The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

European Commission in-depth investigation into Hungarian investment support for Paks II nuclear power

flag-EUState Aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into Hungarian investment support for Paks II nuclear power plant Brussels, 23 November 2015

The European Commission has opened an in-depth state aid investigation into Hungary’s plans to provide financing for the construction of two new nuclear reactors in Paks.

The Commission will in particular assess whether a private investor would have financed the project on similar terms or whether Hungary’s investment constitutes state aid. If the project is found to involve state aid, the Commission will investigate whether as planned it would lead to distortions of competition in particular on the Hungarian energy market. Continue reading

November 25, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, Legal | Leave a comment

Legal challenge to UK’s Hinkley nuclear plan is joined by Luxembourg

justiceLuxembourg joins Hinkley C nuclear challenge Oliver Tickell 20th November 2015  Luxembourg will join Austria’s legal challenge to the UK’s support package for the Hinkley C nuclear power station. Meanwhile EDF has laid off 65 engineers working on the project in Paris, and the EU Commission has initiated proceedings against Hungary over its Paks II nuclear project with Rosatom.

The Luxembourg government will join Austria’s legal challenge to the €108 billion Hinkley C subsidy package at the European Court of Justice.

The low-key announcement was released yesterday in Austria’s Parliament, just days before the deadline for other states to join is due to expire on Monday.

“They will not make a huge fuss about it as they do not want angry phone calls from Downing Street”, commented Adam Pawloff, anti-nuclear spokesman for Greenpeace Austria, who has been working closely with Luxembourg colleagues on the issue.

But he said that the move was an important one whose significance should not be underestimated: “In terms of foreign policy and EU solidarity it is quite a statement for one member state to follow up a legal challenge against another and the fact we are seeing further member states joining shows there is a growing front against nuclear power in Europe.

“It is sending a message to all countries involved in building new nuclear power plants that nuclear is not sustainable – environmentally, economically or socially. We are talking about substantial amounts of state aid are going into this nuclear project at a time when nuclear is in normal circumstances not financeable.

“The support of the action by Luxembourg is a major setback for the nuclear lobby. And it sends an important message to governments, nuclear developers and the Commission as well which approved the package. You cannot allow this kind of heavily subsidised market-distorting nuclear development anywhere in Europe without expecting legal challenges by multiple states.”

Speaking in July after Austria launched its legal challenge, Luxembourg Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg told the Duchy’s parliament: “Further massive sums of public money cannot put into an unsafe and unprofitable technology that will wreck the market price for renewable energy … If we take our anti-nuclear policy seriously, then we must join this lawsuit.”

Commission acts against Hungary nuclear state aid

In a simultaneous move this week, the Commission has taken the first steps in state aid and public procurement infringement proceedings against Hungary over its planned Paks II nuclear plant a little over 100km from the border with Austria.

The €12.5 billion Paks II plant is to be built by Russia’s Rosatom backed by a €10 billion loan from Russia leaving €2.5 billion invested directly by the Hungarian government. Under a deal agreed in January 2014, construction of two VVER-1200 reactors each of 1.2GW was due to begin in 2015 but this is currently scheduled for 2018.

One reason for the Commission’s action is that the project did not go to public tender, in violation of EU public procurement rules. In addition, says Pawloff, Hungary has been slow and obstructive in its dealings with the Commission, keeping it waiting for over a year before delivering key documents. “It’s a highly opaque and bizarre case”, he comments.

The Commission’s is proceedings against Hungary may also have a bearing on the Hinkley C case. The Hinkley package was approved in October 2014 in the dying days of the Barroso Commission in what was seen as a highly politicised decision which went against the advice of officials.

And one of the main points at issue in Hungary – the lack of any open and competitive tender process – also applies to Hinkley C, which was simply offered to the French parastatal EDF. And while the Paks II power plant is due to deliver power at €55 per megawatt hour, Hinkley C will cost about twice as much, £92.50 in 2012 pounds.

The move against Hungary therefore indicates that the Juncker Commission may not be unduly diligent in its defence of the Hinkley C support package when the case comes before the European Court – something that must be causing serious concern in the strongly pro-nuclear UK government.

Hinkley C prospects fade

Pawloff added that other states might also join the challenge to Hinkley C before the Monday deadline. It is no secret that Germany and Sweden, countries that are now in the process of decommissioning their nuclear power legacy and building up renewable energy, are unhappy with the European Commission’s decision to approve the UK’s state aid for Hinkley C.

Opposition to the Hinkley C deal was also voiced this week by Boris Johnson, Mayor of London and a likely future Conservative prime minister who branded the deal as “a disgrace” under questioning by Green Assembly member Jenny Jones.

“I’m totally with you on that one”, he said. “If you ask do I think the deal on nuclear power looks like good value for money at whatever it is £95 per kilowatt hour for 30 years, it just looks like an extraordinary amount of money to spend.”

And in what may have been a deliberate jibe aimed at Energy Secretary Amber Rudd and Chancellor George Osborne – who have slashed support for all forms of renewable energy and solar in particular – he added: “On renewables, which does not include nuclear because its not renewable, on other renewables, solar is very exciting and its great that the costs are coming down.”

A month ago UK Prime Minister David Cameron signed a deal with the Chinese President Xi Jinping for the China General Nuclear Power Corporation (CGN) to pay £6 billion for a 33.5% share in the troubled Hinkley C project. However EDF, which currently owns 100% of NNB Generation Company which will take the project forward, has still made no final investment decision, and indications are that it will not be taken until well into 2016.

Meanwhile works on the Hinkley C site have ground to a complete halt – and The Ecologisthas been reliably informed that a team of 65 nuclear engineers working on the project with EDF in Paris has been laid off – with the detailed technical specifications they have been working on for years left unfinished.

November 21, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, Legal | Leave a comment

European regulators start legal action against Hungary’s Paks nuclear power project

justiceflag-EUEU starts legal action over Hungary nuclear project, Reuters,  By Barbara Lewis and Gergely Szakac BRUSSELS/BUDAPEST, Nov 19  2015 European Union regulators started legal action against Hungary on Thursday over a contract it awarded to Russia’s Rosatom to expand the Paks nuclear power plant, but Hungary said it would press ahead with its plans.

The EU’s executive Commission has been holding talks to try to resolve differences after Hungary chose Rosatom last year to build two new nuclear reactors, partly financed by a favourably priced Russian loan worth 10 billion euros ($10.7 billion).

“The Commission raised concerns about the compatibility with the EU public procurement rules,” Commission spokeswoman Lucia Caudet told reporters following the announcement of formal infringement proceedings……

Lengthy infringement procedures can lead to action in the European Union’s highest courts in Luxembourg which have the power to hand out fines……..Apart from the alleged breach of public procurement rules, the Commission also has concerns the Paks plant would be overly dependent on Russia.
Read more at Reuters

November 20, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, Legal | Leave a comment

European Commission calls on Hungary to halt procurements for Paks nuclear expansion

Commission to call off procurements for Hungary’s Paks nuclear expansion, Portfolio
November 17, 2015,  
The European Commission found that Hungarian authorities failed to comply with European Union public procurement rules when they awarded a project for the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant to Russia’s Rosatom directly, without a tender, BruxInfo reported on Tuesday. The portal has learned that the EC will on Thursday send a letter of formal notice to Budapest, calling on the cabinet to suspend all ongoing and planned supply operations related to the Paks 2 project.

The cabinet will be given two months to reply and the EU executive will decide in view of the comments whether it accepts the reply or takes the case to the next stage.

The next stage is a reasoned opinion which is sent when the country in questions does not reply or the reply is unsatisfactory. In this case the Commission states reasons why it believes the Member State has breached EU law.

Considering the seriousness of the suspected non-compliance with EU law, the Commission is expected to call on Budapest to suspend any and all ongoing procurement procedures related to the Paks 2 project and refrain from signing new contracts to this end.

The Commission did not confirm or deny the report. The EC will announce new developments ininfringement procedures on Thursday and the Paks dossier may be part of that package.

Read more about the EUR 12.5 billion NPP expansion projects and the problems it has been facing at the links below. ………

November 18, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, Legal | Leave a comment

Nuclear veterans plea for compensation at French Polynesia Court of Appeal

justiceFrench Polynesia court hears nuclear test victims case Court of Appeal in French Polynesia has heard the case of two former nuclear test workers who claim they experienced health problems after being exposed to radiation from French nuclear weapons testing at Mururoa. The case has been subject to a number of appeals since the case was brought in 2009.

The head of the nuclear test veterans organisation Mururoa e tatou, Roland Oldham, says the process for the veterans has been very slow, and one the workers involved in the case has died.

He says he is confident the case will be found in favour of the victims.

“Because the Centre of Atomic Energy didn’t bring up any new proof. It is just the strategy of the French government as usual, to drag on and drag on and drag on and drag on. Because in between as I say, one of the workers is dead. The other one is still alive, but just.”

Roland Oldham says the Court of Appeal is expected to deliver its verdict in February.

He says of 900 workers who have been affected by nuclear testing, only 16 have been compensated.

November 16, 2015 Posted by | Legal, OCEANIA | Leave a comment

Legal case over St Louis radioactive trash – 2700 cancer cases from nuclear radiation?

radiation-warningFlag-USAUS Government Secretly Buried Nuclear Waste Near Playground — And Thousands Now Have Cancer by: Daniel Jennings  November 4, 2015 A government contractor buried tens of thousands of barrels of nuclear waste in two sites around St. Louis that may have caused more than 2,700 cases of cancer, a lawsuit and CBS News are alleging.

“Within a six-house radius, I knew four people with brain cancer, one a child, one a young professor,” resident Jenelle Wright told CBS. “And I just thought, ‘This is really odd.’”

What is truly disturbing is that Wright and others only figured out that something was wrong when they got together on Facebook to plan a school reunion. When they started reconnecting, they noticed that a lot of people they knew had developed cancer.

“If we did not have social media, if Facebook did not exist, we would never have put these pieces together,” Wright said.

Nuclear Waste on Playgrounds

Wright and other residents of North County near St. Louis think the cause of cancer was the tens of thousands of barrels of nuclear waste dumped in the area decades ago by the Mallinckrodt Chemical Company. The company had been hired by the US government agency to process uranium for America’s nuclear weapons program. Then, “under the cover of national security secrecy, the government authorized the company to dump radioactive wastes quietly in the suburbs,” according to a 1990 New York Times article.

The waste was buried in two areas near Coldwater Creek, which runs through the area. One of the sites where the waste was dumped was located near a park where Wright and her friends played as kids. The park is now locked tight and engineers are trying to clean up the mess.

What you see is an environmental health disaster unfolding slowly over decades,” St. Louis County Health Director Dr. Faisal Khan told CBS News. “… The rates of appendix cancer, for instance, which is relatively rare — we see about 800 cases across the nation per year. To find seven or eight cases in one zip code or one small geographic area is rather unusual.”

The study on the soil could take years. That frustrates Mary Oscko, a resident who has stage 4 lung cancer.

“My husband and I had to sit down at night and discuss whether I want to be cremated or buried,” she toldCBS News. “I don’t want to be buried in North County, that’s the one thing I told him — I do not want to be buried where this soil is.”

During World War II Mallinckrodt processed uranium in St. Louis for the world’s first nuclear reactor and the Manhattan Project, which created the atomic bomb.

November 7, 2015 Posted by | health, Legal, USA | Leave a comment

The public recognition of a radiation-cancer threat may lead to high compensation payments

cancer_cellsflag-japanJapan Acknowledges First Possible Radiation Casualty at Fukushima Nuclear Plant The public recognition of a radiation-cancer threat may lead to high compensation payments  TOKYO, Oct 20 (Reuters) – Japan on Tuesday acknowledged the first possible casualty from radiation at the wrecked Fukushima nuclear power plant, a worker who was diagnosed with cancer after the crisis broke out in 2011.

The health ministry’s recognition of radiation as a possible cause may set back efforts to recover from the disaster, as the government and the nuclear industry have been at pains to say that the health effects from radiation have been minimal.

It may also add to compensation payments that had reached more than 7 trillion yen ($59 billion) by July this year…….

The male worker in his 30s, who was employed by a construction contractor, worked at Tokyo Electric Power Co’s Fukushima Daiichi plant and other nuclear facilities, a health ministry official said.

Of total radiation exposure of 19.8 millisieverts (mSv), the worker received a dose of 15.7 (mSv) between October 2012 and December 2013 working at Fukushima, said the official.

While the exposure amount was lower than the annual 50 mSv limit for nuclear industry workers, the government had decided it cannot be ruled out that the worker’s leukaemia was a result of radiation, the official said.

Tokyo Electric is also facing a string of legal cases seeking compensation over the disaster.

Inside the plant, Tepco has struggled to bring the situation under control. It is estimated removing the melted fuel from the wrecked reactors and cleaning up the site will cost tens of billions of dollars and take decades to complete. ($1 = 119.4200 yen) (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Writing by Aaron Sheldrick; Editing by Nick Macfie)

October 23, 2015 Posted by | Fukushima 2015, health, Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Austria’s legal action against EU approval of Hinkley nuclear project

InfoCuria – Case-law of the Court of Justice Action brought on 6 July 2015 — Austria v Commission

(Case T-356/15)

Language of the case: German


Applicant: Republic of Austria (represented by: C. Pesendorfer, Agent, and H. Kristoferitsch, lawyer)

Defendant: European Commission

Form of order sought

The applicant claims that the Court should:

annul Commission Decision (EU) 2015/658 of 8 October 2014 on the aid measure SA.34947 (2013/C) (ex 2013/N) which the United Kingdom is planning to implement for support to the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station (notified under document C(2014) 7142);

order the Commission to pay the costs.

Pleas in law and main arguments

In support of the action, the applicant relies on ten pleas in law.


October 16, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, Legal | Leave a comment

South Africa; court action to stop nuclear procurement

justiceflag-S.AfricaCourt bid to stop SA nuclear procurement lodged with the Cape High Court this week in an application against Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and President Jacob Zuma, aimed at stopping the country’s nuclear procurement programme.

Environmental group Earthlife Africa and the South African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI) on Thursday announced that it had lodged an application in this regard. Other respondents are the National Energy Regulator (Nersa), Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces and the Speaker of the National Assembly. No relief is sought against these three.

The applicants, however, need money for what is expected to be a long and costly fight against government. They currently have less than R1 million available for legal costs and are busy raising more funds.

The South African government is preparing for a nuclear power procurement programme based on the 2010 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that suggests the country will need 9 600MW nuclear generation capacity by 2030. Details about which State entity will implement the project and the structure of the procurement process are however still unknown and there is much concern about the affordability of nuclear power.

The applicants argue in their papers that Joemat-Pettersson has failed to put the necessary processes in place to ensure that the nuclear procurement is conducted lawfully and meets the requirements of the Constitution for a fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective process.

“Notwithstanding the vast sums of money to be committed, and the potentially long-term effect on the economy and for consumers of electricity and present and future generations of South Africans, the decision to proceed with procuring these nuclear power plants (the so called nuclear fleet), and to have concluded such procurement in the next few months, has occurred without any of the necessary statutory and constitutional decisions having been lawfully taken,” the applicants argue.

They are challenging the legality of the inter-governmental agreements between South Africa and Russia, the US and Korea, respectively. These agreements were held by the Department of Energy to be done in preparation of the actual procurement.

They are asking the court to set these agreements aside and, among other things, challenge certain decisions by Joemat-Pettersson, in consultation with Nersa, prior to making the formal determination about the amount of nuclear capacity the country needs.

They maintain a fair, equitable, transparent, cost-effective and competitive procurement process cannot take place in the current circumstances and are seeking a declaratory order in this regard.

In terms of the court rules Joemat-Pettersson and President Zuma have ten days to file opposing papers.

SAFCEI spokesperson Liziwe McDaid said the organisation does not support the notion that the country needs base load energy with coal and nuclear being the only viable options. She said a mix of renewable energy technologies as well as gas, but excluding fracking, is more appropriate.

It will be a mistake to lock the country into unaffordable nuclear projects that are in actual fact outdated technology, she said. Decommissioning of the country’s older coal-fired power stations will begin in about ten years’ time. During this period huge strides may be made with regard to technological solutions for the storage of renewable energy and that will be a better replacement for the coal-fired fleet than nuclear, she said.

Brought to you by Moneyweb

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) plan legal action against Hinkley nuclear power project

justiceflag-UKAnti-nuclear group legal threat against Hinkley power plant, By WMN_PGoodwin  October 14, 2015 Britain’s first new nuclear power station for 20 years, in Somerset, will waste billions of pounds without solving the country’s energy needs, a new report claims.

Hinkley Point C is expected to supply 7% of the UK’s electricity needs – powering around six million homes – and create thousands of jobs locally and more widely in the nuclear industry across the UK. The £20 billion scheme could get the green light next week when Chinese president Xi Jinping arrives in London on a state visit which could see a massive investment in the reactor agreed.

French state-owned energy firm EDF, who are behind the project, and the British Government have been hoping the president will visit the site which has been prepared next to the two existing nuclear power stations on the Bristol Channel.

 Ahead of the talks, a report by anti-nuclear campaigners Together Against Sizewell C (TASC) says new plants like Hinkley – the biggest single building project in the Westcountry’s history – are unnecessary. Pete Wilkinson, chairman of TASC says the Government has a legal obligation to justify its “increasingly bizarre and incomprehensible obsession with nuclear power”.

TASC is threatening to take legal action if the Government fails to review its national policy statements for energy. Using data from the Department for Energy and Climate Change (DECC) the TASC study says every alternative to nuclear would “without exception” be an improvement, costing less, preventing power cuts, causing less pollution and meeting emissions targets.

Local campaign Stop Hinkley welcomed publication. Spokesman Roy Pumfrey added: “There are plenty of ways of providing our energy needs which are cheaper than any Government scenario for energy involving nuclear power.“The total savings to the UK economy of going for much more energy saving instead could be very large indeed and more successfully reduce greenhouse gases and provide energy security. “Nuclear power only hampers the achievement of these objectives.”

The construction came a step closer last month when Chancellor George Osborne approved an initial Government guarantee worth £2 billion for the proposed plant during a visit to China. Mr Osborne said that new nuclear power was “essential” to ensure the lights stay on as ageing nuclear and coal plants are retired.


October 16, 2015 Posted by | Legal, UK | Leave a comment

South African environmental groups sue Energy Minister over nuclear agreements

justiceflag-S.AfricaEnvironmental groups take energy minister to court over nuclear agreements SOUTH AFRICA Thursday 15 October 2015 JOHANNESBURG – While South Africa has signed a number of intergovernmental framework agreements with Russia, China, South Korea and the USA on the country’s planned nuclear development, environmental groups say they are frustrated with the lack of transparency.

On Monday, they filed court papers challenging the constitutionality of the agreements.

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the South African Faith Communities Environment Institution want the intergovernmental framework agreements for nuclear procurement set aside.

They say their attempts to get information on the nuclear procurement deal have been blocked.

“We are concerned citizens standing up against the unlawful and unconstitutional exercise of power by government, and in the public interest are going to court in an effort to protect our constitutional rights,” said Makoma Lekalakala, senior programme officer at Earthlife.

Safcei’s Liz McDaid says that faith communities in their network are increasingly concerned about the government’s continued support for nuclear energy despite a lack of evidence that SA can afford it.

“Ethical governance has to be the cornerstone of true democracy,” she said.

  • The organisations are represented by Adrian Pole Attorneys, assisted by the legal resource centre.

    The application will challenge the legality and constitutionality of:

    • the intergovernmental agreement (IGA) on strategic partnership and nuclear cooperation signed with Russia in 2014

    • the tabling of the Russian IGA in Parliament under a provision that makes the agreement binding on the international plane without the need for parliamentary ratification

    • the tabling of outdated IGAs on nuclear cooperation entered into with the USA and Republic of Korea

    Environmental lawyer Adrian Pole says that the signing of the binding agreements is unconstitutional and unlawful because proper process wasn’t followed.

    “In terms of section 34 of the electricity regulation act the minister in consultation with the energy regulator is required to make a determination on whether new electricity generation is needed and how much new nuclear generation capacity is required,” he said.

    This should have been done with Nersa during a public participation process said Pole. Applicants will be using section 217 of constiution to argue that framework agreements be set aside @eNCA

  • The minister of energy is expected to respond to the application within 10 days.

    To view the full unsigned court application see below:

    20 September Nuclear Founding Affidavit Revised Update Ac_mdp_ac v3 AP (Makoma Rev) v4 Ac (Final Rev 1 WC

October 16, 2015 Posted by | Legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

Nuclear contamination case against TEPCO is sent by police to prosecutors

justiceflag-japanFukushima police sends nuclear contamination case against TEPCO execs to prosecutors,  3 Oct, 2015 Fukushima police have finally reacted to a criminal complaint filed against TEPCO and 32 of its top officials two years ago over the contamination caused by the 2011 nuclear disaster. They have referred the case to prosecutors.

The Fukushima District Prosecutors’ Office will now determine whether to pursue criminal charges against the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and its top management over the leaks of highly radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the sea.

The criminal complaint alleges that the company and its executives failed to manage storage tanks of contaminated water or build underground walls to block the flow of radioactive material into the sea at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Notable people on the list include TEPCO’s President Naomi Hirose, former Chairman Tsunehisa Katsumata and former President Masataka Shimizu.

Police have reviewed claims filed by local residents after 300 tons of highly radioactive water had leaked from TEPCO tanks……..

October 5, 2015 Posted by | Japan, Legal | Leave a comment

Former Idaho governor sues U.S. Department of Energy over Freedom of Information

Andrus files suit over nuclear fuel, 2 Oct 15 
Former governor cites Freedom of Information Act Former Idaho Gov. Cecil Andrus has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Energy to force it to comply with the Freedom of Information Act and publicly share information relating to proposed shipments of commercial spent nuclear fuel to the Idaho National Laboratory.

The suit was filed Tuesday in federal district court in Idaho on Andrus’ behalf by the Boise-based environmental law firm Advocates for the West.

Gov. Butch Otter announced in January that he would grant a one-time waiver to the 1995 Batt agreement to allow the proposed shipments if the DOE can restart a problem-plagued liquid-waste processing plant at INL, east of Arco. He said permission to ship the fuel for research at INL can be used as an incentive to get the liquid waste out of the state faster.

But nuclear activists contend the two proposed shipments of 25 fuel rods, weighing about 100 pounds per shipment, are part of a plan to open the door to ship about 20 metric tons of spent commercial nuclear fuel into the state.

In a news release, Advocates for the West said the lawsuit comes after months of effort by Andrus to require DOE to provide information to Idaho citizens about its request for the waiver.    “Without DOE leveling with Idaho about both near-term and longer-range plans, we simply have no ability to assess the wisdom of what they are planning for the state,” Andrus said. “I suspect they know what they are planning will be very controversial, and for that reason they want to keep it secret. That is simply unacceptable.”

Andrus requested information about the waiver and proposed shipments in January. Advocates for the West said DOE provided documents containing dozens of redacted pages. In a letter dated July 10, the agency justified its refusal to provide other documents by saying they fell under exemptions contained in the Freedom of Information Act, including those related to proprietary information of private companies and attorney-client privilege.

Advocates for the West said virtually all the information DOE supplied was already in the public record, including newspaper accounts of the agency’s request for a waiver from state officials.

Andrus appealed the decision to withhold the information, and that appeal was also denied.

“The DOE has left us little choice but to ask the federal courts to enforce the law,” Andrus said. “A fundamental tenet of the American system of government is openness and transparency. The people have both a right and an obligation to know what their government is doing. That is why we feel it is so important to bring this information to light.”

Andrus said that without a permanent national repository for the highly radioactive material, Idaho will for the foreseeable future become that repository. Email the writer:

October 2, 2015 Posted by | Legal, USA | Leave a comment

Alternative Nobel Prize goes to Marshall Island’s nuclear challenger

Alternative Nobel PrizeMarshall Islands official who challenged China and other nuclear powers wins ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’ 1 October 2015 17:50 Karen Cheung 

A Pacific island state foreign minister who challenged the world’s nuclear powers through unprecedented legal action has won the 2015 Right Livelihood Award. The winner was announced in Stockholm at the Swedish Foreign Office International Press Centre on Thursday.

The award, which is also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize, was given to Tony de Brum and the people of the Marshall Islands.

Mr de Brum, Foreign Minister of the Marshall Islands, sought to hold all nine nuclear states responsible for their failure to abide by the provisions of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law by filing lawsuits in the International Court of Justice in 2014. Under the NPT, the weapon states pledged to disarm while non-weapon states promised to not acquire nuclear weapons.

The small island nation, which – for 12 years – was a testing ground for US nuclear bombs, argued that it was “justified in taking the action because of the harm it suffered as a result of the nuclear arms race”, according to the Guardian.

As a result of the “Nuclear Zero lawsuits”, India, Pakistan and the UK have accepted the courts’ jurisdiction to hear the matter and are in the midst of court proceedings that may last two to three years. In the cases, the Marshall Islands have asked the Court to hold the states in breach of their obligations related to nuclear disarmament and to force them to comply, thus putting the weapons under strict and effective international control.

“Our people have suffered the catastrophic and irreparable damage of these weapons, and we vow to fight so that no one else on earth will ever again experience these atrocities,” de Brum said. “The continued existence of nuclear weapons and the terrible risk they pose to the world threaten us all.”

In addition to his efforts regarding nuclear disarmament, de Brum has led the drafting of the Marshall Islands’ constitution and advocated for its full independence before the UN Security Council, eventually resulting in the signing of the Compact of Free Association between Marshall Islands and the US in 1986. He has also sought to fight climate change by advocating for binding measures to be adopted in the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015.

The Awards were founded in 1980 and “honour courageous and effective solutions to secure human rights and respond to global crises”.

The award was given to ex-Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger and whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2014 “for his courage and skill in revealing the unprecedented extent of state surveillance violating basic democratic processes and constitutional rights.”

Other award laureates this year include Canada’s Sheila Watt-Cloutier for work in the Arctic, Uganda’s Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera for her advocacy on LGBTI rights, and Italy’s Gino Strada for his medical services to war victims.

October 2, 2015 Posted by | Legal, OCEANIA, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

European court upholds Sweden’s right to tax nuclear power stations

judge-1flag-EUCourt leaves Swedish nuclear tax unchanged, World Nuclear News, 1 Oct 15  Sweden can continue to tax nuclear power production following a ruling in the government’s favour by Europe’s highest court. The European Court of Justice’s seventh chamber decided that the tax does not fall within the scope of two European Council Directives and is therefore a national, rather than European Commission, matter.

OKG AB first contested the levy in 2009 in the Swedish courts, which in October 2013 sought the EU’s preliminary ruling. The company, which turns 50 this year, owns and operates three nuclear power units – Oskarshamn 1, 2 and 3 – which together account for 10% of total electricity generation in Sweden.

The company announced yesterday that it will hold an extraordinary shareholders’ meeting on 14 October to reach a decision on closing units 1 and 2. German EOn and Finnish Fortum own, respectively, 54.5% and 45.5% of the shares in OKG.

According to lobby group Swedenergy, a ruling in the company’s favour could have removed an annual cost of about 4.6 billion kronor ($540 million) for the country’s nuclear industry since the Swedish government increased the tax by 17% from 1 August.

The court document, published today on its website, says that levying a tax on the thermal power of nuclear reactors is not within the scope of Council Directive 2003/96/EC of 27 October 2003 that restructures the Community framework for the taxation of energy products and electricity. Nor is the tax an excise duty for the purposes of Council Directive 92/12/EEC of 25 February 1992 on general arrangements for, and the holding and movement of, products subject to excise duty……

October 2, 2015 Posted by | EUROPE, Legal, Sweden | Leave a comment


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