Nuclear

Iran stands firm on maintaining a nuclear program

TOKYO (AP) — Iran's foreign minister pushed back Wednesday against calls for deeper cuts to its nuclear program.

Mohammad Javad Zarif said the West "cannot entertain illusions" of Iran completely ending its uranium enrichment program. Speaking in Tokyo, he also reiterated that his country is not going to give up finishing its heavy-water nuclear reactor.

Union awaits info on leak at New Mexico nuke dump

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A union representing some 200 workers at the nation's only underground nuclear waste dump said Tuesday its wants to be sure employees are safe when the repository reopens after a radiation leak that exposed at least 13 people.

The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad has been off-limits to most workers for nearly three weeks. Only essential workers have been called to duty and others have been using the down time to keep current with regular training requirements at an off-site training center, said officials from United Steelworkers of America.

Union officials said they're waiting for more information from the U.S. Department of Energy and Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC, the contractor that runs the repository.

Murray concerned about Hanford budget

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) — U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., is concerned about the Obama administration's proposed budget for the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The administration on Tuesday requested just under $2.1 billion for environmental cleanup in fiscal 2015.

Murray in a press release wondered if the Department of Energy can satisfy its legal Hanford cleanup commitments at that funding level.

New Mexico sets deadlines for handling nuke waste at WIPP

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The federal government's only underground nuclear waste dump remained shuttered Monday and state environment officials said they have set deadlines for the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractor to deal with radioactive waste left above ground at the repository.

Dozens of drums and other special containers that have been shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant from federal facilities around the country are being stored in a parking area at the plant and inside the facility's waste handling building.

From there, the waste is usually taken to its final resting place deep in underground salt beds. However, the repository has been closed since early February due to back-to-back accidents, including a radiation release that exposed at least 13 workers and set off air monitoring devices around the plant.

Russia might lose Czech nuclear deal over Ukraine

PRAGUE (AP) — A Russian company might lose a multibillion-dollar contract to build two nuclear reactors in the Czech Republic following Russia's military intervention in Ukraine, two members of the Czech government said on Monday.

Defense Minister Martin Stropnicky said that under the current circumstances he can "hardly imagine" that Russia would be in charge of the project at the Temelin plant. Human Rights Minister Jiri Dienstbier backed his comments.

UN: Iran cuts higher-enriched uranium stock

VIENNA (AP) — Iran is cutting its stock of uranium that is closest to atomic weapons-grade as mandated in a deal with six world powers, the head of the U.N. nuclear agency said Monday.

But Yukiya Amano noted that the agency remains short of money to be able to monitor Tehran's compliance with the agreement.

Spending growth levels off on Ga. nuclear plant

ATLANTA (AP) — Southern Co. showed signs Friday of better controlling its spending while building a first-of-its-kind nuclear plant, an important development for a project that was supposed to prove the nuclear power industry is financially viable.

Projections released by the Atlanta-based utility show it expects to spend roughly $6.76 billion as its share of the cost to build two more nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in eastern Georgia, an effort that is trending $646 million above a government-approved budget. The financial situation has improved compared with last year's estimates that showed the project was trending $737 million over budget, for a total of $6.85 billion.

Hanford nuke tanks flawed, according to documents

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — While one of the newer double-walled nuclear waste storage tanks at a Washington state complex has leaked, six others have "significant construction flaws" that could lead to additional leaks, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The 28 double-walled tanks at Hanford nuclear waste complex hold some of the worst radioactive waste at the nation's most contaminated nuclear weapons site.

One of those giant tanks was found to be leaking in 2012. But subsequent surveys of the other double-walled tanks performed for the U.S. Department of Energy by one of its Hanford contractors found at least six shared defects with the leaking tank that could lead to future leaks, the documents said. Thirteen additional tanks also might be compromised, according to the documents.

WIPP nuclear dump leak raises questions about cleanup

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) — For 15 years the trucks have barreled past southeastern New Mexico's potash mines and seemingly endless fields of oil rigs, hauling decades worth of plutonium-contaminated waste to what is supposed to be a safe and final resting place a half mile underground in the salt beds of the Permian Basin.

But back-to-back accidents and a never-supposed-to-happen above-ground radiation release have shuttered the federal government's only deep underground nuclear waste dump indefinitely, raising questions about a cornerstone of the Department of Energy's $5-billion-a-year program for cleaning up legacy waste scattered across the country from decades of nuclear bomb making.

It also highlights a lack of alternatives for disposing of tainted materials like tools, gloves, glasses and protective suits from national labs in Idaho, Illinois, South Carolina and New Mexico.

Too soon to tell about health effects for 13 exposed to radiation at WIPP

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Officials say it is too soon to speculate about the health effects a radiation leak at the nation's underground nuclear waste dump might have on workers.

The U.S. Department of Energy and the contractor that runs the Waste Isolation Pilot Project Wednesday confirmed that 13 workers who were above ground the night of the leak have tested positive for radiation exposure. And they say more workers are being tested.

They say more tests are needed to determine the levels of exposure, and they emphasized that all readings at the site have been at very low levels.

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