Aol News: Pakistan Boosts Nuke Program Amid Regional Tension
‘(Oct. 6) -- Pakistan has ramped up construction of a nuclear reactor supporting its atomic weapons program, according to an analysis of new satellite imagery of the site. The development comes amid heightened tension with Washington over Pakistan's commitment to fighting the Taliban. A photo of the Khushab military nuclear site, in Punjab about 100 miles northwest of Lahore and about the same distance from the Afghan border, shows construction of the third heavy water reactor there is progressing more quickly than earlier reactor projects, according to the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based group that tracks nuclear proliferation. The image, obtained by ISIS from DigitalGlobe, is dated Sept. 9 and was made public Tuesday. The apparent completion of cooling towers at Khushab shows the reactor is more than a year ahead of schedule compared with the last reactor constructed at the site, according to Paul Brannan, a senior researcher at ISIS who specializes in the international nuclear black market and analysis of satellite imagery. The Khushab reactors process plutonium, and Pakistan is believed to have accelerated its plutonium production to create a new generation of plutonium-based thermonuclear weapons that are smaller, lighter and more powerful than its current arsenal, according to ISIS. ISIS reported last year that Pakistan appears to have expanded its plutonium separation capability at facilities in Rawalpindi, north of Khushab, to handle the increase in spent plutonium fuel from the new reactors.’

UN News Centre: UN nuclear watchdog team suggests safety improvements for French power plant
‘6 October 2010 - After visiting a nuclear power plant in eastern France, an international team led by the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has made recommendations on how to reinforce its safety practices. At the request of the French Government, the IAEA set up the team comprising experts from nine countries to carry out an Operational Safety Review (OSART) of the Saint-Alban Nuclear Power Plant. The experts’ mission covered areas including management, training, maintenance, radiation protection and emergency planning and preparedness. The team acknowledged the plant’s good practices, including its safety guidelines for outages and the use of remote video surveillance of fuel inspection and handling activities. Areas which could be improved, it said, are improving the effective control of contamination and limiting access to the main control room to only necessary personnel.’

Bloomberg: South Korea Plans to Lend $10 Billion for U.A.E. Nuclear Plants
‘South Korea expects to lend about $10 billion for the United Arab Emirates’ first nuclear plants, more than doubling pledges it has already made this year to finance construction projects in the Middle East. The Export-Import Bank of Korea expects to lend most of the money that Korea Electric Power Corp. and contractors will need to borrow to build four 1,400-megawatt atomic power stations in the U.A.E., said the bank’s chief representative in Dubai. The state-owned bank, known also as Kexim, provides credit for Korean companies overseas and has already committed this year to lend $9.4 billion for energy projects and other infrastructure work in the Middle East. Loans for the construction in Saudi Arabia of the Yanbu oil refinery and two power plants may be among its next big deals.’

World Nuclear News: Russia boosts nuclear fuel exports
‘Russia is set to have foreign contracts for the supply of nuclear fuel and uranium enrichment services worth $20 billion by the end of 2010, Sergey Kiriyenko, director general of Russian state nuclear energy company Rosatom, has promised prime minister Vladimir Putin. Speaking at a meeting of the Presidium of the Russian government, Kiriyenko told Putin that Russia has entered into markets where it previously had little or no representation. He noted that a 15-year supply contract has been signed by Rosatom with a Swiss company for the supply of enriched uranium, while a ten-year contract was signed with Eskom of South African for a significant part of its needs. In addition, he said that a contract for the supply of enriched uranium to meet the full needs of Mexico's sole nuclear power plant (Laguna Verde) has just come into force. Kiriyenko said that Russia had broken into the American market for the first time by signing long-term contracts worth $3 billion for the supply of enriched uranium. He suggested that by the end of 2010, the value of contracts with US companies could rise to $4 billion.’

Tri-City Herald: HANFORD: Consent decree filed in court to hold DOE accountable
‘The Department of Energy and Washington State Department of Ecology have reached agreement on a consent decree that calls for new court-enforced deadlines for emptying Hanford tanks of radioactive waste and treating the waste. They jointly filed a motion today in U.S. District Court, which will become final when it is approved and entered by a federal judge. ‘We now have the full commitment of the federal government, and an enforceable federal court order, to ensure that the Hanford cleanup will stay on track,’ said Gov. Chris Gregoire in a statement. The consent decree represents the beginning of a new level of accountability for the federal government for Hanford environmental cleanup over the next 40 years, said Rob McKenna, Washington state attorney general, in a statement. Among highlights of the consent decree are starting operations of the Hanford vitrification plant in 2019 to treat up to 53 million gallons of radioactive tank waste. The previous deadline had been 2011. The deadline for emptying Hanford’s 149 oldest, leak-prone tanks has been extended from 2018 to 2040, under related changes to the Tri-Party Agreement.’