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Missing keys, holes in fence and a single padlock: welcome to Congo’s nuclear plant

Chris McGreal, The Guardian (UK)
Amid the market stalls, hawkers and gridlocked cars on the road out of Congo’s capital and into the Kinshasa hills there is nothing to mark the way to a nondescript clutch of buildings a few hundred yards down a side street.

The dilapidated concrete compound is protected by little more than a low-slung rusted barbed-wire fence and a rickety gate sealed by a single padlock. It would be easy enough to slip through a hole in the fence but there is no need, as the main entrance to what is supposed to be one of the best guarded sites in Congo is often unmanned.

The armed police assigned to watch the compound were not to be seen at the weekend as visitors wandered the corridors of what is Africa’s oldest nuclear reactor facility – and the storage place for dozens of bars of enriched uranium – until finally challenged by a man in a tracksuit who called himself “security”. ..
(24 Nov 2006)

Dounreay ‘will pollute for decades’

Rob Edwards, Sunday Herald
RADIOACTIVE PARTICLES from the Dounreay nuclear plant will pollute beaches for decades to come and the environment will never be completely cleaned up.

These are the conclusions of the latest expert study of the hundreds of thousands of fragments of nuclear fuel known to have leaked into the sea from the Caithness plant since the 1950s.

The revelations have sparked anger from environmentalists, who say nuclear power has left Scotland with a “terrible legacy”. Dounreay’s operator, the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA), admitted that the behaviour that led to the leaks was “just not acceptable”.
(28 Nov 2006)

Thorium: Change the fuel for a happier reaction

Dale Bailey, The Age
It is possible to have a nuclear generator without the safety and ethical issues, writes Dale Bailey.
…uranium-based fission reactors still have significant environmental issues to deal with, and perhaps always will.

Is this the only option for non-fossil fuel based nuclear power? Is it possible to enjoy the benefits of nuclear power without the potentially toxic waste and diversion of nuclear programs to produce material for weapons of mass destruction? The answer, potentially, is yes.

A new generation of nuclear power reactors is being developed using thorium-232 as their fuel, instead of uranium, which may be a solution.

Early designs and prototypes for thorium reactors use uranium as the source of neutrons, but an ingenious design uses a particle accelerator and elemental lead instead. These are referred to as “accelerator-driven” thorium reactors.

The beauty of this approach is that the reaction and energy production is only sustained as long as the proton beam is on.
(21 Nov 2006)

Russia will build 42 nuclear reactors by 2030, nuclear chief says

AP via IHT
Russia plans to build 42 new nuclear reactors by 2030 as part of an ambitious program to revive its atomic power industry, the top nuclear official said Tuesday.

Federal Nuclear Agency director Sergei Kiriyenko said at a news conference that Russia would need to build at least two nuclear reactors a year to meet the goal.

Russia now has 31 reactors at 10 nuclear power plants, accounting for 16-17 percent of Russia’s electricity generation, and President Vladimir Putin has called for raising the share to 25 percent.
(28 Nov 2006)