[ RadSafe ] Evacuation fear over nuclear plan

Sandy Perle sandyfl at earthlink.net
Sat Apr 15 09:11:24 CDT 2006


Evacuation fear over nuclear plan 
Feds want states out of nuclear shipping Bound for Yucca: 
U.S. Prepares to Overhaul Arsenal of Nuclear Warheads
Tritium found in water near nuclear plant
Doubts raised over new nuclear plants
Pak must have access to civilian nuclear energy: Musharraf

Evacuation fear over nuclear plan  
Apr 15 (BBC) Guernsey's Home Minister says France has a good safety 
record. A Jersey politician has raised concerns about the possibility 
of a new nuclear plant being built on the French coast. 
Health Minister Senator Stuart Syvret said he was worried about how 
quickly the Channel Islands could be evacuated if there was an 

The French government is considering electricity company EDF's plans 
for a new reactor at Flamanville. 

Earlier this week Guernsey's Home Minister said there was nothing to 
fear from the French plans. 

Channel Island residents have expressed concerns about safety and 
nuclear waste from the French site, but Mike Torode said the country 
had a reassuring nuclear safety record. 

However Senator Syvret said he favoured energy efficiencies and 
renewables as alternatives to nuclear power. 

The Channel Islands are being included in the French Government's 
public debate on the proposals before a final decision is made in 

If approved, construction could begin next year, with completion of 
the reactor by 2015. 

A protest rally against the proposed plant is being held in Cherbourg 
on Saturday. 

Flamanville is about 30 miles (48km) from the Channel Islands.

Feds want states out of nuclear shipping Bound for Yucca: 

WASHINGTON Apr 15 (Salt Lake Tribune) - Western governors say 
shipping nuclear waste could be riskier under a Bush administration 
proposal to keep states from inspecting or rerouting waste bound for 
Yucca Mountain, Nev.  

The Yucca Mountain bill, written by the Energy Department and 
introduced last week by Senate Energy Committee Chairman Pete 
Domenici, R-N.M., exempts Yucca shipments from federal hazardous 
materials regulations and any state regulation.  

The transportation provisions "could seriously undermine shipment 
safety and public confidence," Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano wrote 
Thursday in a letter on behalf of the Western Governors Association.  

According to an Energy Department analysis, between 8 million and 11 
million people nationwide live within a half-mile of the potential 
truck or rail routes to Yucca Mountain. The waste would travel 
through as many as 45 states and 700 counties. Yucca Mountain's 
capacity is now capped at 77,000 tons of spent fuel, although the new 
Bush administration proposal would raise the limit to 120,000 tons, 
potentially increasing the amount of traffic going through Utah on 
its way to the site.  

Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. has expressed concern about the waste 
shipments, most of which would cross Utah on their way to Nevada, and 
supports leaving the waste at the reactors that produced it.  

"It's important to take into account the viewpoints of affected 
states on issues involving nuclear waste because nuclear waste is an 
issue that affects people very locally," said Huntsman's spokesman, 
Mike Lee. "There is an understandable reluctance on the part of 
states like ours to have any [of the] limited authority we now have 
further eroded."  

Energy Department spokesman Craig Stevens said the goal of the 
provision is to ensure that there is "consistent treatment" for DOE 
shipments, so standards don't change when a shipment crosses from one 
jurisdiction to the next.  

"We believe what we're going to do will either meet or exceed the 
[Nuclear Regulatory Commission] or Department of Transportation 
requirements. What we're going to do is better than the minimum and 
is a safe and responsible method of transportation," Stevens said. 
"In no way does it diminish our commitment to trying to work with 
states and tribes moving forward." 

Oregon Gov. Theodore Kulongoski wrote a separate letter to Energy 
Secretary Samuel Bodman this week, opposing the pre-emption of state 
regulations, praising DOE's track record of cooperation with the 
states, and urging that the provisions be stripped from the bill.  

Although it is more than a decade behind schedule, the Energy 
Department hopes to open a permanent nuclear waste repository at 
Yucca Mountain  by 2015. If it becomes a reality, Utah could see more 
than 10,000 rail shipments and nearly 2,400 truck shipments of spent 
nuclear fuel rolling through the state.  

Bob Halstead, a transportation consultant for Nevada's anti-Yucca 
campaign, said he expects the transit provisions in the Energy 
Department bill to be constroversial on two fronts.  

"First they exempt DOE from safety and counterterrorism regulations 
that most people both in the industry and the state government level 
think are working," he said. "Secondly they go so far in exempting 
DOE from these regulations that it raises doubts in my mind that the 
bill can be passed with those provisions in there."  

Specifically, Napolitano's letter expresses concern that the Bush 
administration's proposal would exempt shipments to Yucca Mountain 
from federal hazardous materials statutes, and would pre-empt state, 
tribal and local laws that allow state inspections of shipments or 
rerouting of shipments away from high-risk areas.  

It is also contrary to a recent report by the National Academies of 
Science that said spent fuel could be shipped safely under "strict 
adherence to existing regulations."  

"We urge you not to enact any legislation that diminishes states' 
role in ensuring safe transportation of these materials at the very 
time that the amount of shipments would dramatically increase," 
Napolitano wrote. Transportation provisions of the Bush 
administration's Yucca Mountain bill: States, local governments and 
Indian tribes could not reroute shipments of radioactive waste away 
from high-risk areas, tunnels or population centers States, local 
governments and tribes could not inspect or regulate shipments 
Shipments of waste would be exempt from the Resource Conservation and 
Recovery Act, which sets federal guidelines for managing hazardous 
and non-hazardous waste Governors say the exemptions may apply more 
broadly to affect other shipments in containers approved by the 
Nuclear Regulatory Commission 

U.S. Prepares to Overhaul Arsenal of Nuclear Warheads

Washington Apr 15 (Washington Post) By the end of the year, the 
government plans to select the design of a new generation of nuclear 
warheads that would be more dependable and possibly able to be 
disarmed in the event they fell into terrorist hands, according to 
the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The new warheads would be based on nuclear technology that has 
already been tested, which means they could be produced more than a 
decade from now to gradually replace at lower numbers the existing 
U.S. stockpile of about 6,000 warheads without additional underground 
testing, said Linton F. Brooks, administrator of the NNSA, which 
oversees the U.S. nuclear weapons complex, and other government 
The warhead redesign is part of a larger, multibillion-dollar program 
to refurbish the nation's nuclear-weapons stockpile and to 
consolidate nuclear plants and facilities in nearly a dozen states, 
including California, Florida, Texas, Tennessee and New Mexico. The 
next-generation warheads will be larger and more stable than the 
existing ones but slightly less powerful, according to government 
officials. They might contain "use controls" that would enable the 
military to disable the weapons by remote control if they are stolen 
by terrorists.

Brooks said in an interview Thursday that, by November, his agency 
will choose between two competing designs submitted by teams at the 
Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories. Brooks said 
the November timetable for the submission of the design plans would 
give his agency time to develop preliminary cost estimates that could 
be included in the administration's fiscal 2008 budget, to be 
submitted to Congress early next year.

The Reliable Replacement Warhead Program, as it is called, was first 
proposed two years ago by Rep. David L. Hobson (R-Ohio). It has been 
adopted as part of a major restructuring of the U.S. nuclear weapons 
complex being proposed by the Bush administration in light of the 
findings of its 2002 Nuclear Posture Review.

The new warheads envisioned as part of the RRW are expected to be 
larger and heavier than those now deployed and in reserve, which 
originated from the Cold War years, when they needed to be light but 
still carry the maximum explosive yield for knocking out reinforced 
Soviet missile silos, submarine pens and underground command posts.

But this is just the beginning of a decades-long process of replacing 
the stockpile with smaller warheads. Even if the government meets its 
year-end deadline for choosing a feasible design for engineering 
development and production, Congress will still have to debate and 
approve the choice. After that, it would probably take almost 10 more 
years before the first new warheads appeared.

Though most U.S. nuclear weapons contain permissive action links, or 
"PALS," which need to be activated before they can be used, Brooks 
said that technological advances might provide security measures that 
are far superior.

"We want them to take advantage of 'use control' and are looking 
forward to get those designs," Brooks said. But he declined to 
discuss details.

Last week, Thomas P. D'Agostino, the NNSA's new deputy administrator 
for defense programs, told a House Armed Services subcommittee that 
the government has already added a number of safety features that 
would disarm a missile warhead in the event of a theft.

"If somebody should happen to lose control of a weapon itself, it 
would essentially not be a weapon because of the types of technology 
features we've inserted," D'Agostino said.

Officials say that plans for consolidating and downsizing nuclear 
weapons plants throughout the country are long overdue. Many of the 
buildings used for developing and assembling the weapons are almost 
50 years old.

At the same time, there are plans to reduce the nuclear stockpile by 
as much as half -- to 3,000 or 4,000 warheads -- by 2012.

The competition between Los Alamos and Livermore replicates what 
happened beginning in the 1950s as each laboratory developed 
different nuclear warheads for the Air Force, the Navy and the Army. 
"The process is providing a unique opportunity to train the next 
generation of nuclear weapons designers and engineers," D'Agostino 
said last week.

During the Cold War years, from the 1960s through the 1980s, the U.S. 
nuclear weapons complex constantly designed, developed, produced and 
tested different warheads depending on military needs, D'Agostino 
said. Beginning in the 1990s, as the Cold War ended and a test ban 
pact between the United States and the Soviet Union was reached, a 
decision was made to halt U.S. development of new warheads and, 
instead, to shift to supervising the already enormous stockpile, to 
make sure that those deployed were still reliable and to begin 
dismantling those that were no longer needed.

The notion at that time, during the administrations of Presidents 
George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, was that the stockpile would go 
through a life-extension process every 20 to 30 years. The current 
Bush administration's Nuclear Posture Review changed that. Instead of 
just extending the life of older warheads with new but similar parts, 
the aim now is to make totally new components that are more robust, 
easier to manufacture, safer and more secure, while at the same time 
not requiring new underground testing.

By constantly upgrading the parts, D'Agostino said, a second goal 
will be accomplished. By 2030, he said, the "weapons design community 
that was revitalized by the RRW program will be able to adapt an 
existing weapon within 18 months, and design, develop and begin 
production of a new design within four years of a decision to enter 
engineering development."
Tritium found in water near nuclear plant

BRAIDWOOD Apr 15 (AP) - Slightly elevated levels of tritium have been 
found in two drinking water wells near a nuclear power plant, but a 
health official says the concentrations are well below what state and 
federal limits allow.

Will County officials drew samples from 99 drinking water wells after 
they learned of four tritium leaks at Exelon's Braidwood Generating 
Station dating back to 1996. Preliminary findings for 59 of those 
samples were announced Thursday by James Zelko, executive director of 
the county's health department.

Two of the 59 wells showed elevated levels of tritium, but the 
concentrations were less than 2 percent of what state and federal 
limits allow, Zelko said. They also were below the guidelines 
recently established in California, which has the lowest groundwater 
tritium limits in the nation.

Exelon officials have said the leaks posed no danger to the public.

"This is very similar to the data we got three, four years ago," 
Exelon Nuclear spokesman Craig Nesbit said Friday.

The wells had detectable tritium levels of 230 and 264 picocuries per 
liter. The state's drinking water limit is 20,000 picocuries per 
liter. California's public health goal is 400 picocuries per liter.

Tritium, a potential carcinogen, is a radioactive form of hydrogen 
commonly found in groundwater but more concentrated in water used in 
nuclear reactors.

The wells that were tested were located in the nearby town of Godley 
or within one-half-mile of the underground pipeline that carries 
millions of gallons of wastewater from the plant into the Kankakee 
River. The pipeline is where the leaks occurred.

Several lawsuits have been filed against Exelon in connection with 
the leaks.

Doubts raised over new nuclear plants

Apr 15 (ft.com) Doubts have been raised over the government's ability 
to push ahead with new nuclear power stations.
The Commons environmental audit committee is expected to say tomorrow 
that the economic viability of new nuclear plants has not been proved 
and that concerns over the safety of the disposal of nuclear waste, 
and the possibility of terrorist attack on nuclear facilities, have 
not been allayed.

The report by the committee chaired by Tim Yeo, the former 
Conservative environment spokesman, comes as the government begins 
the final stage of its energy review, which is due to be completed 
this summer.

The deadline for submissions to the review passed yesterday, and the 
government will now assess the responses. However, in its final 
decision on energy policy, ministers may choose to ignore the 
environmental audit committee in favour of other experts who have 
been vociferous in their support for nuclear power.

Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser, has spoken 
out strongly for nuclear power. He has said nuclear power should make 
up 40 per cent of the country's energy mix.

This would require a massive investment in new reactors, as at 
present nuclear accounts for about a fifth of electricity generation, 
but only one of the current fleet of nuclear plants is scheduled to 
remain in operation after 2023.

Both sides in the debate are gearing up for several months of intense 
lobbying. The prime minister, Tony Blair is thought to be in favour 
of nuclear power, but public opinion is divided.

Surveys have found most people prefer renewable energy, but a small 
majority would be prepared to accept nuclear power if it were 
necessary to avoid dangerous climate change.

Roger Higman, climate change campaigner at the pressure group Friends 
of the Earth, said: "The nuclear industry has been running a very big 
PR spin campaign, but it does not know what the costs [of new-build] 
are going to be, and it doesn't have a solution to the waste problem. 
Meanwhile, there are lots of alternatives, like energy efficiency and 
renewables. People think the nuclear spin has had its day."

David Howarth, energy spokesman for the Liberal Democrats, said: 
"Nuclear power is not renewable. The expense of any new programme 
would risk crowding out all development of genuinely renewable 

Pak must have access to civilian nuclear energy: Musharraf

ISLAMABAD Apr 15 (Kaumudi online): Voicing concern over implications 
of the Indo-US nuclear deal on regional stability and security, 
President Pervez Musharraf today said Pakistan "must have access" to 
the civilian nuclear energy for which it looked forward to 
international cooperation. 

Musharraf, who held talks with visiting US Senator Chuck Hagel here, 
said Pakistan's expanding energy requirements would be met through a 
variety of sources, including nuclear power generation.

"He (the President) outlined Pakistan's views on the US-India nuclear 
agreement and stressed that there were concerns on its implications 
on regional stability and security," an official statement said.

Musharraf said Pakistan "must have access" to civilian nuclear energy 
and it looked forward to international cooperation in this regard.

Earlier Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz told Hegel that the United States 
should follow an "inclusive approach" to help India and Pakistan meet 
their energy requirements.

"The US has an opportunity to promote inclusive approach designed to 
meet the energy needs of both India and Pakistan which would promote 
greater stability and help avoid arms race in South Asia" by 
extending the nuclear deal to Islamabad, Aziz said when Hagel called 
on him here yesterday.

On nuclear weapons parity with India, Aziz said Pakistan followed a 
policy of maintaining minimum credible deterrence.

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