Monday, January 30, 2006

General News

Before Nuclear Regulators' Meeting, Iran Allows Inspectors Access To One Site
29 January 2006

NYT (PARIS)—After more than a year and a half of resistance, Iran has given inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency access to a razed military site, but it has failed to meet other demands under its international treaty obligations, officials knowledgeable about the inspections said Sunday. The concession seemed aimed at derailing an American and European initiative to immediately send Iran's nuclear case for judgment by the United Nations Security Council. But the limited cooperation given to the inspectors leaves open a number of major issues about the nature and scope of Iran's nuclear program that have been raised by the United States and Europe. News of Iran's uneven cooperation came as the Iranian foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, in an interview in Tehran on Sunday, reiterated Iran's position that it would not close down its uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, as demanded by the United States, Russia, China, the Europeans and the atomic energy agency. Like other Iranian officials, he argued that Iran has only restarted nuclear research, a sovereign right it would never relinquish. Source: http://tinyurl.com/9y746 (Reliability: 8.5)

Comment: U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the foreign ministers of Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany will meet in London on Monday (30 January 2006) to plot a joint strategy on how best to curb Iran's nuclear activities. Then on Thursday (2 February 2006), the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-country board will hold an emergency session in Vienna to decide whether and how the case should be considered by the Security Council. Image Source: http://tinyurl.com/ao24j

Friday, January 27, 2006

Nuclear Fuel Fabrication

Iran Says Russian Nuclear Proposal Not Enough
27 January 2006

Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council (SNSC) Ali Larijani on Friday said that Russia's proposal on production of Iran's nuclear fuel inside its soil does not fully respond to his country's nuclear energy demands. He added that the proposed plan cannot fully satisfy Iran's nuclear requirements. Concerning China's approach towards Iran's nuclear case, he said that Chinese officials believe that the Europeans should not make rush decisions rather they should let the case be assessed by the United Nations nuclear watchdog professionally. Source: http://www.albawaba.com/en/news/193995 (Relability: 8)

Image Courtesy: http://www.albawaba.com/en/news/193995

Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing

US May Overturn Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Ban
26 January 2006

NEW SCIENTIST (UNITED STATES)-Reports in US newspapers have suggested that the Bush administration is planning to reverse a policy that Presidents Ford and Carter introduced in 1976 and 1977. Their policy promised that the US would not reprocess the spent fuel from nuclear reactors to extract plutonium because of the risk that hostiles could use it to make nuclear bombs. But now, US Department of Energy officials are proposing a USD 250 million program to restart reprocessing using a new technology known as UREX, developed by the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. This chemical separation process produces a mix of plutonium and uranium, which can be recycled to fuel reactors. According to Damon Moglen, from the Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental lobby group in Washington DC, "This would legitimize the widespread separation and commercial use of plutonium that could be used in nuclear weapons." Moglen also argues that it would send the wrong message to potential proliferators like Iran and North Korea and encourage reprocessing in Russia.

Source: http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn8639 (Reliability: 8)

Comment: According to the Bush Administration, the type of plutonium UREX produces is harder to make into warheads. In addition, the Administration claims that if countries allow the US to reprocess their fuel, it would reduce the risk of countries' plutonium being created by hostiles into bombs. It also sees this as a way to reduce the amount of waste that facilities would have to dispose at Yucca Mountain, in the Nevada Desert.

Transport Of Radioactive Materials

Baltic Nuclear Hearing
25 January 2006

NORDEN (DENMARK) -- The Nordic Council Environment and Natural Resources Committee decided to support the call for a hearing on the issue of nuclear installations around the Baltic Sea proposed by the Left-wing Socialist and Green Group (VSG). A number of potential sources of radioactive pollution in the countries around the Baltic worry the VSG. The proposal stated that Germany, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and Russia all house plants that represent a potential danger to the Baltic Sea. The Group also expresses deep concern about test drilling to explore the potential for uranium mining in Karelia on both the Russian and Finnish sides of the border. The proposal, also, notes that all transport of radioactive materials constitutes a risk of polluting the Baltic. Source: http://www.norden.org/webb/news/news.asp?id=5894&lang=6 (Reliability 7)
















Image Courtesy: http://johan.lemarchand.free.fr/cartes/europe/europe1.gif

Nuclear Waste Disposal

Bush Seeks To Jump-Start Nuclear Power
26 January 2006

WSJ (WASHINGTON)— The Bush administration plans to announce a $250 million initiative to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, a first step toward reversing a 1970s policy that rejected reprocessing as too dangerous to pursue. The administration's decision to put the money into its fiscal 2007 budget to test new technologies is part of an effort to jump-start the nuclear-power industry at a time when energy prices are high and concerns about global warming make nuclear power plants more acceptable. The Bush proposal, tentatively called the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, would also give U.S. vendors, such as General Electric Co., opportunities to sell nuclear-power reactors and nuclear fuel to developing nations. It would promote the export of simpler, smaller and less-costly reactors and nuclear fuel on the condition that the U.S. would take back the spent fuel for reprocessing. While a safe way to reprocess nuclear waste also would remove a licensing hurdle to new nuclear plants in the U.S., building nuclear plants here will remain a costly and lengthy process. Source: http://tinyurl.com/7w2b7 (Reliability: 9)

Analysis: The bill is unlikely to pass and will be highly controversial. Americans will not want spent nuclear fuel imported back into their country. Nuclear power itself only has tenuous support nationwide and likely sites for the reprocessing plant (Savannah River as a research facility and Yucca Mountain as a permanent home) already face stiff citizen opposition. That said, several high ranking republicans led by Pete Domenici (NM) are proponents and the Administration would have the ability to push the bill through congress despite popular opposition among citizens, but this would come at the expense of significant political costs. (Analytic Confidence: 8)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Nuclear Exploration, Mining & Milling

World’s Largest Producing Uranium Region
20 January 2006

CCN (CANADA)-The Athabasca Basin located in Saskatchewan Canada contains the most significant high grade, low cost uranium deposits in the world. It accounts for 100% of Canadian production of uranium. The Athabasca Basin remains the world's largest producing region (producing approximately 30% of global supply), and hosts reserves of approximately 40 years at current production rates. Several world-class deposits are located in the Athabasca Basin including Rabbit Lake, Cluff Lake, and Key Lake. An imbalance between current new mine supply versus current nuclear power plant consumption trends are among factors contributing to a steady increase in the spot price of uranium from US $10.10/pound in March 2003 to over US $37/pound at present.
Source:


http://tinyurl.com/8szhw
(Reliability: 8)


Image Source:
http://www.uex-corporation.com/s/AthabascaBasin.asp

Monday, January 23, 2006

Nuclear Fuel Management

Savannah River Site Plans To Consolidate Plutonium
23 January 2006

AP (SOUTH CAROLINA)
- To improve defenses against terrorism and better monitor radioactive material, the United States (US) Department of Energy (DOE) is preparing to consolidate the plutonium at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina into a single location.
In 2005, the Government Accountability Office reported the current storage complex lacks proper fire protection, ventilation, and filtration. The plan is to move an unspecified amount of plutonium from a production site to an old reactor where there are other stockpiles of plutonium, and the plans include clearing 220 acres around the reactor in order to extend security fences farther out. The storage facility will handle both plutonium that is suitable for conversion to reactor fuel and plutonium not clean enough for conversion.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/dgawk (Reliability: 7)


Image Source:
http://sti.srs.gov/fulltext/ms2002083/image30.gif

Comment: The DOE committee is studying the possibility of consolidating excess plutonium from around the US in one place, but there are legal restrictions that prevent the Savannah River Site from receiving more plutonium that is not suitable for fuel conversion.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Processing And Enrichment

France Rejects Iran's Request for Resumption of Nuclear Talks
18 January 2006

BLOOMBERG (NEW YORK) - France today, 18 January 2006, rejected an Iranian proposal to resume talks with the European Union (EU) on its nuclear program until the Islamic Republic suspends research that could lead to the production of nuclear weapons.
``The unilateral resumption of sensitive activities announced by Iran on Jan. 9, 2006 means it is not possible for us to meet in satisfactory conditions to pursue these talks,'' said Denis Simonneau, a spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry, on the ministry's Web site today. ``Iran must first return to a full suspension of these activities.''
The U.S., Britain, Germany and France want the United Nation’s (UN) International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to hold an emergency vote to refer the matter to the Security Council, where Iran may face censure or sanctions. The EU wants IAEA governors to convene on Feb. 2, Simonneau said.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/duh78 (Reliability 8.5)

Iran Threatens No Inspections
18 January 2006

PEOPLE’S DAILY ONLINE (CHINA) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday, 18 January 2006, that Iran was capable of frustrating the attempt by the European Union (EU) and the United States to push for referral of its nuclear case to the U.N. Security Council. He asserted that the EU and the US would fail if they continued to use "language of force". Iran has threatened to stop voluntary confidence-building measures, including an end to snap inspection of its nuclear sites by the IAEA and suspension of uranium enrichment, if referred to the Security Council.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/bkfhc (Reliability 6)

Comment: Once referred to the UN Security Council, an Iranian rejection of IAEA inspections will bring them closer to military action by the US or Israel. Iran’s hard line stance will make it much easier for the US to find support for a military strike. Ahmadinejad’s reference to “language of force” apparently does not include his call for Israel to “wiped off the map.”

Iran Threatens Full-Scale Enrichment
23 January 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS (VIENNA) - Iran will immediately retaliate if referred to the UN Security Council next week by forging ahead with developing a full-scale uranium enrichment program, Tehran's senior envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday. The comments by Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh reflected Iran's unwillingness to bow to growing international pressure, especially in the West, to end all nuclear enrichment activities. Iran recently announced it was resuming limited nuclear enrichment. The process can be used to provide fuel for nuclear reactors or, if taken far enough, material for nuclear weapons.

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/cp/world/060123/w012330.html (Reliability 9)

Transport Of Radioactive Materials

Sandia Researchers Aim To Keep Points-Of-Entry Safe Through Systems-Level Modeling Of Operations
16 January 2006

SCIENCE DAILY (UNITED STATES)-- The Borders Grand Challenge, funded by a three-year, $6 million laboratory-directed research and development (LDRD) project, focus is to develop simulation-based systems analyses characterizing the security of the United States Border System and the impact of new detection technologies and concepts of operation. The interactive analysis that serves as the hallmark of the program has largely focused on the illegal smuggling of radiological/nuclear material but can also relate to other threats such as explosives or chemical/biological agent attack. Source: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/01/060112034244.htm (Reliability 8)

Nuclear Waste Disposal

Scottish Nuclear Waste Dumped On Public Land
15 January 2006

SUNDAY HERALD (NORTH AYRSHIRE)—Scottish investigators are looking into the risks to public health and safety posed by secret radioactive waste dumps on the North Ayrshire, Scotland coast. Five publicly accessible shoreline pits contain thousands of cubic meters of contaminated rubbish from Hunterston nuclear power plant. Accidental destruction of the official papers detailing the pits contests has aroused suspicion. Recent monitoring of the Ayrshire foreshore has uncovered unexpectedly high levels of radioactivity, and there are mounting concerns that the pits could be eroded or flooded by the rising sea levels caused by global warming. The five pits are on reclaimed land outside the perimeter fence of the Hunterston, a nuclear site near West Kilbride, Scotland. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the government agency that is now overseeing the nuclear clean-up, says the pits contain about 6500 cubic meters of low-level radioactive waste, including contaminated soil, rubble and concrete dumped between 1977 and 1982. Source: http://www.sundayherald.com/53590 (Reliability: 8.5)

Map Indicating Nuclear Power Plants Across The UK:
Comment: This is the second nuclear waste mishap at Hunterston in recent years. In October of 2004 it was determined that leaks from Hunterston had contaminated a huge area of land. Radioactivity laced some 81,000 cubic meters of soil that for years had been spilling from pipelines and blowing off open-air ponds of nuclear waste. Image Source: http://www.insc.anl.gov/ pwrmaps/map/united_kingdom.png


Spent Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing

Ireland Likely To Lose Dispute Over Britain's Reprocessing Plant
18 January 2006

AFP (LUXEMBOURG)-The European Union's (EU) top legal counsel urged the EU's highest court to rule against Ireland in a long-running dispute over a British nuclear reprocessing plant which Dublin wants closed. Ireland, which has no nuclear power, has for years been seeking the closure of Sellafield, a plant for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel situated on England's northwest coast -- just across the Irish Sea from Dublin and Ireland's heavily populated east coast. Britain has fought the case, claiming the MOX plant does not generate any significant radioactive waste.

Source: http://www.breitbart.com/news/na/060118131735.en2spk7d.html (Reliability: 7)


Sellafield Reprocessing Plant in England

Image Source: http://www.breitbart.com/news/na/060118131735.en2spk7d.html

Nuclear Exploration, Mining, & Milling

Pacific Bay Commences Field Work On Chacho Uranium Property, Argentina
19 January 2006

FMNN (ARGENTINA)-Consolidated Pacific Bay (PacBay) Minerals Ltd. a Canadian company, announces the fieldwork underway on the Cueva del Chacho uranium property in La Rioja Province, Argentina. Here Government surveys in the 1970's discovered significant surface radiometric anomalies. PacBay has made the Chacho property their top priority among its Argentine uranium prospects because it lies on a favorable mineralized horizon 8 km to the north of the Los Colorado’s mine, which produced over 55,000 kg of uranium oxide in the 1990's.

La Rioja Province, Argentina
Image Source: http://tinyurl.com/e3qq6

Source: http://www.freemarketnews.com/Press-Release.asp?nid=1307
(Reliability: 8)





Thursday, January 19, 2006

Nuclear Fuel Fabrication

Ukrainian Prez Calls for Nuclear Fuel Production
14 January 2006

FOX NEWS (KIEV) - Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said Friday that his country should produce its own nuclear fuel for power plants. This is part of the West-leaning leader's effort to reduce its reliance on Russia following a dispute over natural gas prices. Ukraine is the site of the world's worst nuclear accident, the 1986 explosion and fire at a reactor at the Chernobyl plant. Nearly two decades later, the nation of 47 million relies on four operating nuclear power plants for about half its electricity production — and it depends on Russia for fuel that feeds them. Source: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,181659,00.html (Reliability: 8.5)

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Nuclear Fuel Management

Japan Reactor Undamaged By Earthquake; Will Reopen

THE DAILY YOMIURI (JAPAN)-One of the three reactors at the Onagawa Nuclear Power Station in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan will restart by the end of January 2006. Officials shut down the reactors, operated by Tohoku Electric Power Company, on 16 August 2005 due to fears of the facility's structural integrity following a magnitude 7.2 earthquake. The government authorized reopening the No. 2 reactor after Tohoku Electric officials concluded from their examinations that the earthquake did not damage the reactor. Although the shock from the earthquake exceeded the acceptable levels of the original reactor design, the earthquake did not significantly damage the reactor or affect the safety of the facility. Tohoku Electric official expect to restart Onagawa's No. 1 and No.3 reactors after they conduct further examinations on those two reactors.

Source: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20060118TDY04002.htm
(Reliability: 7)


Onagawa Nuclear Power Station located in Miyagi Prefecture, Japan
Image Source: http://www.gns.ne.jp/eng/sta/jpn_npp/onagawa.jpg

Comment: According to the article, experts predict an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.6 or more to hit the Miyagi Prefecture region within the next 30 years. As part of their examination of the No. 2 reactor, Tohoku Electric officials tested whether the reactor could withstand the predicted quake and concluded that no damage would occur from a magnitude 7.6 earthquake.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Processing And Enrichment

Iran Threatens to End Nuclear Cooperation
13 January 2006

AP (TEHRAN)-Iran said Friday (13 January 2006), that if referred to the UN Security Council, they would end surprise inspections and other cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency. The president vowed that sanctions would not intimidate his country. Iran's tough line came as Europe and the United States were trying to build support for hauling Iran before the Security Council. They faced resistance from China, which warned the move could only escalate the confrontation. In Washington, President Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged U.N. intervention. The world needs to "send a common message to Iran that their behavior ... is unacceptable," Bush said. Source: http://tinyurl.com/8oqdc

Comment: Iran insists its program is peaceful, intended only to produce electricity. But it has insisted on its right to conduct uranium enrichment, a process that can produce reactor fuel or material for a nuclear bomb.

Transport Of Radioactive Materials

British Radioactive Transport May Have Crossed Into Romania
9 January 2006

BUCHAREST DAILY NEWS (ROMANIA)-- Bulgarian customs officials at the Turkish border stopped a truck loaded with 1,000 kilos of zirconium silicate supplied by a British firm on its way to Tehran, Iran on August 31, 2005. The Bulgarian customs official who stopped the truck became alarmed after its cargo emitted unusual radioactivity levels. Bulgarian authorities arrested the driver, a Turkish citizen, on August 31, 2005. The investigation was "for violating international treaties by transferring across the border dangerous wastes, toxic chemical substances, biological agents, toxics and radioactive materials." After a two-month investigation, the British and Bulgarian authorities agreed that the British cargo did not need an export license and could be released and driven to Iran. There were no weapons of mass destruction end-use concerns by the UK Dept. of Trade and Industry. Source: http://www.daily-news.ro/article_detail.php?idarticle=21121news.ro/article_detail.php?idarticle=21121 (Reliability 6.5)



















Image Source: http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/middle_east_and_asia/middle_east_pol_2003.jpg

Nuclear Fuel Fabrication

Japan's New Energy Strategy
13 January 2006

ASIA TIMES (TOKYO)- Resource-poor Japan is barreling ahead to rev up its energy security, driven by the specter of another oil crisis, the global rush for energy resources and a simmering gas dispute with China. The nation's controversial nuclear-fuel-cycle policy has entered a new phase. The government unveiled a plan to construct a new 1 trillion yen (US$8.7 billion) fast-breeder reactor, and domestic power firms also announced their plutonium utilization plans ahead of the start of a key test operation next month to extract plutonium at a spent-nuclear-fuel reprocessed facility.

Source: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Japan/HA13Dh01.html (Reliability: 8.5)

Comment: The booming economies of India and China are intensifying Japan's energy problems. Japan has to compete with both India and China for regional resources. Japan has unique nuclear capabilities since they are the only member of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to be permitted both to enrich uranium and reprocess spent nuclear fuel for peaceful civilian purposes. An increase in nuclear energy will improve their energy situation.

Nuclear Waste Disposal

Feds Halt Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Project
12 January 2006

AP (LAS VEGAS)-The
US Department of Energy (DOE) suspended design work on the national nuclear waste repository in Nevada after internal whistle-blowers reported more problems at the Yucca Mountain site. But officials with the DOE and project contractor Bechtel SAIC Co. LLC said work is continuing at the site that Congress and President Bush picked in 2002 to bury the nation's most radioactive waste. According to federal documents and government and nuclear industry officials, the problem was that Yucca management guidelines and databases are outdated. The guidelines are the rules that lay out in detail how scientists, engineers and analysts need to document their activities to comply with federal regulations and industry practices. Source: http://www.freenewmexican.com/news/37404.html (Reliability 8.5)
Image Source: http://www.kued.org/skullvalley/images/road/maps/yucca.jpg

Comment: This is the latest of setbacks facing the national nuclear waste repository in Nevada. On 14 December 2005 the US Senate and House introduced the Spent Nuclear Fuel Security Act in identical bills that would allow nuclear waste to stay in containers at nuclear power plants versus moving it to Utah or Nevada with the federal government assuming legal liability. Recent setbacks include the project missing its license application deadline, congressional funding cuts and revelations that geologists may have falsified data. The government also is rewriting radiation safety rules after a federal court threw out the first ones.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Spent Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing

Japan To Conduct Test Run Of Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing Plant Next Month
11 January 2006

SIN CHEW DAILY (MALAYSIA)-Japan Nuclear Fuel Ltd is to conduct a test run of its nuclear fuel reprocessing plant at Rokkashomura, Aomori Prefecture, next month. The electric power industry has unveiled its plutonium-thermal plan of burning a composite fuel made of plutonium that reprocessing plants extract from spent fuel and uranium. Local governments, including Aomori prefectural government, made the announcement of the plan a prerequisite for test operations at the nuclear fuel reprocessing plant. However, there is a potential barrier, in that local governments hosting nuclear power plants show little understanding of their benefits. Already, governments have voiced opposition, stemming chiefly from concerns over safety.
Source: http://e.sinchew-i.com/content.phtml?sec=2&artid=200601110002 (Reliability: 5)















Image Source: http://web-japan.org/region/pref/img/aomorimap.gif

Comment: The loudest opposition has come from Fukushima and Niigate prefectures. However, to date there have been no major accidents in the world resulting from plutonioum-thermal programs.

Nuclear Fuel Management:

EU Powers Agree To Refer Iran To UN Security Council

REUTERS (BERLIN)-The European Union's (EU) three biggest powers agreed that talks with Iran over Iran's nuclear program are no longer an option and want Iran referred to the United Nations (UN) Security Council for possible sanctions. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told reporters after meeting with British and French Foreign Ministers on 12 January 2006 that "the time has come for the Security Council to become involved to reinforce the authority of the IAEA." The agreement to refer Iran to the Security Council signals an end to the EU's 2-1/2 year diplomatic effort to convince the Islamic republic to abandon its uranium enrichment program. The EU plans to call an extraordinary IAEA board meeting soon to initiate the necessary action for UN Security Council involvement.

Source: http://abcnews.go.com/US/print?id=1498193 (Reliability: 8)

Comment: The EU's actions follow Iran's removal of UN seals on equipment to enrich uranium at Iranian nuclear sites. Iran removed the seals at the Natanz, Pars Trash, and Farayand Technique sites ealrier this week. Iran insists its nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes, but the EU, along with the United States, believes Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Nuclear Exploration, Mining, & Milling

Mawson Stakes Swedish Uranium Rare Earth Project
9 January 2006

AZOM (SWEDEN)-Mawson Resources Limited, a leading explorer in the mining districts of Sweden, announced the staking of a 100% interest in the 5047.5 hectare Tasjo uranium - rare earth element ("REE") - phosphate ("P2O5") project. Tasjo is located in the Jamtland and Vasterbotten counties, 200 kilometers north of the town of Ostersund in Northern Sweden. Ten nuclear power reactors provide approximately 50% of Sweden's electricity. The Tasjo field is geologically analogous to the Florida Phosphorite Uranium Province, which contains the largest uranium resources in North America. The near-surface exploration target at Tasjo is vast. This project underpins Mawson's developing uranium portfolio and holds the potential to host an excellent uranium deposit, with significant rare earth credits. Mawson Resources Limited applied for 12 exploration permits for a total area of 5047.5 hectares. To date seven permits areas are as follows: Kronotorpet nr 1 (199.99 hectares), Bodkullarna nr 1 (154.05 hectares) and Tasjo nr 1 to 5 (2956.9 hectares). Five permits, Tasjo nr 6 to 10 (1736.1 hectares), remain under application and are expected to be granted soon.

Source: http://www.azom.com/details.asp?newsID=4699 (Reliability: 8.5)
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