Archive for September, 2010

The Nuclear Renaissance’s funky finance

September 30, 2010

Funky Town Finance Meets The Nuclear Renaissance :: The Market Oracle  by Andrew McKillop (Project Director, GSO Consulting Associates Former chief policy analyst, Division A Policy, DG XVII Energy, European Commission )30 Sept 10, Like a Marlene Dietrich show in a remake of 1945 Berlin, surrounded by Soviet troop hordes, the nuclear sales show has to go on. The vaunted “Nuclear Renaissance” which is being proclaimed by the industry could see more than 200 new reactors built during the 2010-2020 decade, rivalling the industry’s previous high-water mark of 1975-1985 when one new reactor came on line, on average, every 17 days. The image of cheap, clean, safe and low carbon energy which is also secure – despite the uranium being mostly imported – has seduced political deciders and the corporate elite, worldwide. But the reality behind this romantic green image of a nuclear panacea to future energy needs is something altogether different.
Since 2004, a future globalized electrical village lit by the atom is the meat of the obsessional ad campaign run by the French Areva state-backed nuclear monopoly, under the banner of “semi-private” as portrayed in the business press. This longstanding and massive advertising campaign runs to the background music of the Lipps Inc 1970s disco dance track “Funky Town” (see and hear this advert at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3B__ovj2jU).

Everyone is boogying to DJ Friendly Atom in these richly detailed TV and print media offerings. The comic strip presentations often show Areva-owned clean and environment-friendly uranium mines in Canada – rather than Islamic militant-menaced Niger where Areva has a massive mine. The ads sometime flash dark-suited, smiling Men of Finance proffering hard cash at the edge of the stage, to underline the new illusion: nuclear power is very market friendly.

Indeed, nuclear power is market friendly and uranium mining is always clean and environmentally friendly in Funky Town. Quite often the reactors on the skyline are joined by serried ranks of friendly windmills and gleaming solar panels also delivering low carbon electricity. When in Funky Town, the revellers dance to the Areva tune.

The Atomic Reality

At the time when “Funky Town” was regular disco fodder circa 1977, nuclear power generation was still almost totally and exclusively reserved for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, the USSR and to a smaller extent, China and India. It was almost exclusively State-controlled, State-financed and State-operated. Its strategic deployment and costs were ultimately linked to the real business of the atom – nuclear weapons making and state security which, of course, was a State secret.

NEXT Why nuclear economics “did not matter” back then is certainly an interesting economic question and brings us to the root of the nuclear illusion. The State was not in the background, rather it was entirely present at the forefront of the nuclear scene, for the simple reason that nuclear powered electricity is expensive. Producing electricity for the civil power grid was still a side issue and interest for the State, in the early 1970s. The real objective of the State-backed and State-controlled nuclear industry was plutonium brewing to make atomic weapons……..

Moving up a long way in funky financing, state-to-state bilateral deals in the nuclear power sector are now in high gear. Amounts in play are usually well above US $ 10 billion per project, and very complex mix-and-mingle methods and processes are used for their financing. From development aid finance, to market plays wielding put-and-call options, and natural resource based offset and compensatory trading all have a role for Funky Town financing of the atom.

Funky Town Finance Meets The Nuclear Renaissance :: The Market Oracle :: Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting Free Website

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Small modular nuclear reactors and Pebble Bed nuclear reactors

September 30, 2010

IEER/PSR: ‘Small Modular Reactors’ No Panacea for What Ails Nuclear Power Fact Sheet Explores Cost, Safety and Waste Issues Glossed Over by IndustryWASHINGTON, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The same industry that promised that nuclear power would be “too cheap to meter” is now touting another supposed cure-all for America’s power needs: the small modular reactor (SMR). The only problem is that SMRs are not only unlikely live up to the hype, but may well aggravate cost, safety, and environmental problems, according to a new fact sheet prepared by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR). Titled “Small Modular Reactors: No Solution for the Cost, Safety, and Waste Problems of Nuclear Power,” the new IEER/PSR presentation is available online at http://www.ieer.org/fctsheet/small-modular-reactors2010.pdf.

The small modular reactor is being pitched by the nuclear power industry as a sort of production-line auto alternative to hand-crafted sports car, with supposed cost savings from the “mass manufacturing” of modestly sized reactors that could be scattered across the United States on a relatively quick basis.

The facts about SMRs are far less rosy.  As the IEER/PSR document notes:  “Some proponents of nuclear power are advocating for the development of small modular reactors as the solution to the problems facing large reactors, particularly soaring costs, safety, and radioactive waste. Unfortunately, small-scale reactors can’t solve these problems, and would likely exacerbate them.”

Co-author Arjun Makhijani, the president of IEER, holds a Ph.D. in engineering (specialization: nuclear fusion) from the University of California at Berkeley.   He said: “Amidst the evaporating hopes for a nuclear renaissance, nuclear power proponents are pinning their hopes on small modular reactors without thinking carefully about the new problems they will create such as inspecting production lines in China, procedures for recalls, or the complications and costs of a variety of new forms of nuclear waste.”

The supposed cost benefits of SMRs are also subject to debate.

The small modular reactor is being pitched by the nuclear power industry as a sort of production-line auto alternative to hand-crafted sports car, with supposed cost savings from the “mass manufacturing” of modestly sized reactors that could be scattered across the United States on a relatively quick basis.

The facts about SMRs are far less rosy.  As the IEER/PSR document notes:  “Some proponents of nuclear power are advocating for the development of small modular reactors as the solution to the problems facing large reactors, particularly soaring costs, safety, and radioactive waste. Unfortunately, small-scale reactors can’t solve these problems, and would likely exacerbate them.”

Co-author Arjun Makhijani, the president of IEER, holds a Ph.D. in engineering (specialization: nuclear fusion) from the University of California at Berkeley.   He said: “Amidst the evaporating hopes for a nuclear renaissance, nuclear power proponents are pinning their hopes on small modular reactors without thinking carefully about the new problems they will create such as inspecting production lines in China, procedures for recalls, or the complications and costs of a variety of new forms of nuclear waste.”

The supposed cost benefits of SMRs are also subject to debate.

The small modular reactor is being pitched by the nuclear power industry as a sort of production-line auto alternative to hand-crafted sports car, with supposed cost savings from the “mass manufacturing” of modestly sized reactors that could be scattered across the United States on a relatively quick basis.

The facts about SMRs are far less rosy.  As the IEER/PSR document notes:  “Some proponents of nuclear power are advocating for the development of small modular reactors as the solution to the problems facing large reactors, particularly soaring costs, safety, and radioactive waste. Unfortunately, small-scale reactors can’t solve these problems, and would likely exacerbate them.”

Co-author Arjun Makhijani, the president of IEER, holds a Ph.D. in engineering (specialization: nuclear fusion) from the University of California at Berkeley.   He said: “Amidst the evaporating hopes for a nuclear renaissance, nuclear power proponents are pinning their hopes on small modular reactors without thinking carefully about the new problems they will create such as inspecting production lines in China, procedures for recalls, or the complications and costs of a variety of new forms of nuclear waste.”

The supposed cost benefits of SMRs are also subject to debate.

The IEER/PSR fact sheet also raises significant safety-related concerns.  Eliminating secondary containment would decrease costs but raise safety issues, while including that containment would raise costs.  As regards to sodium-cooled reactors they note: “The world’s first nuclear reactor to generate electricity, the EBR I in Idaho, was a sodium-potassium-cooled reactor that suffered a partial meltdown. EBR II, which was sodium-cooled reactor, operated reasonably well, but the first US commercial prototype, Fermi I in Michigan had a meltdown of two fuel assemblies and, after four years of repair, a sodium explosion. The most recent commercial prototype, Monju in Japan, had a sodium fire 18 months after its commissioning in 1994, which resulted in it being shut down for over 14 years. The French Superphenix, the largest sodium-cooled reactor ever built, was designed to demonstrate commercialization. Instead, it operated at an average of less than 7 percent capacity factor over 14 years before being permanently shut.”

The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) exemplifies the types of problems that SMR technology has encountered in the past two decades.  The factsheet concludes that “Despite 50 years of research by many countries, including the United States, the theoretical promise of the PBMR has not come to fruition. The technical problems encountered early on have yet to be resolved, or apparently, even fully understood. PMBR proponents in the US have long pointed to the South African program as a model for the US. Ironically, the US Department of Energy is once again pursuing this design at the very moment that the South African government has pulled the plug on the program due to escalating costs and problems.”

And what about SMRs as some kind of “silver bullet” for averting global warming?  

The IEER/PSR fact sheet points out:  “Efficiency and most renewable technologies are already cheaper than new large reactors. The long time — a decade or more — that it will take to certify SMRs will do little or nothing to help with the global warming problem and will actually complicate current efforts underway. For example, the current schedule for commercializing the above-ground sodium cooled reactor in Japan extends to 2050, making it irrelevant to addressing the climate problem. Relying on assurances that SMRs will be cheap is contrary to the experience about economies of scale and is likely to waste time and money, while creating new safety and proliferation risks, as well as new waste disposal problems.”

IEER/PSR: ‘Small Modular Reactors’ No Panacea for What Ails Nuclear Power — WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —

Nuclear debt becoming global nuclear debt

September 30, 2010

Sovereign Debt to Global Debt The UN’s Nuclear Suppliers Group has an impressive 45-nation list of supposed nuclear equipment and service suppliers, but these include countries like Iceland, Malta, Croatia, Cyprus and Romania, everyone short of the Vatican. The “serious suppliers” especially include the 5 UN Security Council permanent members, China presently mostly importing nuclear equipment and of course fuel, but quite soon planning to be a major builder of overseas power plants and operator of overseas uranium mines, like in India.

Most major suppliers, like the USA, France, Japan and Germany are also “seriously indebted” to new epic proportions following the 2008-2009 blow-out and collapse of the not-so-funky financial sector and its collateral damage to banks, and the economy in general. The result of all this is that selling nuclear power almost any place on the planet is now an attractive option – reinforced by the inevitable collapse of international financing and funding hopes for the green energy bubble at the December 2009 Copenhagen climate summit.

All illusions aside, the economic reality of Nuclear power is that it is expensive and comes in big slices. Country risk in a long list of New Nuclear countries is high and in the extreme, over and beyond the weapons proliferation, waste handling and storage challenges in these countries, and elsewhere. Financing the Nuclear Renaissance in 2010-2020 will almost surely shift to international and multilateral debt financing methods. The IMF will surely be there, and all creative methods will have a look-in to using nuclear power plants as the underlying security in a vast new upsurge in global debt trading.

Funky Town Finance Meets The Nuclear Renaissance :: The Market Oracle :: Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting Free Website

Selling nukes to the Third world

September 30, 2010

Like deals between South Korea and Abu Dhabi, Russia and Iran or France and Pakistan, the US-India arrangement targets business opportunities of epic dimensions. On the basis of the 2008 bilateral agreement, U.S. companies—most importantly Toshiba-Westinghouse and GE-Hitachi—are planning to build nuclear power plants in India. A linked American-Indian trade group claims that this business may ultimately be worth US $130 billion by 2030. At the basis of the long-running 30-year standoff between the USA and India was the question of uranium enrichment. During the negotiation of the 2008 agreement, Washington initially resisted giving India long-term consent to reprocess spent fuel subject to the agreement, because a 1982 U.S. National Security Decision Memorandum had limited such consent to the European Union and Japan. Business and plain sense however won the day: any questions of nuclear proliferation are in fact relics of a very distant past: India tested its first atom bomb in 1974 !

Already marshalled into this private-public ‘Marshall Plan’ for selling US nuclear power and services to India are the US Ex-Im (export-import) Bank, leading Wall Street private banks, and major downstream infrastructure companies such as Bechtel, all primed and ready to go. Under special arrangements for nuclear financing, US state agencies, especially the Ex-Im Bank can in some cases finance up to 85% of the initial sale for projects with a 15-year lifetime after an initial open-ended time period during which construction and hand-over to Indian buyers took place. Unlike smaller and specialized aid agencies like US AID, the Ex-Im Bank is an ideal vehicle for closely working with the big creative players of private finance, who shy well away from the atom for many reasons.

The next round in financing the new Nuclear Renaissance promises to be a lot less easy. Lined up on today’s buy side are a lengthening list of low-income and mid-income new nuclear countries wanting the atom. They include: Nigeria, Ghana, Sudan, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Indonesia, the Philippines, Bangladesh and others. Even “entry level” nuclear projects tend to cost US $ 2 – 5 billion, take years to construct and will have to be operated for a minimum of 30 – 40 years to make a profit and pay back initial costs. To be sure, the now standardized “operating life extensions” of 10 years here or there, may help avoid the prohibitive costs of decommissioning.

In a likely return to the dawn of civil nuclear power, the UN’s nuclear agency the IAEA could be extended to cover nuclear financing. When the IAEA was announced by US president Eisenhower in a Dec 1953 speech to the UN general assembly, his original proposal included power plant financing, building and fuel supply. As we know, the IAEA in fact was only given the “watchdog” anti-proliferation role that it still has. The World Bank and its regional bank affiliates were also excluded from financing the atom – and although today’s World Bank talk about nuclear power is positive, the financing is not there.

Modelled on the Global Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Fund, a US $ 100 billion fund that was definitely not approved at the December 2009 Copenhagen climate summit, the IAEA is working towards a “sister fund” known as the Global Nuclear Energy Fund for sustainable energy. In particular, this fund would aim to marshal and mobilize at least as much financing capability as the green energy fund: US $ 100 billion, but present and current promises, only from Europe, are of US $ 100 million. The nuclear fund would focus “small and innovative” nuclear power projects in low income countries, according to the IAEA.

Funky Town Finance Meets The Nuclear Renaissance :: The Market Oracle :: Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting Free Website

Nuclear financila engineering in USA

September 30, 2010

From Put Options to Development Aid The French EDF ex-monopoly electricity supplier with the biggest number of nuclear reactors of any traded power company in the world, also the most debt-laden traded company in France, and with a share price down about 25% through Jan-Aug 2010, is using financial engineering to keep a foothold in the US nuclear power market. Using debt instruments, EDF bought half of Constellation Energy Group’s nuclear business for US$ 4.5 billion in 2008, thwarting a takeover of Constellation by Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. At the time, Constellation set up an option for a later possible sale of non-nuclear plants to EDF. Since then, the financial crisis and unsure economic recovery have taken their toll on high-priced assets of highly indebted corporations, such as electric power plants.

EDF and Constellation are now in dispute over Constellation’s option to sell EDF non-nuclear plants for as much as US $2 billion. The so-called put option – implying the value of these plants would fall – is due to expire in December 2010. EDF is Constellation’s biggest shareholder, but if Constellation exercised its put option, EDF would incur more debt or lower-performing assets and view this as a hostile move likely to jeopardize their relationship. This would in turn compromise plans to build new nuclear projects in the near future.

Closely linked to this example of financial engineering, is the Congressional decision on what will be the last government aids for nuclear power plant building in the USA- a decision that would likely go to Constellation. If the corporation backs out of nuclear expansion, due to financial stress caused by EDF in retaliation for Constellation using its put option, the chance of it building another friendly atom plant may be low.

Moving up a long way in funky financing, state-to-state bilateral deals in the nuclear power sector are now in high gear. Amounts in play are usually well above US $ 10 billion per project, and very complex mix-and-mingle methods and processes are used for their financing. From development aid finance, to market plays wielding put-and-call options, and natural resource based offset and compensatory trading all have a role for Funky Town financing of the atom.

Funky Town Finance Meets The Nuclear Renaissance :: The Market Oracle :: Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting Free Website

The Stuxnet worm: A cyber-missile aimed at Iran? | The Economist

September 25, 2010

The Stuxnet worm: A cyber-missile aimed at Iran? | The Economist, Sep 24th 2010, THE internet is abuzz this week with speculation about Stuxnet, a “groundbreaking” computer worm that attacks industrial-control systems. Put that way, it doesn’t sound very exciting. But the possibility that it might have been aimed at one set of industrial-control systems in particular—those inside Iranian nuclear facilities—has prompted one security expert to describe Stuxnet as a “cyber-missile”, designed to seek out and destroy a particular target. Its unusual sophistication, meanwhile, has prompted speculation that it is the work of a well-financed team working for a nation state, rather than a group of rogue hackers trying to steal industrial secrets or cause trouble. This, in turn, has led to suggestions that Israel, known for its high-tech prowess and (ahem) deep suspicion of Iran’s nuclear programme, might be behind it. But it is difficult to say how much truth there is in this juicy theory……..
according to Ralph Langner, a German security expert who published his own analysis last week, Stuxnet examines the system it is running on and, only if certain very specific characteristics are found, shuts down specific processes. All this suggests that a particular system was being targeted. ……
Microsoft said in August that more than 45,000 computers around the world had been infected by Stuxnet. An analysis by Symantec, a computer-security firm, found that 60% of infected machines were in Iran, 18% in Indonesia and 8% in India. It could be just a coincidence that Iran has been hardest hit. But if Stuxnet has been deliberately aimed at Iran, one possible target is its Bushehr nuclear reactor, though there is no specific evidence for this……..
A rival theory is that the target was Iran’s uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz, and that Stuxnet successfully shut down some of its centrifuges in early 2009………
Two further reports on the worm are due be released at a computer-security conference in Vancouver on September 29th. They may clear up some of the mysteries surrounding Stuxnet—but they may simply prompt further speculation.

The Stuxnet worm: A cyber-missile aimed at Iran? | The Economist

The Stuxnet worm: A cyber-missile aimed at Iran? | The Economist

September 25, 2010

The Stuxnet worm: A cyber-missile aimed at Iran? | The Economist, Sep 24th 2010, THE internet is abuzz this week with speculation about Stuxnet, a “groundbreaking” computer worm that attacks industrial-control systems. Put that way, it doesn’t sound very exciting. But the possibility that it might have been aimed at one set of industrial-control systems in particular—those inside Iranian nuclear facilities—has prompted one security expert to describe Stuxnet as a “cyber-missile”, designed to seek out and destroy a particular target. Its unusual sophistication, meanwhile, has prompted speculation that it is the work of a well-financed team working for a nation state, rather than a group of rogue hackers trying to steal industrial secrets or cause trouble. This, in turn, has led to suggestions that Israel, known for its high-tech prowess and (ahem) deep suspicion of Iran’s nuclear programme, might be behind it. But it is difficult to say how much truth there is in this juicy theory……..
according to Ralph Langner, a German security expert who published his own analysis last week, Stuxnet examines the system it is running on and, only if certain very specific characteristics are found, shuts down specific processes. All this suggests that a particular system was being targeted. ……
Microsoft said in August that more than 45,000 computers around the world had been infected by Stuxnet. An analysis by Symantec, a computer-security firm, found that 60% of infected machines were in Iran, 18% in Indonesia and 8% in India. It could be just a coincidence that Iran has been hardest hit. But if Stuxnet has been deliberately aimed at Iran, one possible target is its Bushehr nuclear reactor, though there is no specific evidence for this……..
A rival theory is that the target was Iran’s uranium-enrichment plant at Natanz, and that Stuxnet successfully shut down some of its centrifuges in early 2009………
Two further reports on the worm are due be released at a computer-security conference in Vancouver on September 29th. They may clear up some of the mysteries surrounding Stuxnet—but they may simply prompt further speculation.

The Stuxnet worm: A cyber-missile aimed at Iran? | The Economist

Australian medi not facing up to the nuclear power industry fiasco

September 17, 2010

Old-tech nuclear power is not the answer * Scott Ludlam   The Australian * September 17, 2010 1 LET’S not expect a volatile, antiquated technology to solve any problems, says Scott Ludlam.JUDGING from the extraordinary outpouring of editorial anguish – ranging from simple name-calling to paranoid hysteria – over the Greens’ cautionary uranium mining policies, it seems we may have hit a nerve.

One thing missing has been any analysis of why we believe the nuclear industry should be phased out. In an age of climate change it seems reasonable to ask whether nuclear energy should have a bigger place in the energy mix. And if it does, perhaps that does justify overlooking the eternal contamination legacy at uranium mine sites, and profiting handsomely from supplying an energy-hungry world with a low emissions fuel.

This world view has been described in recent days as pragmatic, practical, responsible even. It should be the job of the news media to test these assumptions to see if they have any basis in reality, rather than regurgitating mining industry press releases. Here’s what a cursory examination of the facts reveals.

All nuclear power stations are based on 1940s-era technology to build nuclear weapons. They are essentially plutonium factories, producing small quantities of plutonium while shedding vast amounts of heat. In the 50s, Soviet and US engineers realised they could adapt these plants for power generation, hooking them up to steam turbines and promising electricity that was “too cheap to meter”. Now we have more than 400 of these hybridised weapons plants generating a shrinking fraction of electricity across the world.

Since the beginning, the potential has existed for the diversion of a few dozen kilograms of refined plutonium or highly enriched uranium through the porous boundary between civil and military facilities.

It takes 4kg to 16kg of refined plutonium or highly enriched uranium to reduce a city to a field of irradiated debris in one flash of light. This has led to the establishment of a sprawling acronym soup of multilateral agreements and treaties designed to keep nuclear weapons in the hands of “responsible” countries and out of the hands of everyone else, even as the industry tries to push the enabling technology into as many countries as possible.

Nuclear flashpoints in Iran and North Korea are the only examples we should need. In North Korea, “peaceful” facilities were turned to more lethal purposes on nothing more than a quiet change of policy. Iran is pursuing a more ambiguous path, building a massive uranium enrichment plant while pursuing a suspect argument that the intention is benign. The technology for bombs or fuel is the same, it all depends on changing government policy.

An apparent blindness in the boardrooms and editorial desks of Australia is preventing the acceptance of this basic fact: the nuclear industry, at heart, is a military industry holding up a battered commercial facade.

Nowhere is this more true than in the new markets of China, Russia and India – nuclear weapons states – all of which the Australian mining industry is desperate to access. The proposed ramping up of uranium sales to these countries under the cover of “safeguards agreements” needs to be the subject of open-minded and well-informed debate in Australia.

It is hard to identify where in the mainstream media this debate will be given a chance to develop beyond the juvenile anti-Greens spitting contest we’ve witnessed during the past 48 hours.

To the great dismay of those who genuinely thought nuclear fission would be a cheap way of spinning a turbine, attaching plutonium plants to steam engines turned out to be a potent force for mass bankruptcy.

In no deregulated energy market, anywhere in the world, is the private sector putting up its own money to build nuclear power stations. The industry remains on subsidised life support everywhere and is making headway only in a tiny handful of countries with state ownership of generators and command and control energy networks. The net effect, as researcher Mycle Schneider has graphed in stark terms, is that the nuclear industry flatlined in the 80s, began to decline in 2002 and is headed for steeper decline, or in the best case stagnation, for the foreseeable future.

The reasons are a complex mix of ageing reactors, formidable project costs, the unwillingness of insurance companies to cover the astronomical liabilities of reactor accidents and the 65-year unanswered question of what to do with radioactive spent fuel for the next quarter of a million years.

This is reflected, in part, in the recent world uranium price slump and the 24 per cent drop in Australian uranium export earnings in the past 12 months. We still earn more from our cheese exports than from uranium. If there is a riskier, more expensive, slow moving and downright ridiculous way of tackling climate change, then I haven’t come across it yet.

Is it really the view of the Australian media and business establishment that people who ask these difficult questions are extremists or economic illiterates? Or is it just that the uranium mining industry would rather not expose the unpleasant reality of their business model to the harsh light of a genuine debate?

Old-tech nuclear power is not the answer | The Australian

Nuclear facilities – great targets for terrorist disasters

September 15, 2010

Reality dashes all of these illusions and self delusions. It reveals the risks, the hazards, the long-term costs, and the fragile “market friendly” reactor financing set-ups used by the socalled financial community to sell the atom to countries ranging from Bangladesh to Sudan and harnessing them with 50-year debts for their choice of hi-tech atomic trinkets.

Nuclear Renaissance or The End of Nations ? :: The Market Oracle, By Andrew McKillop, 15 Sept 10, NUCLEAR RENAISSANCE The 2010-2020 decade marks the world’s “Nuclear Renaissance” according to triumphal industry spokesmen. It may result in the construction of 200 – 250 new reactors, mostly in the Emerging countries. The countries signing up to the New Nuclear Miracle, which extends to its debt-linked financing, now range far and wide in the low and mid income South. They include Bangladesh, Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan and plenty others. (more…)

Cancer can start in non-irrdaiated cells near to irradiated ones

September 13, 2010

Emerging role of radiation induced bystander effects:Cell communications and carcinogenesis, 7th Space.3 Sept 10, Rajamanickam Baskar, Ionizing radiation is an invaluable diagnostic and treatment tool used in various clinical applications. On the other hand, radiation is a known cytotoxic with a potential DNA damaging and carcinogenic effects.However, the biological effects of low and high linear energy transfer (LET) radiations are considerably more complex than previously thought. In the past decade, evidence has mounted for a novel biological phenomenon termed as “bystander effect”(BE), wherein directly irradiated cells transmit damaging signals to non-irradiated cells thereby inducing a response similar to that of irradiated cells.
BE can also be induced in various cells irrespective of the type of radiation, and the BE may be more damaging in the longer term than direct radiation exposure. BE is mediated either through gap-junctions or via soluble factors released by irradiated cells.
DNA damage response mechanisms represent a vital line ofdefense against exogenous and endogenous damage caused by radiation and promote two distinct outcomes: survival and the maintenance of genomic stability. The latter is critical for cancer avoidance.

Therefore, efforts to understand and modulate the bystander responses will provide new approaches to cancer therapy and prevention. This review overviews the emerging role of BE of low and high LET radiations on the genomic instability of bystander cells and its possible implications for carcinogenesis

Emerging role of radiation induced bystander effects:Cell communications and carcinogenesis