ReutersBy Terence Gallagher
BONN - German Environment Minister Angela Merkel on Friday ordered new safety reports after fresh revelations of radiation leaks from shipments of nuclear waste.
She ordered the states of Lower Saxony and Hesse to make full reports on their nuclear power plants after media accounts of contamination in Germany, not only from German waste taken for processing to France and Britain as reported earlier.
The controversy involves rail and road shipments of spent fuel rods from nuclear power stations in southern Germany to reprocessing plants at La Hague in France and Sellafield in Britain and back to Germany for storage.
Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg, which operates the Philippsburg nuclear reactor, said two or three cases of contamination had been measured there in 1989. Radiation was measured at seven to 10 times the level considered acceptable, a plant spokesman told Reuters.
"Light" contamination was also seen in seven of 45 containers that were returned from France to the Neckarwestheim nuclear power plant between 1992 and 1996, a spokesman for the second German plant said.
German ARD television said measurements by electric utility PreussenElektra, which operates nuclear power plants in Lower Saxony, showed problems in the 1980s and early 1990s.
Lower Saxony Environment Minister Wolfgang Juettner told ARD high levels of radiation had been found on rail cars returning after carrying waste to France.
Merkel, who this week survived opposition motions in parliament calling for her resignation because of the contamination affair, had previously said her ministry knew of no reports of contaminated shipments inside Germany.
The weekly news magazine Der Spiegel said in an article distributed ahead of publication that the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna had informed the German environment ministry of contaminated shipments as early as 1985.
This would appear to contradict Merkel's statement that she was first informed of the problem by French authorities last month.
Merkel said Lower Saxony, as recently as Monday, had reported no such irregularities. She repeated her view that the power plant operators and state agencies charged with supervising the loading and unloading of the nuclear waste bore the main responsibility in the affair.
"Either the state knew about the excess radiation, or PreussenElektra passed along incomplete measurements to the state regulators," she said.
The case has political ramifications. The opposition Social Democrats, who lead Chancellor Helmut Kohl in opinion polls ahead of September 27 elections, want Germany to end its use of nuclear power.
For the past week the opposition has been using the contamination scandal as a stick with which to hound Kohl.
"Merkel's ministry has grossly neglected its oversight responsibilities," said Juergen Trittin, head of the environmentalist party the Greens.
A poll published on Friday by broadcaster Deutsche Welle showed that 56 percent of Germans oppose the continued use of nuclear power, with 37 percent in favour and the rest undecided.
The environmental activist group Greenpeace held peaceful demonstrations at Philippsburg and two other nuclear power plants calling for a permanent end to the waste shipments.
In the past, the shipments have been accompanied by the deployment of tens of thousands of police, and sometimes violent clashes with demonstrators.
It was not immediately clear why Merkel singled out Lower Saxony and Hesse, but both have SPD governments. Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg, home to other power plants named in the contamination scandal, are ruled by the conservative Christian Democrats or their sister party the Christian Social Union.
An environment ministry spokesman said he could not immediately comment on why just the two states were named.
French authorities informed Bonn last month some shipments of nuclear waste had shown spots of radiation over 3,000 times the tolerance level. Subsequent queries by Lower Saxony to British authorities turned up similar but less serious reports.
The Frankfurter Rundschau daily reported that contamination had also been found in trucks used to transport nuclear waste by road to the La Hague plant. The newspaper said the French Nuclear Safety authority DSIN had confirmed this.
Friday's order was in line with a 10-point plan proclaimed by Merkel earlier this week. Merkel suspended transports of waste last week pending an investigation.
ReutersSYDNEY - Radioactive waste from French nuclear testing in the South Pacific posed no health risk, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said in a report on test sites in French Polynesia.
The agency said it had found a residual amount of plutonium in sediments in the lagoons of Mururoa and Fangataufa atolls and americium and caesium-137 on land around the atolls.
"However, the study found in summary that the radiological significance of these findings was limited," the IAEA said in a summary of its report published on its Internet site on Sunday.
"The study concluded that there will be no radiological health effects which could be either medically diagnosed in an individual or epidemiologically discerned in a group of people and which could be attributable to radiation doses from the residual radioactive material remaining at the atolls," it said.
"The study concluded therefore that neither remedial actions nor continuing environmental monitoring at Mururoa and Fangataufa are needed on radiological protection grounds."
An IAEA team is visiting the South Pacific to brief 16 small island nations on the 2,000-page report, which will be released in full at an agency conference in its Vienna base on June 30.
France conducted 141 underground nuclear tests at the atolls from 1966 to 1996, some of which were 10 times as powerful as the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The final series of six tests sparked riots in the Tahitian capital Papeete.
France signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1997 and has begun dismantling its Pacific test sites. Paris has always said the underground tests were environmentally safe.
But environmental groups such as Greenpeace and local Polynesians have always been concerned that cracks in the basalt base of the atolls caused by the tests could leak radioactive waste, killing the marine environment and causing cancer.
The present IAEA summary of the report made no mention of cracks in the basalt base.
It said a team of IAEA scientists spent five weeks in 1996 collecting earth and water samples from the atolls as part of the US$1.5-million study.
To ensure the study was independent and objective, the IAEA said, 55 non-IAEA scientists, 18 scientific laboratories from 12 nations, plus the agency's two laboratories were used in the assessment.
By Mark John
BONN - Germany's nuclear industry failed on Tuesday to convince the government it was doing enough to address a scandal over contaminated atomic waste from its power plants being shipped across Europe.
Federal and state government officials threatened to take action on the industry, including the possible closure of one of Germany's main nuclear facilities, after what they called unsatisfactory meetings with nuclear executives.
The ecologist Greens party, Germany's third largest national party, meanwhile said it would use the outcry over radiation leaks from waste to turn the general election in September into a referendum on energy policy.
Following a meeting with Swiss and French government officials in Cologne, Environment Ministry official Gerald Hennenhoefer told reporters that proposals made so far by the industry had been unsatisfactory.
He said the government was now planning "far-reaching measures", but did not elaborate.
The Environment Ministry has given the nuclear industry a deadline of this Wednesday to come up with proposals to tighten up its handling of nuclear waste.
Germany's 19 nuclear power stations provide almost a third of the country's electricity. The country does not however have any reprocessing plants, and transports its waste to Britain's Sellafield and France's La Hague plants.
Two weeks ago shipments of nuclear waste were suspended after it emerged that radiation measured from rail and road consignments of spent fuel rods since the 1980s had in some cases been thousands of times above tolerance levels.
Executives from the RWE utility on Tuesday met authorities in the large central state of Hesse, where its Biblis plant is located, to insist they had always followed to the letter the code governing nuclear waste management.
But Hesse Environment Minister Priska Hinz said their argument for why they had not reported the excessive radiation levels was not convincing.
"The RWE position that this was purely technical data... is unacceptable," a Hesse ministry statement said.
Hinz said her ministry would now examine whether RWE had acted in accordance with laws governing nuclear power generation.
She warned that if the problems was not resolved by the next official review of the Biblis plant's operation, it might have to be closed down.
RWE last week suggested that energy providers could in future take over transportation of their nuclear waste, at present handled by outside firms.
Earlier, the Greens party said it would make nuclear power, which according to a recent poll most Germans want scrapped, a key issue in September's election.
"With this whole debate, we've already come one step closer to abandoning nuclear energy," Greens co-leader Gunda Roestel told a news conference in Bonn.
The centre-left Social Democrats, which opinion polls say will win the general election in alliance with the Greens, are also committed to ending nuclear power.
But Environment Minister Angela Merkel, who the German nuclear industry regards as one of its strongest backers, rejected such a move, stressing that Germany was still dependent on atomic power.
ReutersBy Mark John
LONDON - British Prime Minister Tony Blair on Wednesday denied claims that enough weapons-grade uranium to make a dozen nuclear bombs had gone missing from a Scottish reprocessing plant.
Blair told parliament that the apparent loss of 170 kg (375 lbs) of the material from the Dounreay plant, disclosed in an official report, was merely a case of poor accounting.
"The allegation about the supposedly missing highly enriched uranium...is actually based on a misinterpretation of 30-year-old records, which are far from complete by any modern standards," Blair said.
"The discrepancy in the amounts of materials have arisen because of accounting and measurement uncertainties," he said.
The apparent loss of the material had prompted calls from Scottish anti-nuclear campaigners for the Dounreay plant to be closed down. The pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) called for a "truth commission" to get to the bottom of the plant's history.
Blair accused SNP leader Alex Salmond of behaving "with utter irresponsibility" over the report.
"There is absolutely no evidence whatever to back up the suggestion...that any material has been stolen or fallen into terrorists' or foreign governments' hands," Blair said.
"I can confirm that no such material has ever been sent from Dounreay for UK weapons purposes," he added.
Dr John McKeown, chief executive of the British Atomic Energy Authority, said that in the late 1960s and early 1970s it had been difficult to measure accurately how much irradiated material was reprocessed and how much usable material was extracted because the plant handled a large number of small pieces from a wide range of sources.
The missing 170 kg is the difference between the two estimates - representing about one percent of the 17 tonnes of material Dounreay reprocessed, he explained.
The loss came to light during a safety study for retrieval of radioactive material dumped in one of the plant's waste shafts.
Dounreay said inspectors had made a "worst case" estimate of the contents of the shaft and believed the lost material would be recovered when the plant was decommissioned.
Dounreay, in the news in April for accepting five kg (11 lbs) of nuclear fuel from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, has been criticised over a number of embarrassing incidents in recent months that have aroused concerns about its safety. They included a power failure that led to a shutdown of parts of the plant.
The plant, built in the 1950s, accepted last month some recent criticism of its operations was valid and promised to take corrective action.
by Tom Doggett WASHINGTON - A move by U.S. Senate lawmakers to cut over 500 key people from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's inspection staff would threaten the safety of America's nuclear power plants, NRC chairwoman Shirley Jackson warned Tuesday.
A Senate Appropriations subcommittee voted Tuesday to remove 700 people from the NRC's payroll over the next two years, including more than 500 staff who keep close tabs on how the nation's nuclear power plants are operating.
She said cutting that many NRC staff would basically result in "dismantling the agency. "It's very important the agency has the resources to do its job," Jackson told reporters during a late afternoon press conference at the agency's headquarters.
The NRC has almost 3,000 full-time employees, with 1,440 people making up the agency's nuclear plant safety division. Eliminating more than 500 of those key people would gut the division by about 40 percent, Jackson said.
The full Senate Appropriations Committee will vote on the spending measure Thursday, and there is a chance lawmakers will reverse the subcommittee's cut in the NRC budget, agency staff said.
The NRC has proposed a $488.6 million budget for the 1999 fiscal year, which begins this Oct. 1. Under the proposed funding cut, the agency would lose about $30 million, according to Jackson.
The NRC is self-funded, with the agency's operational costs being covered by fees that are paid mostly by utilities with nuclear power plants. A reduction in the agency's budget would presumably mean licensed utilities would pay less fees.
Jackson refused to speculate whether utilities are pushing for the staff reductions and are behind the budget cut.
She also refused to comment on whether lawmakers are trying to send a message about the how the agency operates. Last year, the General Accounting Office said the NRC was weak in enforcing its regulations.
"Some members of Congress have suggested reforms of some operations at the NRC are necessary, however, this is not the proper forum, or the best method to bring about that reform," the union that represents the agency's employees said in a statement.
CAPE TOWN - South Africa's Koeberg nuclear power plant has received a conditionally clean bill of health from Canadian safety experts, the power utility Eskom said on Wednesday.
"The report says the safety and emergency plans are up to international norms, but there is room for improvement," Eskom's nuclear assurance and environment manager, Tony Scott, told the parliamentary energy committee.
Eskom runs the Koeberg plant, on the Atlantic coast some 40 kilometres north of Cape Town.
Scott said the report by a group of Canadian experts had made a number of suggestions for improvements, including raising capacity for dealing with evacuees in the event of an accident.
Although emergency plans could cope with the number of people currently living within the 16-kilometre (10-mile) danger zone, projected population growth in the area meant this would not be the case in 20 years, Scott said.
Talks had already been held with local authorities, schools and community groups in the affected zone, and more would take place to improve the plans, Scott added.
Energy Minister Penuell Maduna told the committee he would be presenting three new bills to cabinet this week - one on nuclear energy policy, one on nuclear safety and a third on regulation of gas supplies.
He said the two nuclear bills would give South Africa a clearly defined policy on where the nuclear industry fits into the national energy structure, and divorce the safety regulatory body from the commercial side of the business.
LONDON - Greenpeace is calling for the permanent closure of the Sellafield plutonium reprocessing plant, THORP, today (24th May 1998) after revelations that there has been a serious leak of radioactive waste in the facility. An anonymous letter from a British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) worker , reveals that BNFL are attempting to cover-up the scale of the problem in an effort to restart the facility before important clean up work is completed.
"Sellafield's THORP plant is in real trouble. BNFL must not be allowed to operate a plant that clearly has inherent design faults, threatening worker safety and the environment," said Greenpeace campaigner Pete Roche.
In early April, BNFL announced that the multi-billion pound THORP plant was to be shut for "maintenance" for 12 weeks until early July. Since then, BNFL has emphasised the routine nature of this maintenance, despite admitting that there has been a problem with the pipes that carry radioactive waste within the plant.
However, in a letter dated April 18th, the Sellafield worker reveals that there has, in fact, been a leak of nuclear waste due to the severe damage caused to the pipes and that, instead of 12 weeks, the troubled plant could be out of operation for many more months.
BNFL has admitted that, in the design phase of the plant, it was aware that the pipes that carry THORP'S nuclear waste are prone to deteriorate. Since THORP began operations in 1994, BNFL has, however, detected accelerated erosion of the waste pipes. BNFL is now believed to be pressuring the UK Government Agency NII (Nuclear Installations Inspectorate) to allow them to restart the plant using the back-up piping system, instead of replacing the damaged pipes.
The revelation that THORP is in deep trouble, comes at a time when BNFL is seeking permission to increase radioactive discharges from the site.
It also comes at a time when major controversy is brewing with THORP customers in Europe over contaminated nuclear waste transports. In Germany this past week it has been revealed that utilities and government ministries have known for ten years that the containers transported to Sellafield for reprocessing are contaminated. It also follows the announcement that the only other reprocessing plant in the UK, Dounreay in Scotland, has also been temporarily close down due to safety reasons.
"Leaks inside THORP, contaminated transport containers and nuclear waste discharges into the Irish Sea - the reprocessing industry shows total disregard for the environment. The Nuclear Installation Inspectorate must not allow BNFL to proceed with its dangerous operations", said Roche.
Greenpeace is urging the Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, to 'call-in' BNFL's current application for continued and increased discharges of nuclear waste to sea and air.
Prescott will represent the UK at the July Ministerial Meeting of the OSPAR Convention for the Prevention of Marine Pollution. The OSPAR Commission, made up of 15 European and Nordic governments, is responsible for preventing radioactive and toxic pollution in the North-East Atlantic.
Growing concern about radioactive discharges and contamination from Sellafield, and its French equivalent, La Hague, has led a number of governments to propose that the July Ministerial Meeting consider banning the discharge of radioactive wastes to sea. 
Greenpeace is currently at Sellafield investigating environmental contamination caused by the plant's radioactive discharges into the Irish Sea. Results will be made public as they are known.
1. Article by Geoffrey Lean in today's Independent on Sunday
2. THORP = Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant. Nuclear utilities from Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Spain, Sweden, as well as Japan, have contracts for the reprocessing of spent fuel at the THORP plant.
3. The Ministerial Meeting will also decide whether to ban the dumping of decommissioned offshore gas and oil installations at sea; and whether to phase out, by 2020, the disposal of toxic wastes into air and water.
by Paul McKay
India did it. Pakistan did it.
Turkey will likely be next.
Ottawa -- The potential sale this month of Canadian Candu reactors to Turkey would arm that country with the same technology that India and Pakistan used to build nuclear bombs.
"Canada's nuclear reactors were the seeds of today's nuclear armed conflict between India and Pakistan," says Norm Rubin, a nuclear technology specialist with Toronto-based Energy Probe. "If Prime Minister Chrétien is shocked by recent developments, he simply doesn't understand what seeds do."
The Turkish state power commission is expected to announce the winning bid to build the country's first two power reactors by the end of June. The Canadian government, through the Crown company Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., is one of three finalists.
Although the sale to Turkey would be financed by Canadian taxpayers, the federal government is doing its best to keep the deal secret.
AECL, which receives a $100-million annual grant from Parliament, has refused to disclose the financial details of the Turkish bid. So has Jean Chrétien's cabinet, which approved a $1.5-billion loan for the AECL/Turkey nuclear project in April 1997. Details of the loan were made public in a leaked cabinet document last November.
"The Candu is the perfect camouflage to cover military activities," Mr. Rubin said. "It can conceal and put a pretty veneer on some pretty nasty activities. For someone who wants to make bombs, it is exquisitely ambiguous."
To avoid parliamentary and public scrutiny of the deal with Turkey, said Elizabeth May, a lawyer who is executive director of the national Sierra Club office in Ottawa, the federal cabinet routed the $3 billion in federal loan guarantees through an obscure ledger item called the "Canada Account."
The Canada Account is administered by the Export Development Corporation and is jointly supervised by the federal Minister of Finance and the Minister for International Trade.
AECL and the government have also refused to reveal financial details about a 1996 carbon-copy sale of two Candus to China (a nuclear state), financed by a cabinet-approved, $1.5-billion loan.
The Chinese and Turkish deals are the largest government-backed export loans in Canadian history.
"It's Candu déjà vu," says Elizabeth May, "The Chrétien government always wants to celebrate the sales of nuclear technology, without facing the world-security and financial responsibilities."
AECL supplied a Candu prototype reactor to India, which used it to extract plutonium for its first nuclear bomb in 1974. AECL also supplied a Candu to Pakistan, and then officially cut off all nuclear assistance when Pakistan's nascent bomb program was uncovered.
Reid Morden, president and CEO of AECL, has said that Candu reactors are "safe and represent the best nuclear technology in the world." He is adamant that "Candu reactors have never been used to make bombs."
Reactor sales to Pakistan and India were financed by AECL and Canadian foreign aid programs.
"In the history of AECL sales to India and Pakistan, and to military dictatorships in Taiwan, Argentina, Romania, South Korea and China, there is a clear cause and effect," says Ms. May. "Most of those sales were approved when Jean Chrétien was in the federal cabinet."
Ms. May says the Sierra Club has spent $80,000 -- so far -- seeking a Federal Court ruling that would puncture the extraordinary secrecy surrounding the Candu sales to China and Turkey, and make them subject to Canadian environmental standards. The case has not yet been heard.
Meanwhile, construction is 10-per-cent completed in China, and the AECL bid in Turkey is proceeding.
Court documents confirm that Finance Minister Paul Martin and former International Trade minister Art Eggleton co-signed the Canada Account approval for the $1.5-billion loan to China.
Cabinet documents indicate that Ms. May's Federal Court challenge hit a raw legal and political nerve in the Prime Minister's Office. The Sierra Club named the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of International Trade, and the Attorney General of Canada as defendants in the legally contested Candu sale to China.
With the Federal Court case pending, the federal cabinet approved a $1.5-billion loan for the Candu sale to Turkey, through the Canada Account. But, this time, the cabinet was explicitly apprised of the political and legal risk.
A secret cabinet memorandum dated April 24, 1997, for the members of the key Cabinet committee on Economic Development Policy, warned that the Turkish Candu deal might be declared illegal by the Federal Court.
More ominously for the cabinet, it noted: "Justice has advised that its case is not strong, and that the Federal Court may well rule in favour of the Sierra Club."
The April 24 cabinet document was approved by cabinet three days later. It contains several extraordinary details:
Cabinet approved the amended AECL/Turkey deal on April 27, 1997. This included the $1.5-billion loan through the Canada Account, setting up a "shadow" environmental assessment to protect its legal flank, and putting the minister of Finance and minister of International Trade in charge of the financial terms -- and the pending Federal Court challenge.
Cabinet also approved an already-written "communications plan," and the recommendation that "this transaction not set a precedent for future Canada Account transactions."
What the cabinet document never stated -- but all cabinet members knew -- was that the "Canadian exporters" being sheltered from competitors and Federal Court challenges was the federal government itself. Through AECL, it holds the only licence to sell Candu technology. Through the Export Development Corporation's Canada Account, it is the sole financial underwriter for the Candu sale to Turkey.
This mirrors steps the Liberal government took to obscure details of the Candu sale to China.
In a rare, hastily arranged evening session on Nov. 6, 1996, cabinet made changes to Canadian Environmental Assessment Act regulations, with the intent of exempting major Canadian export projects from standards imposed on major projects in Canada. The law applies to export projects financed by federal tax dollars, or promoted directly by a federal government agency.
Those regulations (now being challenged by the Sierra Club) were given the force of law the next day. The usual 60-day review period, in which proposed regulations are posted in the Canada Gazette for public comment, was suspended. The new regulations were first posted on Nov. 27, 1996 -- one day after the prime minister attended the signing of the AECL/China deal in Shanghai.
Despite sustained efforts, the Sierra Club has been unable to extract financial details about the Canada Account financing of Candu sales to China and Turkey. The only certain detail is that the federal government -- through the Canada Account -- has pledged $3 billion to complete the construction of two Candu reactors in China, and two in Turkey.
In affidavits to the Federal Court, government lawyers have argued that:
The Sierra Club's Elizabeth May says the federal government has a direct, vested interest in pushing Candu sales as fast as it can before the Federal Court rules on the "Canada Account" case -- and in delaying any court ruling as long as it can.
"They're on the financial and political hook for $3 billion in taxpayer funds," she says. "The cabinet rammed both deals through; on a wing and a prayer they'd get the money back somehow, someday. The public is in the dark about all this. They may be, too."
On the eve of Sierra Club lawyers cross-examining government officials about the Canada Account loans, AECL filed a surprise motion to formally join the Federal Court action. The AECL motion was filed on April 15, 1998 -- 15 months after the case was initiated. It concluded: "It has become apparent that the applicant (Sierra Club) intends to use the Application to adversely affect AECL's interests."
On April 29, the court dismissed AECL's effort to become a party to the action. It allowed AECL intervenor status on condition it not duplicate issues already raised by its federal government allies.
"All the legal bills of AECL, the Export Development Corporation, the Cabinet ministers named in our suit, and the federal government itself -- are being paid with public funds," says Ms. May.
"The public is also paying for all the court time and costs. All because we are saying $3 billion in public loans shouldn't be secret, and Canada's environmental laws shouldn't be junked so Jean Chrétien can flog reactors in China and Turkey."
Ms. May says Sierra Club researchers have pieced together a partial picture of how the $1.5-billion loan to China is being spent:
The Chinese Candu project capital cost is estimated at $4 billion. The $1.5-billion AECL portion, about 40 per cent of the estimated cost, covers the reactor and steam generation components. The remainder of the work is subcontracted to Chinese, U.S., Japanese and South Korean companies, which arranged their own financing.
Ms. May says that unless the Federal Court orders the government to release the financial contracts and Canada Account statements, the public will never know how much profit or loss the AECL deal carries, or what the financial risk is.
Court documents confirm that if the Chinese default on the $1.5-billion loan repayments, future Canadian taxpayers will assume the liability. The loan term is 22 years. In documents released under the Access to Information Act the loan interest rate has been omitted.
Energy Probe's Norm Rubin fully endorses the Sierra Club court challenge.
He says the federal government is secretly subsidizing -- in the guise of foreign aid -- a reactor system that last year had the worst operating record in the world. That record is largely due to the shutdown of seven Ontario Hydro Candu reactors.
"When the federal government is cutting social expenditures that have widespread public support, for the Chrétien cabinet to risk $1.5 billion in Turkey on top of the $1.5 billion for China, for a technology that has already failed any reasonable economic and technical test -- is outrageous.
"This is the technology that has bankrupted Ontario Hydro."
Financial details about the pending sale of two Candu reactors to Turkey are even murkier. Even though the bidding has been closed for several months, the AECL has refused to disclose the capital cost of the project, its predicted profit margin, or the repayment terms of the $1.5-billion loan.
In fact, the loan may not be repaid in cash. In April, Hukuk Musaviri, general manager of the Turkish state bank supervising the three final bids, told the Citizen that Turkey will not pay any up-front capital costs for the reactors. They are expected to be in the $4-billion range. The finalists include AECL, a French/German consortium, and a private partnership led by Westinghouse and Mitsubishi Corp.
The reactor construction, at a site called Akkuyu on the Mediterranean coast, will be 100-per-cent financed by the winning bidder, Mr. Musaviri said.
He confirmed that when those costs are repaid by the Turkish government, under the contract terms, a significant portion won't be paid in cash.
Instead, Mr. Musaviri said, the reactor costs will be repaid in "counter-trade" -- Turkish-produced goods such as steel, farm implements, and food products. If AECL is the winning bidder, he said, it will be expected to accept, then resell those goods, to recoup its costs.
ReutersATLANTA - Microbes appear to be corroding underwater metal tanks holding spent nuclear fuels at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, scientists said Tuesday.
Researchers with the Westinghouse Savannah River Company said aluminum-based storage containers stored underwater were covered with acid-producing bacteria and had developed microscopic cracks within a year, despite steps taken to prevent corrosion.
In a two-year study presented at a meeting of the American Society of Microbiology, the researchers said their findings "suggest the potential for microbial-influenced corrosion of spent nuclear fuel boxes in the storage basin does exist."
The researchers said they found "relatively high microbial densities in water samples" from the Savannah River Site's basin facilities.
Bacteria began to appear as quickly as three weeks after storage containers were submerged, even though water surrounding the containers was de-ionized to prevent electrochemical corrosion.
"These conditions do not prevent microbial survival and consequently might not prevent microbial-influence corrosion of spent nuclear fuels," the researchers said.
The Savannah River Site, located near Aiken, S.C., is managed and operated by the Westinghouse Savannah River Company and its partners for the Department of Energy.