Nuclear watchdog seeks re-check of Olkiluoto 3 reactor yle 18 Apr 15 The Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) is demanding that energy utility TVO carry out new tests of the durability of the pressure vessel planned for the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor. This follows a recent discovery by French officials of inconsistencies in the mechanical toughness of a vessel made for a similar reactor, also being built by the French company Areva.
The third unit for the Flamanville, France reactor was built by Areva in France, while the one to be used in the Finnish reactor has been assembled in Japan. Both units are of the European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) type.
“There are inconsistencies in the material that the reactor vessel is made of,” Tapani Virolainen, Deputy Director of STUK’s Nuclear Reactor Regulation Department, confirmed to Yle…….Virolainen explains that anomalies were found in both the reactor vessel head and reactor vessel bottom head. He says STUK will ask TVO to re-check the reactor vessel’s manufacturing process…….http://yle.fi/uutiset/nuclear_watchdog_seeks_re-check_of_olkiluoto_3_reactor/7937448
Tritium Traffic: Deadly Dividends for Nuclear Industry, Peace Magazine By David H MartinIn February, 1934, the British journal, New Scientist, published an article by Tom Wilkie, “Old Age Can Kill the Bomb.” It was an ingenious solution to the arms control nightmare of verification; controlling not only the number of weapons, but the strategic materials that fuel them — mainly plutonium, enriched uranium and tritium. Wilkie focused on tritium, because it turns into non-radioactive helium at a rate of 5.5 per cent per year. A halt of tritium production would rapidly cripple all nuclear arsenals. Thus, attention was rivetted on Ontario Hydro’s plan to produce about 57 kilograms of tritium by 2006. A one megaton thermonuclear warhead (equivalent to one million tons of TN”) may contain as little as one gram of tritium.
Tritium (H3) (a form of hydrogen that emits beta radiation), is a major radioactive pollutant from Canada’s CANDU nuclear power reactors. Unlike American reactor systems, the CANDU uses heavy water as a moderator and coolant. The moderator and the heavy water coolant slows down the neutron release from the uranium fuel in the reactor so that a chain reaction can take place. The active ingredient in heavy water is deuterium, another form of hydrogen. When the deuterium picks up a neutron, some of it is transformed into tritium. The concentration of tritium in the heavy water increases with the age of the reactor.
The CANDU reactor system produces 2400 times as much tritium as the American light water reactor. Continue reading
Reprocessing in China: A long, risky journey, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, April 15 Hui Zhang“………Should China continue pursuing its plans for fast breeder reactors and commercialized reprocessing? Good reasons exist for avoiding this course of action. First, because most of China’s power reactors are newly built, Beijing will face little pressure over the next two decades to reduce its spent fuel burden. And spent fuel can be stored safely, at low cost, in dry casks—or disposed of safely in a deep geological repository.
Second, China faces no shortage of uranium resources for the foreseeable future. The nation’s identified resources more than tripled between 2003 and 2012, to 265,500 metric tons from 77,000 metric tons. China’s potential uranium reserves amount to more than 2 million tons. Beijing in recent times has also secured huge overseas uranium resources—about three times as large as its own identified uranium reserves. More such reserves could easily be added.
In any event, the cost of uranium accounts for only a small percentage of the cost of power that reactors generate. Simply put, the cost of uranium will not increase in the foreseeable future to levels that would justify the cost of reprocessing and breeder reactors. To the extent that China is concerned about potential disruptions in its uranium supply, it could easily and inexpensively establish a “strategic” uranium stockpile.
China should carefully examine the experiences of nations that have launched large reprocessing programs and built demonstration breeder reactors in the expectation that the commercialization of these reactors would follow. Commercialization did not follow in those countries—but huge expenses were incurred for cleaning up reprocessing sites and disposing of separated plutonium. For China, there is no urgent need to go down this risky road.
Plutonium recycling is much more expensive, and much less safe and secure, than operating light water reactors with a once-through fuel cycle. As for nuclear waste, dry cask storage is a safe, flexible, and low-cost option that can postpone for decades the need either to reprocess spent fuel or to dispose of it directly—allowing time for technology to develop. China has no convincing rationale for rushing to build commercial-scale reprocessing facilities or plutonium breeder reactors. http://thebulletin.org/reprocessing-poised-growth-or-deaths-door8185
Reprocessing in China: A long, risky journey, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Hui Zhang , April 15 Since 1983, a closed fuel cycle has been an official element of China’s nuclear energy policy. According to proponents, plutonium reprocessing and breeder reactors will allow full utilization of China’s uranium resources, drastically reduce the volume of radioactive waste that must be stored in an underground repository, and establish a way to dispense with the spent fuel accumulating in China’s reactor pools.
But Beijing’s attempts to develop commercially viable reprocessing facilities and breeder reactors have been afflicted with technological difficulties, serious delays, and cost overruns. At this point—especially taking into account China’s ample uranium resources and its easy access to additional resources abroad—it appears very doubtful that reprocessing and fast reactors are the proper way forward for China’s nuclear energy sector.
Not according to plan………..
Parallel with development of the pilot reprocessing plant, China has been working to establish commercially viable plutonium breeder reactors. According to a plan in place until 2013, development of breeder reactors was to be a three-stage process. The first stage was to complete a project known as the China Experimental Fast Reactor. The second stage would involve building, by about 2020, a few demonstration fast reactors. Finally, commercialized fast reactors would be deployed around 2030. Progress always ran far behind schedule.
The China Experimental Fast Reactor is a sodium-cooled experimental fast reactor using technology developed for Russia’s BN-600 reactor. The project, with a planned capacity of 20 megawatts, was approved in 1995. Construction began in 2000. As with the pilot reprocessing plant, the experimental fast reactor encountered many difficulties during construction. Capital cost estimates had to adjusted twice, with each estimate double the previous one. The reactor went critical in July 2010 and, by July 2011, 40 percent of its full power was incorporated into the grid. The reactor, however, was online for only 26 hours during the remainder of 2011, and it produced the equivalent of just one full power-hour. Not until December 2014 did the reactor manage to operate at full capacity for 72 hours. So 19 years passed between project approval and operation at full capacity.
As for the second stage of the pre-2013 plan, CNNC in 2009 signed an agreement with Russia’s Rosatom to jointly construct two copies of Russia’s BN-800 fast neutron reactor in China. But Beijing has not officially approved the project. As with the French reprocessing plant, Chinese experts complain that Russia is demanding too high a price. It is not clear when or if the project will go forward. Instead, CNNC in 2013 began focusing on the development of the indigenous 600-megawatt China Fast Reactor (CFR-600). The start of construction is envisioned for 2017, with operations to commence in 2023—but the government has not approved the project yet.
Experts from CNNC have also, since 2013, urged the development of China’s first commercial fast reactor—a 1,000-megawatt reactor based on experience gained from the CFR-600. But CNNC expert Gu Zhongmao—an advocate of the closed fuel cycle—said at a recent workshop on nuclear energy in East Asia that “China needs at least another 20 to 30 years of effort before commercialization of fast reactor energy systems, and there are so many uncertainties ahead. It is beyond our ability to draw a clear picture 20 years ahead.”…………. http://thebulletin.org/reprocessing-poised-growth-or-deaths-door8185
Will Energy Secretary Moniz benefit France in MOX nuclear boondoggle deal? Or make AREVA accountable?
$30+billion Plutonium (Pu) Fuel Project, Good for France; Bad for America: AREVA-MOX Ça Pue! Pe-yoo! Minimg Awareness, 5 Apr 15 [Recall that Areva is 89.9% French State owned and would be long gone if it weren’t for French taxpayers keeping it afloat. Furthermore, Areva has been under police investigation for years in France due to what is known as the Uramin scandal. After the French State the largest shareholder is Kuwait (Kuwait Investment Authority at 4.8%.]
From Savannah River Site Watch:
“Now, we’re being told the real reason for continuing construction of the $12.7 MOX plant at SRS – “it’s good for France!” Part of DOE’s foreign aid program fostered by Senator MOX….
“French ambassador impressed with MOX”
Aiken Standard, March 17, 2015,
We all know that with the gracious assistance of big-spender Senator Lindsey Graham that the bankrupt company AREVA has thrived on the transfer of US tax payer money into their coffers and are getting desperate as their plans for reprocessing of commercial spent fuel in the US have gone down the drain.
“We want to save the jobs in South Carolina because it’s good for the state, he (Wilson) believes it’s good for the U.S. and to me, it’s good for France,” Araud said. (Gerard Araud, France’s Ambassador to the United States)
“The MOX facility is being designed by AREVA, a French company that is also the parent company to the MOX contractor, CB&I-AREVA MOX Services. Gilles Rousseau, the chief operating officer for the contractor, expressed his gratitude for having Araud on site.”
“Business at its Ugly Usual at DOE: As of April 4, 2015, there is No Accountability to the Tax-Paying Public for the U.S. DOE’s Grossly Mismanaged $30+-billion Plutonium Fuel (MOX) Project, a Textbook Case of Big Government’s Inability to Manage a Costly, Complex Project. When will Secretary of Energy Moniz and Congress act to hold those responsible accountable?
As DOE spins out of control in its management of large projects, the MOX coverup drags on and on and on. When will there be any accountability for the failed MOX project?
SRS Watch requested in a letter hand delivered to US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz on July 29, 2014 that he “Take immediate steps to hold managers in DOE, NNSA and Shaw AREVA MOX Services accountable for the massive cost overruns and schedule delays associated with MOX project.”.http://www.srswatch.org/uploads/2/7/5/8/27584045/letter_to_moniz_from_srs_watch_july_28_2014.pdf
Will Secretary Moniz act responsibly and fulfill his obligations as a public servant? Will he hold specific individuals accountable and make sure that their glaringly inadequate abilities in managing the MOX boondoggle are not used elsewhere in DOE? Let us know who you think must be held accountable: email@example.com https:// ……….miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/04/05/30billion-plutonium-pu-fuel-project-good-for-france-bad-for-america-areva-mox-ca-pue-pe-yoo/
City opts to withdraw from nuclear power project, keep options open, St George News by Mori Kessler March 27, 2015 ST. GEORGE – City officials discussed the city’s future power generations needs during a City Council meeting Thursday. The city wants to keep its options open as far as those needs are concerned, and for the time being, is backing away from an experimental nuclear power option.
City staff recommended that the City Council hold off on committing to a project by NuScale Power. Based out of Oregon, NuScale proposes to build compact nuclear reactors that would be housed in a power plant built near Idaho Falls, Idaho. The compact reactors are designed to produce 40-50 megawatts of power.
A permit application for the proposed project is slated to be sent into the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for review, and could take until 2018 or longer to be approved. If approved, the power plant could be built and operational by 2024…….
Though St. George is one of UAMPS biggest utilities, city staff have recommended against committing to any binding agreements, saying they want the city to maintain flexibility over where it gets its power. The cost of being involved could run into the millions of dollars, said Laurie Mangum, the city’s energy services director……
Other sources of potential energy the city could tap into in the future include solar power or hydroelectric power generated along the Lake Powell Pipeline. Also, through its existing contracts and city-owned power-generation facilities, the city has 70 percent of its base load power needs covered up to around 2024-25, Esplin said.
“We’re in pretty good shape for the next eight-nine years,” Esplin said…….https://www.stgeorgeutah.com/news/archive/2015/03/27/mgk-city-opts-withdraw-nuclear-power-project-keep-options-open/#.VRXGyvyUcnk
Nuclear power measures face questions CrossCut WEDNESDAY 25, MARCH 2015 by John Stang The big topic at the House Technology & Economic Development Committee hearing was whether Washington should find a place to build small modular reactors, which would be produced for utility customers. Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, is sponsoring this proposal and the two other nuclear-related bills that the committee examined. The Senate passed the small modular reactor bill 27-21, mostly along party lines.Tri-Cities leaders envision a Boeing-style assembly plant to build small modular reactors. This is a long-range plan and is predicted to take several years to develop……
The concept is still on the drawing board. No one has built a commercial small modular reactor yet……
At the hearing, critics cited the lack of any track record on cost or safety for small modular reactors, plus concerns over the nation’s lack of a permanent place to store used nuclear fuel.
“Small nuclear reactors are still in the prototype stage. … The prototype has never been tested in power production yet,” said Thomas Buchanan of Physicians for Social Responsibility.
“I don’t think that the Department of Commerce should work on this until it has a design that passes the NRC,” said Chuck Johnson of the same organization.
Johnson argued that a single small-modular reactor would not generate enough electricity to efficiently recover its construction and operating costs…..
Deborah Wolpoff of Olympia pointed to the cancelation of the nation’s proposed nuclear fuel repository inside Yucca Mountain, with no replacement lined up. “I think it is irresponsible to promote this technology that produces this waste that we have no solution for,” Wolpoff said.
Committee member Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Seattle, wondered why the Legislature should support a new nuclear industry while Hanford’s Cold War nuclear wastes are decades from being cleaned up….
Another Brown bill, which the Senate passed 44-5, would create an education program aimed at providing nuclear science lessons to students in the eighth through 12th grades. Qualified American Nuclear Society members would be brought in for classroom sessions. Also, science teachers would receive instruction on nuclear science in order to teach the subject in the classrooms…….
Mary Hanson of Physicians Social Responsibility argued that the bill would give the nuclear industry influence over students, while other energy industries would not have the same access. She said American Nuclear Society members might be less versed in nuclear power’s health issues than its technical ones.
The third Brown bill, which the Senate passed 29-20, would add nuclear power to the list of alternative power sources that certain utilities can use to meet a state requirement to offer their customers voluntary participation in alternative energy purchases. The current list of green sources includes wind, solar, geothermal and biomass energy….
Physicians for Social Responsibility opposed it, contending nuclear energy is not a renewable power source….
SMRs face major challenges before they can ever be deployed, including an apparent lack of private sector interest and the potential for unforeseen problems and cost overruns when building a factory to mass produce the technology
The failure to find investors caused two NuScale competitors, Generation mPower and Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC, to cut back on their SMR programs.
Obama executive order tags small modular reactors as clean energy https://www.snl.com/Interactivex/article.aspx?CdId=A-31794585-10540 By Matthew Bandyk 26 Mar 15 A new executive order issued by President Barack Obama to cut greenhouse gas emissions from federal government agencies could benefit what has become a pet project of the administration: small modular reactors. The in-development technology is the only form of nuclear energy to qualify as clean energy under the order.
The order, announced March 19, requires federal agencies to ensure that increasing amounts of the electric and thermal energy they consume come from low-carbon dioxide-emitting “alternative energy” sources. At least 10% of their energy must come from these sources starting in 2016, all the way up to 25% by 2025.
The definition of alternative energy in the order does not include “nuclear power” in general but specifically “small modular nuclear reactor technologies,” a term used to refer to a number of proposed designs for portable reactors typically under 300 MW, which are much smaller and potentially cheaper and easier to build than conventional nuclear reactors.
With the order, the Obama administration is pushing policies in support of small modular reactors, or SMRs, which are similar to proposals being contemplated at the state level. The Washington state senate, for example, recently passed a bill that would count SMRs among wind and solar as “qualified alternative energy resources” in the state’s voluntary alternative energy purchase program for utilities. Continue reading
More errors with Monju nuclear reactor maintenance found, Mainichi, 27 Mar 15 Several more maintenance problems have been discovered at the Monju fast-breeder reactor facility in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, which has been banned from operation following the discovery of over 10,000 cases of maintenance errors in 2013, it has been learned.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) secretariat revealed on March 25 that the newly discovered maintenance errors — which involve the facility’s piping system — mean that Monju operator Japan Atomic Energy Agency (JAEA) may have violated safety regulations……..http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150326p2a00m0na007000c.html
NuScale, which is looking to make a small-scale nuclear power plant, wants the NRC to allow for full commercialization of its nuclear power technology…….
NuScale is backed by Fluor Corp. (NYSE: FLR) and U.S. Department of Energy grants. It has more than 600 employees and is working to develop its factory-built nuclear power system, which will be submitted to government regulators for approval in 2016. Its system consists of modules each producing 50 megawatts of electricity.
It expects to deploy the first working model to a coalition of Western states that will station a power plant in Idaho, possibly near the Idaho National Energy Laboratory.http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/blog/sbo/2015/03/oregons-nuclear-startup-adds-execs-to-prepare-for.html
NuScale targets 2016 to apply for NRC approval for its nuclear power system Portland Business Journal
It will submit the document in late 2016 and expects the NRC to take 39 months to review, putting it on track for a 2020 commercial launch……. The 570MWe complex of 12 units will be sited in Idaho, potentially near the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho national Laboratory Site near Idaho Falls. The deal makes UAMPS NuScale’s first official customer, subject to NRC certification of the system……. NuScale also benefits from Congress’s recent move to extend renewable energy tax incentives through the end of 2014, putting nuclear on equal footing with its carbon-free rivals…….
Due to Fukushima, Japan now must choose to go in one of two directions that are largely exclusive: either towards a reactor restart choice that leads to a minimalist phase-out of separated plutonium over time; or towards a maximalist reliance on separated plutonium over time in a closed fuel cycle………
Should Japan opt to start enough reactors to justify reactivating the plutonium fuel cycle, then the implications for nuclear terrorism would be substantial. The train of logic for maximum spent fuel arising from a closed nuclear fuel cycle is radically different to that for the once-through fuel cycle. In this trajectory, the following would occur:
- Japan starts many more light water reactors, sooner rather than later, and extends reactor lifetimes beyond forty years, and constructs new reactors
- This choice enables far more MOx fuel fabrication and recycling of MOx fuel to these reactors than in the once-through fuel cycle usage; this choice would either slowly reduce or rapidly increase the stockpile of separated plutonium that would be supplemented (if the central state is willing to subsidize heavily the utilities for using MOx fuel) by reprocessing the spent fuel from the operation of the light water reactors
- Thereby generating a new stream of separated and un-separated plutonium in Japan to store and secure, and available for diversion or attack.
Although it does not follow automatically, this vision of the revived closed fuel cycle also implies that:
- The fast reactor is developed in order to burn actinides to reduce the waste disposal problem (whether it would do so is debatable)
- The fast reactor would be developed to breed plutonium based on the argument that doing so makes Japan more independent from external nuclear fuel supply.
All the steps in this second path which maximizes separated fuel involves more transport, more bulk processing and storage, and creates more opportunity for non-state actors to divert fissile material or to attack directly the spent fuel stocks in pools or other nuclear materials process sites in the envisioned “closed” fuel cycle. In short, this trajectory maximizes the nuclear terrorist threat, directly and indirectly, over the next thirty years, especially when the demonstration effect on other states to follow suit are taken into account. For exactly this reason, the United States has reaffirmed recently that it does not favor MOx use and breeder activity in Japan or elsewhere……..http://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-special-reports/nuclear-terrorism-risks-in-northeast-asia-japans-reactor-restart-and-spent-fuel/
Kikuchi Seisakusho plans to produce 400 unmanned surveillance aircraft at its plant in Minamisoma in Fukushima Prefecture. “Fukushima is a suitable production site given its need to measure radiation,” said Nonami, a professor at Chiba University. “We also hope that production will help the region’s recovery.”
The drone, 50 centimeters in height and 90 centimeters in diameter, can fly for up to 30 minutes at a time at speeds of up to 36 kph. With six propellers, it weighs only about three kilograms but can carry loads of up to six kilograms. It will be priced at around ¥2 million to ¥3 million.
The drone made a demonstration flight Friday, taking photos from 20 meters above the ground. A larger drone currently under development, with the capacity to carry loads of up to 30 kilograms, was also shown.
The use of drones is expected to spread for tasks such as measuring radiation, shooting movies and monitoring social infrastructure such as bridges, as well as for work related to the decommissioning of reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 plant.
The United States is considering regulating the use of drones to protect privacy and ensure safety. A similar debate may also take place in Japan ahead of their full implementation.
Nuclear Advocate Pushes For Modular Reactor Presence In Washington State http://www.icontact-archive.com/uY4CWN-9Ks3su6iHyVeY7nHzrprAq8_d?w=1 Feb 25 2015 A state senator in Washington, Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, is promoting nuclear energy with a focus on technology that has yet to be put into operation.
Bills that Brown have sponsored nudge the state towards acceptance of modular, factory-built nuclear reactors, The Olympian reported Tuesday.
Brown has called for a relatively modest $176,000 study to identify sites for nuclear power reactors that are in frequent discussions, but have yet to be built – reactors with a generation capacity of 300 MW or less.
In neighboring Oregon, NuScale Power is developing reactors that will built in one location and shipped by truck or rail to their final destination
“We need to make sure we’re not left behind,” said Brown at a hearing Tuesday. She also said, “It’s really important that as a state we get our arms around small nuclear reactors.”
Brown, who is pushing the state to nudge the federal government on construction of a federal waste repository, has sponsored other nuclear power-friendly bills that cleared a critical deadline last week. These include a bill to provide sales tax relief for small reactor production and one that mandates the Commerce Department support small reactors development for commercial use.
She has also sponsored measures that would allow energy from modular reactors to count as part of the state’s renewable energy targets, although these initiatives have strong opposition from environment groups.
The initiatives follow up on a previous state study, completed in September, that said a modular reactor facility was feasible for the Hanford Site nuclear facility.
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