Sandy Perle sandyfl at cox.net
Wed May 30 13:15:36 CDT 2007


Fire closes UK nuclear power station 
Nuclear Plant Guards Returning to Work
Government to sell nuclear shares 
Safety System Fails at Brown Ferry Nuclear Plant
Laser fusion - the safe, clean way to produce nuclear energy
China´s focus on uranium may be lucrative, but draws worry
British Energy eyes nuclear future


HELSINKI, May 30, 2007 (AFP) - Greenpeace activists were perched atop 
a crane at the building site of Finland's fifth nuclear reactor for 
the third straight day Wednesday to protest against security 
"breaches", the group said.
    Greenpeace demanded that a list compiled by the Finnish Radiation 
and Nuclear Safety Authority containing "1,500 quality breaches" 
since 2005 be made public.
    The world's first third-generation European Pressurized Reactor 
(EPR) is being built in Olkiluoto on the west coast of Finland.
    The plant will be operated by Teollisuuden Voima Oy (TVO), a 
private electricity generation company owned by Finnish industrial 
and power companies and is being built by the French-German EPR 
consortium Framatome ANP - Siemens.
    Greenpeace has also demanded that French nuclear group Areva and 
German Siemens refund public subsidies from the French and German 
    "If these demands are fulfilled we will climb down. We have 
enough supplies to stay up here for days," Lauri Myllyvirta told AFP 
by telephone from the tower crane which he climbed together with 
three other activists early Monday morning.
    "We are not cold, we are well equipped," he added.
    A video broadcast on the Greenpeace website showed the activist 
wearing a hard hat perched on the crane some 70 metres (230 feet) in 
the air overhanging the reactor.
    TVO management has met with Greenpeace representatives, but 
according to spokesperson Anneli Nikula "they have not reached a 
common understanding."
    The company denied having received public subsidies.
    "They are saying that TVO has gotten some support from the state, 
which is false. We are a totally private company," Nikula said.
    The Olkiluoto power plant in Finland will be the first EPR 
reactor built. It was initially scheduled to open in mid-2009 after 
four years of work but is now set be fully operational in 2011 at the 
    According to Nikula, "out of 1,500 deviations, 60 percent have 
already been fixed."
    For security reasons local police have decided not to attempt to 
remove the activists. They will however be arrested once they descend 
and face a heavy fine for disturbing public order.

Fire closes UK nuclear power station  

Oldbury Power Station is to close by 2008 A fire at a nuclear power 
station has caused it to be shut down indefinitely. A generator at 
the Oldbury installation in South Gloucestershire overheated and 
caught fire on Wednesday, a spokesman for British Nuclear Group said.

No-one was injured in the blaze which was on the non-nuclear side of 
the plant, but the reactor has been shut for the foreseeable future, 
he said. 

About 12 fire engines were sent to the fire. Oldbury is due to stop 
generating electricity at the end of 2008. 

'Standard procedure' 

The blaze was put out by a sprinkler system in the building minutes 
after it ignited. 

Dan Gould, spokesman for British Nuclear Group, said: "The fire took 
place at around 9.40am this morning. 

"The fire was in the non-nuclear part of the plant, there were no 
injuries and no release of radioactivity. 

"However the reactor was shut down, which is accordance with standard 

The fire is believed to have started accidentally.

Nuclear Plant Guards Returning to Work

AMARILLO, Texas (AP) -- Some of the striking Pantex security guards 
returned to work Wednesday at the nation's only nuclear weapons 
assembly and disassembly facility after ratifying a new five-year 
The Pantex Guard Union went on strike April 16 on issues including 
seniority, wages and the cost of health insurance. The 537-member 
group rejected two proposals before accepting Tuesday's offer.

Pantex has started a transition plan for returning all the guards to 
their duties, officials said in a news release.

Guards from other federal weapons facilities and nonunion guards from 
the 16,000-acre Panhandle plant filled in during the six-week strike, 
Pantex officials said.

Government to sell nuclear shares  
British Energy has had problems with its Hinkley power plant recently 

The government is to sell more of its stake in nuclear energy firm 
British Energy, to fund the cost of shutting down nuclear power 
The sale of 400 million shares will cut the government's stake from 
64% to 39%. 

The aim is to make the Nuclear Liabilities Fund, intended to cover 
nuclear clean-up costs, less reliant on British Energy shares. 

The news came as the firm announced a 44% rise in underlying annual 
profits to £1.22bn, buoyed by rising prices. 

The government first announced its plans to reduce its stake in the 
UK's biggest energy producer in the 2006 Budget. 

The latest sale - to financial institutions - is to take place 


Despite the rise in profits, British Energy said that problems at two 
of its power plants had continued to disrupt its electricity 
production levels. 

Hunterston B, Ayrshire
Torness, East Lothian
Heysham 1 and 2, Lancashire
Hinkley Point B, Somerset
Dungeness B, Kent
Sizewell B, Suffolk

The firm warned last year that it had discovered cracked pipes in 
nuclear plants at Hinkley Point in Somerset and Hunterston in 

Both sites shut as a result of the problems, and were only given the 
go-ahead to restart the plants at the start of this month. 

As a result of the closures, energy output fell to 58.4 terawatt 
hours (TWh) from 68.4 TWh a year earlier. 

But during the period, power prices jumped to record levels as a 
result of the rising cost of natural gas, allowing British Energy to 
fix sales at higher levels. 

As a result, fixed contract prices rose to £44.20 per megawatt hour 
(MWh) compared with £32 in the previous year. 

British Energy - which generates around one-sixth of the country's 
energy needs - owns eight nuclear power stations and one coal-fired 
station in Eggborough, East Yorkshire and employs about 6,000 staff. 

However, the update and news of the government's stake sale failed to 
impress investors.

Safety System Fails at Brown Ferry Nuclear Plant

A safety system failed when tested at the newly restarted Unit 1 
reactor of the T-V-A's Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in north Alabama. 

The T-V-A says a problem early Monday that prevented the cooling 
system from getting enough steam is being checked to determine the 
cause. The reactor will be shut down if the system isn't operable 
within 14 days. 

Last Thursday, the reactor was shut down after a leaky pipe burst and 
spilled about 600 gallons of non-radioactive fluid inside a building 
housing power-generating turbines. It later was restarted. 

Officials with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the spill 
didn't pose a safety threat and the test failure Monday also wasn't 
considered a safety problem.
Laser fusion - the safe, clean way to produce nuclear energy

A multinational project led by British researchers aims to use a high-
power laser to reproduce the physical reaction that occurs at the 
heart of the sun and every other star in the universe - nuclear 
fusion. If the project succeeds it has the potential to solve the 
world energy crisis without destroying the environment.
The scientists admit that a commercial reactor is a long way off, but 
they believe the laser approach to producing fusion shows great 
promise. The EU is considering a proposal to fund the set-up costs 
for a seven-year research project called HiPER - high powered laser 
energy research - that would build a working demonstration reactor. 
Preparing for the seven-year project alone, which is a collaboration 
of 11 nations, is expected to cost over EUR50m (£34m). Actually 
building the reactor itself will cost over half a billion euros.

The British-led project, which has been earmarked by the EU as a 
priority, is designed to leapfrog an American-funded project called 
the National Ignition Facility (Nif) in Livermore, California. When 
that is built in 2010, physicists are confident that the Nif laser 
will be powerful enough to start a fusion reaction. Experiments in 
the Nevada desert in the 1980s with underground explosions of nuclear 
weapons have already shown how much energy they will need to deliver 
with the laser.
Mike Dunne, director of the Central Laser Facility at a publicly 
funded research site in Oxfordshire that houses Vulcan, the most 
powerful laser in the world, said: "The world is going to take notice 
when this happens. Politicians are going to look around and say, 'So 
what are you going to do about it? What's the next step?'. This is 
how to take it from a scientific demonstration to a commercial 

Prof Dunne said that many of the details of the nuclear tests were 
still classified, "but the only thing that matters to us as a bunch 
of energy scientists is that it does work. The trick now is, can we 
get it to work without throwing a nuclear bomb at the thing?" That is 
what Nif is designed to do.

Achieving fusion on Earth in a way that will release useable energy 
has long been an aspiration of physicists.

The idea is to fuse two atoms of hydrogen to form helium. The 
reaction that powers the sun releases large amounts of energy because 
it turns Einstein's famous E=mc² equation on its head. A small amount 
of mass is lost when the hydrogen atoms combine, in the process 
releasing vast quantities of energy.

Unlike nuclear fission, only low-level radioactive material, no more 
dangerous than hospital waste, is left over afterwards. And best of 
all, a runaway chain reaction like the one that caused the Chernobyl 
meltdown is simply impossible. The fusion dream is already being 
pursued by a EUR10bn project called Iter - international thermonuclear 
experimental reactor - which is being built in Cadarache, France. 
This project aims to use powerful magnets to fuse the hydrogen atoms. 
But many in the laser research community see their approach of 
bombarding hydrogen with a high energy laser as the more promising 

"The beauty of the laser approach is that you can divide and 
conquer," said Prof Dunne. There are formidable engineering 
challenges in building a high enough power laser, increasing its 
firing rate and designing the millimetre sized fuel pellets, but 
these can all be pursued in parallel, he said.

Others are more sceptical about the laser approach. Duarte Borba, who 
works at Jet, an experimental magnetic fusion reactor, said achieving 
ignition was not the be-all and end-all. "There is a long process 
still ahead before you can actually build a reactor based on laser 
fusion," he said.

Benefits and snags

Nuclear fusion
Process in which two isotopes of hydrogen - deuterium and tritium - 
are combined to produce helium, a neutron and huge amounts of energy.

Deuterium or heavy hydrogen
Conventional hydrogen is made up of a proton nucleus with an electron 
spinning around it. The nucleus of a heavy hydrogen atom contains a 
proton and a neutron.

Tritium or super-heavy hydrogen
Its nucleus contain a proton and two neutrons. It is moderately 
radioactive and can be manufactured from the metal lithium.

Environmental benefits
Nuclear fusion does create some low-level radioactive waste, but 
nothing more dangerous than you would find in a hospital. The 
reaction does not produce carbon dioxide so it will not contribute to 
the greenhouse effect and a Chernobyl-style meltdown is impossible.

The biggest challenge will be to build a powerful enough laser that 
can fire rapidly enough. The world's most powerful lasers need 
several minutes to reset for a second shot. A laser fusion reactor 
will need to fire several times a second. Scientists will also need 
to develop materials durable enough for the laser bombardment.

China´s focus on uranium may be lucrative, but draws worry

YUMEN, China - Not far from the old Silk Road, Chinese government 
scientists have begun boring holes deep into granite in the first 
steps toward building what could become the world´s largest tomb for 
nuclear waste.

As governments worldwide look at nuclear power as a possible answer 
to global warming, China has embarked on a nuclear-plant construction 
binge that eventually could exceed the one the United States 
undertook during the technology´s heyday in the 1960s.

Under plans already announced, China intends to spend $50 billion to 
build 32 nuclear plants by 2020. Some analysts say the country will 
build 300 more by the middle of the century. That´s not much less 
than the generating power of all the nuclear plants in the world 

By that point, the Chinese economy is expected to be the world´s 
largest, and the idea that it may get most of its electricity from 
nuclear fission is being met with both optimism and concern. Nuclear 
power plants, unlike those that run on fossil fuels, release few 
greenhouse gases. But they produce waste that can be dangerously 
radioactive for thousands of years.

China´s plans already have been felt in world markets. Chinese 
Premier Wen Jiabao has been traveling the world to secure contracts 
for the uranium needed to power nuclear reactors, striking deals 
recently with Australia and Niger. Higher worldwide demand and a fear 
of future shortages have driven the price of processed uranium ore 
from $10 a pound in 2003 to $120 this month.

A big reason Toshiba of Japan spent $5.4 billion last year to acquire 
Westinghouse Electric of Pennsylvania is expectations that China will 
buy into the company´s nuclear technology in a big way over the next 
20 to 30 years.

Even by the standards of China, where economic growth has been 
running at blistering double-digit-percentage rates for four years, 
the nuclear plans are ambitious. The country derives only 2.3 percent 
of its electricity from nuclear power, compared with about 20 percent 
in the United States and nearly 80 percent in France. Nine countries 
get 40 percent or more of their electricity from nuclear power, but 
worldwide, it supplies only 17 percent of the total.

To satisfy exploding demand for electricity, Chinese local 
governments and entrepreneurs have for years been throwing up 
rattletrap coal-fired power plants. They are so inefficient and dirty 
- spewing greenhouse gases, soot and toxins including mercury into 
the air - that the central government has been trying to slow 
construction of new ones, with limited success.

"Our irrational energy structure is causing serious pollution and 
greenhouse problems," said Gu Zhongmao, a professor at the China 
Institute of Atomic Energy, a government-affiliated research center. 
The situation provoked years of internal debate about nuclear power 
as an answer, he said, before the country´s leaders finally came to a 

In the Chinese context, he said, "nuclear power is regarded as a 
clean energy."

Yet environmental advocacy groups and outside safety experts are less 
than sanguine about the idea of hundreds of new nuclear plants being 
constructed by a secretive Communist government. The Chinese 
government has a poor public-safety record on issues far simpler than 
nuclear power, such as food and drug purity.

Another communist state, the Soviet Union, seized on nuclear power in 
the 1970s and ´80s as an answer to its energy problems, putting up 
about a dozen poorly designed plants. That culminated in the 
Chernobyl disaster of 1986, which spread radiation across Europe in 
the world´s worst nuclear accident.

"The safety issue is simply not something the Chinese government can 
afford to overlook," said Ailun Yang, climate and energy campaign 
manager for Greenpeace China. "The situation in China is that there 
will be huge populations around. What will happen if there is a 
Chernobyl in China?"

The Chinese government has emphasized a commitment to safety and is 
relying heavily on Western contractors, such as Westinghouse, to 
teach its engineers to build and operate plants.

China has nine working nuclear power plants, most on the coast. Two 
other plants were recently completed and will be hooked up to the 
electricity grid later this year. Dozens more are in the planning 

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology report said China may have to 
add as many as 200 nuclear power plants by 2050 to meet its needs. 
Academics from China´s leading technical university, Tsinghua 
University, said the country might need more, equivalent to the 
output of 300 plants.

In comparison, the United States has just more than 100 operating 
nuclear plants. Nuclear power has effectively been on hold in the 
United States since the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island in 
Pennsylvania, but, with encouragement from the Bush administration, 
companies are thinking about ordering new plants.

Leon Reiter, a former member of a U.S. nuclear waste panel, said 
countries are converging on the same conclusion as the world´s supply 
of energy resources, such as coal and oil, grow scarcer and costlier.

"It is hard to imagine any way for us to come up with the energy we 
need without nuclear power," Reiter said.

China is talking about addressing the safety issue with a cookie-
cutter plant of its own design that would be built in dozens of 
places. As in the United States, engineers in China want to build a 
plant whose fuel core cannot melt down and release radioactivity into 
the environment. Groundbreaking for an experimental $416 million 
Chinese plant is scheduled for 2009.

Even if the safety issue in China is solved, the country will 
confront a problem that has bedeviled nuclear power everywhere: what 
to do with the radioactive waste.

In a conventional power plant, fossil fuels that have been trapped 
underground for millions of years are burned, generating heat that 
can be used to run electricity-generating turbines. The burning 
releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Scientists have 
concluded that the gas, by trapping extra heat from the sun, is 
warming the Earth and is likely to create severe environmental 

Nuclear plants generate heat by splitting atoms of uranium. They give 
off no greenhouse gases, but as the nuclear reaction proceeds, the 
uranium is transformed into other elements, some of which remain 
radioactive for many centuries.

As a rule, the spent fuel is stored temporarily in water-filled tanks 
near nuclear plants. In democratic countries, the question of final 
disposal has provoked huge, seemingly endless fights, including one 
in the United States over whether to dispose of the spent fuel at an 
underground site at Yucca Mountain in Nevada.

British Energy eyes nuclear future

British Energy said that it remains on course to find partners to 
help build Britain's new nuclear power stations.

The company, which is the UK's biggest electricity generator, has 
begun looking for partners in new nuclear projects - from utilities, 
suppliers, customers and financial investors and hopes to cement one 
new partnership in "due course".

The news comes a week after the Government published its long-awaited 
White Paper on energy, which companies and environmentalists have 20 
weeks to put forward their views on.

With the North Sea's oil and gas reserves running out and pressure 
rising to cut carbon dioxode emissions, most industry experts expect 
nuclear power to be a key part of the strategy.

British Energy claims it currently makes the single largest 
contribution to the UK's targets for reducing carbon dioxide 
emissions, and the carbon footprint of its nuclear plants is 
"insignificant" compared to other forms of baseload generation, and 
comparable to that of wind power.

The news came as British Energy released full-year results that 
showed a rise in pre-tax profits to £796m, from £599m the previous 
year, in the year to end of March, driven by buoyant electricity 
prices. It reported a 16pc growth in revenues at £3bn.

The group plans to pay a dividend of 13.6p per share, the company 
first dividend since re-listing.

British Energy may be well placed in nuclear generation, but it 
admitted this year's nuclear output was "disappointing."

Bill Coley, chief executive, said: "Technical issues at a number of 
our stations had a significant adverse impact on nuclear output.

"This year has presented us with many challenges, two of which, the 
boilers at Hinkley Point B and Hunterson B and the cooling water 
system at Hartlepool, resulted in significant outages."

Sandy Perle
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 cox.net 

Global Dosimetry Website: http://www.dosimetry.com/ 

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