The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Ever increasing piles of toxic Russian radioactive trash – a challenge for Norway and Russia to clean up

some of the biggest dangers still lie ahead, and many of them come back to that small green train of so many years ago. An updated and safer versions of it will be hauling Andreyeva Bay’s waste south from Murmansk, but that shouldn’t belie the fact that transporting spent nuclear fuel over such distances is always dangerous.

More dangerous still is the location where the spent fuel will end up, which is one of the most radioactively contaminated spots in the world.

Decades of piled up nuclear fuel bids farewell to Andreyeva Bay  Two decades ago, a green four-car train would make the rounds every few months to Russia’s snowy Kola Peninsula to cart nuclear fuel and radioactive waste more than 3000 kilometers south from the Arctic to the Ural Mountains. June 23, 2017 by Charles Digges

Two decades ago, a green four-car train would make the rounds every few months to Russia’s snowy Kola Peninsula to cart nuclear fuel and radioactive waste more than 3000 kilometers south from the Arctic to the Ural Mountains.

At the time, the lonely rail artery was the center of a logistical and financial bottleneck that made Northwest Russia, home of the once feared Soviet nuclear fleet, a toxic dumping ground shrouded in military secrecy.

More than a hundred rusted out submarines bobbed in the icy waters at dockside, their reactors still loaded with nuclear fuel, threating to sink or worse. Further from shore and under the waves laid other submarines and nuclear waste intentionally scuttled by the navy. Still more radioactive spent fuel was piling up in storage tanks and open-air bins, on military bases and in shipyards.

One of those places was Andreyeva Bay, a run down nuclear submarine maintenance yard just 55 kilometers from the Norwegian border. Since the birth of the nuclear navy in the 1960s, the yard came to be a dumping ground for 22,000 spent nuclear fuel assemblies offloaded from hundreds of submarines. Cracks in storage pools made worse by the hard Arctic freeze threatened to contaminate the Barents Sea. At one point, experts even feared the radioactive morgue might spark an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction.

Infrastructure, technology and the Kremlin were failing to keep up with the mushrooming catastrophe. The nuclear fuel train could only bear away 588 fuel assemblies at a time three or four times a year – little more than the contents of one nuclear submarine per trip. Even if the train ran on schedule, removing broken or deformed nuclear fuel elements at Andreyeva Bay was still seen as impossible.

Yet even mentioning the environmental and security storm clouds was taboo: While the Navy begged the public to donate potatoes to feed sailors it was too broke to pay, the Kremlin prosecuted environmentalists who drew attention to the mounting desperation as spies.

In the bleak and politically chaotic late 1990s, many experts, like Bellona’s Andrei Zolotkov, thought that the carcinogenic remains of the Cold War would lie neglected at Andreyeva Bay for decades – or at least until Russia somehow woke up wealthy enough to deal with them.

Now, Russia is only slightly better off, yet the first containers of spent nuclear at Andreyeva Bay will begin to be bourn away by sea on June 27, marking the culmination of a multi-million dollar international effort sparked by Bellona in 1995.

The first container was packed last month. It and the 2999 that will follow will leave Andreyeva Bay on specially outfitted ships like the Rossita – itself a bit of expertise donated by Italy under the Northern Dimensions Environmental Partnership, an enormous Russian nuclear cleanup fund managed by the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development.

The transport ships will join a railhead at Atomflot, Murmansk’s nuclear icebreaker port, and from there, the fuel containers will go by train to the Mayak Chemical Combine, near the Urals city of Chelyabinsk, for reprocessing.

It’s a mammoth effort. A total of about 40 ship-to-train transports will have to be made before the bulk of the fuel is cleared out over the coming five years. But when it’s done, one of the most deviling radiation threats in the Arctic will be history.

Bring the waste out of the shadows

“The Andreyeva Bay project has shown that international projects aimed at liquidating nuclear and radioactive threats can be successful,” said Alexander Nikitin, the Bellona expert who was charged with espionage and later acquitted for bringing to light the embarrassing truth of Russia’s northern nuclear fleet more than 20 years ago. “This is proof that such projects must continue.”

The success hasn’t necessarily loosened the grip of the Soviet-era mindset. Russian nuclear officials have so far denied Norwegian television cameras access to film the first nuclear waste departure from Andreyeva Bay, an event that will be attended by the country’s foreign minster, Børge Brende, Russian officials and Bellona staff.

It also hasn’t eased Kremlin paranoia toward Bellona and its efforts to spur international attention and bring foreign funding to bear on Cold War nuclear relics. Zolotkov’s Bellona Murmansk, which helped dislodge Andreyeva Bay’s troubles from the shadows, was targeted by Russia’s foreign agent law in 2015 and closed down. The Environmental Rights Center Bellona, headed by Nikitin, followed this year.

But Zolotkov said the progress transcends politics.

“Even in complex political circumstances, international cooperation in nuclear and radiation safety in Russia’s North continues,” he said.

Cracks and contamination

Andreyeva Bay had been piling up spent nuclear submarine fuel for more than two decades when its troubles began in earnest in 1982. That year, a crack developed in its now-notorious Building 5, a storage pool for thousands of spent fuel assemblies. The ensuing leak threatened to dump a stew of plutonium, uranium and other fission products into Litsa Fjord, fouling the Barents Sea.

The water was drained and the fuel painstakingly moved, but that revealed other problems. The fuel elements from Building 5 needed somewhere to go, so they were rushed into hastily arranged storage facilities that were supposed to be only temporary. Technicians stuffed the fuel elements into three dry storage buildings and cemented them in. The temporary storage solution has now spanned the last 30 years. Meanwhile the leaking radioactive water contaminated much of the soil around Building 5.

It took the government years to catch up to the problem. In 1995, the Murmansk regional government paid it first visit to the secretive military site and, based on what it saw, shut down its operations. Five years later Moscow finally got involved, taking Andreyeva Bay out of the military’s hands and giving it to the mainly civilian Ministry of Atomic Energy, now Rosatom.

Rosatom helped coalesce a nuclear waste-handling agency in Murmansk, called SevRAO, to deal with the problem. Yet even in 2000, SevRAO was essentially working from scratch. Anatoly Grigoriev, a Rosatom nuclear safety official said last year that there weren’t even documents detailing what waste and fuel was stored where, much less an infrastructure to help safely get rid of it.

Bellona leads the charge

Norway, at Bellona’s urging, led the charge to pitch in.

Finally, in 2001, an enclosure was built over the three storage buildings to prevent further contamination while technicians worked to remove the spent fuel and load it into cases. Roads were built and cranes were brought in. Personnel decontamination posts went up, along with a laboratory complex and power lines.

A host of nations pumped funding into the burgeoning city whose central industry was safely packing up decades of nuclear fuel from Russia’s past nuclear soldiers. Starting in 2003, France, Germany, Japan, Italy, Canada and Great Britain, joined by Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and the European Commission pooled resources for a total contribution of $70 million over several years.

But Norway has led the pack by far, contributing some $230 million over the past 20 years toward safely removing Andreyeva Bay’s spend nuclear fuel – a national movement spawned when Bellona published its first report on Northwest Russia’s nuclear hazards in 1996.

“For Bellona, this event is a very important development,” said Zolotkov. “Bellona was the first group to speak openly about the problems of Andreyeva Bay, and Bellona stepped forward with a report on the developing situation.”

Nikitin agreed. “This is very important for the outlook of our work in Russia because all now see that we are capable of achieving a result, and not simply criticizing and protesting.”

In many ways, however, some of the biggest dangers still lie ahead, and many of them come back to that small green train of so many years ago. An updated and safer versions of it will be hauling Andreyeva Bay’s waste south from Murmansk, but that shouldn’t belie the fact that transporting spent nuclear fuel over such distances is always dangerous.

New dangers to bring to light

More dangerous still is the location where the spent fuel will end up, which is one of the most radioactively contaminated spots in the world.

The Mayak Chemical Combine, the birthplace of the first Soviet atomic Bomb, is the one facility in Russia capable of reprocessing spent fuel from submarines. It also gave the country its first nuclear disaster. In 1957, a tank holding nuclear waste exploded, sending a cloud of radioactivity from Chelyabinsk to Yekaterinburg and forced the evacuation of 17,000 people. Called the Kyshtym Disaster, the accident came to be regarded as Chernobyl’s more secretive older brother.

Since Mayak ramped up fuel reprocessing at its RT-1 facility in 1977, contamination has only intensified. Radioactive byproducts arising from the chemical separation of plutonium and uranium have been dumped into local rivers and lakes. Cancer rates among the local population continue to rise. The government has partially acknowledged the issue and has made stutter-step attempts to move a number of small villages away from the radioactively polluted Techa River. In the end though, those efforts only displaced villagers from one contaminated spot to another, solving nothing.

Some activists have noted that moving Andreyeva Bay’s legacy of Cold War reactor fuel 3,000 kilometers south to Mayak is a similar exercise in displacement.

Nadezhda Kutepova, a long time advocate for those afflicted by Mayak’s pollution, who was run out of the country on manufactured espionage suspicions, said Norway’s contribution to moving Andreyeva Bay’s fuel was a waste of money.

She and others recently told the Independent Barents Observer they thought the Norwegian government would be lessening the woes of one radioactively contaminated area in the country at the expense of another.

While Niktin acknowledged that Mayak was far from ideal, he noted that it was the only place in Russia that had the technology to handle the Andreyeva fuel.

But he said that shipping the fuel to Mayak also ratchets up Bellona’s responsibility for bringing to light yet newer stages of dealing with Russia’s radioactive legacy.

“The task of the public, and Bellona with it, is to ensure that Mayak doesn’t use any dirty technologies that end up throwing radioactive waste into the environment,” he said. “We must also step up to liquidate the injuries that have already happened to the environment as a result of Mayak’s work and the accident.”

In other words, if Andreyeva Bay is a measure of Bellona’s success, Mayak could repeat that history.

June 24, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, Reference, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

As the global renewable energy transition speeds up, Russia gambles on nuclear energy

Experts have expressed concern that these ambitious development plans are proceeding without adequate plans for disposal of nuclear waste. The Bellona Foundation, an organization that conducts independent research into international nuclear and environmental issues, has been critical of the lack of planning for nuclear waste processing and disposal, and has pointed out that dependency on Russia for nuclear fuel may leave countries particularly vulnerable in the event of a sour political climate.

Russia and Nuclear Power,June 21, 2017 , by Emma Claire Foley

In an age where sources of renewable energy are becoming an increasingly cost-efficient means of providing electricity, Russia is still going nuclear.

Nuclear energy is losing its luster in many parts of the world. In the United States, the drop in the cost of renewables production is making them a more attractive electricity-generation option than nuclear power. France, a country long associated with nuclear power, is also looking to reduce its reliance on reactors. And even China is now investing more in developing wind farms than it is in nuclear infrastructure.

Russia, though, is bucking the trend. Nuclear energy accounts for 11 percent of domestic power production, while the share of wind and solar power generation remains negligible, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Overall, more than 40 percent of Russian power is generated by natural gas. Meanwhile, hydropower is the main renewable source of power in Russia, responsible for a roughly 20-percent share of the overall mix.

Russia has taken steps in recent months to develop its wind power potential. But development efforts are hampered by legislation that requires at least 40 percent of all renewable-energy infrastructure to be locally produced. To meet the requirement, Russia needs to find a substantial amount of foreign investment.

In the realm of international trade, Russia is trying to turn its slow embrace of renewables into an advantage. Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear company, is by far the most active player these days in the international market for nuclear power technologies. Rosatom currently has agreements to provide plants, fuel or expertise in 20 countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America. With the notable exception of the Barakah Atomic Energy Station in the United Arab Emirates, which is being built by the Korea Electric Power Corporation, Russia is the most heavily involved of any nuclear-exporting countries in developing nuclear power facilities in the Middle East.

Rosatom’s most recent move in the Middle East was a deal, sealed in late May, to construct Egypt’s first nuclear power plant, pending final approval by the Egyptian government. The pact is the latest of four bilateral agreements signed by Egypt and Russia concerning the nuclear power station at El Dabaa, approximately 200 miles west of Cairo on Egypt’s north coast. The first of these, signed in late 2015, covered the construction and maintenance of the plant for a 10-year period, and included a stipulation that Russia would provide fuel for the plant for 60 years.

The plant would consist of four VVER-1200 reactors, a new design based on the earlier VVER-1000 model developed in the Soviet Union in the mid-1970s. The first VVER-1200 was brought online earlier this year at Russia’s Novovoronezh plant. It is projected to begin producing power in 2024.

Egypt is one of four countries in and around the Middle East where Rosatom has built, or plans to build, nuclear power facilities. Rosatom’s subsidiary, Atomenergostroy, which handles the company’s overseas construction projects, has contracts to build plants in Jordan and Turkey. In addition, it is building additional reactors at Iran’s Bushehr facility. The company will provide financing, staff, and fuel, while retaining ownership of the plants and receiving revenue from the power they produce.

Russia has provided approximately 50 percent of the financing for Turkey’s plant at Akkuyu, and will provide fuel for its operation once construction is complete. Upwards of 85 percent of the financing for the El Dabaa project in Egypt is to come in the form of loans from Russia, a country in the midst of an economic downturn brought on by the global fall in fossil fuel prices.

Egypt is also exploring options for a second nuclear power plant to be built on its coast. During the Cold War, both the United States and the Soviet Union provided supplies, facilities, and training to Middle Eastern countries in an effort to promote nuclear power. The governments of Jordan and Egypt expressed interest at the time in developing nuclear power facilities in the mid-1950s, and the Soviet Union began construction on a research reactor in Egypt in 1961. Similar reactors were built in Iraq in 1967 and in Libya in 1981. In 1995, Russia’s Ministry of Atomic Energy signed a contract to take over construction of the Bushehr plant.

In 2010, Rosatom was granted the right to open offices in embassies abroad by a change in laws governing its operations. It did so in Dubai and Beijing in April of 2016, and the company’s website now boasts over $133 billion USD in overseas orders for its products.
Rosatom has also partnered with the International Atomic Energy Agency to fund nuclear infrastructure development internationally, pledging $1.8 million as well as equipment and expertise to equip countries that hope to develop nuclear power capacities in the future.
Experts have expressed concern that these ambitious development plans are proceeding without adequate plans for disposal of nuclear waste. The Bellona Foundation, an organization that conducts independent research into international nuclear and environmental issues, has been critical of the lack of planning for nuclear waste processing and disposal, and has pointed out that dependency on Russia for nuclear fuel may leave countries particularly vulnerable in the event of a sour political climate.

June 23, 2017 Posted by | marketing, politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

Russia holds AtomExpo – a triumph of nuclear marketing

Further agreements flow from AtomExpo, World Nuclear News, 21 June 2017  More cooperation agreements and contracts have been signed by Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom and its subsidiaries during the IX AtomExpo International Forum it is hosting this week in Moscow. The latest agreements, with Asian and European companies, cover collaboration in a wide range of nuclear-related areas and beyond.

A cooperation program for 2017-2019 was signed yesterday by Rosatom and French energy company Engie. The document was signed by Kirill Komarov, first deputy director-general for international business at Rosatom, and Jan Bartak, Engie nuclear development director. The cooperation program contains more than 20 specific projects in the field of nuclear power plant maintenance and nuclear fuel cycle services.

Rosatom’s nuclear fuel manufacturing subsidiary Tenex signed an agreement with Belgium’s Synatom to extend an existing long-term enriched uranium supply contract. The document envisages extending the contract until 2022 and increasing the volume of enriched uranium exported. Tenex has been supplying uranium products to Synatom since 1975.

Czech Republic  An MOU to cooperate in repairing welding joints in steam generator vessels for VVER-440 units was signed between JSC Rusatom Service and the Czech Republic’s Skoda JS. The aim of the MOU is to develop cooperation between the two companies and identify specific projects for collaboration.

The two companies also signed a contract on the delivery of equipment for unit 2 of the Metsamor nuclear power plant in Armenia. Skoda JS will supply equipment for the control and protection system, which is to be replaced during a scheduled outage in 2018 as part of work to extend the operating period of the unit.

Rosatom’s Komarov also signed an MOU with the Czech Power Industry Alliance (CPIA) aimed at developing cooperation in nuclear energy. “That implies, first of all, CPIA member countries’ participation in Rosatom’s projects in Russia and abroad,” Rosatom said. “In its turn, the Alliance is ready to assist in obtaining export finance for Czech companies to be able to take part in the projects.”

Asian collaboration…….

Workforce development  An MOU in the area of personnel training for nuclear power programs was signed yesterday between Rosatom Central Institute for Continuing Education and Training (Rosatom-CICE&T) and global testing, inspection and certification services company Bureau Veritas.

Signed by Rosatom-CICE&T rector Iurii Seleznev and Bureau Veritas vice president of nuclear services in Europe Laurent Kueny, the MOU aims to foster cooperation in the field of research, education and training in nuclear science and technology. The organisations agreed to collaborate in such areas as the exchange of materials and lecturers, as well as distance learning……..

June 23, 2017 Posted by | marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

Russia marketing nuclear power to Uganda

Uganda Could Become The First African Country To Develop Nuclear Power by Odunayo Eweniyi , 22 June 17 Like there’s not enough wrong in Africa right now, Uganda has signed a deal with Russia to develop uranium into nuclear power for peaceful purposes. Not to mention that it’s really suspicious that Russia seems intent on handing nuclear power to anyone and everyone who will take it. But let’s not worry, they said it’s for peaceful purposes.

Uganda’s State Minister for Minerals, Simon D’Ujanga and Russia’s Deputy Director-General of Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation, Nikolai Spasskiy, signed the Memorandum of Understanding in Moscow, and it includes collaboration in the areas of radiological and physical security, fundamental and applied researches, human resource training, and nuclear research centres.

The discussions with Russia started last October, shortly after the launch of the Uganda-Russian Joint Permanent Commission, an inter-governmental framework for economic, scientific and technical cooperation.

 Uganda also has ongoing discussions with China to help develop peaceful nuclear power. This agreement with Russia comes just a month after a team from Uganda’s Ministry of Energy travelled to meet with the Zhonguan Engineering Corporation (CZEC), a subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

At least 8 countries in Africa are actively considering starting nuclear programs – Nigeria (don’t laugh), Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia; but the question is why? Emerging countries like the ones listed generally do not have the expertise for this, so as opposed to focusing on building and relying on licenses from developed countries who arguably have their own agendas when sponsoring developments like this one in African countries, why don’t we focus on building the expertise first?

And African countries are largely unable to manage the present grid system that we have, where do we get the assurance that they can manage nuclear power plants, which they say are built for peaceful purposes, but could just as easily harm citizens?

June 23, 2017 Posted by | AFRICA, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

USA’s Michael Flynn involved in a secret hare-brained nuclear scheme with Russia and Saudi Arabia

the genius idea developed by Flynn and Co. was a U.S.-Russian partnership to build and operate nuclear plants and export the dangerous spent fuel under strict controls

It would be “funded entirely by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries” The kingdom’s upfront cost? “Close to a trillion dollars” 

the Saudis would recoup their costs by selling energy to Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar—

BY JEFF STEIN ON 6/9/17     By the time Michael Flynn was fired as President Donald Trump’s nationalsecurity adviser in February, he had made a lot of bad decisions. One was taking money from the Russians (and failing to disclose it); another was taking money under the table from the Turks. But an overlooked line in his financial disclosure form, which he was forced to amend to detail those foreign payments, reveals he was also involved in one of the most audacious—and some say harebrained—schemes in recent memory:

In 2015 and 2016, according to his filing, Flynn was an adviser to X-Co Dynamics Inc./Iron Bridge Group, which at first glance looks like just another Pentagon consultancy that ex-military officers use to fatten their wallets. Its chairman and CEO was retired Admiral Michael Hewitt; another retiredadmiral, Frank “Skip” Bowman, who oversaw the Navy’s nuclear programs, was an adviser. Other top guns associated with it were former National Security Agency boss Keith Alexander and retired Marine Corps General James “Hoss” Cartwright, former vice chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose stellar career was marred when he was prosecuted last year for lying to the FBI during a leak investigation.

In the summer of 2015, knowledgeable sources tell Newsweek, Flynn flew to Egypt and Israel on behalf of X-Co/Iron Bridge. His mission: to gauge attitudes in Cairo and Jerusalem toward a fantastical plan for a joint U.S.-Russian (and Saudi-financed) program to get control over the Arab world’s rush to acquire nuclear power. At the core of their concern was a fear that states in the volatile Middle East would have inadequate security for the plants and safeguards for their radioactive waste—the stuff of nuclear bombs.

But no less a concern for Flynn and his partners was the moribund U.S. nuclear industry, which was losing out to Russian and even South Korean contractors in the region. Or as Stuart Solomon, a top executive along with Hewitt at his new venture, IP3 (International Peace, Power and Prosperity), put it in a recent speech to industry executives, “We find ourselves…standing on the sidelines and watching the competition pass us by.”

That the oil-rich, sun-soaked Arab Middle East would pursue nuclear energy seems paradoxical. But as The Economist noted in 2015, “Demand for electricity is rising, along with pressure to lower carbon emissions; nuclear plants tick both boxes.” And some of the region’s major players, like Egypt and Jordan, don’t have oil and gas resources and “want nuclear power to shore up the security of their energy supplies,” The Economist said.

So the genius idea developed by Flynn and Co. was a U.S.-Russian partnership to build and operate plants and export the dangerous spent fuel under strict controls. Flynn’s role would be helping X-Co/Iron Bridge design and implement a vast security network for the entire enterprise, according to an internal memo by ACU Strategic Partners, one of the lead companies involved, obtained by Newsweek.

Not only would the project revive the U.S. nuclear industry, but it would cost American taxpayers nothing, its principals asserted. It would be “funded entirely by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries,” according to the ACU memo. The kingdom’s upfront cost? “Close to a trillion dollars,” says a project insider, who asked for anonymity in exchange for discussing internal matters. Theoretically, the Saudis would recoup their costs by selling energy to Egypt, Jordan, Yemen and Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar—which hosts the largest U.S. military base in the region. (Qatar doesn’t seem to be an option for the moment, since six of the Arab states, led by the Saudis, severed diplomatic relations with it on June 5 over its alleged support of terrorism.)

Left out of this grand nuclear scheme: Iran (along with Syria, its war-ravaged Shiite proxy). In fact, “it was always part of the project that Russia’s involvement…would tilt Russia away from Iran,” Fred Johnson, ACU’s chief economist, wrote in an email to his advisers obtained by Newsweek. Not only would Russia earn cash for being a dumping ground for radioactive waste, Johnson wrote, but the consortium would purchase “Russian military hardware” to compensate Moscow for losing military sales to Iran.

“Further plans to sideline Iran,” Johnson wrote, included “the development of X-Co,” the Hewitt company that Flynn was advising, “with its very visible deployment of Sea Launch,” a Russian company “that would provide a platform for rockets.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions talks with former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn inside of the inaugural parade reviewing stand in front of the White House on January 20, 2017 in Washington, 

It’s unclear whether Flynn was involved in negotiating with Sea Launch. The former general, now being pursued by federal investigators probing contacts between Russian officials and Trump’s inner circle, did not respond to an inquiry from Newsweek. People associated with the Middle East project say they thought Flynn’s involvement was limited to sounding out the Egyptians and Israelis on security aspects of the enterprise. He listed no income from X-Co/Iron Bridge on his financial disclosure form and “was not paid,” except for his travel expenses, according to Thomas Cochran, a prominent scientist and nuclear nonproliferation proponent involved with the project. (The cost of business-class round-trip airfare and exclusive hotels for the trip would have ranged between $10,000 and $15,000.)

Hewitt denied that isolating Iran was part of the plan. “X-Co wasn’t created to simply ‘sideline Iran,’” he responded to Johnson and their associates in an email. “It was designed to set the conditions for stability which were the precursors to building 40 plants” and to “solidify the GCC, Jordan, Egypt under a security construct, led by two superpowers, using state of the art capability.”

But the project faced opposition from the Obama administration, Cochran says. “They didn’t want to do it with the Russians and didn’t want to do it while they were negotiating the Iran deal,” he tells Newsweek.

Trump’s embrace of Russian President Vladimir Putin, on the other hand, offered an attractive possibility. And when Flynn, who had connections to the Russians, became the candidate’s national security adviser, the ACU team, led by British-American dealmaker Alex Copson, suddenly seemed to have an inside man. Last year, Copson was touting such connections when he tried to buy an unfinished nuclear plant in Alabama in concert with the Russians, telling a Huntsville reporter that “Alabama’s two senators”—both Republicans, and one, Jeff Sessions, then a top Trump campaign adviser—“can help the next administration move this project forward.” Copson’s bid for the plant failed.

When reports surfaced that the FBI was investigating possible collusion between the Russians and the Trump campaign, however, some of Copson’s partners and advisers decided it was time to walk away. “When Copson decided he was going to saddle up with the Trump team, that was the last straw for me,” the insider says. “I said it’s time to regroup.”

The Saudis hadn’t shown much interest anyway, the insider says. “Copson was promising the advisers lots of money if the Saudis put up money,” but it failed to materialize. “And so there’s nothing that anyone was going to gain unless the project was a success,” he tells Newsweek.

Hewitt and his associates also split from ACU to pursue their own path toward a nuclear-powered Middle East, one that would swap in China for Russia as a nuclear partner, two sources close to the project say. (Hewitt declined to discuss plans for IP3, telling Newsweek he was “working hard to create our public persona right now.”)

But the highly regarded Cochran stayed with ACU. A longtime senior scientist at the Natural Resources Defense Council, where he was director of its nuclear program, Cochran was the author of countless studies and articles over the decades and had initiated with Moscow the U.S.-Soviet nuclear test ban verification project in 1986. He “has extraordinary chutzpah,” a writer for Scientific American observed in 1998. “He is willing to take on what most people wouldn’t bother with because they assume it’s hopeless.”

Or nuts. In 2001, a writer for the left-wing In These Times weekly got hold of a draft proposal for a 1990s-era project that Cochran was involved in, the Nuclear Proliferation Trust, which envisioned taking control of spent fuel from reactors around the world and shipping it to Russia “on large ships mounted with an arsenal of weapons designed to ward off nuclear pirates,” wrote Jeffrey St. Clair. “The big question is what happens to the waste after it arrives in Russia.” Would NPT guards be authorized to fire on rogue Russian soldiers or Chechen rebels? And what would stop corrupt Russians from selling weapons-grade uranium to anyone who could pony up the cash?

Similar concerns are all the more reason to partner with the Russians today in an ironclad security arrangement, Hewitt says. “We’re always going to be engaged in the security of the Middle East,” he told a May gathering at the Nuclear Energy Institute. “It is in our best interests to ensure that nuclear power is introduced with all of the safety [standards of the U.S.].”

Cochran urges critics not to lose focus on the big picture, which he alternately likens to launching the U.S. Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after World War II, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, which tamed rivers and brought electricity and industrial development to the American South in the 1930s. “It would provide energy and jobs and so forth for countries like Egypt and others in the region,” he says, “so that these young men have got something more useful to do than go out and shoot each other.”

For a project fraught with such diplomatic and logistical minefields, however, Copson is an odd choice to lead ACU into the Middle East. “A sometime bass player with the British rock band Iron Butterfly,” according to Time, Copson once famously “described the natives of the Marshall Islands as ‘fat, lazy fucks’ when they nixed one of his nuke dump schemes” in the Central Pacific Ocean, the muckraking journalist Greg Palast wrote in 2001. (The islands are now disappearing under rising seas.)

Copson did not respond to several calls and emails asking for comment. But it’s not likely the Trump team, many of whom are under close scrutiny for their undisclosed Russian contacts, will be any help to Copson now. And the Saudis aren’t “taking the kind of steps that would be required to really get serious about setting up a civil nuclear-energy infrastructure,” says Tristan Volpe, a fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C.

Others suspect the Saudis are up to something more nefarious because of the U.S.-led nuclear deal with Iran. The Saudis “have big ambitions for nuclear,” says David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, D.C. “The issue is whether they cross over into any processing or enrichment” with secret partners like Pakistan or China, he says.

Flynn once expressed deep worries about a Saudi-Iranian nuclear arms race. In a January 2016 interview with Al-Jazeera, he sounded like Cochran, the elder statesman of the nonproliferation movement. “An entirely new economy is what this region needs,” he said, especially for the millions of unemployed young men living under corrupt autocracies and tempted by extremism. “You’ve got to give them something else to do. If you don’t, they’re going to turn on their own governments.”

But that was before he hitched up with Trump, who has embraced the Saudi monarchy and ratcheted up his rhetoric against Iran. Talk of a grand scheme to create jobs in the Middle East, meanwhile, has evaporated, with the Russia scandal enveloping not only Flynn but Trump’s entire presidency.

Correction: An earlier version of this story called Thomas Cochran a onetime president of the Natural Resources Defense Council. He was director of its nuclear program.

June 21, 2017 Posted by | Russia, Saudi Arabia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Russia keen to put Philippines into debt as it markets its Rosatom nuclear reactors

Duterte dials Russia for nuclear power future, Joel Guinto, ABS-CBN News,  Jun 19 2017 “…….President Rodrigo Duterte is bringing the Philippines closer to tapping nuclear power than any of his immediate predecessors by dialing Russia, which is offering its technology to the world. Duterte’s government forged an agreement with the Russian State Atomic Energy Corp. (ROSATOM) for the possible development of nuclear infrastructure, personnel training, and courting public support for the technology following his visit to Moscow last month.

Russia also offered to supply the Philippines with nuclear power barges and capsules.

ROSATOM on Monday opened an showcase of Russian nuclear technology, hoping to attract new clients from around the world, including the Philippines.

“We want to cooperate and be partners” said Sergey Kirienko, first deputy chief in the office of Russian President Vladimir Putin……

Project financing is the biggest concern of developing economies that seek to tap nuclear power, said Iliya Rebrov, economic and finance director at ROSATOM.

Rebrov said ROSATOM helps its clients secure funding from various sources, including loans.

“The key competitive factor is the ability of the contractor to arrange financing,” Rebrov said, citing a recent wind-farm project in southern Russia that was financed with Gazprombank.

ROSATOM is “very confident” in the world market as it diversifies its offerings to meet growing demand, said Kirill Komarov, the company’s First Deputy Director general for corporate development and international business.

June 21, 2017 Posted by | marketing, Philippines, Russia | Leave a comment


ROSATOM SAYS IT HAS PLANS TO DEVELOP NUCLEAR CLUSTER IN SA  In April, the Western Cape High Court ruled that government’s decision to call for proposals for the procurement of 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy was unlawful and unconstitutional.Tara Penny JOHANNESBURG – Russia’s Rosatom has confirmed it is in contact with South African authorities on plans concerning the civilian use of nuclear energy.

The CEO of Rosatom’s foreign unit, Anastasia Zoteyeva made the comment while answering questions on the sidelines of a conference in Moscow on Monday morning.

She also told reporters that the Russian state nuclear corporation is proposing to develop a whole nuclear cluster in South Africa.

In April, the Western Cape High Court ruled that government’s decision to call for proposals for the procurement of 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy was unlawful and unconstitutional.

Earthlife Africa, which brought the case, said the judgment vindicates its argument that the process government has followed was unlawful because it failed to consult the public about its decision.

The case was first brought in October 2015, when Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute argued that former Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersen had not consulted the public nor Parliament before deciding to procure 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear power.

The judgment meant all deals that government had pursued with Russia and the United States were not valid.

June 21, 2017 Posted by | marketing, politics international, Russia, South Africa | Leave a comment

Russia’s Rosatom denies any ‘secret deal’ with South Africa

Russia’s Rosatom says no ‘secret deal’ with South Africa Jun 20, 2017, MOSCOW,   – Deputy chief executive officer of Russia’s state nuclear firm Rosatom Kirill Komarov told a briefing on Tuesday that there was no “secret deal” between Russia and South Africa over nuclear projects.


He also said the nuclear pact between two countries from 2014 was standard for such circumstances.

Russia and South Africa discussed joint nuclear projects but those plans were disrupted after South Africa’s High Court deemed a nuclear cooperation pact with Russia unlawful earlier this year. (Reporting by Alexander Winning; writing by Maria Tsvetkova; editing by Vladimir Soldatkin)

June 21, 2017 Posted by | politics international, Russia, South Africa | Leave a comment

Russia pushing for selling nuclear reactors to India, Bangladesh, China

Rosatom may start building new nuclear power plants in India and Bangladesh   June 20, MOSCOW, Rosatom plans to initiate main activities for construction of the second stage of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) in India, start building Ruppur NPP in Bangladesh ad commission power units at Tianwan NPP in China and two NPPs in Russia, First Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Russian nuclear corporation Rosatom Kirill Komarov said on Tuesday.

“We have serious ambitious plans on new starts this year because the third unit of Tianwan [NPP] in China and the fourth unit of Rostov NPP in Russia should start this year. We endeavor to start the first unit of Leningrad NPP-2 this year,” Komarov said. “We expect concreting start for the third and the fourth units of Kudankulam NPP in India this summer. We also expect concreting start on Ruppur site in Bangladesh, where we are building a two-unit NPP,” he added.

Rosatom has many plans for projects in Europe during this year, Komarov said.

Rosatom has reached agreements on construction of 34 power units across the globe to date.

June 21, 2017 Posted by | ASIA, India, marketing, Russia | 2 Comments

Russia marketing nuclear power to Zambia

Russia’s Rosatom to review opportunity of nuclear power plant building in Zambia   June 19 MOSCOW, Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom will prepare a preliminary feasibility study for construction of a nuclear power plant (NPP) in Zambia. A relevant agreement was signed between the parties within the Atomexpo 2017 exhibition framework, TASS reports on Monday.

This document signifies the first stage of the project execution prior to making an investment decision on NPP construction in Zambia, Rosatom says.

A contract for services of assessment and development of the nuclear infrastructure in Zambia, a contractor for preliminary engineering survey in Zambia by Rosatom’s affiliate Atomstroiexport and an agreement on setup of a nuclear science and technology center in Zambia were signed also.

Memoranda of understanding and cooperation in peaceful use of nuclear energy with Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia were also signed within the forum framework.

June 21, 2017 Posted by | AFRICA, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

Russia sells 49 percent stake in Akkuyu nuclear project to Turkish companies

Russia’s Rosatom sells 49 percent stake in Akkuyu nuclear project to Turkish companies, Hurriyet Daily News, 19 June 17 MOSCOWRussia’s state-owned nuclear energy conglomerate Rosatom agreed to sell a 49 percent stake in a giant nuclear project in southern Turkey to Turkish investors in a preliminary agreement on June 19 on the sidelines of a nuclear conference in Moscow.

The stake in the Akkuyu project was sold for an undisclosed sum to the three Turkish companies Cengiz, Kolin and Kalyon, dubbed CKK as a consortium, which are quite active in construction and energy sectors. Each of these companies will have an equal stake.

The shareholders’ agreement will be signed by the end of the year, the consortium said in a follow-up press release. The sum of the deal is then expected to be revealed, according to the press release.

Turkey and Russia signed an intergovernmental agreement to build and operate a nuclear power plant in the southern province of Mersin’s Akkuyu in 2010. According to the agreement, Russian companies would own a minimum of 51 percent of stake in the nuclear power plant, marking a first in Turkey.

The respective parties are planning to start construction this year. ……—–.aspx?pageID=238&nID=114520&NewsCatID=348

June 21, 2017 Posted by | politics international, Russia, Turkey | Leave a comment

Russia angered by Nato surrounding Baltic fleet in Kaliningrad- unprecedented war games

Russia lets fly over nuclear war games as Nato surrounds Baltic fleet in Kaliningrad, Sunday Times, Russia’s western exclave of Kaliningrad was surrounded on three sides by Nato forces yesterday at the start of an unprecedented set of summer war games.

Operation Sabre Strike 2017 includes the first full deployment of America’s strategic nuclear bombers and a simulated air assault by the Royal Marines in the Baltics.

Russia’s Baltic fleet is based in Kaliningrad and the territory also plays host to a deployment of Iskander short-range ballistic missiles with a 300-mile reach capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
The “historic” deployment of all three types of USstrategic nuclear bomber — B-52, B-1 and the B-2 stealth aircraft — is to show American commitment to “ready and posture forces focused on deterring conflict”, said Lieutenant-General Richard Clark, a US airforce commander…….

June 19, 2017 Posted by | Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Turkey to go into big debt to Russia for $20 billion Akkuyu nuclear power plan

Turkey gives Rosatom go ahead to build nuclear plant, Reuters, 15 June 17,  

Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) won approval from Turkey’s energy watchdog on Thursday to go ahead with building its $20 billion Akkuyu nuclear power plant in southern Turkey.

The project to construct four nuclear reactors has repeatedly run into delays, including being briefly halted after Turkey downed a Russian jet near the Syrian border in November 2015. Ties have since normalised between the two countries and work on the plant has resumed……

Rosatom has sold several nuclear reactors to developing countries under a model by which Russia finances, builds and operates the nuclear plant and sells power to its customer – a model that has also raised questions about Russia using energy policy as a means to political ends.

EPDK said it had given Rosatom’s project company Akkuyu Nukleer AS a 49-year production license.

Dependant on imports for almost all of its energy, Turkey has embarked on an ambitious nuclear programme, commissioning Rosatom in 2013 to build the four 1,200 megawatt (MW) reactors…..

June 16, 2017 Posted by | marketing, politics international, Russia, Turkey | Leave a comment

A warning to Norway, on Russia’s bad history of nuclear waste disposal

For Nadezhda Kutepova, fighting for the rights of people living in the villages along the Techa river came with a price. First, the organization she founded in the 1990s, Planeta Nadezhd (Planet of Hopes), was declared «foreign agents» by the Justice Ministry in April 2015. The law labeling NGOs as «foreign agents» aims to close down activities of groups working with political questions and get funding from abroad. Recently afterwards, the federal TV channel Rossiya 1 aired the news that Planeta Nadezhd used American money to conduct industrial espionage.

Nadezhda’s group is one of 11 environmental NGOs to end up on the «foreign agents» list since the law was introduced in 2012.

Activist in exile says Norway’s nuclear waste support is irresponsible, Barents Observer, Thomas Nilsen,  June 07, 2017

Nadezhda Kutepova was forced to flee Russia after fighting for the rights of the residents in radioactive contaminated villages near Mayak, the site where all spent nuclear fuel from Andreeva Bay will be sent.

On June 27, the first shipment of containers with highly radioactive spent fuel elements will leave Andreeva Bay on the Kola Peninsula. Destination: Mayak reprocessing plant in the South-Ural.

For 20 years, Norway has financed infrastructure upgrades aimed at shipping spent nuclear fuel away from Andreeva Bay. The rundown facility is located 55 kilometers from the border to Norway on the Barents Sea coast and is considered to be the worst storage facility for Cold War nuclear waste in the Russian Arctic.

When the nuclear waste shipment sails away with the first few of an estimated 3,000 containers, Norway’s Foreign Minister Børge Brende and State Secretary Marit Berger Røsland will be on site and wave farewell.

This landmark event, though, is not welcomed by activists fighting for the rights of the people effected by radioactive contamination in the vicinity of Mayak.

«I think it is a irresponsible decision by Norway,» says Nadezhda Kutepova to the Barents Observer. She says out of sight, doesn’t mean out of mind.

I’m sure the Norwegian government knows about the situation in Mayak only from officials represented by Rosatom.» 

Rosatom is Russia’s state nuclear corporation in charge of operating the reprocessing plant in Mayak where all accumulated naval spent nuclear fuel from the fleet of submarines will be treated. In total, some 22.000 spent fuel elements are to be shipped from Andreeva Bay, first with boat to Murmansk, then by rail to the Mayak plant north of Chelyabinsk. Both the vessel to sail in shuttle between Andreeva Bay and Atomflot in Murmansk and the railwagons are special designed to assure best possible safety. Each container takes seven fuel assemblies. In total, 3.143 container transports will be needed before the storage tanks are empty. In other words, the containers will be shuttling back and forth between the Kola Peninsula and the Chelyabinsk region for years to come.

«Mayak’s reprocessing activities are dangerous. It is a very bad idea to send more waste. In reality, Norway can never check what happens there,» says Nadezhda Kutepova.

«Supporting the activities of Mayak, like reprocessing, Norway increases violations of human rights for the people who are living in the vicinity of the nuclear waste storages. Especially those living along the Techa river,» Kutepova explains.

Techa river became heavily contaminated by radioactive waste products from the production of plutonium for nuclear weapons that started at Mayak in 1949. Other accidents, like the 1957 Kyshtym disaster, have contaminated other areas in the neighborhood where tens of thousands of people were living.

Radioactive water from Mayak goes to a system of reservoirs. «Mayak can’t prevent leakages from the reservoirs into the Techa river. Espesially in the spring. They are lying,» Kutepova claims and says there are still some 5000 people living in four villages downstream the contaminated Techa river.

For Nadezhda Kutepova, fighting for the rights of people living in the villages along the Techa river came with a price. First, the organization she founded in the 1990s, Planeta Nadezhd (Planet of Hopes), was declared «foreign agents» by the Justice Ministry in April 2015. The law labeling NGOs as «foreign agents» aims to close down activities of groups working with political questions and get funding from abroad. Recently afterwards, the federal TV channel Rossiya 1 aired the news that Planeta Nadezhd used American money to conduct industrial espionage.

Nadezhda’s group is one of 11 environmental NGOs to end up on the «foreign agents» list since the law was introduced in 2012. Others working with nuclear safety in northern Russia are Ecodefense, Kola Eco Centre and Bellona Murmansk. The last played a key-role as whistleblower and solution seeker for radiological safety projects at Andreeva Bay. Like many other NGOs, Bellona Murmansk decided to close down the organization after being branded  «foreign agents.»

When accused of treason in media Kutepova fled to France seeking asylum. She is afraid the accusations presented on federal TV were just the beginning of what could be formal prosecution.

Talking to the Barents Observer from Paris, Nadezhda Kutepova explains how people die from cancer in the area polluted by Mayak. She should know. Growing up in the closed town of Ozyorsk – formerly known as Chelyabinsk-65 – her father and grandparents were victims of the nuclear industry they worked for. They died of cancer.

She says Norwegian authorities should talk to NGOs that have worked in the area. They can tell another story than officials from Rosatom will tell.

«They should visit the villages along the Techa river where peoples should have been evacuated long ago but still live there.»

«It would be better not to waste the money. They should have supported another storage from the first moment, but I know this isn’t an easy decision. But they need to study the issue better,» Kutepova argues.

Norwegian officials are well aware of the troubles in Mayak. Ingar Amundsen is head of section for international nuclear safety with the Radiation Protection Authorities. …..

The reprocessing plant in Mayak, named RT-1, started operation in 1977 and has until now only processed spent nuclear fuel from the first and second generation of Russian designed water cooled reactors from nuclear power plants. Recent upgrades, however, now make it possible to reprocess fuel also from submarine and icebreaker reactors……

At the reprocessing plant in Mayak, the spent nuclear fuel will be chemically separated, a process where plutonium and uranium will be recovered. Reprocessing, though, does not reduce the volum of high-level waste. It creates an increased volum in liquid form. Also, radiation from the remaining isotopes is high and therefore does not eliminate the need for a highest possible technical and security storage options. At Mayak, limited information is available in public domains about technical solutions for both the reprocessing itself and storage solutions for the waste products.

Ph. D. Natalia Mironova, a former Member of the Regional Duma in Chelyabinsk, has earlier told the Barents Observer that there are better options than reprocessing.

«Alternative to reprocessing is well known; dry storage.»

«Legacy of reprocessing spent nuclear fuel at Mayak has been a heavy burden for many generations. It is a big injustice for the local people,» Mironova says.

«Reprocessing is dangerous. We have bad experience in handling liquid radioactive waste,» she argues.

Mironova also points to the risks of transport and reloading the containers with fuel.

«Transportation is a risky process. Minimization of the risk is best strategy. Safe storing with less transport and far away from Mayak would be the best strategy.»

Most other nuclear power countries in the world chose to store the waste and not reprocess it.

On June 28, the joint Norwegian-Russian commission on nuclear and radiation safety will meet in Kirkenes, Norway’s border town to the Kola Peninsula in the north. Ingar Amundsen informs that future project cooperation related to Andreeva Bay will be discussed.

With project funding from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, some 2 billion kroner are granted by Norway to nuclear safety projects in northern Russia over the last two decades. ……..

The storage dump in Andreeva Bay was built soon after the Soviet navy got its first nuclear powered submarine in the early 1960s. A pool type storage, given the code-name Building No. 5, had a leakage in the early 80s and the lethal fuel elements were urgently transferred to the three dry storage tanks. Supposed to be temporary, the totally run-down tanks have now served for more than 30 years. The 22.000 fuel elements in the tanks are equal to around 100 reactor cores.

In addition comes thousands of cubic meters of solid and liquid radioactive waste that one day will be removed.

Speaking at a seminar in Oslo devoted to Putin’s Year of Ecology, Bellona’s Frederic Hauge said the removal of the spent nuclear fuel from Andreeva Bay likely are the most risky part in the Post Cold War history of nuclear waste clean-up in the north.

June 12, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, Russia, wastes | Leave a comment

If USA moves into Crimea, Russia prepared to use nuclear weapons

Veteran Russian MP warns that Moscow could use nuclear weapons if the U.S. makes a move into Crimea, The Independent 1 June 17, Russia could use nuclear weapons to defend its position if forces led by the US or Nato make a move into Crimea, a veteran politician in the country has claimed.

“If US forces, Nato forces, are, were, in the Crimea, in eastern Ukraine, Russia is undefendable militarily in case of conflict, without using nuclear weapons in the early stage of the conflict,” Vyacheslav Alekseyevich Nikonov told a global security forum in Slovakia.

Mr Nikonov, who has served on the staff of Mikhail Gorbachev, Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin, said that he had heard this at some point “from the Russian military”, according to Defense One.

He was speaking the GLOBSEC Bratislava Global Security Forum.  The politician added that the west was “not just a force for good”, and said he was concerned about the lack of dialogue between Russia and the US and its allies to find a political solution. ……..

Although President Donald Trump has faced much criticism over his alleged links to Russia, US sanctions against the country remain in place over Crimea.

After Mr Trump’s initial overtures to Mr Putin, relations between Washington and Moscow have become more strained in recent weeks, with the White House reiterating America’s demand that Russia withdraws from Crimea.

Mr Nikonov said is worrying that US officials have been fired for talking to their Russian counterparts as this could cause relations between the superpowers to deteriorate further.

The Pentagon this week successfully simulated the shoot-down of a hostile long-range ballistic missile launch in the first ever live test of its kind, seen as a warning to hostile regimes such as North Korea and Iran but widely noted in the world media, including Russia.

June 2, 2017 Posted by | politics international, Russia, weapons and war | Leave a comment