoted. The latest statements indicate that Government's nuclear plans have been slightly postponed.'