23 April 2008

High Court to Hear Uranium Case

Bethesda's USEC Argues to Impose Anti-Dumping Duties on French Firm

Solicitor General Paul D. Clement cited national security interests.
Solicitor General Paul D. Clement cited national security interests. (Department Of Justice - Department Of Justice)

The Supreme Court said yesterday that it would hear a dispute between USEC of Bethesda and a French supplier of low-enriched uranium in a case the federal government said has implications not only for the energy industry but also for efforts to dismantle some nuclear weapons.

Justices agreed to consider in their term that begins next fall whether anti-dumping duties can be imposed on Eurodif, which supplies utilities in the United States with low-enriched uranium, a critical component in the domestic production of nuclear power.

USEC, the only U.S. company that enriches uranium, complained to the Commerce Department that Eurodif's prices were unfairly low, and the agency decided in 2001 that anti-dumping duties should be levied. But the U.S. Court of International Trade disagreed, and in September the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit upheld that ruling.

USEC received powerful support from the federal government, which urged the Supreme Court to take the case.

The appeals court decision, Solicitor General Paul D. Clement said in a brief to the high court, "threatens to undermine U.S. foreign policy and national security interests in the remarkably sensitive context of nuclear fuel, nonproliferation, and ensuring domestic supplies for nuclear weaponry."

He said it would endanger the financial viability of USEC, the sole source of certain types of nuclear fuel used for military purposes.

A coalition of utilities joined Eurodif and its parent company, Areva, in urging the court not to review the case, which they said had been correctly decided by the lower courts. If Congress is concerned about the viability of USEC, they argued, there are other ways to take care of it.

"The antidumping statute is an instrument of trade policy with general application to all industries, and not a tool for the implementation of national security or energy policies," argued the Ad Hoc Utilities Group.

While the Commerce Department sided with USEC, the courts agreed with the utilities that, in least some cases, importing the low-enriched uranium constituted a provision of a service by the French company, not a purchase of a product. Products are covered by the anti-dumping laws, while services are not.

The federal government asked the Supreme Court to uphold the Commerce Department's authority and expertise. And it warned that the decision, in a "truly unprecedented manner" for a trade case, has implications for national security.

The government said that a program under which Russia has agreed to convert weapons-grade, highly enriched uranium into the kind of uranium needed by U.S. utilities could be endangered. Dismantling nuclear warheads, it said, is a more expensive process than simply enriching the uranium as the French company does. It is economically viable only because the United States has the ability to use anti-dumping laws to regulate the entry of low-enriched uranium from foreign sources.

The combined cases are U.S. v. Eurodif and USEC v. Eurodif.

Uganda: Country turns to nuclear power plants

africanpress on April 23, 2008

Publisher: Korir, api africanpress@getmail.no source.eastafrican.ke

By Charels Kazooba

Hamstrung by unpredictable climatic changes that have reduced the water levels in Lake Victoria and the amount of hydroelectricity generated by dams along the River Nile, the Ugandan government is turning to the more predictable nuclear power.

The country’s Energy and Mineral Development Minister, Daudi Migereko, estimates that Uganda will be in a position to generate nuclear energy from its uranium deposits within the next 10 to 15 years.
Said Mr Migereko: “With the ever increasing demand, it is envisaged that nuclear power will play an increasing role in the future energy supply. Uganda has significant uranium reserves that can be exploited and used for power generation.”

The Ugandan government has been battling a power crisis since the late 1990s caused by a combination of low investment in the energy sector and low hydropower generation caused by falling water levels in Lake Victoria, which feeds the country’s two hydropower dams in Jinja on the Nile. Power output at the hydropower complex in Jinja has fallen from an installed capacity of 380 Megawatts to around 135MW, forcing the country to resort to diesel-guzzling emergency thermal power plants that produce 100MW.

The power shortage has knocked about a percentage point off the gross domestic product projections and forced the government to set up an Energy Fund of Ush99 billion ($56.5 million) in the financial year 2006/07, of which Ush70 billion ($40 million) is going to pay for the thermal power plants. In 2007/08, more than Ush45 billion ($25.7 million) was added to the Energy Fund. End-user power prices have also risen by about 70 per cent due to the shortage.

A new 250MW hydropower dam is currently under construction at Bujagali on the Nile, with at least two other dams expected over the next decade to meet future demand. However, government officials believe a nuclear power plant could give some insulation against inclement weather like drought, which affects hydropower generation, while exploiting the available uranium resources. Although nuclear power is a controversial option due to the dangers of meltdown and the challenge of disposing of nuclear waste, improvements in technology and reductions in the cost over more than half a century have brought it back to the table of options for many countries.

It is also gaining renewed currency because it leaves a smaller carbon footprint and is, therefore, a relatively cleaner fuel. The hydropower and other renewable energy resources potential in Uganda is estimated at about 5300MW, about half the projected demand if each of the five million households in Uganda were to be connected to the electricity grid — and that is without including demand by heavy industry and institutions.
“Energy security means fulfilling the energy needs of all the people, including the 90 per cent of our citizens who have no access to electricity,” said Permanent Secretary in the Energy Ministry Fredrick Kabagambe-Kaliisa. “Diversification of energy sources is necessary.”

The Ugandan government has already drafted the legal framework under which its nuclear programme will operate. An Atomic Energy Bill is currently being scrutinised by parliament with a view to having it enacted before June to pave the way for the flow of technical assistance from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). “The lack of an effective legal and regulatory infrastructure has made it difficult for IAEA to give us technical support,” Mr Migereko said. The IAEA is the world’s focal point for mobilising peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology for critical needs in developing countries.

The agency also focuses on the use of nuclear and isotopic techniques to address the daunting challenges of disease, poverty, hunger and shortages of drinking water. The EastAfrican has learnt that the government will also enact laws to govern the mining and processing of its uranium deposits for energy production. According to a former IAEA consultant, Dr Abel Rwendeire, Uganda cannot mine its uranium resources until the country has a comprehensive law in place that institutes the required safeguards.

“The Atomic Energy Bill, once passed, will only enable the country to mine and export uranium in its raw form,” Dr Rwendeire told Members of Parliament during a recent sensitisation meeting. “To generate energy out of it, government will have to adopt various other legislation because of the complexity and sophisticated technology involved.” Another anticipated challenge to Uganda’s nascent nuclear power programme is the lack of skilled manpower in the sector, with less than a dozen personnel available to roll out the project.

“We have a long-term plan of nuclear energy production but presently, we have only about 10 experts with nuclear skills,” Dr Akisophel Kisolo, chief radiation safety officer in the Ministry of Energy, told The EastAfrican recently. He said the government could end up sourcing expertise outside the country or training its own personnel. But even then, he warned, it is expensive to hire such skilled labour. Uganda has lagged behind Kenya and Tanzania in the creation of a nuclear legal framework; the two countries have had atomic commissions for years.

A nuclear power plant in Uganda would also help regularise the illicit uranium smuggling trade out of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Zambia, Tanzania and Angola. Dr Kisolo also said Uganda is expediting the atomic energy legislation to create a mechanism for preventing leakage in the regional oil pipeline to be constructed from Eldoret, Kenya, to Kigali through Kampala. He said atomic energy will be used to test and establish leaking spots on the pipeline. Atomic energy is a highly concentrated form of energy. The energy released is carried off as kinetic energy of emitted particles and is eventually transformed into other forms, mainly heat.

It is also used in the treatment of cancer patients, diagnostic procedures including organ scans, crop improvement through integrated nutrient management, level gauging in soft-drinks firms and assessing geothermal resources like those in Katwe and Kibiro in the Western Rift Valley. Several African nations, including Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Namibia and Nigeria, are seriously considering nuclear power as an alternative to hydropower. With only two nuclear power reactors on the entire continent, both located at Koeberg in South Africa, nuclear power constitutes only a fraction of Africa’s energy mix.

Still, South Africa accounts for 60 per cent of all of Africa’s energy production. The search for cleaner energy sources such as nuclear is also motivated by widespread concern that Africa is more vulnerable than other regions to climate change. Africa maintains 18 per cent of the world’s known recoverable uranium resources. Most operational mines are located in Niger, Congo, Namibia and South Africa. Prospecting and other preproduction work is being performed in Botswana, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Gabon, Guinea, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.


African Press International - api

Scientists Agree That EMFs Pose a Threat to Your Health

NaturalNews) Electricity has become an integral part of our lives, with electromagnetic fields (EMFs) all around us. Electricity certainly makes our lives easier in many ways. Is it possible that electricity is also making our lives shorter?

Most experts agree that some limited exposure to EMFs is not a threat. We can feel reasonably safe using a toaster, for example. The problem comes when we are chronically exposed to large does of EMFs such as encountered when living near power lines or sleeping in the room where the power enters the house. Unfortunately, this type of chronic exposure to EMFs applies to millions of Americans.

Negative effects of EMF exposure

The effect of EMFs on biological tissue remains controversial. Virtually all scientists agree that more research is necessary to determine safe or dangerous levels. What they do know is that iron, which is necessary for healthy blood and is stored in the brain, is highly affected by EMFs. The permeability of the cell membranes of nerves, blood vessels, skin and other organs is also affected, as well as the intricate DNA of the chromosomes. Every bodily biochemical process involves precisely choreographed movement of EMF sensitive atoms, molecules, and ions.

Dr. David Carpenter, Dean of the School of Public Health, SUNY, has reported that up to 30 percent of all childhood cancers may be due to exposure to residential power lines.

Epidemiological studies in Sweden by Maria Feychting showed that persons exposed to high magnetic fields at home and at work had 3.7 times the risk of developing leukemia compared to those not exposed.

Two research reports have identified elevated risks of breast cancer among women working jobs with presumed higher than average exposure to EMFs.

If you want to follow the Environmental Protection Agency's advice to prudently avoid EMFs, you may want to invest in a Gauss meter to measure your home, work or school environments, both inside and outside.

What is a Gauss Meter?

A Gauss is a common unit of measurement of magnetic field strength. The Gauss meter is a tool for measuring Gauss values. Inside a Gauss meter is a coil of thin wire. As a magnetic field radiates through the coil, it induces a current, which is amplified by the circuitry inside the Gauss meter.

These meters vary in the strength of magnetic fields they are able to measure. A meter used for measuring EMFs from power lines, transformers, substations and appliances should be able to measure as low as .1 mg.

Gauss meters vary in price and accuracy. They have either a single axis coil or a triple axis coil, with the single axis being much simpler and therefore much less expensive. To use the single axis meter, you point its one sensor in three directions, the X, Y and Z axes, and combine the readings in an equation to calculate the combined field strength. The triple axis meters are more complicated in their operations, but produce more accurate results.

Another consideration is whether the meter is frequency weighted. Most meters read the same EMF strength no matter what the frequency. Since the human body appears to be sensitive to both the field strength and the frequency, meters should be frequency weighted. The frequency weighting feature is why these meters will show a higher EMF reading than those typically used by electricians and engineers.

Power lines, substations and transformers

Power generating stations produce enormous amounts of electricity and send it through high voltage wires. All power lines radiate electromagnetic fields, with the exact amount depending on its particular configuration. Power companies know which configurations are best for limiting EMFs but most don't feel the evidence against EMFs supports their making costly changes in the way they deliver electricity.

A substation is where the conversion from transmission to distribution takes place. Through an assemblage of circuit breakers, switches and transformers, the electrical current is stepped down to the power grid. A good bit of public concern about the threat of EMFs has revolved around the substation, which has been seen as the cause of cancer clusters among nearby residents.

A component of a utility's electrical distribution network depends on numerous transformers mounted on power poles. These transformers look like small cylindrical trash cans. When the electrical service is buried underground, you will see a metal box located on the ground near the street. Although many people don't know a transformer when they see it, the power line feeding the transformer is carrying 4000 to 13,000 volts. The transformer then reduces the voltage to the 120-/240 current needed by the nearby homes.

EMFs near a transformer can be very high, but the field strength diminishes rapidly with distance. For this reason, having a transformer located near your home should not be a major concern, but you might want to measure the field strength around the transformer to be sure.

Electric blankets and water beds

An electric blanket can create a magnetic field that penetrates about 6 to 7 inches into the body. An epidemiological study has linked electric blankets with miscarriages and childhood leukemia. Similar effects have been reported for users of water bed heaters which emit EMTs even when turned off but still plugged in.

Electric clocks

Electric clocks emit a magnetic field as much as 5 to 10mG up to three feet away. If you have a bedside clock, you may be exposing yourself to the EMF equivalent of an electric power line. Since studies have linked high rates of brain tumors with chronic exposure to magnetic fields, it may be wise to place all clocks and other electrical devices such as phones at least 6 feet from where you sleep.

Electric Razors and Hair Dryers

Electric razors and hair dryers may emit EMFs as high as 200 to 400 mG. This may seem like a really large amount, but your exposure to these devices is probably not continuous for long periods of time. Some experts recommend that hair dryers not be used on children as the high field would be held close to the rapidly developing brain and nervous system of the child.

Fluorescent lights

Fluorescent lights produce a higher level of EMFs than incandescent bulbs. A typical fluorescent tube may have a reading of 160 to 200 mG at 1 inch away.

A better lighting choice is the LED bulbs available at (www.EcoLEDS.com) , reported by Mike Adams to be the world's most eco-friendly bulbs.

Microwave ovens and radar

In addition to microwaves, another type of radiation, ELF, is emitted from microwave ovens and radar from military installations and airports. Microwaves are measured in milliwatts per centimeter squared (mW/cm2). The safety limit for microwave exposure is 1mW/mc2. Microwave leakage is a serious issue, serious enough for the FDA to set legal limits on the leakage permitted by a microwave maker.

Since microwave radiation has been known to cause cataracts, birth defects, cancer and other serious illnesses, you don't want to stand in front of or close to a microwave in operation. Once you start thinking about the hazards of microwaving foods, you may find that you can heat food in a toaster oven almost as quickly. You might also want to think about that "frankenfood" you are creating in your microwave by the rearrangement of its molecular structure.

If you want to measure microwaves from military or airport radar sources, you will find that the only really accurate measures can be found with extremely expensive meters. If you are set on doing this, you can rent these meters.


The handset of a telephone may emit a surprisingly high amount of EMFs. Since you hold the phone next to your head, you will probably want to get the phone with the lowest EMF reading. Place the Gauss meter directly against the ear piece and the mouth piece to check the reading before you buy a telephone.


Natural Solutions Foundation, (www.healthfreedomusa.org) , "Useful Information About Electric Magnetic Fields".

(www.lessemf.com) .

(www.brain101.info/EMF.php) , "Electro Magnetic Field", Nabeel Kauka, M.D.


About the author

Barbara is a school psychologist, a published author in the area of personal finance, a breast cancer survivor using "alternative" treatments, a born existentialist, and a student of nature and all things natural.