Following endorsement by the Cabinet of Ministers, the government of the United Arab Emirates has published a comprehensive national policy on nuclear energy in order to meet increasing energy demand.
The construction permit for the unfinished second unit at Tennessee Valley Authority's (TVA's) Watts Bar nuclear power plant has been extended by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The permit has been extended until 31 March 2013. TVA requested the extension on 8 May. The company has told the NRC that it intends to complete Watts Bar 2 by 2013 and request an operating licence in 2012. When completed, the reactor will be an 1100 MWe, Westinghouse-designed pressurised water reactor (PWR), essentially the same as the operating unit Watts Bar 1, which started up in 1996. TVA received a construction permit for both units in 1973. Initial construction on Unit 2 stopped in 1985. In October 2000, the NRC extended the Unit 2 construction permit to 31 December 2010. In August 2007, the TVA board decided to complete construction of Watts Bar 2 to help meet growing demand for power. Completion is estimated to take five years and cost $2.5 billion.
Czech utility CEZ has requested that the country's Ministry of the Environment conduct an environmental impact assessment of two additional reactors at the Temelin nuclear power plant.
France has signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with Libya, adding to previous such agreements signed with other North African nations. In the last year France has concluded agreements with every North African country on the Mediterranean except Egypt.
[Associated Press, 7 July] An appeals court in the Czech Republic has ordered a retrial for seven artists who hacked into a national television weather broadcast in June 2007 to show a fake nuclear explosion on the horizon of a live shot of the Czech mountains. Members of the Prague-based Ztohoven art group admitted to tampering with equipment at public broadcaster Czech Television, adding that the project aimed to demonstrate how easily reality can be manipulated by the media. However, Czech Television called the stunt "improper" and said it could have scared many people. In March, the artists were acquitted of spreading false information, but the state prosecutor appealed the verdict. An appeals court in Hradec Kralove overturned the decision last week. A date for the new trial has yet to be set. If found guilty, the artists face a maximum jail term of three years. In December, Prague's National Gallery awarded the Ztohoven group the new NG 333 prize for young artists, worth some $21,750, for the project. On its website, the group says of its stunt: "On 17 June 2007, our group invaded media and television territory, intruded and impeached its trueness as well as its credibility."
[Bloomberg, 11 July] The USA, China, South Korea, Japan and Russia have agreed on "principles" needed to verify North Korea's list of nuclear materials and programs, according to the chief US envoy, assistant secretary of state Christopher Hill. He said that officials will begin to determine the specifics of how, for example, to check the accuracy of documents submitted by North Korea, set up reactor site visits and conduct interviews with scientists. "Those are examples of the principles, but the key thing will be when the denuclearization working group meets to work out the actual protocol," Hill said. The six-nation talks aim to set a "road map" that will outline how North Korea will dismantle and abandon its nuclear weapons programs, in the third and final phase of the disarmament effort. The latest meetings, which began in Beijing yesterday, follow the recent declaration by North Korea of its nuclear activities and the demolition of the cooling tower at the Yongbyon nuclear weapons complex.
A 'preferred bidder' has been selected for the management of the UK's enormous Sellafield site. The Nuclear Management Partners consortium will now enter negotiations over the £1.3 billion ($2.5 billion) per year contract.