Xinhua: Iran ready to launch Bushehr nuclear power plant: official
‘TEHRAN, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- An Iranian official said Thursday that the country is ready to launch its first Bushehr nuclear power plant, the official IRNA news agency reported. Chief of Bushehr nuclear power plant workshop, Mahmoud Jafari, said in Bushehr that the main tests and inspections of the power plant have been successfully carried out during the last six months, the report said. Double-checks, "installations and montage stage is completed and we are about to launch the power plant," Jafari was quoted as saying without referring to the specific time. In July, Sergei Kiriyenko, head of Russia's state-run atomic energy corporation Rosatom, said that preparations for the launch of Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant are proceeding as scheduled and the plant's first stage will be finished late August. Iran handed over the Bushehr project, started by German firm Siemens in the 1970s, to Russia in 1995. The launch of project has been postponed repeatedly in recent years.’

Christian Science Monitor: Dissidents say Iran nuclear sanctions are helping Ahmadinejad
‘Just as the Obama administration has started to trumpet the impact that tougher sanctions are having on Iran, some Iranian dissidents are saying, “Not so fast.” The dissidents’ view: the fourth round of United Nations sanctions passed in June, and the even-more-onerous economic measures taken by the United States and the European Union since then are working to the advantage of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Iranian regime by helping it consolidate power. The two prominent dissidents who have spoken up are the unsuccessful presidential candidate in last year’s elections, Mir Hossein Mousavi, and a former speaker of Iran’s parliament, Mehdi Karroubi. They say in a public letter that the tougher sanctions only hurt “the most vulnerable social classes of Iran” and are a boon to the ruling powers. The recent letter runs counter to the Obama administration’s stance, as presented recently by the president, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and other officials. Their view: sanctions are beginning to bite and could prompt Tehran’s return to the negotiating table over its nuclear program. US intelligence also suggests that Iran’s nuclear program is running into technical difficulties, some administration officials say, a development they suggest opens the window of opportunity a little wider for a diplomatic solution. Dissidents: Iran will never play ball...’

Legally India: The dangerous leaks and lacunae in the 2010 Nuclear Liability Bill
‘The new 2010 Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill is a double-edged sword full of loopholes and unanswered questions that are more likely to cut the Indian public than protect it from disastrous scale nuclear disasters, argue advocates Sangmitra Sawant and Vishnu Anand. In view of the increasing numbers of nuclear power plants in India our government has introduced the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill 2010 proposing for the Indian nuclear industry to provide compensation and/or damages for any damage it causes to any person or property. There were previously no specific provisions relating to the liability of an operator of nuclear facilities in the event of a nuclear accident. At the international level there are four instruments for nuclear liability – the Paris Convention 1960, the Vienna Convention 1963, the 1997 protocol to amend the Vienna Convention and the 1997 convention on supplementary compensation for nuclear damage. It is noteworthy that India is not party to any of the nuclear liability conventions and the other countries engaged in nuclear power generation have their own pieces of legislations qua liability for nuclear damage and some of them are parties to the above stated international conventions. India has been prevented from obtaining commercial nuclear fuel, nuclear power plant components and services from the international market because it is a non-signatory member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The primary reason for the enactment of the Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Bill is to enable the American nuclear fuel suppliers to supply nuclear fuel to India as otherwise they would not have been insured in their country without India having a liability law for nuclear damages. Hence, the central government chose to enact the Bill to further the Indo-US nuclear deal. The Bill seeks to legally and financially bind the operator of the nuclear installation and the government to provide relief to the victims of nuclear accident that may happen in India, but the question is has it successfully bound the operators? The present Bill which is based on the Price Anderson Act 1957 has been revised several times and its latest revision the Energy Policy Act of 2005 is applicable until 31 December 2025...’

Kyiv Post: Fears rise over fires in Chernobyl forests
‘As fires burn across Ukraine amid a heat wave, international and local experts have warned of the high risk of a wildfire in the highly radioactive 30-kilometer radius around the closed nuclear power plant. As fires burn across Ukraine amid a heat wave, international and local experts have warned of the high risk of a wildfire in the highly radioactive 30-kilometer radius around the closed Chernobyl nuclear power plant. A combination of heat, wind, drought and poor forest management could help spread such a fire in the no-man’s-land “exclusion zone” near the 1986 disaster, which remains the world’s worst nuclear power accident. Wildfires there would release radioactivity in smoke clouds. The scientific consensus seems to be that the particles would not be of sufficient quantity to seriously endanger people’s health, except perhaps for those closest to the blaze. Although, as with most Chernobyl-related assessments, nobody knows for sure what the fallout would be. “There is an extraordinary situation in terms of wildfire risk in the Chernobyl exclusion zone,” said Professor Johannes Goldammer, head of the Global Fire Monitoring Center in Freiburg, Germany. “The danger results from the lack of any forest management in the decades following the accident. Forest has been growing up without any clearance of dead wood. And there are large stretches where insect infestation has created dying forest that could easily burn...’

Reuters: Poland delays nuclear target to 2022 -PAP agency
‘WARSAW Aug 12 (Reuters) - Poland will complete its first nuclear block in 2022, or two years later than originally planned, a deputy energy minister was reported as saying on Thursday. Poland wants to lower its reliance on heavily polluting coal, used to produce more than 90 percent of its power. "An updated timetable gives 2022 as the date of opening of the first block," Deputy Energy Minister Hanna Trojanowska, who is responsible for the project, told PAP news agency. Poland has named its top power producer, Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE), to build the plant. PGE has until 2013 to choose a technology provider, and the options include French, Canadian, South Korean and U.S. companies.’

Eurekalert!: Federal nuclear waste panel overlooks public mistrust, experts say
‘BETHLEHEM, PA— According to 16 social science researchers from across the country, a renewed federal effort to fix the nation's stalled nuclear waste program is focusing so much on technological issues that it fails to address the public mistrust hampering storage and disposal efforts. Writing in the latest issue of the journal Science, experts including Sharon M. Friedman of Lehigh University say that President Obama's Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future is not focusing enough on the social and political acceptability of possible solutions. "While scientific and technical analyses are essential, they will not and arguably should not carry the day unless they address, substantively and procedurally, the issues that concern the public," the experts write. Composed of science and technology experts and several former politicians, the presidential commission "appears to be overlooking what social scientists have learned over 20 years about public perception of, and response to, the risks of nuclear wastes," according to Friedman, professor of journalism and communication and director of the Science and Environmental Writing Program at Lehigh. Friedman has been studying risk communication about nuclear issues since 1979 when she was a consultant to the President's Commission on the Accident at Three Mile Island. She has also served as a member of several National Academies' committees that have studied nuclear waste and radiation health effects issues. "The issues around nuclear waste storage need to be evaluated in a transparent and cooperative environment between technical experts and the public," says Friedman. "Communicating with people about risks from radioactive waste is extremely difficult. "You can't see or smell radiation, you don't know what it will do to you, and dangers from various exposure levels are hard to explain. All of this instills fear in people and works against public acceptability of proposed solutions for disposing of nuclear waste."’

Project on Government Oversight: IG Finds Los Alamos Still Lagging in Safety Systems
‘In June, we wrote that the Department of Energy Office of Inspector General (IG) was taking a hard look at safety protocols at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). Today the report was released: "Nuclear Safety: Safety Basis and Quality Assurance at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.” Now we understand why the Lab and the feds responsible for oversight of the facility were so nervous about the report. Among the IG’s troubling findings: “Los Alamos could not provide evidence that it had validated the efficacy of actions taken to resolve 11 significant safety issues, including actions to prevent the contamination of workers involved in decontaminating facilities.” It was high time for the IG to look at these issues: there have been a number of recent scary safety bungles at Los Alamos—an accidental electric shock resulting in burns to over 5 percent of an employee’s body; three accidental explosions in technical area (TA) facilities TA-35, TA-48, and TA-35; unacceptable accidental doses of radiation to workers at TA-53; and an incident in which researchers accidentally blew up most of a facility at TA-15 with a large-bore powder gun, which prompted POGO to write President Obama and request immediate action. In Los Alamos’ main plutonium facility, containing dozens of tons of plutonium, TA-55, the IG found big problems related to the processes LANL uses to monitor critical safety systems, structures, and components: the Design Change Packages (DCPs). Twenty-nine of 351 DCPs that Los Alamos initiated at the facility since 1995 were not available for review, “16 DCPs were lost, and the remaining 13 did not have any records. Furthermore, additional DCPs were reported as checked out to individuals throughout TA-55 but Los Alamos had not confirmed whether these DCPs still existed.” No talk of TA-55 would be complete without checking in on its long-problematic fire suppression system; the IG found that Los Alamos could not document its performance test of the fire suppression system in TA-55 after modifications in 2006, when it was was found to be inoperable.’

Bloomberg: Merkel's Nuclear Tax Plans Spark Share `Overreaction,' DIW's Kemfert Says
‘German utilities’ share-price losses are exaggerated because they’ll post “high” profits even after a proposed tax on nuclear reactors is put in place, said Claudia Kemfert, chief energy analyst at the DIW economic institute. The German government said in June that it will levy 2.3 billion euros ($3 billion) a year from the nuclear industry from 2011 to trim the budget deficit. Shares of Dusseldorf-based E.ON AG and RWE AG, based in Essen, have each dropped more than 20 percent this year, making them the two worst performers on the benchmark DAX index after bottom-placed HeidelbergCement AG. “I think there’s an overreaction by the market right now,” Kemfert said today in an interview from Berlin with Bloomberg Television’s “Countdown” program. “They are still very strong, they are still very rich, capital-intensive companies.”’