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Organised crime highly active in the nuclear industry

 “A stunning number of revelations in recent years on irregularities, fraud, counterfeiting, bribery, corruption, sabotage, theft, and other criminal activities in the nuclear industry in various countries suggest that there is a systemic issue of ‘criminal energy’ in the sector. …

Organised crime goes nuclear Ecologist, Creative Commons , Dr Jim Green , 4th October 2021 Fraud, counterfeiting, bribery, corruption, sabotage, theft, and other criminal activities are rife in global nuclear industry.

“As prime minister of Japan at the time of the [Fukushima] disaster, I now believe that the time has come for Japan and the world to end its reliance on nuclear power,” Naoto Kan writes in the introduction of the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2021 (WNISR).

“Around once a year, I still visit the remains of the Fukushima Daiichi site. Even though ten years have passed, progress in the decommissioning process remains frustratingly slow, driving home to me the importance of avoiding any repeat of such an event.

“The large quantities of radioactive debris that remain within the stricken reactors continue to release alarming levels of radiation. We already know from the example of Chernobyl that the timescale needed for this nuclear waste to drop to safe radioactivity levels will be measured in terms of centuries.”


This year’s WNISR is the work of 13 interdisciplinary experts from across the world. For nearly 30 years, these annual reports have provided important factual antidotes to industry promotion and obfuscation.

In broad terms, nuclear power has been stagnant for 30 years. WNISR notes that the world’s fleet of 415 power reactors is 23 fewer than the 2002 peak of 438, but nuclear capacity and generation have marginally increased due to uprating and larger reactors being built.

There is one big difference with the situation 30 years ago: the reactor fleet was young then, now it is old.

The ageing of the reactor fleet is a huge problem for the industry, as is the ageing of the nuclear workforce ‒ the silver tsunami. The average age of the world’s reactor fleet continues to rise, and by mid-2021 reached 30.9 years. The mean age of the 23 reactors shut down between 2016 and 2020 was 42.6 years.

The International Atomic Energy Agency anticipates the closure of around 10 reactors or 10 gigawatts (GW) per year over the next three decades. Reactor construction starts need to match closures just for the industry to maintain its 30-year pattern of stagnation.

Renewables………… Nuclear power’s contribution to global electricity supply has fallen from a peak of 17.5 percent in 1996 to 10.1 percent in 2020 – a 4.3 percent share of global commercial primary energy consumption.

Renewables reached an estimated 29 percent share of global electricity generation in 2020, a record share. Non-hydro renewables at 10.7 percent in 2020 overtook nuclear in 2019 and the gap grew in 2020 with non-hydro renewables generating 16.5 percent more electricity than nuclear reactors.

Total investment in new renewable electricity exceeded US$300 billion in 2020, including US$142 billion investment in wind and US$149 billion in solar. Investment in renewables was 17 times greater than nuclear investment of around US$18 billion.


In 2020, a record 256 GW of renewable capacity were added to the world’s power grids, including 111 GW of wind and 127 GW of solar. There was a net gain of 0.4 GW of nuclear capacity in 2020.

Despite the marginal increase in nuclear capacity in 2020, nuclear generation fell by 3.9 percent. That compares to a 21 percent increase in solar generation, and 12 percent for wind power……….


In the European Union, renewable power generation at 38 percent overtook fossil fuels at 37 percent in 2020 while nuclear power accounted for 25 percent. Last year was the first year that non-hydro renewables generated more power than nuclear in the EU……………..


WNISR details the slow and unsteady progress of small modular reactors. The report notes that “so-called advanced reactors of various designs, including so-called Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), make a lot of noise in the media but their promoters have provided little evidence for any implementation scheme before a decade at the very least.”

WNISR notes that previous reports have covered irregularities, fraud, counterfeiting, corruption, and other criminal activities in the nuclear sector. This year’s report dedicates a chapter to nuclear criminality and includes 14 case studies with serious implications – including safety and public governance – that came to trial in the period 2010-2020.

The report states: “A stunning number of revelations in recent years on irregularities, fraud, counterfeiting, bribery, corruption, sabotage, theft, and other criminal activities in the nuclear industry in various countries suggest that there is a systemic issue of ‘criminal energy’ in the sector. …

“Although not comprehensive, this analysis offers several noteworthy insights: Criminal activities in the nuclear sector are not new. Some major scandals date back decades or have been ongoing for decades.

“Organized crime organizations have been supplying workers to nuclear sites – e.g. the Yakuza in Japan – for over a decade.


“Serious insider sabotage has hit major nuclear countries in recent years – like a Belgian nuclear power plant – without ever leading to arrests.

“There is no systematic, comprehensive, public database on the issue. In 2019, the IAEA released a report on cases of counterfeit or fraudulent items in at least seven countries since at least the 1990s.

“In Transparency International’s 2020 Corruption Perceptions Index about half of the 35 countries operating or constructing nuclear power plants on their territory rate under 50 out of 100.

“In the Bribery Payers Index (BPI, last published in 2011), seven out of the ten worst rated countries operate or are building nuclear power plants on their territory.”

The discussion about whether safe nuclear power can be generated in the right circumstances remains white hot. However, we clearly do not live under the right circumstances. The risks from nuclear – both energy and weapons – remains existential.

This Author

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth Australia and an organiser of a global NGO statement on nuclear power and climate change to be released ahead of COP26.

October 7, 2021 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, secrets,lies and civil liberties

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