Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Two nuclear plants shut down: eight million left without power

More than 8.1 million homes and businesses were left without electric power across the eastern United States Tuesday with superstorm Sandy still moving across the region, the US government said. The most extensive outages were reported in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania where millions were plunged into darkness by the storm, the US Department of Energy said.

"As of 9:00 am EDT October 30, the impacted states report a total of 8,114,433 customers without power in the affected areas," it said. New Jersey was hardest hit with 2.5 million outages, New York 1.96 million, and Pennsylvania 1.26 million. In all, 17 states and the District of Columbia reported storm-related outages. Meanwhile, two US nuclear power plants were shut down early Tuesday in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, but the plant operators stressed there were no risks to the public. New Jersey's main power company PSEG Nuclear shut down its Salem 1 unit on the Delaware river, saying most of its water circulation pumps had been rendered unusable "due to weather impacts".

PSEG said it manually shut down the 1,175 MW unit, but said there were "no issues" in the shutdown and the facility was "currently stable." The Salem 2 unit was already offline for maintenance when the storm hit, and PSEG said another nearby nuclear unit, Hope Creek, remains operating at full power.


Nuclear Plants Withstand Hurricane Sandy

With the worst of Hurricane Sandy now passing the eastern seaboard, Entergy's Indian Point Energy Center and James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in New York, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts and Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vermont have all safely endured the storm.  Did the grid hold? Are there lessons for facility managers and building owners here as well?

Indian Point 2, FitzPatrick and Pilgrim remained at full power while Vermont Yankee reduced power to 88% at the request of ISO New England to help maintain grid stability. Indian Point 3 automatically shut down at 10:41 p.m. Monday as a result of an electrical grid disturbance. 

"Nuclear plants are built to exceed the most severe natural forces historically reported for their geographic area," says John Herron, president and CEO of Entergy Nuclear. "And we saw evidence of that again with Hurricane Sandy."

Entergy Nuclear plants began preparations for the storm last week, coordinating activities with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, independent system operators and various state and local government officials.

Critical staff remained dedicated at each site, ready to respond to potential weather impacts.

Read More.... 

China makes nuclear power development

EIJING, Oct. 31 (Xinhua) -- China has built its first experimental fast neutron reactor which will help make better use of the nuclear energy.

The reactor passed official checks on Wednesday after 20 years of developments by Chinese scientists, according to the China Institute of Atomic Energy (CIAE).

Experts organized by the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) conducted examinations on the reactor, the CIAE said.

The experimental fast neutron reactor is regarded as a major breakthrough in China's three-step strategy in developing its nuclear power, namely, from pressurized water reactor, fast neutron reactor, to fusion reactor.
Dubbed as China Experimental Fast Reactor, the development makes China one of a few countries in the world that has experimental, power-generating fast reactors, according to the CIAE.

The experimental fast neutron reactor, with nuclear heat power of 65 megawatts and a power-generating capacity of 20 megawatts, is a large fast reactor power plant in terms of layout and reference. Its safety requirements have reached those of a fourth-generation nuclear power plant.

According to the CIAE, fast neutron reactor is a major type of fourth-generation nuclear power plant, and it sets the direction for the development of such power plants.

A fast reactor can make better use of nuclear energy by increasing the utilization rate of uranium to 60 percent, from the 1 percent utilization rate of a traditional pressurized water reactor.


Nuclear power should be in Florida's portfolio

Nuclear power needs to be a larger part of Florida's energy-supply portfolio, despite the attractive cost of natural gas.

Right now, it is the cost of construction and maintenance of nuclear power plants that is putting off power companies. They look at natural gas prices, which have fallen steeply since 2008, and see the way of the future. Natural gas can be burned to create electricity. 

Electric companies see improvements in natural gas extraction — particularly through hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking" — and must be asking themselves, "Why bother with nuclear?" 

It's a question that is heard in Florida, particularly because of the problems at the Crystal River nuclear power plant. Duke Energy owns the plant, having purchased Progress Energy Florida. Company officials are discussing with state regulators the likelihood that it will cost as much as $3.5 billion to repair the plant, which was closed for repairs in 2009. 

The plant was closed because of cracks in a concrete containment structure. According to the Tampa Bay Times, workers were trying to replace steam generators in 2009 when the 42-inch-thick concrete containment structure cracked. More cracking followed. 

Duke Energy needs approval before it can reopen the plant. Not only will it cost up to $3.5 billion, but $300 million for up to seven years — all for energy replacement costs as the structure sits idle. 

It's just another cost argument — forget for a moment about regulatory hurdles — against building more nuclear power plants. 

But consider this: The Times notes that without Crystal River, Duke Energy will get 76 percent of its electricity supply from generation plants using natural gas. That puts both the power supplier and its Florida customers more at the mercy of the natural gas market. 


Thursday, October 25, 2012

All of Canada’s nuclear reactors running for first time in nearly 20 years

OTTAWA — For the first time in almost two decades, all 20 of Canada’s nuclear power reactors are supplying electricity to the grid.

The milestone was reached this week when the Point Lepreau reactor was connected to New Brunswick’s electrical grid for the first time in since March 2008.

The controversial refurbishment project to extend the plant’s operational life to 2025 is three years behind schedule and $1 billion over its $1.4-billion budget.

In Ontario, the Bruce Power generating station at Tiverton is now running all eight of its reactors for the first time in 17 years. Bruce’s refurbished Unit 2 reactor was restarted last week and synchronized to the province’s grid, the first time it has seen service since 1995.

Wisconsin Nuclear Reactor to Be Closed

WASHINGTON — The owner of a small nuclear reactor in Wisconsin said Monday that it would close the Kewaunee Power Station early next year because it was unable to find a buyer and the plant was no longer economically viable.

The decision was viewed as an early sign that the wave of retirements of old generating stations across the Midwest is now stretching from the coal industry into nuclear power, driven by slack demand for energy and the low price of natural gas. 

After receiving a 20-year extension from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in February 2011 to continue operating Kewaunee, Dominion, based in Richmond, Va., put the power station up for sale. At 556 megawatts, it is about half the size of the largest plants now operating and is the only reactor at the Carlton site, rendering costs higher per unit of power than sites with two reactors. Dominion had hoped to buy several reactors in the Midwest that could share some overhead expenses with Kewaunee, but did not succeed. 

“This was an extremely difficult decision, especially in light of how well the station is running and the dedication of the employees,” said Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion’s chairman, president and chief executive, in a statement. “This decision was based purely on economics.” 

He said nuclear power would be essential to the nation’s energy future — just in other places. The company owns six other reactors at three sites, and will take a one-time charge of $281 million for the closure, which it expects in the spring. 

California Probes Shutdown of Edison Nuclear Plant

The California Public Utilities Commission voted to open an investigation into the causes and costs of the shutdown of Edison International (EIX)’s San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California. 

The commission voted 5-0 today to determine if customers should be charged for repairs and other expenses related to San Onofre, which has been shut since January after investigators found unusual wear on steam generator tubes. The commission will also determine the cost-effectiveness of repairing or replacing the generators.

The regulator “realizes the importance of the San Onofre nuclear plant to the state of California and the consequences of the problems with the plant for ratepayers and for all affected,” Michael R. Peevey, president of the commission, said in an e-mailed statement. “We will look very critically at the utilities’ financial responsibility for the prolonged outage and who should bear those costs.”

Without the nuclear plant, reliable power for San Diego and Los Angeles “is at risk” when demand is high, Neil Millar, an executive director of the California Independent System Operator, said in March. The shutdown has cost Rosemead, California-based Edison $165 million in inspection, repair and replacement power expenses through June 30, according to a July presentation to investors.


EON, RWE Said to Sell Nuclear JV for About $967 Million

EON AG (EOAN) and RWE AG (RWE), Germany’s two largest utilities, are set to sell their U.K. venture Horizon Nuclear Power to Japan’s Hitachi Ltd. (6501) for about 600 million pounds ($967 million), people familiar with the matter said.

The sale for the venture with government backing to build plants in Wales and western England may be signed in the next few days, according to two people, who asked not to be identified because the negotiations are private. An announcement may come on Oct. 30, one of the people said.

The deal would be a boost for the U.K. government, which is seeking to spur new reactors to replace aging power plants, upgrade grids and cut pollution at a cost of 110 billion pounds. EON and RWE decided to sell Horizon after Germany said it will close all of its reactors following last year’s disaster in Japan, prompting the utilities to pull out of the nuclear industry worldwide. That left the U.K. as one of only three western European nations pursuing new reactors.

Keisaku Shibatani, a spokesman for Hitachi, said the company had put in a bid and declined to comment further. Officials at RWE and EON declined to comment. An official at the U.K. Department of Energy and Climate Change said that while the deal was a commercial matter for RWE and EON, there had been strong interest in buying Horizon.


Cancer risks near seven nuclear sites to be studied

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Federal regulators say a pilot study of cancer risks posed to residents near seven nuclear power sites in the United States will update 22-year-old data, but an industry group says the study won't come up with anything new.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says it will study cancer types in infants and the general population near six nuclear power plants and a nuclear-fuel plant for the Navy. The $2 million study is expected to begin in the next three months and continue at least into 2014.


Regulatory chief: Edge on nuclear power shifting to US

U.S. nuclear innovation is on the rise as nuclear heavyweights Germany and Japan head toward a possible decline in technical expertise, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane said Thursday.

After the March 2011 nuclear reactor meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant, Germany decided to phase out nuclear power by 2022. Japan’s government also said it plans to eliminate nuclear power, though it is unclear whether that will materialize.

Curtailing nuclear power in those two leading nuclear nations will “probably” result in a shortage in technical proficiency there, Macfarlane said at a discussion hosted by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank.

“You’re probably not going to see a lot of young people becoming nuclear engineers. And so this is a concern not only to the nuclear industry, but to the regulators because you want to make sure that you have adequate staff to ensure that these facilities operate safely,” she said.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

“Electric Poverty” and Germany’s Green Energy Disaster

Germany is one of Europe’s most reliable economies and yet its bungled attempts at switching from reliable nuclear power to “Green Energy” has led to a complete disaster. And it’s something that we should be paying attention to because Barack Obama and his band of Goreites have taken us down the same road to ruin.


Unit 1 at PPL's Susquehanna Nuclear Plant Shut Down for Turbine Inspection

/PRNewswire/ -- Operators at PPL's Susquehanna nuclear power plant safely shut down the Unit 1 reactor Saturday (10/20) to begin an inspection of turbine blades. The previously announced inspection will help confirm diagnostic data that is expected to result in a long-term solution to the issue of turbine blade cracking that was first identified in 2011.

"The inspections are part of our systematic and deliberate approach to this issue and reflect our deep commitment to safe operations," said Timothy S. Rausch, PPL Susquehanna senior vice president and chief nuclear officer.

"The results of the inspection and ongoing, detailed engineering analysis will help us verify the causes of the cracking and implement both short-term and long-term measures to resolve the cracking issues," Rausch said.

Pending the outcome of the Unit 1 turbine inspection, PPL Susquehanna will determine whether a similar inspection of the Unit 2 turbine is warranted.

PPL Susquehanna is preparing to implement turbine modifications that will provide a long-term solution to the turbine blade cracking issue starting with the scheduled refueling and maintenance outage for Unit 2 in the spring of 2013.


Read more here:

Nuclear power must for low carbon economy: Jeffrey Sachs

New Delhi: Making a strong case for nuclear power, UN Secretary General's special advisor Jeffrey Sachs today said it is a must that the world economy is transformed to a low-carbon producer and held that it was a safer source of energy than coal.

"Nuclear energy provides about 20 per cent of the world's electricity supply right now and I personally find it hard to believe that we can have a transition to a low-carbon economy without nuclear power," Sachs said at an OECD conference here.

Sachs, who is also the Director of Earth Sciences in the Columbia University, said that while the damage of lives caused by nuclear power is "very small", the casualty caused by coal-fired thermal power is "vast".

"The loss of life as a result of the worst incidence in Japan was very very small; on the other hand, what coal-fired plants are doing to kill people and eco-system, not seen, but day-to-day relentlessly, is vast," he said.

Sachs also criticised the new French government for its proclaimed strategy of bringing down the dependence on nuclear power despite putting in place a very high standard of nuclear programme.

"I was very surprised and all the more disheartened with the announcement of the new French government that they are going to scale back its nuclear energy dependence. To my mind, this is a mistake," he said.

"France has created a very effective and high quality safe system and I believe if France scales back and the potential that Germany produces more power with coal, this is not going to be anybody's benefit at the end."


U.K. Energy Rules to Include Measures Spurring Nuclear

U.K. Energy Secretary Ed Davey promised to give industry more clarity about power market reforms due next month, seeking to allay the concerns of renewable and nuclear power developers that ministers are bogged down in analysis of the problem.
Davey also suggested he’ll set a target for cutting carbon emissions in the power industry. That measure has been sought by companies from wind turbine maker Vestas Wind Systems A/S (VWS) and nuclear reactor manufacturer Areva SA (AREVA), as well as his department’s adviser, the Committee on Climate Change.
“We have listened to investors and today have set out further measures to provide the certainty they need,” Davey said in a speech to business leaders today in London. “A strong case has been made by many investors in energy infrastructure for a decarbonisation target range for the power sector. Such a range would make clear our continued commitment to our climate goals.”
The law, published in draft form on May 22, aims to restructure the power market and spur 110 billion pounds ($177 billion) of investment needed for aging power stations and upgrading the grid by 2020. Davey said lawmakers will see his final proposals next month and vote on them by Christmas.

Cameron’s Plan

Prime Minister David Cameron said yesterday the government will put into the legislation a measure forcing energy suppliers to charge each customer at the lowest available rate. The surprise proposal was not included in the May 22 draft, which focused on energy supply rather than demand.
Cameron’s statement caused “chaos in the energy industry,” Caroline Flint, the shadow energy minister for the opposition Labour Party, said in Parliament today. Neil Bentley, deputy director general of the Confederation of British Industry, said the pace of reform is “frustrating” and risks falling victim to “paralysis by analysis.”
“Let’s stop arguing over the energy mix and focus on attracting investment to create jobs and growth as quickly as possible,” Bentley said. “There is no business case for putting billions of pounds into these long-lived assets if investors cannot see a long-term, stable policy framework. Right now, the policy future looks too much like a blank canvas.”

India gets ready for Kodak moment at Kudankulam nuclear power plant

NEW DELHI: India is set to cross a major hump in its nuclear power programme with the Kudankulam plant expected to begin generating power within a month after it goes critical in the next 10 days, marking an end to prolonged delays due to local protests and anti-nuclear activism.

The first unit of the Russian-built nuclear plant is close to a landmark moment after post-Fukushima public unease over atomic power and a powerful alliance of church groups and activists threatened to thwart India's ambitious plans to build 20 plants in the 12th Plan.

Kodak moment

With Tamil Nadu CM J Jayalalithaa backing the project that will ease the state's power deficit and having faced a Supreme Court scrutiny of the $3 billion plant's safety features, the government is anticipating a Kodak moment when turbines begin to turn at Kudankulam.

Successful commissioning of the Kudankulam unit will help translate the promise of power into tangible benefits that the government hopes will help sway public opinion, particularly in the plant's neighbourhood. It will also pave the way for faster work on nuclear plants planned at Maharashtra's Jaitapur and Haryana's Fatehabad. 


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Plant Vogtle Construction Video

Japan's new carbon tax to cost utilities $1bln annually (Non-Nuclear Impact)

TOKYO, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Japan's new tax on carbon
emissions will cost utilities about 80 billion yen ($1.02
billion) annually from 2016, adding to their already high costs
of running power stations after the Fukushima crisis shut most
of the country's nuclear plants, a government backed think-tank
    Japan will gradually phase in the tax on oil, natural gas
and coal over the next five years, in a move that will hit the
balance sheets of businesses from refineries and power plants to
factories and gas stations.
    The tax will be added to existing levies already imposed on
fossil fuels, and will generate about 260 billion yen in
additional revenue annually from April 2016, the Ministry of
Finance says.
    The tax, which will be used to fund green initiatives, will
be introduced in three phases, with the first increase adding
between 12-31 percent on existing levies.      
    Yu Nagatomi, a researcher at the Institute of Energy
Economics of Japan, said nearly a third of the 2016 revenue, or
80 billion yen, will come from the country's power companies,
including Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), the operator
of the Fukushima Daiichi plant hit by three reactor meltdowns
last March. 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Russia's Rosatom set to invest in UK new nuclear development

Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom is expected to announce Tuesday plans to invest in the UK's ambitious new generation nuclear goals.

Rosatom head of international business Alexey Kalinin is speaking in London before a meeting organized by the Centre for Policy Studies as part of the Conservative Party conference where he will discuss Rosatom's willingness to develop a new nuclear skills base in the UK.

In April this year Rosatom had expressed interest in the 6 GW Horizon nuclear project, telling the London Daily Telegraph that it saw the UK as a "potentially attractive" market for nuclear development. However, the company did not place a bid by the Friday, September 28 deadline.

Tuesday's announcement comes shortly after French nuclear developer Areva backed out of plans to bid for the Horizon project with China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding, having been the front-runner for the bid for months, in what was seen by many as a blow to the UK government's goal of encouraging 16 GW of new nuclear over the coming years.


Bill could delay Seabrook nuclear plant relicensing

SEABROOK — The approval of a 20-year extension of the Seabrook Station nuclear power plant's operating license could be delayed until 2020 if a bill proposed by two Democratic federal legislators from Massachusetts is approved by Congress.

HR 6554 filed by Reps. Edward Markey and John Tierney would prohibit the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission from granting a license extension to any current nuclear plant licensee that applies for it more than 10 years prior to the expiration of its current license. Seabrook Station has already petitioned the NRC for a 20-year extension of its operating license, which will not expire until 2030.

“Allowing the NRC to give a 60-year-long clean bill of health to reactors that are in their nuclear adolescence, especially one with documented safety issues such as Seabrook, is like allowing a doctor to assure a 20-year-old smoker they will never get lung cancer,” Markey wrote in a joint press release issued with Tierney dated Sept. 26, explaining the reason for filing the bill. “This legislation will help ensure that the effects of aging on America's nuclear power plants are more well-known before granting any license extensions, so nearby residents can have some confidence that the reactors' 'golden years' won't involve catastrophic aging-related safety failures.”

Doug Bogen, executive director of the Exeter-based Seacoast Anti-Pollution League, a local nuclear watchdog group, said this kind of legislation has been a long time coming.

EDF's Paluel 4 nuclear reactor in unplanned outage

Oct 9 (Reuters) - EDF's 1,330-MW Paluel 4 nuclear reactor stopped for an unplanned outage at 1410 GMT on Tuesday, French power grid RTE showed on its website on Tuesday.

RTE did not provide a reason for the unplanned outage or a restart date for the reactor located in Normandy in northern France. (Reporting by Axelle du Crest; writing by Michel Rose)


DOE Announces $13 Million for Nuclear Integrated Research Projects

The Department of Energy recently announced $13 million in funding for researchers to pursue a new light water reactor concept and potential improvements to reactor fuel.

The three new Integrated Research Projects fall under DOE's Nuclear Energy University Programs. The projects, each funded for three years, address capability gaps and issues identified by other DOE nuclear research and development programs.


Friday, October 5, 2012

U.S. Department of Energy Nuclear Plant Build Tracking Site

Following is a great resource if you wish to track the progress of new plants in the United States.

Following is a current example:

Submitted Docketed Issued Safety4 Environ.5
Southern Nuclear Vogtle GA AP10001 2 3/31/08 5/30/08 2/10/12 Completed Completed
SCE&G V.C. Summer SC AP1000 2 3/27/08 7/31/08 4/10/12 Completed Completed
Progress Energy Levy FL AP1000 2 7/307/08 10/6/08 - Ph. D Completed
STP Nuclear Operating Co. South Texas Project TX ABWR1 2 9/07 11/29/07 - Ph. 2 Completed
Luminant (TXU) Comanche Peak TX US-APWR1 2 9/19/08 12/2/08 - Ph. 2 Completed
UniStar (Constellation) Calvert Cliffs MD US-EPR1 1 3/08 6/3/08 - Ph. 2 Completed
DTE Energy Fermi MI ESBWR 1 09/18/08 11/25/08 - Ph. 2 Ph. 3
Duke Energy William States Lee SC AP1000 2 12/13/07 2/25/08 - Ph. B Ph. 2
Florida Power and Light Turkey Point FL AP1000 2 6/30/09 9/8/09 - Ph. A Ph. 2
PPL (UniStar) Bell Bend PA US-EPR 1 10/10/08 12/19/08 - Ph. A Ph. 2
Progress Energy Shearon Harris NC AP1000 2 2/19/08 4/17/08 - Ph. B Ph. 2
Dominion Energy North Anna VA US-APWR 1 11/27/07 1/28/08 - Ph. A Ph. 2
1    Reference COL Application (R-COL)
4    Safety Review Phases:
R-COL: Ph 1 Issue RAIs Ph 2 SER w/ Open Items Ph 3 ACRS Review Ph 4 Advanced SER/ No OI Ph 5 ACRS Review Ph 6 Final SER
S-COL: Ph A Issue RAIs & supplemental RAIs Ph B Advanced SER/ No OI Ph C ACRS Review Ph D Final SER
5    Environmental Review Phases:
Ph 1 Environmental Scoping Report Ph 2 Draft EIS Ph 3 Public comment Ph 4 Final EIS
  • Small modular reactors are defined as producing less than 300 MWe. Nine SMR vendors have initiated contact with the NRC regarding their reactor designs. Four of these designs are domestic Light Water-based designs. While all four will submit DC applications, B&W and Holtec have plans to submit Construction Permits under 10CFRPart 50 as well.
Babcock & Wilcox mPower, Inc. mPower SMR
Late 2013
March 2014
Holtec International SMR-160
Mid 2014
March 2015
NuScale Power, LLC NuScale SMR
Westinghouse Electric Co. W-SMR
Mid to late 2013
Department of Energy NGNP
Gen4 Energy G4M
Toshiba 4S
Mid 2012

Five points on the future of nuclear power in India

In response to my recent article in The Hindu, The real questions from Kudankulam” (edit page, September 14, 2012), supporting nuclear power and arguing for an independent regulatory authority, I received much feedback, largely positive, some critical; some of which deserves a response. Many of these points have been made by others, repeatedly, but some are new to me. 

1) Independent oversight: Two credible people said that I was too critical of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and particularly the current regulatory authority, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), which they said has been doing its job “without fear or favour.” This may be true (indeed, India’s nuclear safety record is outstanding) but, if the Kudankulam mess teaches us anything, it is that perceptions matter as much as reality. A truly independent AERB successor, the proposed Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority (NSRA), with transparency, significant powers and, ideally, international representation, would also serve the cause of safety in future. That the AERB has acted fairly and independently so far does not guarantee that it will always do so. 

Another point is that the NSRA cannot draw on independent nuclear expertise in India because none exists outside the DAE (one reason for international representation). We should encourage investments by the private sector, subject to NSRA oversight, and encourage leading non-DAE institutions, such as the Indian Institutes of Technology, to develop programmes in nuclear engineering. Meanwhile, the NSRA will require civil engineers, seismologists, radiation safety specialists, and other experts besides nuclear scientists, who exist independently of the DAE. 

2) Risks and reality: The probability of a nuclear catastrophe may be very low but is not zero. How can we expose people to such a risk? Indeed, statements from the DAE like “Kudankulam is 100% safe” are not credible and a proper risk assessment is required. But, based on experience, the risk of a catastrophic accident at a nuclear plant seems minuscule compared to a similar risk at unscrutinised chemical factories everywhere: despite Bhopal, which is yet to be cleaned up adequately, there is no demand for bans on such factories. Most nuclear accidents have had few or no fatalities and no leak of radiation. In the past 25 years (since Chernobyl), only Fukushima has resulted in significant radiation exposure to the public. Few industries can claim a better record of safety. 

As for nuclear liability: all of us deserve answers on this. It is not consistent to assert safety while denying liability, as the government apparently seeks to do. 

What of military or terrorist attacks? Israel attacked an Iraqi plant in 1981 and a putative Syrian plant in 2007, but neither plant was loaded with fuel. An attack on Iran could have graver results. To cause a meltdown, such an attack would have to destroy the cooling system but keep the nuclear fuel confined. This looks unlikely, but I’m not a nuclear scientist and the question should be addressed by the DAE. Terrorist threats on the ground look still less likely to succeed. As for a 9/11 type attack: according to the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations website, “no one knows” what would happen if a commercial airliner crashed into one of the older U.S. plants, though many of them are built to withstand impacts from light planes. However, experts rule out a nuclear explosion. A conventional explosion can still spread radiation, but not on the scale of Chernobyl. These are points that, I believe, the DAE should address. 

3) Emergency preparedness and liability: In the event of a disaster at Kudankulam, it is impossible to evacuate such an area rapidly, and medical facilities are inadequate. But this is not unique to nuclear power. Cyclones, floods, industrial accidents all occur regularly and we have not learned our lessons. The DAE should take the lead in ensuring disaster preparedness near its installations, but cannot be blamed for our country’s larger failures. 

PPL Susquehanna nuclear plant plans unit shutdown for additional turbine inspection

— /PRNewswire/ -- PPL's Susquehanna nuclear power plant has reduced electricity output on both of its generating units and is preparing for a planned shutdown of the Unit 1 reactor later this month for additional turbine inspection, as the company looks to confirm data provided by new instrumentation that could lead to finalization of a plan to resolve the issue of turbine blade cracking that was first identified in 2011.

Pending the outcome of the Unit 1 inspection, PPL Susquehanna will determine whether a similar inspection of the Unit 2 turbine is warranted.

During the upcoming Unit 1 outage, workers will inspect turbine blades for any indications of cracking similar to what had been discovered previously on the Unit 1 and 2 turbines.

"Maintaining our margins of safety is the top priority," said Timothy S. Rausch, PPL Susquehanna senior vice president and chief nuclear officer.  "Consistent with best practices in the nuclear power industry, we've been very systematic and deliberate in our approach to this issue, from conducting periodic inspections to replacing turbine blades when appropriate and installing diagnostic equipment to monitor for conditions that may lead to cracking.


Read more here:

Sellafield nuclear power station plans still on track, says Britain’s Energy Coast chief

The chairman’s of Britain’s Energy Coast has received assurances “at the highest level” that plans for nuclear new build at Sellafield remain on track.

The Rt Hon Brian Wilson, a former Labour energy minister, spoke out after The Sunday Times claimed that one half of the NuGen consortium was pulling out.

The newspaper reported that Spanish company Iberdrola had told its partner GDF Suez it was withdrawing, leaving the £5bn Moorside project in serious doubt.

NuGen issued a denial on Monday and now Mr Wilson has weighed in.

He said: “We are assured at the highest levels that the story is not true and that Iberdrola are still very much part of the NuGen consortium.

“In the current economic climate, it is perhaps inevitable that this kind of speculation should occur.
“However, I am acutely aware that until work is under way, it is open to any participant in nuclear new-build to have second thoughts.

“This might act as a wake-up call for all branches of government that have an input into the nuclear new-build programme. A greater sense of urgency is required.

“Companies that are committed to very large investments are entitled to some reasonable assurances and certainties about the market they will enter when these power stations are eventually built.”


Thailand: Nuclear power study planned

Thailand will conduct a study on the construction of a nuclear power plant, the energy minister said.

Speaking after a seminar on "No Shortage of Thai Energy: Thai Logistics in Progress", Arak Chonlatanon said the ministry was preparing the country's new power production capacity development plan (PDP 2012) to ensure energy sufficiency.

Thailand has utilised about 70 per cent of its natural gas and the resource is expected to be depleted within the next 10 years.

"Nuclear energy carries the lowest cost in generating electricity. But resistance to it among the public persists, as people are not confident about nuclear safety after the [emergency] at Japan's Fukushima nuclear power plant" in March 2011, Arak said.

In a meeting of Asean energy ministers in Cambodia, the Cambodian government indicated that it was going to conduct a study into the possibility of constructing a nuclear power plant on Kong Island as a way to stimulate the country's economy.

Vietnam is constructing two 1,400-megawatt nuclear power plants.


UN atomic agency praises Belarus’ progress on nuclear power programme

5 October 2012 – Belarus has made important progress in its development of nuclear infrastructure, the United Nations atomic agency said in a report released today, adding that should progress continue the country will be able to support the construction of a nuclear power plant in the near future.

The Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR), produced by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), makes 16 recommendations to the Government of Belarus, including revising its nuclear legislation to adequately address issues like radioactive waste, strengthening the regulatory body and framework for licensing, and developing comprehensive management systems for the nuclear project.

“The report acknowledges Belarus’ strong expertise in radiation protection and environmental monitoring and recognizes that good coordination in the development of Belarus’ nuclear power programme is beneficial,” said the IAEA’s Deputy Director General, Alexander Bychkov, after delivering the report to the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Anatoly Tozik.


Thursday, October 4, 2012

Damaged San Onofre nuclear plant in Calif. submits restart plan for reactor

LOS ANGELES — The operator of California’s ailing San Onofre nuclear power plant proposed Thursday to restart one of its shuttered reactors after concluding it could be run safely despite damage to scores of tubes that carry radioactive water.

A plan to return even one reactor to service is a milestone for Southern California Edison, which has spent months unraveling what caused excessive tube vibration and friction inside the plant’s nearly new steam generators, then determining how it might be fixed.

But the plant is far from returning to robust operation.

Edison’s plan, which must be approved by federal regulators, calls for operating Unit 2 at reduced power for five months, then shutting it down for inspections. The outlook for the more heavily damaged Unit 3 is bleaker — no decision is expected on its future until at least next summer.

Meanwhile, the company is facing a state review of costs related to the long-running outage that could leave customers or shareholders with a huge bill for repairs and replacement power — a figure that had reached $165 million at midyear. The company did not update those figures Thursday.

Edison, a subsidiary of Edison International, filed its proposal with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is expected to take months to review the details. The NRC has said there is no timetable to restart the plant.

“The agency will not permit a restart unless and until we can conclude the reactor can be operated safely,” NRC Chairman Allison Macfarlane said. “Our inspections and review will be painstaking, thorough and will not be rushed.”


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Critical Demand For Energy Will Dictate Push For Nuclear Power

In the past thirty years we have seen several bubbles grow and eventually pop, lasting no more than a year or two on average. Markets and their perception are based around investor sentiment which is reflected to some degree by public sentiment. I have transformed my self several times over in utter confusion over which theory; 'based on key fundamentals or price action', dictate the markets

The problem is that we do not consider the perspective of individuals rather we consider groups, but groups are not known for unity either. It is human nature to argue/discuss and finally agree/disagree with the conclusion. Today a great deal of, "murky waters", float in the markets whether they are commodities, equities, bonds or currencies. All the momentum in the markets is geared around two emotions; Fear and Greed. Technical indicators are not helping to find an entry point in this market.


There are several differences between what occurred at Chernobyl and what occurred at Fukushima. The number of Nuclear power stations being built had not gained momentum, while when the Fukushima incident occurred there were more than a few power stations being constructed. Chernobyl was considered a human and technological error, present day designs have factored in and rectified the safety issues. The cost of these projects had to be weighed against several good reasons to stop work on them. When Chernobyl occurred there were very few stations under construction but the momentum was gathering pace. At the time the demand for electricity was considerably less. Further still it required a complete changeover of what alternative energy source would make up for the loss of supply from these in the future.

A number of other reasons also required to be taken into consideration including the importance of dependence of energy supply on other countries. Nuclear power and politics go hand in hand. We saw major issues in supplying Gas to Europe in the recent past when some Balkan states did not appreciate the price being paid to them by Russia to supply gas through their countries to Europe. It took a year for this to be sorted out. Nuclear power stations take any where from two years to 10 years to construct, this leads to a demand increasing very gradually.

While Europe and the US are currently going through a recession, China and India have a completely different set of problems. Both China and India have a exponentially growing middle class who are demanding basic amenities such as water and electricity and other goods that all require electricity to manufacture. While China and India are concerned about export demand they are equally concerned with domestic consumption.

In countries such as India and China, water is a major issue. The production of electricity in these countries contradicts the supply of water to people. The Indus valley and similar one in China have dams constructed in as many places as it is possible. Almost every small town and village have small man made lakes constructed to help with the supply of water for the farms in the area. The reason these are required is because the government is not in a position to provide supply lines at a national level to cope with the demand and rainfall is seasonal.

Since India is already at peak dam construction for the supply of electricity, and there are massive shortfalls, it is logical to assume that they require to have an alternative plan. Countries such as China, India and Korea are accelerating their development of Nuclear power, this may reduce the time line eventually, alternatively paying close attention to the contract and spot prices of Uranium may give us an indication to the possibility of rising demand.

India and China both have a similar situation with one key difference in that while India is the biggest democracy in the world, China is not run on a democratic political system. While in India the progress is based around action, reaction and interaction, China is dominated by a central government that makes all the key decisions. This allows decisions for them (right or wrong) to be made more quickly. Despite this difference both countries are acutely aware of the demand and requirement of electricity both for their industries and their domestic use. Recent power cuts in India made it acutely aware of how bad the situation is there. Recently India stated that they too are looking for deposits in other countries.

When Fukushima occurred, China had a knee jerk reaction much like any of the other countries involved in the production of electricity through Nuclear power. However once cool rational set in most countries have decided to go back to continue construction as the pressure of demand began to take precedence over ideas of safety that were already in place. The issues of water and power once more took priority. China recently purchased the Husab deposit in Namibia.

During the same time that countries were considering whether to continue with construction, uranium mid cap and exploration companies were beginning to feel the pressure from the news and the possibility of the Nuclear renaissance dissipating even before its bud began to show above the ground. By 2012 a number of companies exploring for new deposits had begun to reduce their drilling and expenditure as investors began to dwindle. It is difficult to analyze such companies as their financial position becomes more and more desperate. Some of these exploration companies do have large deposits. Some have pure uranium deposits while others have multiple mineral deposits.


India: Fuel loading completed at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, critiality processes commenced

Despite being dodged by safety concerns and continuing protests, atomic scientists have completed loading of enriched Uranium fuel in the first of the two 1000 MW Russian-made nuclear power reactors at Kudankulam and kickstarted the process towards attaining criticality.

This has brightened the prospect of early power generation from the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP), which is inching closer to getting commissioned.

While it was Buddha's smile for Pokhran II, here the day chosen was Gandhi Jayanthi. Though the green signal for fuel loading was accorded by the country's nuclear watchdog AERB on August 10, it took time to commence work due to court cases.

After the Madras High Court cleared the decks, the Supreme Court too refused to stay the loading of fuel assemblies.

According to sources in KKNPP, Uranium rods were inserted in all the 163 fuel assemblies and the procedure for criticality was launched on Tuesday.

However, this does not mean immediate power generation as the process involves five stages. This comprises safety and radioactivity tests. While confirming that loading of Uranium-235 was complete in Unit-I of the atomic power plant, sources were silent on whether it was recycled fuel that is being used.


South Korea shuts down two reactors

SEOUL, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- South Korea on this week shut down two nuclear reactors due to malfunctions.
The Shingori 1 in Busan, 280 miles south of Seoul, was shut down after a problem was detected involving the control rod that governs the rate of fission in the reactor, Yonhap News Agency reports.

About 2 hours later, the second reactor -- at Younggwang Nuclear Power Plant in South Jeolla province, about 220 miles south of Seoul -- was shut down due to low water levels.

Officials at state-run Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power said that neither reactor was in danger of releasing radiation, Yonhap reports.

South Korea relies on nuclear energy for about 30 percent of its electricity needs. The country has 21 active nuclear reactors.

Despite safety concerns about nuclear power in the wake of Japan's Fukushima nuclear power disaster in March 2011, Seoul has stood firm on its commitment to increase that share to 40 percent by 2040.


Duke nuclear plant costs could top $3 billon: study

By Cassandra Sweet 

Completing repairs necessary to restart Duke Energy Corp.'s DUK +0.03% Crystal River nuclear power plant in Florida could cost as much as $3.43 billion, according to a study released Monday. 

Duke, which assumed ownership of the plant when it acquired Progress Energy earlier this year, hired a group of consultants to evaluate how much it might cost to fix and restart the plant, which has been shut for about three years. 

The report, by Zapata Inc., found that Progress Energy's initial plan to fix the plant would likely cost about $1.49 billion. That compares to Progress's estimate that repairs would cost between $900 million and $1.3 billion. The consultants predicted that if more extensive work is required, under a "worst-case scenario," the total repair bill would likely be $3.43 billion. 

The problems at the Crystal River plant emerged as a key issue in Duke Energy's decision to dismiss former Progress Energy Chief Executive Bill Johnson from his position as Duke CEO after the companies completed their $26 billion merger in early July. 

Duke's board dismissed Mr. Johnson because he withheld information, such as the rising cost of repairs at the Crystal River plant, Duke lead director Ann Gray told North Carolina regulators in July. 

Europe’s Nuclear Reactors Need Repair or Upgrades

BRUSSELS — “Practically all” of the more than 130 active nuclear reactors in the European Union need safety improvements, repairs or upgrades, at a cost of up to 25 billion euros ($32 billion), according to a draft copy of a European Commission report that is scheduled to be released Thursday.

The scale of the problems detailed in the draft report, as well as the size of the expected repair bill, may amplify public concerns about the safety of nuclear power on the part of Europeans, who are already deeply divided over the technology and whose governments still zealously guard control over energy policy at the national level. 

The European Commission undertook the safety review of its nuclear plants after the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, which led to the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant

Part of the assessment was the performance of so-called stress tests, which are meant to assess how a nuclear facility would fare in various kinds of failures and crises. National experts conducted the stress tests in conjunction with the commission’s advisory group on nuclear safety. The tests identified the need for “hundreds of technical upgrade measures,” the draft report says. 

Quebec nuclear reactor shutdown will cost $1.8 billion

Quebec's only nuclear power plant will shut down on Dec. 28, Hydro-Québec announced Wednesday, but the process of dismantling it will take 50 years and cost $1.8 billion.

The official statement confirms what the new Parti Québécois government has been saying for weeks: that the province won't pay to refurbish the Gentilly-2 reactor and instead will have it decommissioned.

Hydro-Québec's most recent economic analysis, made public on Wednesday, recommends against spending the billions of dollars that would be required to rebuild the reactor to allow it to continue operating.
The Crown corporation says it now estimates the refurbishment would cost $4.3 billion, up from the $2 billion that the previous Liberal government had budgeted.

"This report shows that refurbishing the Gentilly-2 reactor isn't an economically viable option for Quebecers. We have to learn from the example of the cost overruns during the refurbishment of the reactor at Point Lepreau, New Brunswick," Natural Resources Minister Martine Ouellet said in a release.

NB Power's Point Lepreau generating station was the first Candu-6 reactor to be refurbished. The process was supposed to take 18 months but suffered three years of delays and more than $1 billion in cost overruns, and the power plant still isn't back online.


World's largest nuclear fusion reactor to be built with enterprise engineering technology from Intergraph

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., Oct. 3, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- ITER (meaning "the way" in Latin), a global organization of the European Union, China, Russia, Japan, India, South Korea and the United States, currently is building the world's largest and most advanced experimental nuclear fusion reactor in Cadarache, France, has selected Intergraph's SmartPlant® Enterprise suite of products to handle the assembly, commissioning and construction of the plant, as well as its operations and maintenance.

The agreement comprises implementation of SmartPlant Enterprise solutions such as SmartPlant Foundation, SmartPlant Construction, SmartPlant Materials and SmartPlant Enterprise for Owner Operators.

The construction of the site and buildings has already started, and the contributing countries are starting the manufacturing of the equipment, such as super-conducting conductors. During the plant design, construction and completion/start-up phase, SmartPlant Enterprise for Owner Operators will provide preconfigured processes to support engineering and project execution work processes, and SmartPlant Foundation will play a key role in data synchronization and data sharing. The project will benefit from synchronized information and centralized data that SmartPlant Enterprise offers to better manage work processes, control equipment and maintenance, coordinate contractors and manage change. The organization aims to build an efficient and safe plant that can provide energy to an increasingly demanding world.


Read more here:

British nuclear plans suffer blow as Chinese investors pull out

The government's nuclear energy plans were in trouble on Wednesday with Chinese investors withdrawing interest in two projects and local councils postponing a decision on hosting atomic waste storage.

Areva, the French nuclear engineering group, confirmed that it had pulled out of the running to buy a stake in Horizon Nuclear Power, the enterprise planning to construct new reactors at Wylfa in Wales and Oldbury in Gloucestershire. Areva said its partner, the state-owned China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group (CGNPC), had also shelved its bid.

"Areva and CGNPC have suspended their interest in the planned sale of Horizon Nuclear Power and did not submit a bid," an Areva spokeswoman said, adding that the company was still committed to new nuclear in the UK through other avenues.

This is a blow for the government because Areva is the most advanced with getting regulatory approval for the design of its European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) while the Chinese are considered to have the deepest pockets.

Two other bidders, one involving US based engineering group Westinghouse and the other led by Hitachi of Japan, are still in the running to take a stake in Horizon – although Westinghouse's backer, another Chinese state-owned firm, China National Nuclear Power Corporation, is also understood to have withdrawn from the consortium.

"The Chinese could not get the commitments they were looking for from the British government," said one source with contacts in the Beijing nuclear industry, adding the problem was about technology rather than political issues. Some British MPs and commentators had raised questions about the wisdom of allowing Chinese state firms access to sensitive UK energy systems.

There have also been reports that Iberdrola, the Spanish group that owns Scottish Power, is considering dropping out of a separate consortium bid to build a new nuclear plant near Sellafield in Cumbria, while France's EDF was said to be struggling to complete work on a generic design assessment it needs in order to proceed with building a new atomic power station in collaboration with Areva at Hinkley Point in Somerset.