[ RadSafe ] Nations sign nuclear fusion plan

Sandy Perle sandyfl at earthlink.net
Thu Nov 30 10:19:32 CST 2006


Nations sign nuclear fusion plan
Grants to let states vie for nuclear fuel recycler
Angola, IAEA Have Started Talks On Nuclear Pwr-Official 
Operator of nuclear weapons facility fined for safey violations 
Hanford is among federal choices to recycle nuclear fuel
Po-210 easy to produce, can be found in food - ex-nuclear minister 
Spy death radiation alert widens
Litvinenko Radiation Probe Extended to Five Planes; One Cleared

Nations sign nuclear fusion plan

PARIS - Nations representing half the world's population signed a 
long-awaited $12.8 billion pact last week for a nuclear fusion 
reactor that could revolutionize global energy use for future 

The ITER project by the United States, the European Union, China, 
India, Russia, Japan and South Korea will attempt to combat global 
warming by harnessing the fusion that runs the sun, creating an 
alternative to polluting fossil fuels.

But the project is still only experimental and will take decades to 
get going - and environmental groups say it may not even work.

French President Jacques Chirac, who hosted the signing at the Elysee 
Palace in Paris, praised the attempt to "tame solar fire to meet the 
challenge of ecological energy."

"The growing shortage of resources and the battle against global 
warming demand a revolution in our ways of production and 
consumption," Chirac said. "We have the duty to start research that 
will prepare energy solutions for our descendants."

Raymond Orbach of the U.S. Department of Energy said, "This energy 
represents the hope of the world."

Fusion reproduces the sun's power source and produces no greenhouse 
gas emissions and only low levels of radioactive waste.

8 years to build

The International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor will be built in 
Cadarache in the southern French region of Provence. It is expected 
to create about 10,000 jobs and take about eight years to build. 

Some 400 scientists from around the world would operate the reactor, 
and officials hope to set up a demonstration power plant in Cadarache 
around 2040. If it works, only then could the energy be made 
commercially available.

Officials involved in the project say 10 percent to 20 percent of the 
world's energy could come from fusion by the end of the century.

The EU will pay 50 percent of the cost to build the experimental 
reactor, with the six other parties contributing 10 percent each.

Fusion, which powers the sun and other stars, involves confining 
hydrogen at extreme temperature and pressure to create a highly 
energetic gas. At a temperature of 180 million degrees, the gas 
undergoes nuclear fusion, releasing energy that can be harnessed to 
generate electricity.

Unlimited supply

Unlike fossil fuels, which are expected to run short by the end of 
the century, the reactor's hydrogen fuel would be available in 
unlimited supply. 

Its backers say a quart of seawater would be able to generate energy 
equivalent to a quart of oil or 2 pounds of coal.

While Chirac praised the international cooperation that led to the 
project, it has faced multiple delays because of internal 
disagreements - over the choice of the site, financing and reactor 

At one point, the United States withdrew, leaving scientists warning 
that the country would eventually have to buy the technology from 
other nations. The United States announced in January 2003 that it 
was rejoining the project.

Japanese director

Japanese Foreign Minister Takeshi Iwaya acknowledged Tuesday that it 
was a "difficult decision" for Japan to abandon its hopes for housing 
the reactor. 

The project's director will be Japanese, however, and Japan will 
supply the reactor's most complex parts.

The seven partners agreed last year to build the reactor at 
Cadarache, which already houses one of the biggest civil nuclear 
research centers in Europe, and initialed the ITER plan in May.

Each partner must still ratify the deal.

While the final agreement will not go into force until early next 
year after all participants ratify it, the United States already has 
given its final approval. After the agreement was initialed last May, 
Congress was given 120 days to object, but did not do so.

"With the conclusion of the 120-day review period, the U.S. 
ratification process is complete. There are no further steps for the 
United States," Energy Department spokesman Jeff Sherwood said.

The French anti-nuclear group Sortir du Nucleaire warned that the 
project will still produce radioactive waste, though less than 
conventional nuclear reactors.

Environmental activists, who generally oppose nuclear power, have 
argued that the project is too costly and would divert attention from 
current efforts to fight global warming.

Grants to let states vie for nuclear fuel recycler

PADUCAH - The Department of Energy yesterday announced that sites in 
Western Kentucky, southern Ohio and eastern Tennessee will receive 
grant money for further study as a location for a 1,000-job nuclear 
fuel recycling plant.

Eleven commercial and public groups in eight states will receive 
shares of $16 million for the studies -- including groups in Paducah, 
Portsmouth, Ohio, which is just across the Ohio River from Kentucky's 
Greenup County, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in eastern 

The sites are vying for a Department of Energy recycling plant, 
estimated to cost $12 billion to $16 billion.

If built, the center will cut up nuclear fuel rods and chemically 
treat 2,000 to 3,000 metric tons of spent fuel annually, starting in 

The plant is projected to create 5,000 construction jobs.

DOE also has discussed building a $1.8 billion, 250-megawatt test 
burner reactor to be operational by 2014, as well as a 500- to 2,000-
megawatt advanced burner reactor to further break down the more 
highly radioactive components of the spent fuel. The burner reactor 
may or may not be built at the same site as the fuel-treatment 

The siting studies allow grant recipients to vie for hosting the 
recycling plant, the burner reactor or both.

As part of the Bush administration's Global Nuclear Energy 
Partnership, the new technology is designed to produce vitrified 
waste and drastically cut down on the amount of spent fuel that has 
to be stored as well as storage time.

Assistant Secretary for Nuclear Energy Dennis Spurgeon said the 
process has "negligible" emissions and doesn't produce waste that 
could be used for nuclear explosives.

Whether the Republican-driven recycling program will survive the 
congressional balance-of-power switch to the Democrats is uncertain. 
But Spurgeon said there is Democratic support for recycling in 
general, so "I would like to believe" the nuclear problem will go 
forward regardless of who rules Congress.

The Western Kentucky site would be on at least 500 acres near the DOE-
owned Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

McCracken County Judge-Executive Danny Orazine and Paducah Mayor Bill 
Paxton formed the task force a year ago to find other industrial uses 
for the 1,150-employee Paducah plant once it closes.

Task force member Charlie Martin said Paducah is unique in having 
multistate congressional support from both parties. He and Paxton 
complimented strong Republican help from Sens. Jim Bunning and Mitch 
McConnell, Rep. Ed Whitfield and Gov. Ernie Fletcher of Kentucky, 
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson of Missouri and Rep. John Shimkus of Illinois. 
The grant application also had help from Senate Democratic Whip Dick 
Durbin of Illinois, Martin said.

"We have senior leadership support from both sides of the aisle," he 
said. "In discussions with DOE officials, they were very much 
interested in Durbin's support for the project."

The federal grants will be awarded early next year after negotiations 
with the recipients. Martin said the studies should be finished in 
May or June, and the information will go into an environmental impact 
statement that will probably take a year to complete.

All the data will go into a record of decision in mid-2008 that will 
determine "whether, when or where" a plant or plants will be built. 
Spurgeon said a decision by Energy Secretary Samual Bodman will be 
based on environmental impact, a business plan and applicable 

Angola, IAEA Have Started Talks On Nuclear Pwr-Official 

CAIRO--Angola has started early discussions with the International 
Atomic Energy Agency about building its own nuclear power program, 
Angola's vice- minister of petroleum said Thursday.

There is no timeline as to when Angola, a poor and growing West 
African energy-producing nation, might start building its own power 
program, which would aim to supplement the country's energy supplies, 
vice-minister Anibal Silva told Dow Jones Newswires on the sidelines 
of an energy conference here. 

"These are very early discussions we started recently. There is no 
timeline and we're not sure yet how many reactors would be built," 
Silva said.

Angola will also seek technical assistance from China, which is the 
single largest investor in Angola, Silva said. Angola recently became 
the biggest oil provider to China, overtaking Saudi Arabia, the 
world's biggest oil exporter.

"They (the Chinese) are big partners for us and they have experience 
in this area," he said.

The Vienna-based IAEA is the first formal step a country often takes 
when pursuing a nuclear power program. 

Angola is also moving much closer to joining OPEC, which provides 
about 40% of the 85 million barrels of oil consumed daily.

"We are moving closer but there is no final decision yet. We stil 
have some things to work out," Silva said, declining to elaborate.

Later OPEC's Secretary General Mohammed Barkindo confirmed that 
Angola was poised to join the producer group and Sudan was also 
moving closer, although no formal timeframe had been set for the two 
countries to join.

"Angola is indeed going to join, but we still don't know the 
timeframe," Barkindo told Dow Jones Newswires on the sidelines of a 
meeting of the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries in 
the Egyptian capital.

OPEC neighbor Nigeria offered both Angola and Sudan the opportunity 
to join the 11-nation producer group earlier this year.

Separately, Silva said Angola will offer four or five deepwater 
offshore blocks in January to international oil companies, Silva 

Angola, which currently produces about 1.4 million barrels a day, is 
on target to reach 2.0 million barrels a day by the emd of 2007, he 

Angola's first liquefied natural gas terminal, that is being 
developed with some oil companies is on track to start service in 
2010, Silva said.

Operator of nuclear weapons facility fined for safey violations 

WASHINGTON) - The U.S. Department of Energy said Wednesday it will 
fine the operator of the Pantex Plant, a nuclear weapons facility in 
Amarillo, $110,000 for violating safety requirements. 

The department's National Nuclear Security Administration will fine 
BWXT Pantex for three unsuccessful attempts between March 30 and 
April 26, 2005, to separate parts of a weapon. 

The plant was cited for exceeding the amount of allowed force to a 
weapon and for failing to follow operating procedure. 

The actions "demonstrated a nonconservative approach in decision 
making during a process in which strict adherence to established 
procedure was vital," according to a Department of Energy news 

The Pantex Plant is the country's only nuclear weapons assembly and 
disassembly facility.

Hanford is among federal choices to recycle nuclear fuel

YAKIMA  (AP) -- Eleven sites, including the Hanford Nuclear 
Reservation, have been selected as possible places to reprocess spent 
nuclear fuel from reactors, the Department of Energy announced 

The program is part of the Energy Department's Global Nuclear Energy 
Partnership, or GNEP, which the Bush administration has been touting 
as a means to safely expand nuclear energy.

The 11 sites will share as much as $16 million in grants next year to 
begin site studies to house either a recycling center that would 
separate spent fuel for reuse, a fast reactor that could convert 
highly radioactive materials to shorter-lived isotopes while burning 
them for power, or both.

Proponents say the program will allow countries to increasingly rely 
on nuclear energy while reducing the amount of waste generated by 
nuclear power plants.

Critics of the initiative have argued that resuming reprocessing -- 
abandoned in the 1970s for proliferation reasons -- could make it 
easier for terrorists or enemy states to obtain plutonium for nuclear 

The Union of Concerned Scientists condemned Wednesday's announcement, 
saying the plan poses serious health, safety and environmental risks 
in communities where the plants would be located.

Sites in Washington, Idaho, South Carolina, New Mexico, Illinois, 
Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio were selected for consideration

Po-210 easy to produce, can be found in food - ex-nuclear minister 

MOSCOW, November 30 (RIA Novosti) - Polonium-210, a highly toxic 
radioactive isotope widely believed to have been used to poison 
former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, can be manufactured even by 
a layman, a Russian former nuclear minister said Thursday. 

Litvinenko, a Russian intelligence defector and a close associate of 
fugitive Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky, died last Thursday in a 
London hospital. British health officials said Friday a large dose of 
Po-210 had been found in his body. 

"Polonium is not actively used anywhere," Yevgeny Adamov said. 
"However, it is not difficult to manufacture. It can be done even by 
a layman without a chemical background." 

He also said that traces of polonium can be found anywhere, even in 

"I dare say you could find polonium in a piece of bread, but in such 
concentrations it is not hazardous to health," Adamov said, adding 
that only direct contact with the radioactive metalloid or its vapors 
can be dangerous. 

Scotland Yard investigators have discovered traces of Po-210 
radiation at six locations in the British capital that Litvinenko 
visited at around the time of his alleged poisoning at the beginning 
of November, including Berezovsky's office. They also discovered 
radioactive contamination on board the three British Airways Boeing-
767 passenger aircraft being examined as part of investigations into 
the Litvinenko case. 

However, Adamov admitted that polonium-210 is highly toxic. 

"If it is added to food and enters the gullet, it subjects the body 
to continual radiation poisoning," the ex-minister said. 

Adamov, 67, is currently awaiting trial in Russia on charges of 
embezzlement and abuse of office during his tenure as Russia's 
nuclear power minister from 1998 to 2001.

Spy death radiation alert widens

LONDON, England (CNN) -- The number of sites contaminated in the 
Russian spy radiation alert has doubled to around 12 and is likely to 
rise again, British Home Secretary John Reid said.

He disclosed that a fourth and fifth jetliner have also been caught 
up in the scare -- although one was later given a clean bill of 

UK government scientists are still pursuing one Russian aircraft to 
search for traces of alpha radiation -- the type emitted by polonium 
210, the deadly radioactive element with which former Russian spy 
Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned.

In Moscow, meanwhile, doctors said they believed Yegor Gaidar, a 
former premier and head of a liberal opposition party, may have been 
poisoned during a conference last week in Ireland, his spokesman 
Valery Natarov told The Associated Press. (Full story)

Gaidar, 50, became violently ill and was rushed to a hospital in 
Ireland, but was improving in a Moscow hospital Thursday.

Also on Thursday a coroner formally opened an inquest into the 
poisoning of Litvinenko, who died on November 23 after falling ill 
more than three weeks earlier. It was quickly adjourned so police 
could continue their investigation, but three pathologists were 
expected to participate in an autopsy Friday at Royal London 

Reid told the House of Commons that the total number of locations in 
London found to have been contaminated with radiation had doubled.

He said: "To date, around 24 venues have or are being monitored and 
experts have confirmed traces of contamination at around 12 of these 

Scotland Yard confirmed the identity of 11 of the 12 locations where 
traces of contamination have been discovered. These are -- all in 
London: the Itsu sushi restaurant in Piccadilly, the Millennium Hotel 
in Grosvenor Square, Litvinenko's home, Barnet General Hospital, 
University College Hospital, 25 Grosvenor Street, 58 Grosvenor 
Street, 7 Down Street, the Sheraton Hotel in Park Lane and the two 
grounded BA aircraft at Heathrow. The identity of the 12th location 
is unclear. 

As examinations of three British Airways aircraft continued, Reid 
said: "There is one other Russian plane that we know, that we think 
we would be interested in. 

"There may be other aeroplanes of which we don't at this stage know."

Reid had during his remarks named a Boeing 737, leased by the Russian 
airline Transaero, as "of interest."

The Transaero jet arrived at Heathrow from Moscow on Thursday shortly 
before Reid's speech, but airline officials said no radioactivity was 
discovered aboard.

In Moscow, a spokesman for Transaero -- the private airline with two 
planes being examined in the investigation -- said one of their 
aircraft in London had been examined and no radiation was found.

The flight was cleared to leave, spokesman Sergei Byhal told CNN.

However, due to concerns voiced about the rest of the Transaero 
fleet, Byhal said, Russia's Emergencies Ministry would conduct 
radiation testing on all of their planes in Russia.

As for the British Airways plane at the Domodedovo airport in Moscow, 
a spokeswoman for Russia's Federal Consumer Rights and Human Well 
Being Service told CNN Thursday that samples were taken from it and 
delivered to a laboratory.

The results of those tests will be available Friday, she said.

Marina Shlyatova, British Airways spokeswoman in Moscow, said they 
are "waiting for confirmation from the British government that is not 
dangerous to fly back to London" before sending the Boeing 767 back 
to Heathrow.

British Airways has said that "the risk to public health is low," but 
it has published a list of the flights affected on its Web site and 
told customers on these flights to contact a special help-line set up 
by the Health Ministry. (Flight list)

BA said an estimated 33,000 passengers and 3,000 staff were involved 
in the alert relating to their aircraft, involving 221 flights to 10 
destinations from October 25 to November 29. The airline said it was 
continuing to make every effort to contact those involved, adding 
that it had taken calls from 2,500 customers on a special helpline by 
9:00 a.m. Thursday. (Watch how worried you should be about polonium 

Prime Minister Tony Blair has said the former Russian spy's death is 
a "very, very serious" matter and that no "diplomatic or political" 
barrier will stand in the way of the police investigation. 

At the opening of Litvinenko's inquest in London Thursday morning, 
his close friend Alex Goldfarb said the discovery of radioactivity on 
the BA flights further reinforced his suspicion that Moscow was 
behind the poisoning. 

Ex-KGB man Litvinenko, a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir 
Putin, died last week. In his deathbed message, the former spy 
accused Putin of being behind his poisoning. The Kremlin has denied 
any responsibility. 

Goldfarb told the UK's Press Association: "If you look at the flight 
numbers BA have released, the first flight they are interested in was 
five days before the poisoning -- the Moscow-Heathrow flight on 
October 25. 

"This tells you that the police are looking for the ways of delivery 
of this material into London and this reinforces the theory that the 
origin of this material that killed Alexander was in Moscow. 

"We still believe this is a murder perpetrated by agents of Russia's 
intelligence services." 

Reid said there are between 130 and 150 sites in the United Kingdom 
where Polonium 210 might be used, but there were no reports of theft 
from any of the sites. 

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) has said the health risk to tens 
of thousands of air passengers caught up in the radiation alert is 
likely to be extremely low. 

Chief executive Pat Troop said that as alpha radiation cannot pass 
through skin or even paper, the risk of contamination is "likely to 
be low."

Litvinenko Radiation Probe Extended to Five Planes; One Cleared 

Nov. 30 (Bloomberg) -- The U.K. inquiry into the radiation poisoning 
of former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko extended to five 
airliners, including three from British Airways Plc, as authorities 
said homicide charges are possible over his death. 

One of the planes, from Russia's Transaero Airlines, was cleared of 
radiation risk after checks at London's Heathrow airport following a 
flight today from Moscow, a spokeswoman for airport operator BAA Plc 
said in a telephone interview. 

Home Secretary John Reid earlier told Parliament the Transaero plane 
and a fifth, unspecified airliner were ``of interest'' to 
investigators. British Airways is contacting 33,000 passengers and 
3,000 staff members after traces of a radioactive material were found 
on two of its planes at Heathrow and a third was grounded in Moscow 
as part of the investigation. 

Authorities haven't said whether the radiation was from polonium 210, 
the radioactive substance found in Litvinenko's body. Polonium 210 
radiation, which travels only a few centimeters and can be stopped by 
a sheet of paper, is a danger only if it is ingested, breathed or 
enters a wound. 

``The risk to public health is low,'' Reid said, advising passengers 
to check the British Airways Web site or phone its helpline or the 
National Health Service. 

Authorities involved in the widening investigation have already 
detected polonium contamination in at least 12 of 24 locations 
searched, Reid said. More than 170 people are undergoing or have 
taken tests for radiation, according to the U.K. Health Protection 

``Police continue to trace possible witnesses and examine Mr. 
Litvinenko's movements at relevant times,'' Reid said. ``It is 
probable that the investigation will continue to bring additional 
locations to our attention for screening.'' 

Homicide Possible 

Litvinenko, who had publicly criticized Russian President Vladimir 
Putin's government, died in a London hospital on Nov. 23 with what 
authorities described as a ``significant quantity'' of polonium 210 
in his body. 

In a message he wrote before he lost consciousness, Litvinenko, who 
had become a British citizen, said he was poisoned because of his 
criticism of Putin's government, an allegation Putin has denied. 
Police said they are treating the death as ``suspicious,'' and are 
considering all options. 


Dr. Andrew Reid, a north London coroner, today opened an inquest into 
Litvinenko's death, and adjourned the case pending an autopsy that 
will be held tomorrow. The post-mortem examination will involve three 
pathologists: one approved by the Home Office, another appointed by 
the former spy's widow, and an independent expert. 

``There is the possibility that someone may be charged with homicide 
in Mr. Litvinenko's case,'' the coroner said during today's 
proceedings. ``Police are investigating further the circumstances by 
which Mr. Litvinenko was exposed to or administered with'' polonium. 

Alex Goldfarb, a friend of Litvinenko who has acted as his family's 
spokesman, told reporters outside the court that the investigation 
into flights originating from Russia backs up the theory that Putin's 
government may be involved. Some of the flights were before Nov. 1, 
when the former spy became ill, suggesting Litvinenko wasn't the 
source of any contamination of airliners, Goldfarb said. 

``We still believe that this is a murder perpetrated by the agents of 
the Russian intelligence services,'' Goldfarb said. ``I strongly 
suspect that the origin of this material is in Moscow,'' he said, 
referring to polonium 210. 

Russian Cooperation 

Reid said Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett spoke yesterday with her 
Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, who assured her ``cooperation 
would be forthcoming.'' 

The British Airways planes were used on 221 flights between Heathrow 
and Moscow, Barcelona, Athens, Dusseldorf, Larnaca, Stockholm, 
Vienna, Frankfurt, Madrid and Istanbul, the airline said on its Web 
site. Thirty-three of the flights were to or from Moscow, including 
seven in October. 

``Controls on radioactive security in international airports in the 
Russian Federation have been strengthened'' in response to the 
discovery of radiation, Russia's Transport Ministry said today in a 
statement posted on its Web site. 

British Airways, Europe's third-biggest carrier, said yesterday that 
it took the three Boeing 767 aircraft out of service, two in London 
and one in Moscow, after scientists found ``very low traces of a 
radioactive substance'' on two of them. The airline said it's waiting 
for government advice before bringing the third plane back to London. 

British Airways shares today fell by 1.3 percent to 489 pence ($9.57) 
as of 2:45 p.m. London time. 


British Airways has set up a special helpline for customers in the 
U.K. at 0845-6040171, or +44-191-2113690 for callers from abroad. The 
National Health Service Direct helpline is 0845 4647. 

Litvinenko first reported feeling ill on Nov. 1 after meeting with a 
friend at the Itsu sushi restaurant on Piccadilly, in central London. 
Later that day, he went to the Millennium Hotel Mayfair, in central 
London's Grosvenor Square. 

London buildings where polonium traces were detected include the 
restaurant and the Millennium Hotel, as well as Litvinenko's home in 
Muswell Hill and addresses in Mayfair at 25 and 58 Grosvenor Street 
and 7 Down Street, the Health Protection Agency said. Officers have 
also examined the Sheraton Park Lane Hotel. 

The agency said yesterday it's ``satisfied that there is no 
contamination that would pose a public health risk'' in either Barnet 
Hospital or University College London Hospital, the two locations 
where the former security service officer was treated. 

Still, 160 health workers at the two facilities were assessed as 
being at potential risk of contamination, and 52 of them were asked 
to submit urine samples, the results of which will be ready within a 
week, the agency said. 

Urine samples were also requested from another 105 people, including 
staff and visitors to the buildings under investigation. Another 21 
people have been referred to a specialized clinic after showing 
symptoms that could result from exposure to polonium 210, authorities 

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

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

More information about the RadSafe mailing list