Nuclear monitoring pact between UN watchdog and US enters into force

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Jan. 8, 2009 – An Additional Protocol to the nuclear safeguards agreement between the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United States that boosts access to nuclear information and sites has now entered into force, making the US the last of the five nuclear-weapon States party to a key global non-proliferation pact to fulfill this obligation.

The Additional Protocol entered into force yesterday when US Ambassador Gregory Schulte formally handed over the notification of the completion of the country’s ratification procedures to IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.

With the entry into force of the US’ Additional Protocol, all five nuclear-weapon States party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) have fulfilled their undertaking, assumed at the time of approval by the IAEA Board of Governors of the Model Additional Protocol in 1997, to conclude such agreements, the Agency said in a news release.


NRC responds to plant security violations

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The US nuclear regulator has proposed fining Exelon Nuclear after security guards were caught napping whilst on duty at its Peach Bottom nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. A security worker at Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA’s) Sequoyah site, meanwhile, has been found to have falsified inventory data at the plant.

In September 2007, a guard at the Peach Bottom site released a video showing other guards dozing while on duty. An investigation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) concluded that there had been “multiple occasions” in which guards were “inattentive” in a plant ‘ready room’ – a room in which they may read, study, eat or relax whilst not on patrol or on watch, but where they must remain ready to respond.

A broad review of security at all of Exelon’s plants was carried out and, although there were no issues of concern found at other sites, Exelon concluded that future security management and operations would be best brought in-house. The company subsequently replaced the security force provided by Wackenhut Nuclear Services at all ten of its nuclear power plants with its own in-house teams.

EPA demands resumption of toxics cleanup at Livermore lab

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To prevent further spread of contaminated groundwater on and around Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, the federal government on Wednesday ordered the lab to immediately resume its Superfund cleanup activities.

The Environmental Protection Agency is also seeking fines of $105,000, stating there were cleanup violations between February and September, and continuing fines of $10,000 per week, retroactive to Oct. 1.

Laboratory spokesman John Belluardo, however, described the fines as “unjustified” and said the Department of Energy, which runs the lab, plans to appeal.

Officials warn budget cuts might delay Yucca license review

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WASHINGTON — The license review to build a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain is on schedule so far but federal officials warned today that further budget cuts could kick it off track.

There already are signs that tight spending might be having an impact, even before Congress finishes Yucca Mountain bills for 2009 and 2010 that many expect will contain reduced spending.

Chris Kouts, deputy director of the Energy Department’s repository program, said there might be a delay in completing a groundwater study the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had ordered as part of its license examination.

Entergy: Yankee leaked radioactive water

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BRATTLEBORO — A valve leaking radioactive water inside Vermont Yankee’s reactor building was undergoing emergency repairs Wednesday, Entergy Nuclear said.

The leak did not require the company to shut down or even reduce power, according to Entergy Nuclear spokesman Laurence Smith.

Smith said the leak, which was losing about 2-1/2 gallons of “slightly radioactive” water a minute, had been discovered about two weeks ago during routine company inspection by plant operators.

Obama’s stimulus money must NOT be wasted on nuke reactors

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A nuke power bailout must NOT be part of the hundreds of billions of federal dollars about to pour out of Washington to revive our Bush-whacked economy.

If the huge Obama stimulus package we all know is coming includes money to build new reactors, the whole venture could turn to radioactive dust.

This is the last gasp both for American prosperity and atomic energy. Nuke promoters are lobbying frantically to get some of that cash for a dying business in which Wall Street would not invest even before the last crash.

Veteran to fight MoD in bomb testing case

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A war veteran is taking his case to the High Court this month after being exposed to atomic bomb tests during the 1950s.

George Harrison, 73, is too unwell to travel to London to fight his legal battle against the Ministry of Defence in person.

But he hopes the case – part of one of largest compensation claims against the MoD from hundreds of servicemen – will reach a positive conclusion after more than half a century.