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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Nuclear Master is worrying about its own mess

United State Nuclear plant in storage crisis

The Associated Press
FRENCHTOWN TOWNSHIP, MICH.

DTE Energy Co. faces a deadline for the amounting problem of storing spent nuclear fuel from its Fermi 2 reactor in Southeastern Michigan. In about three years, the detroit-based utility will run out of room in fuel storage pool next to the reactor vessel and expects it will have to store the fuel bundles on the Fermi plant's ground in heavy concrete and steel casks designed to contain the radiation.

" we have received some bids from a number vendors and those are under evaluation," DTE spokesman John Austerberry told The Monroe Evening News. " we are also looking at the option of forming alliances with other plants to obtain the storage containers."

Storage of spent nuclear fuel has bee a controversial issue at plants across the country due to environmental and security concerns. DTE will begin a $9 million "re-racking" of Fermi's fuel pool this month, allowing a tighter pack of the spent fuel assemblies to extend the pool's capacity to 2010. It will be the second times the plant has re-racked the pool.

The federal government initially vowed to take used fuel off the hands of utilities with nuclear plant and store in deep underground in Nuvada's Yuca Mountain. But that plan is years behind schedule, due to planning, political and safety concerns.

DTE officials have said that because of buildup of waste at other nuclear plants, the chances of any Fermi's waste ever being transported to Yuca Mountain are slim. Spent fuel already is stored in casks at Consumers Energy's Big Rock Plant near Charlevoix, the Palisates plant near South Haven and more than two dozen other locations around the country.

CUT IN EMISSIONS DTE Energy Co. is spending more than US$1 billion on its Monroe power plant as part of a five-year effort to comply with federal rules to reduce emissions. The Detroit- based utility, which own Detroit Edison and Michigan Consolidated Gas will install two flue gas desulfurization units, or scrubbers, and a selective catalytic reduction unit.

The new equipment will be able to control up to 97 per cent of sulfur dioxide emissions and 80 per cent of mercury emissions at facility. The coal-fired plant, the utility's largest, has already seen 63 percent drop in emissions of sulfur dioxide, an irritant to human respiratory system.

Emissions of nitrogen oxide, which contributes to acid rain, smog and global warming, have fallen 56 percent. " we have been doing a lot in this area, and it is really getting much better," Skiles Boyd, DTE's vice president of environmental management and resources, told the Detroit Free Press for a Monday story.

The project will put the facility ahead of federal mandates under the Clean Air Interstate Rule and the Clean Air Mercury Rule that start in 2015. Read more!

Southern Gold steps up role

SOUTHERN Gold has expanded its footprint in Cambodia via a joint venture with local company Greystoke. The Adelaide gold and base metals explorer said yesterday it had signed a letter of agreement to form a joint venture over two of Greystoke's exploration areas.

This brings to five the number of tenements Southern Gold is exploring across Cambodia, with a total area of 1155sq km.

"Exceptionally encouraging exploration results are being recorded from all these tenements as a better understanding of the mineralisation models are achieved," the company said in a statement yesterday.

"Southern Gold also notes Oxiana's reporting of several high-grade gold drilling results from Oxiana's Shin-Ha joint-venture project, which is adjacent to Southern Gold's O'Kthong project in eastern Cambodia."

Oxiana's results included 33m of 9.9 grams per tonne of gold and 4m of 10.4g/t.

Southern Gold's new tenements cover 375sq km and the company will earn an 80 per cent interest in each by funding exploration up to the bankable feasibility stage, managing director Stephen Biggins said.

The company said geochemical sampling and geological mapping would occur across the tenements during the first quarter of 2007, with drilling scheduled for several targets mid-year.
It has told the Cambodian Ministry of Industry Mining and Energy that it intends to apply for exploration licences for all of its tenements in Cambodia. Southern Gold shares added 1.5c to 54.5c yesterday. Read more!

As economy fizzles, job prospects dim

A drop in both economic growth and the employment intensity of that growth has dimmed job prospects in Thailand, says a report by the United Nations Development Programme and the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Indonesia shares a similar plight, said the report which studied the situation in Cambodia, China, India, Malaysia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Except for Malaysia, ''all the Asian countries studied experienced inadequate employment growth, and the problem has got worse in recent years'', said the ILO statement.

''This has been major factor in weakening the impact of economic growth on the earnings of the poor and in making growth less poverty-alleviating than it might have been.''

The causes of inadequate employment growth vary, the report says.

''In China and India, the two largest developing countries, the sharp fall in the employment intensity of growth has been the problem,'' said the ILO.

''In Indonesia and Thailand, the cause was both a reduction in employment intensity and a reduction in the rate of growth. In Cambodia, the Philippines and Sri Lanka the poor employment performance was, by and large, due to inadequate growth or growth bypassing the large sectors where poor workers are concentrated,'' the ILO said.

The study, titled ''Asian Experience on Growth, Employment and Poverty'', focuses on the employment intensity of economic growth as a means of poverty reduction and provides insights into why job growth is declining in some fast-growing Asian economies. Read more!

Cambodia's deputy prime minister due in Seoul on enhancing cooperation

SEOUL, Feb. 20 (Yonhap) -- Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Keo Puth Rasmey was due in Seoul Tuesday on ways to increase bilateral cooperation, the Foreign Ministry said.

"Deputy Prime Minister Rasmey, who also heads Cambodia's (co-ruling) Funcinpec Party, will visit Seoul until Thursday," Lee Youn-soo, a ministry spokesman, told reporters.

He was scheduled to attend a dinner hosted by South Korea's Foreign Minister Song Min-soon later Tuesday. Read more!