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January 29, 1998 - Image 10

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The Michigan Daily, 1998-01-29

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LOA - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 29, 1998

NATION/WORLD

Nuclear
meltdown
tests prove
to be risky
CADARACHE, France (AP)--A nuclear
lant nestled amid the pines, oaks and olive
gees of Provence has suffered a meltdown.
5wice. On purpose.
To learn more about avoiding Three Mile
sland-style nightmares, scientists plan four
iore meltdowns at the Phebus plant by
004.
Environmentalists have tried to kill the
;rogram with warnings of a French
':hernobyl. So far, they have been unsuccess-
41. Now, the budget ax may do what their
earnings could not.
On Tuesday, a French-led team of interna-
onal scientists unveiled results of the first
vo tests, which showed that the meltdowns
i the small reactor occurred at lower tem-
eratures and produced more explosive
ydrogen gas than expected.
The results from December 1993 and July
996 tests, they say, could lead to modifica-
ons in current and future nuclear plants.
rance has more than 50 of them, generating
bout 80 percent of its electricity.
The Phebus program, unique in the world,
has confounded its critics with success,"
GigPdBriton David Wilkinson, co-chair of the
hebus pilot committee. Not everyone
grees.
The state Electricite de France and the U.S.
4uclear Regulatory Commission, project
rticipants, said that while the results con-
trm their computer models, they show no
ignificant new data.
.The results "tend not to be earth-shatter-

AP PHO
Technicians work at the reactor of the Phebus nuclear plant of Cadarache, in the Provence region. Yesterday, a French-led team of scien-
tists unveiled results of the first of two tests that show a meltdown can occur at a lower temperature and produce more explosive hydroge

than expected.
ing," Charles Ader, the NRC's chief of
accident evaluation, said in a telephone
interview from Washington. "There are
still issues out there, but it is an expensive
program."
Behind the fanfare for the invited press,
behind the double electric fences surrounding
the Cadarache compound in the rocky coun-
tryside 30 miles east of Aix-en-Provence, offi-
cials are worried about funding.
France, which provides at least 55 percent
of the funding, is under pressure to hold
down its budget to qualify for next year's
introduction of the euro, Europe's single cur-
rency.
"We have to fight to demonstrate the

need," acknowledged Adolf Birkhofer, man-
aging director of Germany's Reactor Safety
Association, another participant in the pro-
gram.
The researchers at Phebus said theirs is the
only plant currently staging meltdowns,
although the United States conducted similar
tests in Idaho in the 1980s. The reactor con-
sists of 20 nuclear fuel rods; a large reactor
can easily have 5,000.
In the first five-hour test, coolant was
drained from about 44 pounds of urani-
um, triggering a meltdown watched by
hundreds of sensors attached to the reac-
tor; in the second test, the fuel had been
partially used.

Subsequent tests will look at diffe
phases of the meltdown or different con
tions under which an accident can occur.I
next two are set for June and Decem'
1999. Two more are planned for betw(
2001 and 2004.
Phebus scientists said their work will h
in designing "recombiners" to fight
buildup of explosive hydrogen gas and s
port European efforts to design its nextg
eration of nuclear plants.
But Electricite de France, provid
about one-fourth of the funding,v
reconsidering the need for all six test
researcher with the company said on c
dition of anonymity.

Assassins in,
Ghandi plot
found guilt.
POONAMALLEE, India (AP) -- A mammoth conspiracy
trial ended with convictions yesterday for all 26 people tried
in the 1991 suicide bombing that killed former Prime
Minister Rajiv Gandhi, the political heir of India's Nehru-
Gandhi dynasty. All 26 were ordered hanged.
"The nation stands vindicated," declared D.R. Karthikeyan,
the federal police officer who led the investigation.
Tamil Tiger rebels from neighboring Sri Lanka assassinat-
ed Gandhi for allegedly betraying them by brokering a peace
accord with the Sri Lanka government in 1987.
Gandhi, the son and grandson of India's prime ministers
was campaigning for his Congress Party in southern India on
May 21, 1991, when a woman handed him flowers, then det-
onated a pound of plastic explosives strapped to her body.
The explosives, packed with 10,000 metal pellets, killed
)To Gandhi and 16 others, including the Sri Lankan Tamil
bomber, who went by only one name, Dhanu.
en The prosecution charged 41 Indian and Sri Lankan sus-
pects with terrorism, murder and conspiring with the
rent Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, a rebel group fighting for
ndi- an independent homeland for Sri Lanka's minority Tamils.
The Twelve suspects committed suicide when trapped by
iber police. Three guerrilla commanders accused of ordering the
een assassination, including the Tiger chief, Velupillai
Prabhakaran, were charged but never caught. They remain at
help large in the jungles of neighboring Sri Lanka.
the The convicted, half of them Sri Lankan Tamils and the rest
up- Indians, will appeal yesterday's verdict to India's Supreme Court.
en- "Never before in trial history has there been such a convic-
tion in which 26 people have been sentenced to death," Press
[ing Trust of India news agency quoted defense attorney S.
was Doraiswamy as saying.
s, a Although only two defendants were convicted of murder, a*
on- were tried under special terrorist laws that made the death penal-
ty possible. Death sentences are rare in India, but those convict-
ed in previous political assassinations were hanged.
"This was the rarest of rare cases, and so we asked for death
penalty' prosecutor Jacob Daniel told reporters waiting a half-
mile from the courtroom, barred from getting any closer for
security reasons.
"The judgment established the conspiracy by the Tamil
Tigers to kill Gandhi," said Karthikeyan, who led the 180-
traps, strong police investigation team.
No execution date was immediately set in the Gandhi tria0
final played out in Poonamalee, 1,000 miles south of New Delhi.
ayev The town is 30 miles west of Madras, the capital of India's
ched Tamil Nadu state, where people share linguistic, cultural and
with family ties with the Tamils living in Sri Lanka.
stay Nearly 2,000 people gathered in the marketplace to listen
to radio reports of the verdict. "These people deserve to be
than killed," said tailor Raj Kumar.
About 800 policemen fanned out across the city to main-
break tain order. No violence was reported.
Tamil rebels have been fighting Sri Lankan troops since
dur- 1983 to carve out a homeland for the island nation's Tam@
pitat- minority. The rebels said the majority Sinhalese discriminate
ity to against them in jobs and education.
nates. For years, the guerrillas operated from Tamil Nadu before
much Gandhi signed the accord with the Sri Lankan government
and ordered them out.
n to In 1987, Gandhi sent the Indian army to help Sri Lanka
n Mir crush the Tamil uprising. The Indian forces were withdrawn
only three years later.

Language barner hurts American on Mir

* Russians complain that
U.S. astronaut speaks poor
Russian
Houston (AP) --After first portraying
him as a malcontent for saying his Mir
spacesuit didn't fit, the Russians are now
complaining American astronaut Andrew
Thomas' command of Russian is poor.
After a welcome like this, Thomas may be
wondering which side of the hatch he wants
to be on when space shuttle Endeavour pulls
away from Mir today.
"I wish my Russian was better" Thomas
admitted yesterday after being informed of
the latest criticism.
Thomas arrived at Mir on Saturday for a 4
J/2-month stay. His crewmates will be two
Russian cosmonauts who will reach Mir this
weekend.
Thomas' soon-to-be commander, Talgat

Musabayev, said on the eve of his launch to
Mir that Thomas speaks Russian poorly -
much worse than departing astronaut David
Wolf. What's more, the cosmonaut said, it
could pose problems with their work; critical
station repairs are planned over the next few
months.
"We understand that it will be hard for us,"
Musabayev said yesterday from the Russian
launch site in Kazakstan.
Thomas said he expects the language
problem to "slow us down a bit, particularly
initially."
"But I think after a while, we'll learn a
basis for communication which will be
acceptable," he said.
During yesterday's news conference,
Thomas replied to questions only in English
until a Russian reporter demanded: "Speak
Russian, please" The astronaut managed a
few, simple sentences, speaking slowly and

haltingly.
Thomas an Australian-born engineer,
was a backup astronaut who never even
expected to go to Mir until last summer,
when a fellow American was dropped
from the lineup. He said he wishes he had
had more language training before he
moved to Russia one year ago, but "it just
simply wasn't possible.
"We had to work with him urgently and
intensively," said Musabayev. "But we hope
everything will be normal, taking into
account Thomas' professionalism and per-
sistence."
Thomas first annoyed his new Russian
bosses on Sunday when lie announced he
could not fit into his emergency space-
suit. It was too tight, he said. Nonsense,
replied the deputy chief of Russia's
Mission Control, who called the astro-
naut "capricious."

After cutting and loosening a few s
Thomas squeezed into the suit.
Thomas is the seventh and
American to live aboard Mir. Musab
and Nikolai Budarin will be laun
today to the space station along
Frenchmanpold Eyharts, who will
just a few weeks.
Even Eyharts speaks Russian better
Thomas, Musabayev noted.
Language can, indeed, make - or I
a mission.
Wolf said his emotional low periods
ing his four-month Mir stay were preci
ed by long working hours and his inabil
make small talk with his Russian crewn
The technical conversations camer
more easily, he said.
Wolf said if it's any consolatio
Thomas, "I can assure that space station
is a great place to learn Russian."

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* West African Civilization
*Mass Media in London
*Architecture Workshop in Rome *Art and Culture
*International Business * Rome Summer Session
* Japanese Studies
* Women's Literature
*Mediterranean Studies

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