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

Accident casts fresh doubt on nuclear safety

‘On Nov. 21, there was a radiation leak at Three Mile Island nuclear power plant near Harrisburg, Pa., less than 100 miles north of Baltimore up I-83. One hundred and fifty workers were evacuated, and 20 people were exposed to radiation. The leak didn't get a lot of attention here, but Marylanders should care - not only because Three Mile Island is not very far from us but also because Calvert Cliffs in Southern Maryland may be the site of the first new nuclear power plant to be ordered since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. Electricité de France (EDF), the largest merchant of nuclear power in Europe, has purchased an almost 50 percent share in Constellation's nuclear holdings and will try to build a new nuclear power plant in our state with millions of dollars in federal loan guarantees. Last week's leak is the latest reminder that nuclear power, despite its proponents' claims, can be dirty and unsafe.’

French bid for Emirates nuclear plant at risk: report

‘PARIS - A French attempt to win a 41-billion-dollar (27.2-billion-euro) contract to build nuclear power stations in the Emirates is at risk over pricing, the La Tribune newspaper reported on Wednesday. The newspaper reported that the top official at the presidential Elysee Palace, Claude Geant, had held a meeting with the heads of big French companies concerned on Tuesday to discuss a further reduction in the price which the government in Abu Dhabi considered too high. Present at the meeting were the head of French nuclear power group Areva, Anne Lauvergeon, the head of GDF Suez, Gerard Mestrallet, Christophe de Margerie who leads oil group Total and Henri Proglio of the electricity group EDF, the report said. The report said that the bidding consortium comprising these companies and the US firm Bechtel were handicapped by the fall of the dollar.’

New UK nuclear stations unlikely to be on time

‘A Newsnight investigation suggests that UK government plans to build a new generation of nuclear power stations to fill the energy gap by 2020 are wildly optimistic. The British nuclear regulator has told Newsnight that he would not hesitate to halt construction if problems emerged and that no British nuclear power station had ever been built on time. The first of the new generation of reactors in Britain will be at Hinckley Point in Somerset, and will be a replica of the new Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) reactor currently being built in Finland by the French company, Areva. The Finnish EPR at Olkiluoto was supposed to be the first 'third generation' reactor - safe, affordable, and designed for mass production. The Finnish nuclear regulator has also halted construction on at least a dozen occasions due to safety concerns. British regulator, Kevin Allars of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate (NII), told Newsnight that he will be every bit as tough as his Finnish equivalent.’

EDF new CEO says not interested in Areva stake

‘PARIS, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Henri Proglio, the new chief executive of French power company EDF backtracked from earlier statements on Wednesday, telling Le Figaro that his company was not interested in a stake in Areva. 'Let me be clear, I'm not considering taking any share of Areva's activities, whether they be mines, reactors or reprocessing,' Proglio said in the interview. Reuters got an advanced copy of the interview, which will be published in Le Figaro's Thursday edition. Proglio, who officially became chief executive of EDF on Wednesday, surprised the markets on Nov. 18 when he gave an unusually candid interview in Les Echos suggesting that the state-owned utility should take a stake in Areva's reactor business to regain French nuclear leadership. In that interview Proglio had said EDF 'could play a role' if Areva's nuclear reactor unit Areva NP opened up its capital. Analysts had hinted that EDF might buy Siemens's 34 percent stake in Areva NP. Siemens is currently in talks with Areva to sell the stake. The comments caused French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde to warn Proglio that he had enough on his plate as EDF chief executive and to concentrate on his 'own dossiers.'’

The Squabble over France's Areva

‘A French government plan to sell off part of state-owned nuclear power giant Areva has touched off a political brawl pitting some of the country's biggest companies against each other, and drawing General Electric (GE) and Toshiba Corp. into the fray as well. With orders for nuclear plant construction booming worldwide, France wants to sell Areva's lucrative electricity transmission and distribution (T&D) unit to raise money for expansion of its nuclear business. Both GE and Toshiba have bid on the T&D unit, which is expected to fetch about $6 billion. But the government, which has said it will make a decision in the next few weeks, has been leaning toward a joint bid by two big French companies, engineering group Alstom and Schneider Electric. Areva hates that idea. On Nov. 25 the executive committee of Areva's T& D division took the highly unusual step of publishing an open letter in French business daily Les Echos, warning that a breakup of the division would cripple it, giving an advantage to foreign rivals Siemens and ABB. Referring to the bids by GE and Toshiba, each of which would combine Areva's T&D unit with its own similar business, the committee wrote: "Wouldn't it better serve our country to accept an alternative offer from a foreign buyer that would guarantee the integrity of a French industrial champion?"’

North Korea's Nuclear Stance Unchanged, Returning Expert Says

‘North Korea's position on its nuclear program remains the same, said a U.S. expert who ended a visit to Pyongyang yesterday. Korea Economic Institute President Charles Pritchard, along with two other North Korea experts, spent four days in the isolated country. The three visitors met for six hours with Pyongyang's No. 2 nuclear negotiator, Ri Gun, and also spent time with other North Korean officials, Kyodo News reported. The discussions addressed the moribund negotiations aimed at shuttering the North's nuclear programs and the regime's relationship with Washington. In all of those conversations, Pritchard told reporters in Beijing yesterday, the visitors detected no differences in the North's position on the nuclear impasse. The Obama administration has accepted a longstanding North Korean request for bilateral talks with the United States. U.S. special envoy Stephen Bosworth is set to visit the North on Dec. 8 for a brief round of discussions on returning the isolated country to the stalled six-nation talks that also include China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.’

Still more fluff, lies and radiation from TMI and the new nuke media machine

‘Yet another "perfectly safe" release at Three Mile Island has irradiated yet another puff of hype about alleged "green" support for new reactors. This week TMI's owners were forced to evacuate 150 workers when radioactive dust "unexpectedly blew out of a pipe being cut by workers." Exelon was "trying to determine exactly how and why it happened." As always, official announcements emphasize that the public was "in no danger." That was an epic lie in 1979. This time Exelon's Ralph DeSantis said things were rapidly "back to normal." DeSantis then said radiation could be quickly wiped off protective outfits, while "it takes two to three days for radiation to naturally leave the body of anyone who breathed it in." This is a ghastly lie. Among other isotopes, alpha and beta emitters---especially from radioactive dust---can easily lodge in the lungs and other internal organs long enough to damage cells and cause numerous forms of cancer, often lethal.’

UK plutonium cuts strategy 'in disarray' - scientists

‘The UK's plan to cut its stockpile of separated plutonium is in "disarray", a group of scientists has warned. The British Pugwash Group (BPG) says the way 100 tonnes of the deadly powder is being stored is "ludicrous". Its experts fear the stockpile at the Sellafield nuclear site in Cumbria - the largest in the world - could be a target for terrorists. The government said the plutonium was stored safely and securely but recognised the need to make progress. The Department of Energy and Climate Change said it would consider the points raised in a forthcoming consultation. One of the authors of the BPG report, retired general Sir Hugh Beach, said: "It's a total absurdity that we should have 100 tonnes of separated plutonium sitting up at Sellafield in tin cans... that is manifestly ludicrous."’

First shipment of hot nuclear waste imminent

‘SELLAFIELD is set to ship out highly active waste for the first time. The radioactive material which has been converted into glass blocks will be sent out to customers in Japan, it is understood. The canisters of waste have been loaded into a shielded flask on the site prior to being moved to a Cumbrian port. Under international security regulations, the vitrified "hot" material will be transported on a ship armed with canon as a deterrent against the potential threat of terrorism at sea. The plan is to complete the shipment by next March. Manager for the vitrified waste programme John Brocklebank said: "This is a major milestone achievement. The canisters and the flask have been checked and accepted by Sellafield Ltd, the customer, regulators and the customers' special representatives. We have completed all the necessary steps to ensure a quality return." To prepare the ship for sailing, refurbishments have taken place at Barrow port.'