[ RadSafe ] Nuclear News - Uganda: Country Turns to Nuclear Power Plants

Perle, Sandy sperle at mirion.com
Mon Apr 21 11:40:47 CDT 2008


Uganda: Country Turns to Nuclear Power Plants
Enel to build a nuclear power plant in Italy to tap into nuclear revival - CEO
Report: Russia Shuts Down Nuclear Reactor Producing Weapons-Grade Plutonium
Czech govt agreement condition halting nuclear power construction could change
RWE mulls withdrawal from Belene nuclear power plant - Die Welt
U.A.E. Pursues Nuclear Energy as Power Demand Soars (Update1)
Bulgaria wants doubled compensation for closing nuclear plant units
Questioning nuclear power's ability to forestall global warming
Palisades nuclear plant watchdogs warn about earthquake risks
Suddenly, A Rush for Nuclear Applications

Uganda: Country Turns to Nuclear Power Plants

The East African (Nairobi) Apr 22 - Hamstrung by unpredictable climatic changes that have reduced the water levels in Lake Victoria and the amount of hydroelectricity generated by dams along the River Nile, the Ugandan government is turning to the more predictable nuclear power.

The country's Energy and Mineral Development Minister, Daudi Migereko, estimates that Uganda will be in a position to generate nuclear energy from its uranium deposits within the next 10 to 15 years.

Said Mr Migereko: "With the ever increasing demand, it is envisaged that nuclear power will play an increasing role in the future energy supply. Uganda has significant uranium reserves that can be exploited and used for power generation."

The Ugandan government has been battling a power crisis since the late 1990s caused by a combination of low investment in the energy sector and low hydropower generation caused by falling water levels in Lake Victoria, which feeds the country's two hydropower dams in Jinja on the Nile.

Power output at the hydropower complex in Jinja has fallen from an installed capacity of 380 Megawatts to around 135MW, forcing the country to resort to diesel-guzzling emergency thermal power plants that produce 100MW.

The power shortage has knocked about a percentage point off the gross domestic product projections and forced the government to set up an Energy Fund of Ush99 billion ($56.5 million) in the financial year 2006/07, of which Ush70 billion ($40 million) is going to pay for the thermal power plants.

In 2007/08, more than Ush45 billion ($25.7 million) was added to the Energy Fund.

End-user power prices have also risen by about 70 per cent due to the shortage.

A new 250MW hydropower dam is currently under construction at Bujagali on the Nile, with at least two other dams expected over the next decade to meet future demand.

However, government officials believe a nuclear power plant could give some insulation against inclement weather like drought, which affects hydropower generation, while exploiting the available uranium resources.

Although nuclear power is a controversial option due to the dangers of meltdown and the challenge of disposing of nuclear waste, improvements in technology and reductions in the cost over more than half a century have brought it back to the table of options for many countries.

It is also gaining renewed currency because it leaves a smaller carbon footprint and is, therefore, a relatively cleaner fuel.

The hydropower and other renewable energy resources potential in Uganda is estimated at about 5300MW, about half the projected demand if each of the five million households in Uganda were to be connected to the electricity grid - and that is without including demand by heavy industry and institutions.

"Energy security means fulfilling the energy needs of all the people, including the 90 per cent of our citizens who have no access to electricity," said Permanent Secretary in the Energy Ministry Fredrick Kabagambe-Kaliisa. "Diversification of energy sources is necessary."

The Ugandan government has already drafted the legal framework under which its nuclear programme will operate. An Atomic Energy Bill is currently being scrutinised by parliament with a view to having it enacted before June to pave the way for the flow of technical assistance from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

"The lack of an effective legal and regulatory infrastructure has made it difficult for IAEA to give us technical support," Mr Migereko said. The IAEA is the world's focal point for mobilising peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology for critical needs in developing countries.

The agency also focuses on the use of nuclear and isotopic techniques to address the daunting challenges of disease, poverty, hunger and shortages of drinking water.

The EastAfrican has learnt that the government will also enact laws to govern the mining and processing of its uranium deposits for energy production. According to a former IAEA consultant, Dr Abel Rwendeire, Uganda cannot mine its uranium resources until the country has a comprehensive law in place that institutes the required safeguards.

"The Atomic Energy Bill, once passed, will only enable the country to mine and export uranium in its raw form," Dr Rwendeire told Members of Parliament during a recent sensitisation meeting. "To generate energy out of it, government will have to adopt various other legislation because of the complexity and sophisticated technology involved."

Another anticipated challenge to Uganda's nascent nuclear power programme is the lack of skilled manpower in the sector, with less than a dozen personnel available to roll out the project.

"We have a long-term plan of nuclear energy production but presently, we have only about 10 experts with nuclear skills," Dr Akisophel Kisolo, chief radiation safety officer in the Ministry of Energy, told The EastAfrican recently.

He said the government could end up sourcing expertise outside the country or training its own personnel. But even then, he warned, it is expensive to hire such skilled labour.

Uganda has lagged behind Kenya and Tanzania in the creation of a nuclear legal framework; the two countries have had atomic commissions for years.

A nuclear power plant in Uganda would also help regularise the illicit uranium smuggling trade out of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Tanzania and Angola.

Dr Kisolo also said Uganda is expediting the atomic energy legislation to create a mechanism for preventing leakage in the regional oil pipeline to be constructed from Eldoret, Kenya, to Kigali through Kampala. He said atomic energy will be used to test and establish leaking spots on the pipeline.

Atomic energy is a highly concentrated form of energy. The energy released is carried off as kinetic energy of emitted particles and is eventually transformed into other forms, mainly heat.

It is also used in the treatment of cancer patients, diagnostic procedures including organ scans, crop improvement through integrated nutrient management, level gauging in soft-drinks firms and assessing geothermal resources like those in Katwe and Kibiro in the Western Rift Valley.

Several African nations, including Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Namibia and Nigeria, are seriously considering nuclear power as an alternative to hydropower.

With only two nuclear power reactors on the entire continent, both located at Koeberg in South Africa, nuclear power constitutes only a fraction of Africa's energy mix.

Still, South Africa accounts for 60 per cent of all of Africa's energy production.

The search for cleaner energy sources such as nuclear is also motivated by widespread concern that Africa is more vulnerable than other regions to climate change.

Africa maintains 18 per cent of the world's known recoverable uranium resources. Most operational mines are located in Niger, Congo, Namibia and South Africa. Prospecting and other preproduction work is being performed in Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon, Guinea, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Enel to build a nuclear power plant in Italy to tap into nuclear revival - CEO	

FRANKFURT (Thomson Financial) - Enel SpA. plans to build a nuclear power plant in Italy to take advantage of a possible legislative shift in Italy making nuclear power production legal, Financial Times Deutschland reported, citing chief executive Fulvio Conti.

'We are capable of presenting such a project,' Conti told the newspaper.

'It would take seven to 10 years until a new nuclear power plant could come online.'

Italy banned the use of nuclear energy in Italy in 1987, but Silvio Berlusconi, the head of a right-wing coalition that earlier this month won general elections, advocates the reintroduction of nuclear power and believes it could take five years to build a power plant.

Some 65 percent of Italy's electricity is currently generated from natural gas, and 20 percent is covered by imported power. Conti said Enel could help 'lower this dependence'.

'The revival of interest in nuclear energy gives us another important opportunity to remove the infrastructure deficit and to reduce the cost of energy,' he said.

Conti said it is not yet clear where a new nuclear power plant could be built, as Italy is a 'small, densely populated country'.

'We do not have a preferred location,' he said.

'And it would be dangerous to name possible sites now anyway, that would lead to a revolution.'

Conti also said Enel is currently not planning major acquisitions to boost growth.

The company is not interested in bidding for British Energy, which is up for sale, as it aims to concentrate on continental Europe, he said.

Report: Russia Shuts Down Nuclear Reactor Producing Weapons-Grade Plutonium

MOSCOW, Russia -  Russia closed down a plutonium producing reactor Sunday, marking a major milestone in U.S. nuclear nonproliferation efforts, a Russian news agency reported.

The U.S. and Russia have been working for years on arrangements to close Russia's three remaining weapons-grade plutonium producing reactors.

A second reactor, also in the Siberian town of Seversk, is expected to be shut down in June, the ITAR-TASS news agency quoted a Siberian Chemicals Plant official as saying.

The reactor closed Sunday was temporarily deactivated in an unscheduled incident earlier this month.

Plant officials, who were not immediately available Sunday to confirm the report, have said the stoppage was caused by a power failure and that no leaks had been detected. Russian Federal Atomic Energy Agency officials also could not be reached for comment.

The third reactor, in the central Siberian town of Zheleznogorsk, is expected to be shuttered at the end of next year.

Closing the reactors has been a major U.S. nonproliferation goal. But the reactors provide electricity and heat to the nearby towns, and the Russians have been reluctant to shut them down before two fossil fuel plants are built.

An agreement was reached in March 2003 between the U.S. and Russia on Western access to Seversk and Zheleznogorsk. Washington committed US$926 million (euro586.4 million) to help build the fossil plants, with the one at Seversk almost completed.

The project to shut down ADE-4 was implemented by U.S. firm Washington Group International together with Russian contracting firm Rosatomstroi.

Seversk, formerly known as Tomsk-7, is among 10 cities that once were at the heart of the Soviet Union's nuclear weapons production complex.

The reactors were built in secret in the 1960s in the Soviet Union's race to challenge with the U.S. monopoly on nuclear weaponry. The government stopped buying plutonium from the site in 1993, however.

The design of the Seversk reactor was similar to the Chernobyl reactor involved in the 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine. But unlike U.S. reactors, it did not have concrete containment domes to hold in radiation in case of an accident or major leak.

The U.S. has already closed all 14 of its plutonium reactors.

Czech govt agreement condition halting nuclear power construction could change
PRAGUE (Thomson Financial) - An agreement between the Czech government's coalition parties halting the development of new nuclear power stations could soon be changed, the country's industry minister was cited as saying.

'The space for discussion and for a possible change (to the agreement) is here,' Martin Riman was quoted as saying in an interview with daily E15.

Riman added it cold be 'only a question of time when a change is reached, and I would not say it will last a long time.'

The current government, which includes the Green Party and is expected to govern until 2010, said in its coalition agreement last year that it had no plans to build further nuclear capacity.

Nuclear power comprises about one-third of the output of CEZ, the country's dominant power producer, which has looked into building new units at its Temelin nuclear power plant.

CEZ has said it will expand current nuclear power generation by 6-7 terrawatt hours (TWh) to a total of 31 TWh by 2012 as it faces up to environmental issues with its coal-fired plants.

RWE mulls withdrawal from Belene nuclear power plant - Die Welt

German energy giant RWE is considering withdrawal from the race to buy 49 per cent in the company that will build Bulgaria's second nuclear power plant at Belene, German newspaper Die Welt reported on April 20.

The newspaper quoted company sources as saying on April 18 that RWE would re-align the investments earmarked for buying the minority stake in the nuclear power plant to the acquisition of British Energy.

The shift in the energy strategy was reported to have been put up at a meeting of the supervisory board of the company over project safety concerns and doubts regarding the Russian technology, regardless of the fact that it has gained the approval of the European Commission.

Furthermore, German banks have reportedly given up on plans to finance the project because of environmental concerns and the technology's potential threat. If RWE pulls out, this will be the second company after Electricite de France to withdraw from the tender.

RWE and Belgian Electrabel were shortlisted by project manager - the National Electricity Company (NEC) - as the finalists in the tender to pick the buyer of 49 per cent of the company that will operate the nuclear power plant. The operator is yet to be set up.

Sources close to the deal named RWE as the favourite because it offered to immediately invest 400 million euro and give a substantial premium for RWE's preferred status. Currently, NEC is finalising negotiations with RWE and Electrabel, but runners-up are Germany's E.ON, Italy's Enel and the Czech CEZ.

Bulgaria wants the 2000-MW plant in the Danube town of Belene to make the country a major electricity exporter in the Balkans again after it was forced to shut communist-era reactors as a condition of joining the European Union in January 2007.

Nuclear energy accounts for one third of the country's power needs and the local Government is among the EU countries, which believe nuclear energy is part of the solution to climate change, as proponents say atomic power emits almost no greenhouse gas emissions.

NEC would retain 51 per cent of Belene,which would be built by Russia's Atomstroiexport, controlled by gas company Gazprom, with France's Areva and Germany's Siemens as subcontractors. The construction costs have been set at four billion euro, but the total outlay on the project is expected to be closer to seven billion euro.

U.A.E. Pursues Nuclear Energy as Power Demand Soars (Update1)

April 20 (Bloomberg) -- The United Arab Emirates, holder of almost 10 percent of the world's oil reserves, plans to pursue a peaceful nuclear energy program to offset a shortage in natural gas supply amid growing demand for electricity.

The U.A.E. considers nuclear energy a cheaper alternative to oil in generating electricity and expects demand for power to triple to 41,000 megawatts by 2020, Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan said in a speech, a copy of which was received by Bloomberg in advance. ``Nuclear energy represents a commercially competitive option, particularly in light of projected future shortages of natural gas.''

Power demand in the U.A.E. is surging as it uses record oil revenue to develop new industries and infrastructure. Abu Dhabi, the biggest of the U.A.E.'s seven emirates, will need to build additional power capacity this year to avoid a blackout in 2012, according to a study published last month by the Abu Dhabi Electricity & Water Co.

Abu Dhabi started importing natural gas from Qatar this year because its own deposits are too high in sulpher, making it too costly to process for power plants. U.A.E. power demand is rising 9 percent a year on an oil-fueled economic boom, Moody's Investors Service has reported.

The six Gulf Cooperation Council states, which include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar, asked the International Atomic Energy Agency last year to prepare a study on the viability of nuclear power for their region.


The U.A.E. is a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and would have to negotiate with the IAEA once it makes a firm decision to start using nuclear power.

``There is a shift in the Gulf region when it comes to nuclear power generation, with sky rocketing energy demand and high prices,'' Eckart Woertz, an analyst with the Gulf Research Center, said in a telephone interview today. ``Gas is in short supply, and demand projections are high, hence the interest in alternative energies like nuclear, coal and solar.''

The U.A.E.'s pursuit of nuclear power would be the second program of its kind in the Persian Gulf after Iran, which is currently building its first reactor.

The UN Security Council voted on March 3 to tighten trade, travel and financial sanctions against Iran for the country's refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. It was the third resolution imposing UN sanctions on Iran, all of which the government in Tehran has rejected.

Bulgaria wants doubled compensation for closing nuclear plant units

SOFIA, April 20 (Xinhua) -- Bulgaria has started negotiations with the European Commission for increasing the compensations for shutting down units 3 and 4 of Kozloduy nuclear power plant, local press reported Sunday citing Energy Minister Peter Dimitrov.

Dimitrov said that at the opening of a National Info Day of the Intelligent Energy Europe 2008 Program. Dimitrov argued that Bulgaria hopes the sum will be doubled.

The two units were definitively shut down in preparation for early decommissioning on Dec. 31, 2006.

The EU is due to pay Sofia 550 million euros (one euro=1.58 U.S. dollars) until 2009 to make up for the early closure of the reactors and encourage economy in the use of energy. A total of 350 million euros has already been absorbed.

A year ago former Energy Minister Rumen Ovcharov declared Bulgaria will follow the example of other member states, and will set the sum at about one billion euro.

Experts, however, say the plant has been stripped of production capacity worth three to four billion euros.

Questioning nuclear power's ability to forestall global warming

Rising energy and environmental costs may prevent nuclear power from being a sustainable alternative energy source in the fight against global warming, according to a study in the 1 April issue of ACS' Environmental Science and Technology, a semi-monthly journal.

In the article, Gavin M. Mudd and Mark Diesendorf investigate the 'eco-efficiency' of mining and milling uranium for use as fuel in nuclear power plants. Advocates of nuclear power claim it has the potential to mitigate global warming. Detractors, however, link it to dangers such as proliferation of nuclear weapons and problems such as permanent disposal of nuclear waste.

The study points out that supplies of high-grade uranium ore are declining, which may boost nuclear fuel's environmental and economic costs, including increases in energy use, water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, newly discovered uranium deposits may be more difficult to extract in the future - a further drain on economic and environmental resources.

'The extent of economically recoverable uranium, although somewhat uncertain, is clearly linked to exploration effort, technology and economics but is inextricably linked to environmental costs, such as energy, water, and chemicals consumption, greenhouse gas emissions and broader social issues,' the authors say. 'These issues are critical to understand in the current debate over nuclear power, greenhouse gas emissions, and climate change, especially with respect to ascribing sustainability to such activities as uranium milling and mining.'

Source: American Chemical Society

Palisades nuclear plant watchdogs warn about earthquake risks

Friday's early morning 5.2 magnitude earthquake, originating in southeast Illinois but felt in southwest Michigan, revived concerns of atomic watchdog groups that a powerful enough earthquake jolting the Palisades atomic reactor site could spell radioactive catastrophe for Lake Michigan and communities downwind and downstream.

Due to the earthquake, Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor reportedly declared an unusual event to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) at 6:03 a.m. Two years ago, Don't Waste Michigan and Nuclear Information and Resource Service filed an emergency enforcement petition against the NRC, alleging that the high-level radioactive waste storage facilities at Palisades, on the Lake Michigan shore near South Haven, violate governmental earthquake safety regulations. After NRC rejected the petition, citizen groups appealed to the federal Circuit Court for the District of Columbia. Late last year, that court ruled against the citizens' appeal. Palisades now has nearly three dozen concrete and steel silos holding deadly irradiated nuclear fuel rods. The silos, called dry casks, rest upon two concrete pads. The concrete slabs are located upon loose sand amidst the dunes of the Lake Michigan shoreline. Some containers of radioactive waste are just 150 yards from the water.

The earthquake is yet another reminder that Palisades' mounting radioactive wastes put precious Lake Michigan and the drinking water supply at risk.

Suddenly, A Rush for Nuclear Applications

The utility Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) plans to submit its application to build a sixth nuclear reactor this spring. The rapid timing came as a surprise to the rival Fennovoima consortium, which is not planning to hand in its application until next year.
The state says it wants any groups interested in building a new nuclear unit to apply for a permit within the next few months.

Minister of Economic Affairs Mauri Pekkarinen says he wants all applications on his desk at the same time, and soon. He adds that he does not intend to wait for many months after receiving the first application -- which could be as soon as May.

Another contender, the majority-state-owned Fortum, says it will apply in August.

However Fennovoima, owned by the German energy giant E.ON and a number of small Finnish utilities, is sticking to its plan to apply next year. It is still considering four possible locations for a new reactor.

Climate Concerns Cited, Pro & Con

The state and private sector want to speed up expansion of nuclear power because climate treaties limit the use of coal, while Finland's energy self-sufficiency has dropped to one of lowest levels in Europe. Pekkarinen says that the country must be able to ensure its own basic energy supply regardless of outside developments.

Meanwhile, the Finnish Association for Nature Conservation and other environmental groups argue that further development of nuclear power will not have a significant impact on Finland's emissions and discourages the development of alternative domestic energy sources. They also point out that there is still no safe, permanent solution to the problem of radioactive waste disposal.

Construction of Finland's fifth reactor, at TVO's Olkiluoto plant on the west coast, is badly behind schedule and over budget.

Sander C. Perle 
Mirion Technologies, Inc., Dosimetry Services Division 
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614

Tel: (949) 296-2306 / (888) 437-1714 Extension 2306 
Fax:(949) 296-1144
Mirion Technologies: http://www.mirion.com/ 
Global Dosimetry Solutions: http://www.dosimetry.com/ 

PROPRIETARY INFORMATION NOTICE:  This e-mail message and all attachments transmitted with it are intended solely for use by the addressee and may contain proprietary information of Mirion Technologies and/or its affiliates.  If the reader of this message is not the intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any review, dissemination, distribution, copying or other use of this message is strictly prohibited.  If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately by replying to the message, delete the original message and all attachments from your computer, and destroy any copies you may have made.  Thank you.

More information about the RadSafe mailing list