French nuclear company, Areva, was found culpable in a court of law last Friday for the death of Serge Venel, a uranium mine worker who toiled from 1978 to 1985 for Areva subsidiary, Cominak, at uranium mines in Akokan, Niger. Venel died of cancer at 59 and his widow was this week awarded 200,000 Euros ($258,000) in damages with interest, which will likely double the total amount. Inhalation of uranium dust was deemed the cause of Venel's cancer. Areva will almost certainly appeal, but the verdict opens the door to many more suits from plaintiffs previously afraid to attack Areva. (Pictured: a typical dwelling of Areva uranium miner in Niger.)
Brazil will not build new nuclear power plants in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. Brazil has two operating reactors with a third under construction at that site. But the government identified "no need" for additional nuclear plants.
Friends of the Earth (FOE) reports that the Iowa State Legislature has ended its session without approving "Construction Work in Progress" (CWIP), a gimmick by which nuclear utilities can charge ratepayers on their electricity bill for the construction of atomic reactors, even if they never recieve one watt of electricity from their involuntary "investment." The victory is thanks to the efforts of an environmental coalition, including FOE as well as grassroots groups such as Green State Solutions. The grassroots environmental victory comes despite intense lobbying efforts by Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Energy, which hoped to foist the construction costs for its proposed "dirty, dangerous, and expensive" atomic reactor onto the ratepayers of Iowa, despite 3/4ths of Iowans opposing the plan.
The election of François Hollande as the new president of France will not mean a significant reduction in the use of nuclear energy in that country, despite such declarations early on in the campaign from the then Socialist candidate. Hollande is only committed to closing the two oldest reactors - at Fessenheim - and not until his term ends in 2017. That will still leave 56 reactors running plus the new EPR currently under construction at Flamanville (pictured left) which Hollande has not indicated he will halt. In fact, his ties to Areva - like those of President Obama to US nuclear corporation, Exelon - are close. One of Hollande's three chief spokespeople on the campaign was Cherbourg deputy mayor, Bernard Cazeneuve, a huge supporter of the nearby Areva-owned La Hague reprocessing plant and a consistent booster for the corporation.
"The people that are saying we need nuclear power and we have the technology to safely store nuclear waste for 250,000 years are the same ones who claim that we can't use solar because we have no way to store the electricity overnight! If we have the technology to do one, we ought to be able to figure out the other." ---Arnie Gundersen, Fairewinds Associates (pictured left)