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The THTR Circulars from 2003

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THTR Circular No. 79 January 2003


The reactor from the moth box:

THTR still not KO?

The preprint of the article "Research in North Rhine-Westphalia for New Nuclear Power Plants" from the last THTR circular triggered a considerable number of reactions. The cooperation of a research institute subordinate to Red-Green for the construction of a new THTR variant in South Africa startled many people who thought that the so-called nuclear phase-out could put their hands on their laps and only had to wait. The opposite is the case. The nuclear industry and its lackeys in research and science continue to work undeterred on the highly dangerous nuclear energy and want to put their projects into practice! The attention that has now arisen in the media and the inquiries from critical environmentalists and journalists will make it more difficult for them to continue their reprehensible activities.

TAZ-Ruhr November 28, 11:

Forschungszentrum Jülich is involved in a project to plan a nuclear reactor in South Africa. The research center, which is 90 percent owned by the federal government and 10 percent by the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, is involved in the planning for the construction of a pebble bed reactor together with the British company AEA-Technologies, ABB from Mannheim and the Siemens subsidiary HTR GmbH Gesellschaft für Hoch Temperaturreaktoren. According to their own statements, the Jülich qualify for the project because "the idea to build a pebble bed reactor originally came from the research center".
The people of Jülich don't like to talk about the project. Inquiries should only be made by e-mail or fax, and the researchers would also like to have a “profile” of the questioner. Christian Manthey, who works for the International Office of the Federal Ministry of Research in Jülich and who, according to his own account, is involved in “German-South African talks at government level”, still answers a few questions. Pure reactor research is not carried out in Jülich, he said. The research is about "reactor safety research", which is also important for the reactors still in operation in Germany.
The two globally only pebble bed reactors are in Hamm and Jülich. Like the Hammer VEW power plant, the Jülich research reactor has been shut down since 1988 and 1989, respectively.

Why is “reactor safety research” being carried out in Jülich for a type of reactor that has been shut down in Germany?

The research in Jülich is about safety-related accompanying investigations, says Manthey, and of course you can give the South Africans tips.
Sabine Baun, spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) says something different: “We are observing this very critically.” The Jülich Center is funded by the federal government with 200 million euros annually. This is a non-project-related, institutional funding. However, Baun does not want to have anything to do with nuclear power: “This research is paid for by the industry.” The federal funds would be used for research into safety-related issues relating to nuclear power and training for employees, says Baun.
Answers and training on nuclear power could soon also be needed by South Africans. (...) Even the test reactor in Jülich was not spared from accidents. In 1978 there was a water ingress in which 25.000 liters of water penetrated the reactor core via the helium cooling circuit. Critics claim that if the reactor had been at a higher temperature, an explosion would have occurred. In addition, the South African region could face another security problem: The highly enriched uranium required in the high-temperature reactor is weapons-grade.

TAZ-Ruhr November 5, 12:

The first model of the high-temperature reactor developed in collaboration with Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ) passed its endurance test in South Africa. This was announced on November 29th by the future operator, the state-owned South African electricity company Eskom. It has been proven that the model of the reactor can be started up and works at full load.

According to its own statements, Forschungszentrum Jülich has a large share in reactor safety. 90 percent of the FZJ belongs to the federal government and 10 percent to the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. In total, it received around 262 million euros in funding from both of them in 2002. It is institutional funding; according to Sabine Baun, spokeswoman for the Federal Ministry of Research, only industrial funds flow into the project. After all, the federal government does not want to pay for reactor research.

That is why South Africa pays “300.000 to 500.000 euros” for research, says Wolfgang Jaek, head of the technology transfer office in Jülich. To do this, teach the Africans
"To get up to date in security research". The fact that the last German high-temperature reactor was shut down in 1989 is irrelevant for Jaek: "The type of high-temperature reactor does not change," he says. In addition, the research center never let the technology out of sight.
The South Africans want to mass-produce the 165-megawatt reactor and export it to underdeveloped countries.

Alternatively, up to ten reactors should be able to be combined to form a large power plant. The FJZ developed the software and tips for “interconnecting the systems”, explains Jaek.

The reactor development company, the Eskom subsidiary "Pebble Bed Module Reactor" (PBMR) claims that the reactor, which is to be built from Chinese, American, Russian and Turkish parts, is safe. Chain reactions or core meltdowns are not possible because the helium-cooled reactor does not have the temperature to bring about the chain reaction. In addition, the uranium in the fuel element balls is packaged in a heat-resistant manner under graphite and a silicon carbonate layer.
Even so, the owners of the FZJ are concerned. Isabelle Lorenz from the press department of the NRW Research Ministry says that the state, as a minority shareholder, cannot assert itself against the federal government. (...) The state of North Rhine-Westphalia is funding the FZJ with around 26 million euros in 2002. "In addition, with the introduction of program-related funding, the control of the FZJ's content has largely been transferred to the committees of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers," replies Lorenz per Mail and after days the question of NRW responsibility.

TÜV seal for new THTR from Germany!

TopTo the top of the page - reaktorpleite.de -

Of course, politics is not entirely without responsibility. In the Senate of the Helmholtz Association sit the federal research minister, Edelgard Bulmahn, that of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hannelore Kraft and the ver.di chairman, Greens and attac member Frank Bsirske. Maybe they can be reassured by TÜV Rheinland. The PBMR has issued a certificate in terms of quality assurance.
According to the TAZ article cited above, the "Westfälische Anzeiger" reported the following on almost an entire newspaper page in its national edition on December 20th:
The prototype, which has been developed since 1993, is to be built next year and go into series production from 2007. In this country, it could become a political issue that German know-how was bought for the ambitious project, despite the nuclear phase-out decided by the federal and state governments. The specialist knowledge comes from Forschungszentrum Jülich (FZJ), of all places, which at the time had the idea for the flopped reactor type and has technically supported the Hammer nuclear reactor from the start. (...) Horst Blume, spokesman for BI Environmental Protection Hamm, is pissed off: "It is obviously about continuing with the help of a NRW research facility and at least with the tolerance of Red-Green in the federal and state levels in another state, where the nuclear industry in North Rhine-Westphalia had to stop, ”he said in an interview with our newspaper. (...) Blume gets help from the nuclear-political spokesman for the Green parliamentary group, Rüdiger Sagel: "If that should be confirmed, I consider it highly problematic." FZJ with his

Research results make the construction of nuclear power plants abroad possible. In a request, Sagel also demands clarification from the state government as to whether nuclear-weapon-grade uranium is also being used in South Africa, as it was at the time at the THTR in Hamm. That would then have relevance to foreign policy beyond the environmental aspect.
The NRW Research Ministry was not at all pleased with the participation of the FZJ in the planning of new nuclear power plants in South Africa. "We immediately asked the research center to inform us in detail about the project and the status of the project by mid-January 2003," said press spokesman Thomas Breustedt. These activities of the Jülich were not known in the ministry. First a letter from the Hamm e. V. had made the state government sit up and take notice.
In contrast, in the Federal Ministry of Education and Research. There they were informed about the cooperation between the FZJ and South Africa, which was "purely commercial" and limited to "security research". “Specifically, it is about the transfer of German safety standards to a power plant to be built in South Africa,” said press spokesman Peter Ziegler when asked by our newspaper. And he added: "This cooperation is in the interests of the federal government." Ultimately, it is about the transfer of the security standards that apply in our country to third countries.
The Federal Ministry of Research also took a position on the compatibility with the German nuclear phase-out. In the consensus agreement between the federal government and the energy supply companies, development work on new reactor concepts would be excluded, according to Ziegler, but only "insofar as these do not exclusively concern safety aspects". The paper expressly confirms that research in the field of nuclear technology, especially safety, remains free. "This is primarily intended to underline the possibility of private sector involvement," said Ziegler. In the case of South Africa that is the case. - This is what the WA wrote. on December 20, 12.

Questions from the citizens' initiative

TopTo the top of the page - reaktorpleite.de -

On November 29.11.2002th, XNUMX, as a citizens' initiative, we asked the Ministry for Economy and Medium-Sized Enterprises, Energy and Transport of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia, among other things, the following question: what was set as the goal by the NRW state government and the federal government? ”This difficult question was not what this ministry wanted to answer and forwarded our catalog of questions to the ministry for science and research, which of course had been confronted with the same questions for a long time.

Economists warn

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In addition to the countless lies spread on the Internet by the nuclear industry that the THTR had been "successfully" in operation for five years, it was repeatedly reported that the Exelon Group had ordered 20 reactors from the USA. This message is no longer correct, as can be seen in the newspaper of the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety "Environment" No. 11/2002, page 750. In a report by State Secretary Rainer Baake on an information trip to the USA, it says: “The NGOs unanimously deny that investors are interested in such projects, if only for economic reasons. This is also indicated by the fact that Exelon has turned away from the hitherto 'most hopeful' project of a new reactor in the form of the pebble bed reactor. to read: “But economists in particular report doubts and they receive argumentation assistance from abroad. The PBMR is a high-risk investment that could be at the expense of taxpayers and electricity customers if it fails, warns Steven Thomas of the University of Sussex, who advises the International Atomic Energy Agency. The demand for nuclear energy is shrinking on the world market; the recent turmoil in California had shown that major corporations are looking for quick, cheaper alternatives. 'There's not the slightest chance that anyone in the world will buy such reactors from South Africa.' The American Department of Energy is also more likely to be with those skeptics who consider the prime costs estimated by Eskom to be overly optimistic: 11 cents per kilowatt hour, construction, operation, maintenance, fuel, insurance included. (...)
The South Africans' low calculation is possible, according to the US experts, because they save on security and assume an extremely cheap and stable interest rate - six percent - on the capital market. (...) Last November, British Nuclear Fuels (THTR-RB, which has a 22,5% stake in the project) announced that it would be 'practically insolvent' due to the extreme follow-up costs of the closure and disposal of nuclear power plants; this could have an impact on participation in the development of the mini-reactor. The British investor's statement reads like the announcement of a withdrawal. "

HTR research in Stuttgart too

TopTo the top of the page - reaktorpleite.de -

Outside of Jülich, Germany is also busy researching the further development of the THTR. The Institute for Nuclear Energy and Energy Systems (IKE) at the University of Stuttgart is praising its research project "Three-dimensional numerical simulation of flows and heat transport in modular pebbles, high-temperature reactors with ring zone cores" under the leadership of Dipl. Ing. Aer. Sascha Becker: “With the increasing interest in gas-cooled high-temperature reactors (HTR) in the world since 1990, development efforts for the further development of this reactor type that have been stopped in the meantime have been resumed. In addition to the increasing demand for electrical energy, especially in the emerging and developing countries, the main motivation was the intention of South Africa in particular to build reactors of this type in series based on the German HTR module. In each case 10 reactors are to be bundled into a large energy supply system. This reactor, called PBMR, is now to be implemented by the South African energy supply company Eskom with the support of the state. "(August 2001)
The demolition of the 15 MW HTR test reactor in Jülich will be expensive: "Instead of the original 190 million euros, the Federal Audit Office is now assuming costs of almost 500 million euros." (TAZ-Ruhr, June 27, 6)

Nuclear missiles for India from Hamm?

TopTo the top of the page - reaktorpleite.de -

In our issue no. 72 of December 2001 we reported on the German company "Montanhydraulik GmbH", which, according to the public prosecutor, had reasonable initial suspicions that they had supplied nuclear missile accessories for India. In mid-July 2001, the company premises in Hamm were also searched and extensive material was seized.
After almost a year and a half, the THTR-Rundbrief wanted to know whether "already" results were available. The public prosecutor's office in Dortmund informed us of the following two months after our request on November 23.11.2002, XNUMX:

“The information you are looking for cannot be given. For reasons of privacy protection, according to the guidelines for criminal and administrative fine proceedings, private individuals or private institutions are to be refused information from investigative proceedings without demonstrating a legitimate interest. After the investigation has been completed, it is to be expected that the investigation procedure you have named will become the subject of media coverage, so that generally (? Typo?) Accessible sources of information will be sufficiently available. ”Signed Düllmann

Well, where would we go if everyone wanted to know whether they were working on an atomic armory in their hometown and whether they would demonstrate against it? By the way: “At a UN conference on arms control for long-range missiles, the representatives of 92 countries signed a code of conduct for dealing with these delivery systems. India and Pakistan are not one of them! " (Junge Welt, November 27, 11) - Maybe the public prosecutor should hurry up with their investigation?

Vigils against the Iraq war

TopTo the top of the page - reaktorpleite.de -

Day X - the day of the start of the war against Iraq is approaching. The Federal Government's once clear position in favor of non-participation has been weakened. The US government has already been promised overflight rights and logistical support on the ground for American troops, as has the use of German troops in reconnaissance aircraft (AWACS) on the border with Iraq.
A broad alliance of peace-loving people therefore calls for vigils from January 10th every Friday from 17 to 18 p.m. in the pedestrian zone (near Mc Don). So far, four vigils have been registered.

Donation appeal and "last reminder"

Some of the subscribers to the THTR-Rundbrief donated in the past to receive this sheet, while others did not. Subsidies from the citizens' initiative are no longer possible. Separately enclosed "reminder notes" are not allowed for the Infopost dispatch form. So if you want to receive this newspaper in the future, you should either have donated 10 or 20 euros or donate now. Otherwise we can no longer send the THTR circular! Especially now, when the nuclear industry wants to establish a new THTR variant on the global market, a minimum of critical reporting and the ability to intervene are urgently needed!

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Donation appeal

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