Nonproliferation Treaty meet urged to press Japan to end Monju program
‘OSAKA - Antinuclear activists from Japan, South Korea, Europe and the United States called on delegates at the Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference on Friday to pressure Tokyo to end its troubled Monju fast-breeder reactor program, saying it sets a bad example for the rest of the world and dramatically increases proliferation risks. "On May 6, Japan's Monju fast-breeder reactor was restarted, after being shut down for over 14 years due to an accident involving a sodium leak and fire. It's a great irony that a plutonium-fueled fast-breeder reactor was restarted at a time when unprecedented international attention is being given to nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation and security," the letter, endorsed by 29 antinuclear groups, reads. It was presented to delegates at the conference, which is meeting in New York until the end of the month. Japan has more than 47 tons of plutonium stockpiled from spent nuclear waste. Ten tons are being stored in Japan, and the remainder in Europe, where it was sent for reprocessing into plutonium-uranium mixed oxide (MOX) fuel, the letter said. It is supposed to be returned to Japan for possible use in Monju and other nuclear power plants.’

 

Namibia Looks to Uranium as Diamonds Lose Lustre

‘May 24 (Bloomberg) -- Namibia, stung by the collapse of the diamond industry two years ago, is trying to diversify its $8.2 billion economy by exploiting uranium deposits that are the second-biggest in Africa. This week, the country will hold its first mining expo, where companies including Areva SA, the world's biggest nuclear reactor builder, and Rio Tinto Plc may announce further details about projects they are starting in the southern African nation. Namibia's economy contracted 0.8 percent last year, after expanding 4.3 percent a year earlier, as mining output halved. "The uranium sector is on the verge of surpassing the diamond industry as Namibia's biggest," Luise Nakatana, a mining analyst at Investment House Namibia, a Windhoek-based brokerage, said in an interview on May 18. "If all the proposed projects come on stream, the uranium sector will play a significant role in the country's economic growth." Namibian output may quadruple by 2015 as new mines are opened by companies including Extract Resources Ltd., more than doubling uranium's contribution to the economy, according to IHN. The industry accounted for 5.6 percent of Namibia's gross domestic product last year.’

 

Rosatom to Help Bangladesh Build Nuclear Power Plants
‘DHAKA, Bangladesh - Bangladesh said Saturday that Russia had formally agreed to assist the energy-starved South Asian country in building nuclear power plants. "An agreement on cooperation for the peaceful use of nuclear energy to meet the growing power demand in the country was signed between the two countries in Moscow on Friday," a Foreign Ministry spokesman said. Bangladeshi Foreign Minister Dipu Moni and her Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, witnessed the signing of the agreement between atomic energy corporation Rosatom and the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission. Bangladesh had requested the Russian authorities to assist in establishing two nuclear reactors with a capacity of 1,000 megawatts each by 2015, the spokesman said. The plants are expected to cost up to $2 billion and begin generating electricity by 2014, said officials of the Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry.’

Regulators Step Up Inspections of GA Nuke Plant
‘ATLANTA (AP) -- A nuclear power plant operated by The Southern Co. will face more federal inspections because the electronics controlling an emergency power system on one of its reactors failed to work, federal regulators said Friday. The problems affected an automatic control system for one of the diesel generators attached to a nuclear reactor at Plant Hatch near Baxley in southeast Georgia. The commission said the problem was a low-to-moderate safety risk and ordered an additional round of inspections since it previously identified another problem at the plant related to an emergency diesel generator. In a February report, NRC inspectors said the plant failed to satisfy preventive maintenance requirements on parts of the electrical system that automatically start up the backup diesel generators. The power plant relies on power from those generators to safety shut down its nuclear reactor should the plant lose electricity. Southern Co. has not been fined for the violation, although it must pay for the cost of the additional inspections, NRC spokesman Joey Ledford said.’

US has uphill struggle in key talks with China
‘BEIJING - The U.S. hasn't swayed China yet on the need to punish North Korea and Iran heading into high-level talks between American and Chinese officials on greater security and economic cooperation, a senior Obama administration official said Sunday. With the two-day meetings beginning Monday, the two powers haven't settled on how to deal with North Korea, blamed for the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship, the official said. While an international report has found the North responsible, China isn't convinced, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the conversation at a private dinner hosted by State Councilor Dai Bingguo for U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. A second stalemate involves specifics about new U.N. penalties against Iran over its disputed nuclear program. It's evident the U.S. faces a struggle in securing China's cooperation on both issues, expected to be the subject of intense consultations during the Beijing sessions. Clinton and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are leading their delegation.’

Brazil to have nuclear sub's reactor in 2014: navy
‘Brazil will finish the first reactor for its nuclear submarine in 2014, the navy's nuclear propulsion program chief Andre Ferreira Marques said in an interview Sunday. The reactor will be powered initially with five-percent enriched uranium and eventually with 20-percent, he said in the interview with the state's Agencia Brasil news agency. Brasilia will begin building its nuclear sub in 2016 and complete it in 2021, an adaptation of the Scorpene bought from France. The sub reactor will be used as a model for future Brazilian nuclear power plant reactors, he added. Brazil is working toward self-sufficiency in nuclear fuel from 2014, officials said.’

Energy issues fuel Czech election
‘Energy has become a central issue in next week's Czech election and presents urgent challenges the next government must tackle, including the future of a flagship nuclear plant. A likely leftwing victory could clear the way for tighter regulation of local power markets and mean a shorter leash for state-owned CEZ. Polls show the left-leaning Social Democrats leading their main right-wing rival, putting them in the strongest position for post-election talks on forming a cabinet. The Social Democrats have targeted consumer power prices and the 69.8 percent state-owned CEZ, promising to raise the dividend Central Europe's biggest company pays out to fund a bonus to pensioners. Some investors also fear a Social Democrat government could follow the lead of leftist Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico whose 2006 election victory included a promise to shield consumers from high energy bills. Once in office he threatened foreign shareholders with expropriation of their holdings if they sought to overcharge customers.’

Fresh contamination concerns emerge amid expansion plans
‘Fresh concerns have emerged that radioactive waste from the Ranger uranium mine has flowed into world heritage-listed wetlands in Kakadu National Park. Aboriginal traditional owners, who claim they will oppose expansion plans by Energy Resources of Australia (ERA) unless it upgrades its environmental protection procedures, have raised concerns about alleged recurring leaks on and off for at the least the past six months. Media reports on Monday revealed details of a spike in contaminated water flowing from the mine into Kakadu's Magela Creek between April 9 and 11 were leaked to the Environment Centre NT. "A probe recorded up to five times the warning level of electrical conductivity, which is a measure of contaminants including uranium, sulfate and radium," Fairfax Newspapers said. ERA reportedly told Fairfax the source of the contamination could not be determined and investigations were ongoing, but that they initially believed the spill originated upstream from the mine. Australian Conservation Foundation nuclear free campaigner Dave Sweeney said the spill was just another chapter in the long-running saga of environmental failings at Ranger. He said a poorly engineered dam collapsed in December spilling six million litres of radioactive water into creeks which flow into Kakadu, about 300km south east of Darwin.’