[ RadSafe ] China's $8 Billion Nuclear Deal Postponed Indefinitely

Sandy Perle sandyfl at earthlink.net
Thu Dec 29 10:27:53 CST 2005


China's $8 Billion Nuclear Deal Postponed Indefinitely
University of California Wins Los Alamos Contract
Town Has Nuclear-Powered Plans

China's $8 Billion Nuclear Deal Postponed Indefinitely

BEIJING, China (Dec. 20) - China will miss a year-end deadline for 
handing out an $8 billion contract to build four nuclear reactors, 
and plans to postpone its choice indefinitely, an industry source 
close to the bidding said on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric Co., France's Areva and 
Russia's Atomstroiexport are vying for the contract to build China's 
first third-generation reactors.

Beijing's original plan was to make a final decision by the end of 
this year but officials have decided to put it off because of the 
high price of the foreign reactors, the source said.

Even though China was considering importing only those parts of the 
plants that could not be produced domestically, the prices offered by 
the bidders were still considered unreasonably high.

"There will be no new deadline for the decision. When the government 
announces the result will depend on how the talks are going," he 

During a visit to France earlier this month, Premier Wen Jiabao 
indicated Paris would have to improve its offer in terms of both 
price and transfer of nuclear technology, the source said, adding the 
same message had been passed to other bidders.

"The ball has been kicked to the foreign side again. We will wait and 
see how they react," he said.

Industry officials have said both Westinghouse's AP 1000 and Areva's 
EPR technology are very competitive, while the Russian offer is less 

In contrast with the delay in introducing foreign technology, Beijing 
is accelerating the construction of nuclear reactors that use 
existing domestic technology.

Work began last week on the second phase of the Ling'ao plant in 
southern Guangdong province. It will put two 1.0-gigawatt reactors 
into commercial operation in 2010 and 2011.

"These projects have nothing to do with the third-generation 
technology and will not be influenced by it," the source said.

The energy-guzzling nation plans to invest some 400 billion yuan 
($49.56 billion) in building around 30 new nuclear reactors by 2020, 
bringing its total installed nuclear capacity to 40 gigawatts.

It currently has nine working reactors that supply around 2.3 percent 
of its electricity, but aims to boost the amount of power it gets 
from nuclear plants to 4 percent within 15 years.

University of California Wins Los Alamos Contract

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (Dec. 21) - The University of California has 
retained the contract to manage troubled Los Alamos National 
Laboratory, the Energy Department announced Wednesday.

The contract to run the nation's pre-eminent nuclear lab had gone out 
to bid earlier this year for the first time in the lab's 63-year 

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said UC, which will team with Bechtel 
Corp., had prevailed in its bid over a rival team comprised of 
Lockheed Martin and the University of Texas.

Town Has Nuclear-Powered Plans

USA TODAY (Dec. 19) - Some people here have lived their whole lives 
in the shadow of the twin cooling towers of the Bellefonte Nuclear 
Plant. Their fathers and grandfathers helped build the facility, 
which the Tennessee Valley Authority began constructing in the 1970s 
but never completed.

The TVA operates three other nuclear plants within a 125-mile radius, 
so many here are comfortable with the idea of a nuclear neighbor. 
They celebrated in September when a consortium of utility companies 
chose Bellefonte as one of two sites for new nuclear plants.

"Everybody from 35 to 40 years old that grew up around this county in 
the '70s, they've seen the towers, they knew what it was," says Tommy 
Bryant, 36, a utility company manager whose father worked a 
construction job at Bellefonte. "Most people are really glad about 
what they're planning."

Americans' confidence in nuclear power waned after the partial 
meltdown of a reactor at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island in 1979 and 
the explosion in 1986 at the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine that spread 
radioactive material across Europe.

Today, surging demand for electricity, concerns about air pollution 
and the Bush administration's push to reduce the nation's dependence 
on foreign oil are prompting renewed interest in nuclear energy.

President Bush signed an energy bill in August that includes 
extensive subsidies and incentives for the industry. The bill 
contains subsidies for construction delays, offers loan guarantees to 
utilities and limits industry liability for accidents.

Scottsboro is one of several communities around the USA that are 
wooing utility companies that build nuclear plants, eager to tap the 
economic benefits of an industry attempting a comeback.

More demand for electricity

The USA's existing 103 nuclear plants produce about 20% of the 
nation's power.

"To maintain that 20%, we will have to add new nuclear plants, 
because the demand is going to go up," says Marilyn Kray, president 
of NuStart Energy, the consortium that has selected sites near 
Scottsboro and Port Gibson, Miss., for new nuclear plants. Towns that 
also vied for the plants were Aiken, S.C.; St. Francisville, La.; 
Lusby, Md.; and Scriba, N.Y.

Industry opponents say new nuclear plants aren't economically 
feasible without huge federal subsidies. Protecting plants from 
terrorists and disposing of spent fuel, which remains lethal for 
250,000 years, are also top concerns.
"The nuclear power champions are now looking to hook up an umbilical 
cord to the U.S. Treasury and the American taxpayer to jump-start 
their all-but-moribund industry," says Paul Gunter of the Nuclear 
Information and Resource Service in Washington, D.C. "This is a 
failed technology. The fact the Cheney-Bush administration is looking 
to lead us back into this quagmire is more a relapse than a revival."

The industry promotes nuclear power as a non-polluting form of energy 
that doesn't consume finite fuels such as coal and natural gas. But 
the main selling point for Scottsboro is economic: 2,400 to 2,800 
jobs during a three- to four-year construction period, followed by 
400 to 600 full-time jobs once the plant starts operating, Scottsboro 
Mayor Dan Deason says. "That's going to be a tremendous shot in the 
arm," he says.

'We will leave here'

Scottsboro is football and bass-fishing country. Fans declare 
allegiance to the University of Alabama Crimson Tide or the Auburn 
University Tigers. Lake Guntersville hosts 100 largemouth bass-
fishing tournaments a year.

This town of about 15,000 is the county seat and one of 13 
municipalities in Jackson County. Each of those cities' governments 
passed resolutions supporting a new nuclear facility at Bellefonte, 
says Rick Roden, CEO of the Greater Jackson County Chamber of 

That's partly because people here are familiar with TVA nuclear 
plants near Athens, Ala., Soddy-Daisy, Tenn., and Spring City, Tenn., 
says Goodrich Rogers, who recruits new industry as head of the 
Jackson County Economic Development Authority. "We understand the 
technology," Rogers says. "We've all got friends who work at nuclear 
power plants. They come to Sunday school with us, and none of them 
glow in the dark."

Not everyone is eager to see NuStart move ahead. "If it comes, we 
will leave here," says Carol Womacks, 52, a former flight attendant 
who has lived here for 18 years. Her house is about 5 miles from 
Bellefonte. Womacks worries about an accident. "I don't think the 
city is prepared," she says.

Local opposition has not yet galvanized because people in Alabama 
don't believe nuclear plants are actually going to happen, says 
Stephen Smith, executive director of the Southern Alliance for Clean 
Energy, an environmental and energy policy group based in Knoxville, 
Tenn. "There will be more organized opposition as more people get up 
to speed on it," he says.

Economic linchpin

Scottsboro's fortunes have long been tied to Bellefonte. "In the mid- 
to late '70s, when TVA was moving ahead with Bellefonte, this was one 
of the fastest-growing places in Alabama," Roden says.

Bellefonte never opened because "the projected demand for electricity 
did not materialize," TVA board Chairman Bill Baxter says.

During the mid-1980s, after many textile jobs disappeared and TVA 
decided not to finish the Bellefonte plant, unemployment soared to 

The local economy is more diverse now. There's even a building boom. 
An eight-screen movie theater is planned, as is an $8 million, 320-
acre industrial park. Tourism is up 22% the past three years, and 
unemployment is 4%.

NuStart's Kray says the plan is to "start from scratch" at the 
Bellefonte site, building twin reactors using safer, more efficient 
technology developed since the 1970s. Her consortium, made up of nine 
utilities, two nuclear reactor manufacturers and the TVA, will apply 
for plant licenses from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

At Scottsboro, Kray says, the application probably will be submitted 
in late 2007. If the NRC approves, construction could begin in 2011 
and be completed by 2015.

After NuStart narrowed its list of potential sites to six, the 
competition heated up, Kray says: "What we were surprised at was the 
level of enthusiasm and the overwhelming support we received."

"All six states made substantive offers," NuStart spokesman Carl 
Crawford says. "They were in the hundreds of millions of dollars in 

Blast at Russian Nuclear Plant Kills One  
ST. PETERSBURG, Russia  AP (Dec. 16) - Molten metal splashed from a 
smelter at a Russian nuclear power plant, killing one worker and 
severely burning two others, but authorities said Friday that no 
reactors were affected and no radiation escaped.

While relatively minor, the accident Thursday occurred on the same 
day prosecutors announced a "catastrophic radioactivity situation" 
involving improperly stored materials at a chemical factory in the 
southern Russian region of Chechnya.

The incidents were the latest to draw questions about how Russia 
stores, handles and disposes of nuclear materials and waste in the 
wake of the 1986 explosion of a reactor at Chernobyl that spewed out 
radioactivity for days in the world's worst civilian atomic accident.

"The level of nuclear safety, although it has been significantly 
increased after the Chernobyl disaster, is still not sufficient," 
said Vladimir Slivyak at Ecodefense, a Russian environmental group. 
"They used to think that there is no need for extra safety measures 
and they still think that now."

The smelter accident happened at the Leningrad electricity generating 
station in the closed nuclear town of Sosnovy Bor, 50 miles west of 
St. Petersburg.

Russia's nuclear agency, Rosenergoatom, initially reported an 
explosion. It later changed course and described the incident as a 

It said radiation levels remained normal. The Norwegian environmental 
group Bellona, a longtime critic of Russia's nuclear programs, and 
officials in nearby Finland also said they had not detected any 
spread of radiation.

A 33-year-old worker died of injuries Friday, and two others were 
injured, Yuri Lameko, chief doctor of the Sosnovy Bor hospital, told 
The Associated Press. The Emergency Situations Ministry said two of 
those involved suffered burns over 90 percent of their bodies.

Rosenergoatom said the smelter - run by a scrap metal reprocessing 
company called Ekomet-S - is on the grounds of the plant's second 
unit, where a reactor was shut down for repairs in July. The plant 
has four reactors in all, including one of the same type that blew up 
in Chernobyl during the Soviet era.

Plant spokesman Sergei Averyanov said the smelter is a half-mile from 
the reactor. Oleg Bodrov, a physicist who heads the Green World 
ecological group in Sosnovy Bor, said the facility is also about 150 
feet from a covered liquid radioactive waste pond.

Averyanov blamed the accident on violations of technical and 
production rules.

Bodrov accused Ekomet-S, which also reprocesses metal from nuclear 
submarines and disassembled oil and gas pipelines, of violating 
environmental laws. He also complained a lack of funding had caused 
the shutdown of the only environmental monitoring laboratory in the 
town of 65,000.

"There is no independent environmental monitoring in the nuclear city 
of Sosnovy Bor," Bodrov said, adding that he visited the Ekomet-S 
facility Friday afternoon and found radiation levels were normal.

He said Ekomet-S workers told him more than two tons of molten metal 
were in the smelter and several hundred pounds splashed out for 
unknown reasons.

He said a previous accident involving Ekomet-S injured two workers in 
summer 2003. In March 1992, an accident at the power plant let 
radioactive gases and iodine leak into the air, according to nuclear 
watchdog groups.

Experts and environmentalists say Russia's nuclear industries and 
companies that handle radioactive materials have improved procedures 
in the years since the Soviet collapse. Washington has provided an 
estimated $7 billion the past 14 years to help Russia and other 
former Soviet republics destroy and safeguard atomic weapons.

Still, Russia's nuclear industries, which often escape detailed 
federal monitoring, are prone to industrial accidents.

Russian prosecutors opened a criminal investigation Thursday into the 
improper storage of radioactive materials by a state-owned company in 
the Chechen capital, Grozny.

Tests found radiation at the Grozny Chemical Factory, which stands 
not far from residential buildings and a bus station, exceeded normal 
levels by tens of thousands of times, prosecutors said. They called 
it a "catastrophic radioactivity situation."

Nikolai Petrov of the Carnegie Moscow Center said that situation 
smacked of "the usual disorder and negligence" by Russian officials 
in dealing with potentially harmful materials.

Sandy Perle
Senior Vice President, Technical Operations
Global Dosimetry Solutions, Inc.
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614 

Tel: (949) 296-2306 / (888) 437-1714  Extension 2306
Fax:(949) 296-1144

E-Mail: sperle at dosimetry.com
E-Mail: sandyfl at earthlink.net 

Global Dosimetry Website: http://www.dosimetry.com/ 
Personal Website: http://sandy-travels.com/ 

More information about the RadSafe mailing list