Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Why did Tony Blair preempt the publication of his party's own Energy Review by opening the door to the possibility of reviving nuclear energy in Britain ?
Why have Britain and France signed a new nuclear energy accord?
Why has the Australian Prime Minister returned to his country after a visit to the US with talk of expanding uranium production and processing in his country?

They have all been in discussion with George Bush about his big new idea; THE GLOBAL NUCLEAR ENERGY PARTNERSHIP

Part of his Advanced Energy Programme, the plan is to form an alliance between the US, Russia, France, Japan and the UK - countries that already have nuclear fuel processing capabilities - that would work together to set up a new global nuclear energy regime.

The plan is designed to deal with two major issues that have effectively held back the development of the nuclear industry worldwide:
- the problem of nuclear proliferation and of plutonium in nuclear waste falling into
the wrong hands
- the problem of disposing of huge quantities of nuclear waste.

Under this new regime, the 'supplier' nations (above) would offer to build new nuclear power stations of two main types in developing countries around the world.

One type would be a virtually sealed 'turnkey' reactor, which already contains all the fuel it needs for its 20-year lifecycle. The other would be a new design conventional reactor, to which the 'suppliers' would deliver fuel and then retrieve the waste at the other end.

To make this work, the suppliers will build three or four major reprocessing and waste management facilities in various parts of the world, that will include two new types of reactors:

One would be designed to generate energy using plutonium and all the transuranic elements that form high-level waste as its fuel. This would remove the proliferation/terrorism risk.

The other is designed to be fueled by lower-level waste from all other nuclear power stations.

This would mean that waste will become a resource rather than a problem and that the quantities of waste that need to be disposed of in long term geological storage would be much reduced.

(It is key to the US that they are able to activate the nuclear dump at Yucca Mountain. At present, many dumps of the same size would be needed just to cope with the existing waste from US reactors over their lifetimes, without any further expansion of the industry.

The business plan behind Bush's concept was developed by the Nuclear Fuel Leasing Group (NFLG), a group of four key members, supported by an international grouping of private sector interests that are lobbying governments around the world. One of the NFLG four is reportedly John White the head of Global Renewables, a subsidiary of Gold and Resources Development which recently won a uranium contract in Malawi. White is also chairman of the Australian government's Uranium Industry Framework. (The others have not yet been identified).

Indonesia and Vietnam have already announced plans to develop a nuclear industry - with no objection from the US. They are the first new potential clients for these new reactors and systems.

The Australian PM, whose country holds 40% of the world's uranium reserves, wants to expand their nuclear processing capabilities and develop Australia's role as a nuclear waste repository.

It appears that France and Britain have bought into Bush's plan and Blair's job is to overcome public resistance and all other arguments to try and enable a new generation of reactors to be built in Britain.


30.6.06 Australia to debate nuclear future amid waste fears
By Richard Pullin/Gulf Times
Australia, a top US ally, could become the world’s nuclear bank, leasing enriched uranium to other countries to generate power and then storing depeleted fuel rods in its vast, empty outback.But analysts say it won’t happen without a spirited debate. Prime Minister John Howard reignited the nuclear debate in Australia after a visit to the United States
last month, and a prime ministerial taskforce is to report on all aspects of the industry by the end of the year. [Full story here}

28.6.06 Senate appropriations subcommittee approves nuclear spend
Nuclear Engineering International
The Senate appropriations energy and water subcommittee has approved a $30.7 billion spending bill for the Energy Department, $1.25 billion over the budget request, with new funding for the advancement of energy initiatives authorised by the National Energy Policy Act of 2005. Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) is allocated $250 million, plus $36 million for facilities upgrades under the bill.
Full story here.

21.6.06 Nuclear Energy Plan Would Use Spent Fuel
By Peter Baker and Dafna Linzer/Washington Post Staff Writers
The Bush administration is preparing a plan to expand civilian nuclear energy at home and abroad while taking spent fuel from foreign countries and reprocessing it, in a break with decades of U.S. policy, according to U.S. and foreign officials briefed on the initiative.

21.6.06 Greens call for resignation of uranium industry body chief
The Australian Greens today called for the resignation of the chairman of the federal government's Uranium Industry Framework, John White. Full text here.

2.6.06 Vision products/ Nuclear Engineering International
The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
is the USA’s bold vision of how the nuclear industry should operate in the 21st century. GNEP is a very ambitious global vision, which is centred on the USA and a small number of trusted states. The scale of the plan is such that only the USA would be capable of proposing it – let alone achieving it – but GNEP has the potential to address four very significant problems that face nuclear power. Full story here

1.6.06 GNEP: the eight way forward ?
Steve Kidd/Head of Strategy & Research at the World Nuclear Association (formerly the Uranium Institute)/Nuclear Engineering International

The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) proposed by US president George Bush in February 2006 has received a great deal of publicity, much of it centred on the apparent change in US strategy towards reprocessing used fuel, rather than continuing on the march towards repositories (see link below to 'Vision products'). There is, however, much more to the initiative than this and it is worthwhile to examine the obvious ways in which it addresses many of the awkward issues currently faced by the nuclear industry. But at the same time, there are undoubtedly some serious difficulties on the road ahead to ensuring the concepts become a serious reality. Full story here.

24.5.06 House Scales Back Bush Nuclear Power Bid
By H. JOSEF HEBERT/Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- The House late Wednesday scaled back President Bush's ambitious plan to resume nuclear fuel reprocessing as part of an international program to boost nuclear power. A broad spending bill, passed 404-20 and sent to the Senate, cuts Bush's request for the first installment of the nuclear initiative in half, to about $130 million. An attempt to slash it by an additional $40 million was rejected.

23.5.06 Secret committe looking at nuclear power
The Age
An internal government committee has been created to look at Australia's possible role in world nuclear energy, it has emerged.Public servants have confirmed to a Senate estimates meeting that the committee had been created to deal with emerging nuclear issues. It comes as Prime Minister Minister John Howard flags a full-scale nuclear debate when he returns from an overseas trip later this week, and as momentum builds within his own party to develop nuclear power and uranium enrichment programs. The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet 's deputy secretary Duncan Lewis said the committee had been formed following statements by US President George W Bush to create a global nuclear energy partnership. He said the committee would effectively try to develop an Australian perspective on the American proposal."It's essentially a fact finding exercise to scope what this energy initiative might entail," he said. Full story here.

15..5.06 Strange Love
Keith Barnham and David Lowry/New Statesman supplement
A new US/UK civil nuclear link was revealed in a little reported speech by President Bush in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 20 February this year, when he said that the US had UK support for the initiative he launched following the last G8 meeting July 2005 at Gleneagles - the ‘Global Nuclear Energy Partnership’ - involving countries that have got advanced nuclear energy programmes, or civilian nuclear energy programmes "like France and Great Britain and Japan and Russia".[7] British involvement was confirmed month later in a written Parliamentary answer [8]. That such a link could influence Blair is suggested by his increasing support for the Asia-Pacific Partnership (AP6) in which the US, Australia, India, China, Japan and South Korea pledge to cooperate on energy technologies outside the Kyoto Protocol [9]. Full text here.

20.2.06 President Discusses Advanced Energy Initiative in Milwaukee
Speech given by George Bush at the Johnson Controls Building Efficiency Business, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

And so we've got some challenges, however, in dealing with this issue. And that's why I put together what's called a global nuclear energy partnership. It's a partnership that works with countries that have got advanced nuclear energy programs, or civilian nuclear energy programs like France and Great Britain and Japan and Russia. And here are the objectives of the partnership.

First, supplier nations will provide fuel for non-supplier nations so they can start up a civilian nuclear energy program. In other words, a lot of countries don't know how to enrich; a handful do, and it makes sense that we share that -- share the benefits of our knowledge with others, but not share the knowledge because there's concern about proliferation.

One of the concerns you hear from critics of expanding nuclear power is all this will do to create proliferation concerns. Well, here's one way to address those concerns - to say, we'll provide the fuel for you - and we'll collect the fuel from you, by the way. And after we collect the fuel from you, we need to reprocess the spent material. By reprocessing you can continue to use the fuel base, but equally importantly, we'll reduce the amount of nuclear waste that needs to be stored. Full text here..

13.2.06 Platt's Nuclear Energy Conference
Remarks Prepared for Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman
'I think most people would these [critical concerns] that I have mentioned at or near the top: the proliferation of nuclear materials, the political concerns over oil dependecy, the need to reduce poverty through economic growth, and curbing or even eliminating the pollution and greenhouse gases emitted by using fossil fuels. The message I want to drive home today is that the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership represents a multi-layered and sophisticated plan to address, at least in part, all of these challenges.' Full story here

8.2.06 US launches Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
Nuclear Engineering International
A $250 million programme, the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) that will see spent nuclear fuel reprocessed, has been launched in the USA. The GNEP programme is aimed at opening the international nuclear power industry and spent fuel disposal by forging a partnership with other countries that deal with spent nuclear fuel. The programme will see new generation nuclear power plants developed in the USA along with new spent fuel reprocessing technologies that supply fuel to those plants. Full story here.

6.2.06 Department of Energy Announces New Nuclear Initiative
WASHINGTON, DC – As part of President Bush’s Advanced Energy Initiative, Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman announced today a $250 million Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 request to launch the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). This new initiative is a comprehensive strategy to enable the expansion of emissions-free nuclear energy worldwide by demonstrating and deploying new technologies to recycle nuclear fuel, minimize waste, and improve our ability to keep nuclear technologies and materials out of the hands of terrorists. Full report here.

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