Nuclear

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DOE loses latest appeal over nuclear waste fees

A federal court on Tuesday rejected an appeal by the Energy Department to reconsider its ruling that likely will stop collection of $750 million in annual fees from nuclear power ratepayers for the government's stalled spent fuel storage program.

The ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia was the latest victory for utilities and state regulators. In the wake of President Barack Obama's 2010 cancellation of the Yucca Mountain repository, the groups have charged the government cannot legally collect fees for the collection of spent fuel that remains at nuclear plants nationwide.

Iran talks get down to 'nitty gritty' on sanctions, nuclear cuts

VIENNA (AP) — Iran and six world powers focused Tuesday on what an EU official called the "nitty-gritty" of a deal meant to curb Tehran's nuclear program and end sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Iran's foreign minister was more cautious as the talks opened, saying they were meant merely to exchange ideas.

A tiff between Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton over Ashton's recent meeting with Iranian opposition women activists had overshadowed Tuesday's resumption of the monthly talks. But Ashton's spokesman, Michael Mann, described the dispute as a possible "misunderstanding" that would not affect the meeting.

SC sues US Energy Department over MOX plan

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina filed a lawsuit on Tuesday intended to keep the federal government from defunding a multi-billion dollar project to turn weapons-grade plutonium into commercial nuclear reactor fuel, saying its closure would hurt an international nonproliferation agreement and eliminate hundreds of jobs.

"They made a promise," Gov. Nikki Haley said at a news conference at the Statehouse, of President Barack Obama's administration. "They cannot, for whatever reason this is, decide that they are going to go on cold standby."

The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court in South Carolina by state Attorney General Alan Wilson, accuses the federal government of using money that Congress set aside for building the mixed-oxide fuel project, known as MOX, to shut it down.

Nebraska nuke plant generator goes offline

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Utility officials say a problem on the non-nuclear side of the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant caused the plant turbine to go offline.

Omaha Public Power District said the turbine took itself offline during routine maintenance just after noon on Monday. Spokesman Jeff Hanson said Tuesday that when the generator went offline, the reactor went offline, recognizing there was no need for the steam it was creating.

Hanson says the generator remained offline Tuesday.

Iran, 6 powers discuss sanctions, nuclear cuts

VIENNA (AP) — Iran's foreign minister and the EU's top foreign policy chief have launched a new round of nuclear talks between Tehran and six world powers, putting a reported tiff behind them.

The two sides hope to reach an agreement by July that trims Iran's nuclear activities in exchange for an end to sanctions choking Tehran's economy. Tuesday's negotiations are the second in monthly meetings on a comprehensive deal.

Groundbreaking held for physics research facility in Michigan

EAST LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan's congressional delegation broke ground on a $730 million physics research facility at Michigan State University on Monday, more than five years after the federal government announced the project.

U.S. Sens. Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow were among those celebrating the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams, a nuclear research center funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as by Michigan and Michigan State.

Greenpeace activists occupy French nuclear plant

PARIS (AP) — Police have surrounded a nuclear plant in eastern France after more than 60 Greenpeace activists occupied it Tuesday to protest the nation's reliance on atomic power.

Activists hung a banner reading "Stop Risking Europe" next to one of the reactors at the Fessenheim plant near the German border. France's oldest nuclear plant, it has become a flashpoint for anti-nuclear campaigners who say it is unsafe and should have been closed long ago.ources.

Iran claims sabotage attempt at nuke plant

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A senior Iranian official says faulty pumps were deliberately sold to the Islamic Republic but scientists detected the problem before they were put into operation inside a nuclear plant.

Asghar Zarean, in charge of nuclear security at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, made the remarks in comments posted Monday on state TV's news website.

He says the pumps were tampered with by what he described as agents of Western intelligence agencies.

Labor issues hamper Fukushima cleanup

Source: 
The New York Times

The cleanup at Japan's crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant is being carried out by unskilled workers with little training, experience or supervision, The New York Times reports.

Scientists expect traces of ocean radiation soon

Scientists have crowdsourced a network of volunteers taking water samples at beaches along the U.S. West Coast in hopes of capturing a detailed look at low levels of radiation drifting across the ocean since the 2011 tsunami that devastated a nuclear power plant in Japan.

With the risk to public health extremely low, the effort is more about perfecting computer models that will better predict chemical and radiation spills in the future than bracing for a threat, researchers say.

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