Nuclear News: No nuclear energy revival in the EU

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Today’s big stories from the nuclear industry:

No nuclear energy revival in the EU
‘BRUSSEL – A hearing on the risk of a nuclear renaissance in the EU was held at the European Parliament on April 7th. It discussed three projects for new units at existing nuclear power plants that are under planning or construction in Europe. While one project was withdrawn, one was caught in legal entanglements and a third was facing massive cost overruns and delays.The hearing was co-sponsored by German Member of the European Parliament Rebecca Harms from the Greens, and Finnish Member of the European Parliament Sirpa Pietikainen from the centre-right group EPP, in co-operation with green NGO Friends of the Earth Europe.’

Finland May Double Atomic Power to Cut Russia Imports
‘April 15 (Bloomberg) — Finland, the European Union’s biggest power consumer per capita, may double nuclear energy production in the next 10 years to wean the Nordic nation off Russian electricity imports that reached a record high in 2009. Fortum Oyj, Finland’s largest utility, Teollisuuden Voima Oyj, and a group led by E.ON AG want permission to build three reactors in addition to the current four. The government plans to make a decision this month. “It’s first and foremost to be able to replace Russian electricity imports,” Finance Minister Jyrki Katainen said in an interview. “We should not be dependent on them and there is no sense in paying Russia for electricity we could produce ourselves.” He is chairman of the National Coalition Party, the smaller government coalition member, which supports granting permits to all applicants provided they meet all criteria. Finland’s reliance on imports, which come mainly from Russia and supply 15 percent of all power, make the country vulnerable because of its energy-intensive industries such as papermaking and winters where temperatures in the north can remain below freezing for six months, supporters of the building program say. Opponents say nuclear energy is too dangerous and Finland should seek other options.’

Davutoglu sees change in Iranian stance on uranium deal
‘Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has stated that he believes it is still possible to revive a deal, widely regarded as dead, under which Iran would send much of its low-enriched uranium, or LEU, for processing abroad. Davutoglu, speaking to reporters in Washington, said on Wednesday that he had discerned a change in the Iranian stance over the past several months, during which he said he visited Tehran about a half-dozen times, most recently in early March. “There is a positive development and change of approach,” Davutoglu said. “We have some chance, and if we continue this diplomacy, I think we can achieve a solution.” According to Western diplomats, Iran agreed “in principle” to a deal that would move most of its enriched uranium out of the country during an Oct. 1 meeting in Geneva with the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany.’

Egypt receives funding bids for nuclear project
‘Several Western and Asian states have sent funding offers to Egypt’s Nuclear Power Plants Authority (NPPA) in hopes of financing the country’s nascent nuclear program–which is designed for electricity generation–in advance of an international bid. Egypt is expected to begin accepting bids for the project by the end of this year. According to NPPA sources, Western companies are competing with Asian counterparts for the project. The sources pointed out that the bids reflected international confidence in the Egyptian project, adding that meetings had already been held with representatives of Germany’s Siemens and prominent US firms such as Westinghouse. The same sources explained that the NPPA’s executive manager had met with officials from France’s Areva on Tuesday as part of a cooperation agreement with the company in the fields of personnel training and technical assistance. Asian companies competing for the bid, meanwhile, include Mitsubishi and Hitachi, along with firms from Russia, China and South Korea.’

Singapore still considers nuclear energy
‘MOVES for greater global efforts to tighten nuclear security would not affect Singapore’s plans to consider the possible use of nuclear energy, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has said in Washington. A two-day summit on nuclear security there ended on Tuesday with 47 world leaders adopting a communique and work plan that would boost efforts to lock down or destroy vulnerable atomic materials. The summit is part of United States President Barack Obama’s broader plans to toughen the international regime against nuclear proliferation, and to eventually rid the world of atomic weapons. Asked if these developments would in any way affect Singapore’s plans to consider nuclear power as a source of energy supply, Mr Lee said: ‘No, it doesn’t. Many countries use nuclear power, and more wish to study the possibility. But there must be proper safeguards as to how the reactors work, how the materials are secured, and in fact what sort of materials to use because there are reactors which use highly enriched uranium which can be used to make bombs.’

Is Reprocessing the Answer to Eliminating Fissile Materials from Bombs and Nuclear Waste?
‘President Obama promised to eliminate 34 tons of plutonium from the U.S. nuclear weapons program as part of this week’s nuclear security summit. Obama’s recently appointed Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future has specifically chosen to investigate the possibility of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods. After all, the French, Japanese and others routinely do so-and the South Koreans and Indians would like to do so. Reprocessing displaces the need for 25 percent of the uranium, it displaces some enrichment,” says nuclear engineer Alan Hanson, executive vice president of technologies and used-fuel management at Areva, a French nuclear power company that conducts that country’s reprocessing. But even low-grade uranium is cheaper to work with than reprocessing, according to critics such as physicist Frank von Hippel of Princeton University. “Recycling and reprocessing don’t buy you much in terms of uranium resource savings unless you go to breeders, which have not succeeded commercially.”‘

Russia shuts plutonium reactor
‘Russia shut its last weapons-grade plutonium reactor on Thursday in line with a pledge President Dmitry Medvedev made at the U.S. nuclear safety summit in Washington earlier this week. The ADE-2 reactor near the Siberian town of Zheleznogorsk was started in 1964 and holds the world record as the longest operating plutonium reactor. It was also the last remaining
weapons-grade plutonium reactor in the world. Two other reactors at the Mining and Chemical Combine in Zhelezgogorsk were decommissioned in 1992, as Russia no longer needed to produce weapons-grade plutonium following the end of the Cold war.’

Posted by Justin on April 16, 2010 5:14 PM 

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