[ RadSafe ] [Nuclear News] Poll to decide nuclear

Sandy Perle sandyfl at cox.net
Tue Mar 6 10:33:18 CST 2007


*Poll to decide nuclear
*Translation error said to have led to hospital deaths
*Toshiba in talks on power plant business in India
*Rann wants state referendum on nuclear power
*Duke Energy and Government - Agreement on Used Nuclear Fuel Storage Costs
*Nuclear Council Presents Recommendations to DOE
*Thorium Power Reaches Major Milestone in Testing of Its Proprietary
Nuclear Fuel
*Next Austrian-Czech border blockade over Temelin on March 14
*U.S. working to develop new nuke detectors
*Gamma Ray Blast May Help Huntington's Disease Therapy

Poll to decide nuclear

(Adelaide Now) Mar 7 - ANY plans to build a nuclear power plant in
South Australia will automatically go to a state referendum under laws
planned by the State Government.

Premier Mike Rann told Parliament yesterday the referendum would be
triggered automatically should any federal government try to override
SA's ban on nuclear power plants.

To save costs, the referendum would be held in conjunction with the
state election which fell closest to any federal move. "I believe this
is an issue of such significance and controversy that the people
should be given a direct say in whether they want them built in SA,"
Mr Rann said.

"At present, federal laws prevent nuclear power stations being built
in Australia. We are currently looking at the feasibility of backing
that up with SA legislation."

Mr Rann said Prime Minister John Howard was becoming a champion of
domestic nuclear power generation and his government was actively
promoting the idea of overturning laws to allow their establishment in

It was revealed late last month that a consortium headed by former
Economic Development Board chairman Robert Champion de Crespigny,
former Western Mining chief Hugh Morgan, and businessman Ron Walker
was examining options for nuclear power generation in Australia. The
move sparked an uproar in federal Parliament and outrage at a state

Translation error said to have led to hospital deaths

Nancy, France Mar 6 - An error in translating English instructions for
the use of software probably led to the deaths by an overdose of X-ray
radiation of four patients at a French hospital, the head of the
Regional Agency for Hospitalization in the region of Lorraine said
Tuesday. "The problem did not originate with the technicians or with
the software, but with the interpretation and the transmission of the
software," Antoine Perrin told journalists in the eastern French city
of Nancy after a French government report severely criticized staff at
the hospital at Epinal.

On Tuesday, French Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said action would
be taken against individuals as a result of the errors, which occurred
between May 6, 2004, and August 1, 2005, in the treatment of 23 men
suffering from prostate cancer.

The deaths of three of the four patients who passed away were linked
to the error, Bertrand said. According to the government report, the
other 19 patients suffered complications of varying severity as a
result of the overdose.

Toshiba in talks on power plant business in India

TOKYO (AFP) - Japanese giant Toshiba Corp. said Tuesday it was in
talks with India's Larsen and Toubro Ltd. to enter the coal-fired
power plant business in the growing South Asian economy.

The proposed venture would jointly produce and sell equipment for the plants.

"We are in negotiations with L and T to form a joint venture to launch
coal-fired power plant businesses in India," said Toshiba spokeswoman
Hiroko Mochida.

"If concluded, it will be our company's first step to begin such
businesses in the country," Mochida said, adding that further details
of the project are still under negotiations.

The Nikkei business daily said Larsen and Toubro would likely take a
majority stake in the joint venture, which will spend some 20 billion
yen (173 million dollars) to build plants for steam turbines and power

The new venture aims at annual sales of 20 billion yen in five years,
the newspaper said.

Toshiba, best known internationally for its electronics, has been
expanding its power business.

Last year it acquired US nuclear power plant maker Westinghouse for
5.4 billion dollars in one of the biggest Japanese acquisitions
overseas in years.

Rann wants state referendum on nuclear power

The South Australian Premier, Mike Rann, wants a state referendum on
nuclear power if the Federal Government moves to override state bans
on nuclear power plants.

He says the state needs legislation to trigger a referendum because
the Federal Government is promoting the idea of allowing nuclear power
plants to be built in Australia.

Mr Rann says federal laws currently ban nuclear power plants being
built in Australia, and he says state legislation is needed to
reinforce the ban in South Australia.

The Greens say they will introduce legislation in an effort to end any
uncertainty over the possibility of a nuclear power plant being built
in South Australia.

Greens MLC Mark Parnell says the Mr Rann has done a backflip by
announcing he wants a referendum on the issue.

Last week Mr Rann ruled out a nuclear plant ever being built in South
Australia under a Labor Government or while he was Premier.

Mr Parnell says the Premier's choice for a referendum has raised doubt
and uncertainty over his previous pledge.

Duke Energy and Federal Government Reach Agreement on Used Nuclear
Fuel Storage Costs

CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Duke Energy
(Nachrichten) Carolinas and the U.S. Department of Justice have
reached a settlement resolving Duke Energy's used nuclear fuel
litigation against the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). The agreement
provides for an initial payment to Duke Energy of approximately $56
million for certain storage costs incurred through July 31, 2005, with
additional amounts reimbursed annually for future storage costs.

In 1983, Duke Energy entered into a contract with the DOE which
provided for the removal of used fuel from nuclear power reactor sites
beginning in 1998. Because the federal government did not begin used
fuel removal in 1998, Duke Energy has incurred higher used fuel
storage costs at the Duke Energy- operated Oconee, McGuire and Catawba
nuclear stations. Under this settlement, the government will reimburse
Duke Energy for qualifying storage costs from the U.S. Treasury's
Judgment Fund.

"This agreement is an important positive step for our company and the
federal government," said Brew Barron, Duke Energy chief nuclear
officer. "It clarifies specific costs the DOE will pay associated with
the delay in meeting its obligation for used fuel disposal. This
ensures our ratepayers and shareholders do not bear the full financial
burden of these delays."

In the near-term, Duke Energy will continue the safe and secure
storage of used fuel at these nuclear plant sites. As a longer-term
solution, Duke Energy continues to support the government's efforts to
fulfill its obligation to accept used nuclear fuel.

Duke Energy Corp., one of the largest electric power companies in the
United States, supplies and delivers energy to approximately 3.9
million U.S. customers. The company has nearly 37,000 megawatts of
electric generating capacity in the Midwest and the Carolinas, and
natural gas distribution services in Ohio and Kentucky. In addition,
Duke Energy has more than 4,000 megawatts of electric generation in
Latin America, and is a joint-venture partner in a U.S. real estate

Duke Energy's Carolinas operations include nuclear, coal-fired,
natural gas and hydroelectric generation. That diverse fuel mix
provides nearly 21,000 megawatts of safe, reliable and competitively
priced electricity to more than 2.2 million electric customers in a
22,000-square-mile service area of North Carolina and South Carolina.

Nuclear Council Presents Recommendations to DOE

WASHINGTON, March 6 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Industry leaders
representing the American Council on Global Nuclear Competitiveness
met with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel W. Bodman to
discuss a series of recommendations that would restore America as a
leader in nuclear energy design, manufacturing, service and supply.
Companies represented at the meeting included ATK, ConverDyn,
EnergySolutions, General Atomics, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman,
USEC Inc. and Westinghouse.

Council representatives commended DOE and the administration for their
ongoing commitment to nuclear energy and urged them to take steps to
restore the competitive position of the U.S. nuclear design,
manufacturing, service and supply industry.

"As our need for energy will increase, so too does our need for
nuclear power, and the Energy Department has a strong set of nuclear
programs that we believe can create an environment for a nuclear
renaissance," Secretary of Energy Bodman said.

Among the recommendations presented, the Council asked that DOE
seriously consider the health of U.S. industry when deciding how to
allocate funding for nuclear energy programs, notably for the Global
Nuclear Energy Partnership, Nuclear Power 2010 and the Next Generation
Nuclear Plant.

Westinghouse CEO Steve Tritch said, "Under the leadership of President
Bush and Secretary Bodman, DOE has established a strong set of nuclear
energy programs that will help ensure U.S. technological leadership
and growing U.S. employment in this vital field. Today we presented
recommendations to help build upon the strong foundation that has been
built in recent years."

Council representatives stressed that it is essential, for both
national security and economic reasons that a reinvigorated U.S.
industry is able to compete in the global market from the dominant,
preferred-supplier position.

"The commitment to nuclear energy by our nation's leaders highlights
its economic and environmental importance to the U.S. This step in the
right direction has set the stage for near-term plant construction,"
said General Atomics Vice Chairman Linden Blue. "In order to rebuild a
vital, domestic nuclear industry, we encourage DOE to mirror the
Department of Defense's example of stewardship by ensuring that
government procurement decisions benefit American taxpayers and
contribute to the growth of U.S. industry."

The Council recommended that DOE expedite the completion of the loan
guarantee rules for nuclear energy projects and ensure the rules cover
projects beyond new reactors that will restore the domestic nuclear
energy design, manufacturing, service and supply industry.

"The loan guarantee provisions of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 have
served as a catalyst for the construction of new nuclear power plants
in the U.S.," said EnergySolutions CEO Steve Creamer. "By ensuring
these provisions cover other aspects of our domestic nuclear-energy
infrastructure, we can start building new U.S. facilities and creating
new U.S. jobs."

On the international front, the Council supported the administration's
efforts to secure agreements for nuclear energy cooperation with
countries such as Russia and India, but cautioned that these
agreements must not inadvertently undermine the resurrection of the
U.S. nuclear industry.

"Cooperation with other nations is an essential part of our nuclear
energy future," said USEC Inc. CEO John Welch. "However, in
negotiating such agreements, we must remember that the presence of a
vibrant U.S. nuclear energy manufacturing and supply infrastructure is
essential if we are to successfully influence nuclear energy and
nonproliferation policies in other countries."

Formed in 2005, the American Council on Global Nuclear Competitiveness
is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that seeks the return of
American nuclear leadership to the world through the emergence of an
U.S.-led global nuclear enterprise. The Council educates key audiences
on the policies and technologies of an American nuclear renaissance,
and summons public and private sector leadership to organize and
promote such a transformation. For more information, visit

Thorium Power Reaches Major Milestone in Testing of Its Proprietary Nuclear Fuel

Company Announces Successful Test of Scaled Up Nuclear Fuel for
Commercial Reactors

McLEAN, Va., March 6 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Thorium Power Ltd. (OTC
Bulletin Board: THPW - News), the leading developer of low waste, non-
proliferative nuclear fuel technology for existing and future
reactors, today announced the successful completion of
thermal-hydraulic experiments, a key step in the validation process of
its thorium-based nuclear fuel designs. The work was performed at the
thermal-hydraulic facilities of OKBM, the leading nuclear design
bureau in Russia.

The recently completed testing consisted of two experiments simulating
emergency pressure and temperature conditions inside the core of
commercial reactors: The first included a one-meter long complete seed
and blanket assembly compatible with the VVER-1000 reactor design. The
second experiment simulated conditions in Western PWR reactor designs,
and was performed on a one-meter long partial seed fuel assembly
consisting of 25 rods.

Thorium Power's CEO Seth Grae said: "This is a breakthrough result for
Thorium Power. It confirms that our thorium-based fuel designs are
scalable and can meet the pressure and temperature performance
standards for commercial light water reactors. We are on track for the
full scale validation of our fuel in a commercial reactor."

Dr. Andrey Mushakov, Thorium Power's Executive Vice President-
International Nuclear Operations, added: "Over the last three years we
have successfully demonstrated the promise of our fuel designs on a
small-scale basis by fabricating fuel samples for irradiation testing
in the IR-8 research reactor. We have now successfully scaled up our
designs - by more than a factor of three - to fuel rods of a full
meter. The final step will be to increase the scale of the rods to the
size used in commercial reactors - approximately three and a half
meters. Further, while our initial thermal- hydraulic testing involved
separate seed rods and blanket rods, the new tests combined the seed
and blanket bundles in a single fuel assembly - the exact
configuration we will use in full scale commercial VVER-1000 reactors.
Thorium Power's Technical Advisory Board, comprised of nuclear
industry experts with long track records of designing and selling new
fuels and reactors worldwide, met from February 28th to March 2nd and
reviewed these results in the course of developing plans to accelerate
the technology demonstration and commercialization schedule."

Mr. Grae continued: "Going forward, the company will execute fuel
product validation steps leading to demonstration of our fuel
(so-called lead test assemblies, LTAs) in a VVER-1000 nuclear power
plant powering over one million households. These validation steps

     -- Scaling up the fuel fabrication process to full length (10 feet) rods
        used in commercial VVER-1000 reactors
     -- Validating thermal hydraulic performance of full size (10 feet) seed
        and blanket fuel assembly
     -- Completing ampoule irradiation testing and perform post-irradiation
        examination to confirm fuel performance
     -- Obtaining final regulatory approvals for insertion of fuel in
        VVER-1000 commercial reactors."

Next Austrian-Czech border blockade over Temelin on March 14

Linz- Austrian opponents of South Bohemian nuclear power plant Temelin
will organise the next blockade of Austrian-Czech border crossings on
March 14, Manfred Doppler, spokesman for the Upper Austrian group
Atomstopp, told CTK today.

The activists will block four crossings - Wullowitz/Dolni Dvoriste,
Weigetschlag/Studanky, Guglwald/Predni Vyton and Gmund/Ceske Velenice
- from 10:00 to 12:00 next Wednesday.

Originally, the blockade was held every Wednesday. Doppler said that
the Austrian government is discussing possible steps to be taken
against Temelin.

Doppler said that the blockade would take place even if Austria lodged
an international complaint against the Czech Republic over Temelin.

"It is the most important for us that the Czechs implement in the
plant the safety measures we require," he pointed out.

He repeatedly said that according to Atomstopp, the Czech Republic
violated the bilateral Austrian-Czech agreement from Melk by allowing
the full operation of the plant in 2003.

"Border blockades will continue and Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer can
blame only himself for it," Doppler said. The anti-nuclear activists
criticise the Austrian government for its allegedly passive stance on

Atomstopp and the Lower Austrian platform Stopp Temelin said earlier
that possible international diplomatic problems caused by the blockade
were Gusenbauer's fault.

U.S. working to develop new nuke detectors

WASHINGTON Mar 6 - At a busy border crossing, a truck passing through
a radiation scanner sets off an alarm. It could be a nuclear device,
but it's far more likely to be kitty litter, ceramic tile or a load of

The machines, first installed after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist
attacks, measure gamma radiation, but cannot distinguish between low
levels of gamma rays that occur naturally in innocent materials, and
the makings for weapons that terrorists might use.

So the inspectors must pull the truck or container aside for a second
inspection with a hand-held scanner, which, at the nation's busiest
ports or border crossings, can lead to backed-up lines that anger
drivers and slow commerce.

That's the dilemma of protecting the United States from nuclear
terrorism — a trade-off among accuracy, inconvenience and the expense
to taxpayers.

About 600 scanners have been installed at ports and border crossings
around the U.S. Government officials are working with several
companies to develop new nuclear detectors that won't waste time and
that can actually differentiate the potassium in a banana from that in
highly enriched uranium.

Tests being conducted in Nevada this month pit new detectors against
the older ones, to determine whether the higher accuracy claimed by
the makers of the new machines is enough to justify their higher cost
— around $377,000 each, more than six times the cost of the older

Later this spring, the new machines will undergo a real-world test on
the New York waterfront so Customs officers can judge for themselves
if they're an improvement. They're also to be used in similar tests
along roads leading to the city as part of an effort to set up a
protective perimeter starting in 2008.

Some investigators question whether cutting the time wasted by false
alarms might actually increase the deadly possibility of nuclear
material slipping by an inspector.

Last October, the congressional        Government Accountability
Office reported that the new machines, touted as having fewer false
alarms, showed a frightening incidence of "false negatives" — meaning
the scanner either misidentified the material as nonthreatening, or
failed to detect it at all. That danger is particularly high if the
nuclear material is placed beside a nonthreatening substance such as
kitty litter, the report said.

It's no idle worry. Al-Qaida and like-minded terrorists have shown a
desire both to obtain nuclear materials and to produce mass

"Criminals and terrorists can obtain a key component for producing
nuclear weapons and smuggle it undetected through the airports of
countries on high alert against terrorist threats," concluded a report
published in February by the EastWest Institute, a think tank that
studies global security issues.

In a 2006 report, the U.N.        International Atomic Energy Agency
listed 16 confirmed incidents of trafficking in highly enriched
uranium or plutonium globally from 1993 to 2005.

Concerns about terrorists obtaining nuclear material increased
dramatically after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but the Bush
administration's efforts to deal with the issue were scattered across
different agencies.

As early as 2002, the GAO lamented the lack of any government-wide
plan to guide U.S. efforts to combat nuclear smuggling. It said "some
programs were duplicative, and coordination among U.S. agencies was
not effective."

It was not until April 2005 that the Domestic Nuclear Detection Office
was created in the Homeland Security Department to coordinate the
government's development of technology to detect nuclear materials.

Later that year, at the Nevada test site just north of Las Vegas where
the military once tested atomic weapons, the nuclear office began
testing new machines, using sophisticated technology that can
distinguish among different types of radioactive material. The older
machines currently in use at ports and border crossings measure
whether there is an elevated amount of radiation, but cannot identify
its source.

To test the new machines, the nuclear office sent trucks carrying
radiological materials on 7,000 runs down a row of scanners developed
by 10 companies. They chose three finalists whose models are still
under evaluation.

The newer models use crystals that absorb radioactive wavelengths to
suggest what the material is. The operator analyzes the emissions
using the machine's sophisticated software.

"We don't expect this to be 100 percent perfect immediately, but we
will continue to refine it," said Vayl Oxford, head of the nuclear

Oxford will recommend to Homeland Security Secretary        Michael
Chertoff following this month's tests whether the machines should be
certified for use. The agency plans to spend $80 million this year to
buy 104 of the advanced models, and ultimately wants to put them at
380 border sites. Congress has said that can't happen until the
machines are proven effective.

Some critics have raised concerns about both performance and cost of
the new technology. They worry that the crystals are too delicate for
the new devices to be deployed in the real world, where sand or salt
water can interfere with their performance.

In a 2005 report, the GAO said, "Environmental conditions at many
ports, such as the existence of high winds and sea spray, can affect
radiation detection equipment's performance and sustainability."
Oxford has acknowledged that the crystals used by the newer models are
delicate and require more maintenance than the older ones. Also, the
advanced model made by one company requires cool temperatures to
operate effectively.

In its October report, the GAO questioned the nuclear office's
decisions about moving forward with the new models and concluded the
agency did not justify its initial $1.2 billion contract with the
three companies for their prototypes. And to judge the costs and
benefits of the newer models, the agency relied on assumptions about
the new machines' anticipated performance rather than considering
actual test results, the GAO said.

The report said the new scanners could not meet the nuclear office's
standard of correctly identifying highly enriched uranium 95 percent
of the time. Rather, the three finalists could recognize the uranium
only 70 percent to 88 percent of the time, and could identify uranium
masked by another substance such as kitty litter just 17 percent to 53
percent of the time.

Oxford acknowledged that "some misunderstandings and/or disagreements
remain" between his office and GAO, but promised that the testing this
month in Nevada and later in New York would support the validity of
his assumptions. He said he stood behind the basic conclusion that the
new program is a "sound investment" for the government.

Gamma Ray Blast May Help Huntington's Disease Therapy

A powerful gamma ray source built to help the U.S. Army calibrate
radiation safety equipment might also help scientists decipher a
debilitating disease. UAH researchers are searching for clues that
might lead to new therapies for Huntington's disease.

Newswise — A powerful gamma ray source built to help the U.S. Army
calibrate radiation safety equipment might also help scientists
decipher a debilitating disease.

UAH students and faculty are working with the Army's Primary Standards
Laboratory at Redstone Arsenal and several tiny worms (who didn't
always glow in the dark) to search for clues that might lead to new
therapies for Huntington's disease.

"This line of research is definitely worth pursuing," said Dr. Lynn
Boyd, an associate professor of biology at UAH. "It's still too early
to say whether anything therapeutic might come from this, but it is …

Using generations of tiny C. elegans nematode worms descended from
ancestors who were genetically tagged in the Army's gamma ray chamber,
Boyd and her student assistants are trying to learn what effects
different enzymes have on clumps of amino acids associated with
Huntington's disease.

It isn't known whether these aggregates of polyglutamine are good or
bad. Although the clumps are large compared to the cells —
proportionally, they can take up as much space in a cell as a
seven-inch tumor in an average man — some scientists believe they
might be a cell's way of taking bad amino acids out of circulation by
collecting them in one place.

Good or bad, the UAH team has found some enzymes that make the clumps
bigger and some that make them smaller.

They study the enzymes, which are found naturally in the clumps, by
tagging the worm's chromosomes with proteins or enzymes attached to
glowing proteins (which are harvested from jellyfish and other
fluorescent beasties). They inject the dye-tagged genetic material
into the worms before they are zapped by powerful radiation.

At just the right level of radiation, the DNA strands in the worms'
unfertilized eggs snap and the dye-tagged material slips into the
chromosomes while the worm isn't looking. The glowing protein is then
reproduced in the worm's offspring. If the target material
concentrates in clumps it creates glowing spots, giving the UAH
researchers a tool for tracking what happens when specific enzymes are

In a recent trip to the Army's radiation lab, the UAH team hoped to
tag individual strains of worms for seven specific enzymes.

"One of the best things about the Army lab is that they are so
meticulous," said Boyd. "We always get exactly the right dose of
radiation, which might be why we've had a one hundred percent success
rate so far."

Boyd and her team think they might have had another successful zapping
in February, although they can't be sure until they see the
great-grand eggs of the worms that were irradiated. That should happen
any time now, since C. elegans goes from hatching to parenthood in
about three days.

"It's always interesting when Lynn brings her worms out," said Steve
Rogers, a senior physicist in the Wynn center's nucleonics lab. "We
appreciate the opportunity to contribute to a research project like
this one."

Using human cells grown in a culture, Boyd found that suppressing the
human enzymes that corresponded to the worm enzymes had the same
effects on polyglutamine aggregates. Now she is talking to colleagues
at The University of Alabama at Birmingham about taking this research
to the next level.

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
Tel: (949) 419-1000 Extension 2306
Fax:(949) 296-1144

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

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