OPG, Westinghouse forge nuclear alliance OPG and Westinghouse will join forces to bid for nuclear projects around the globe Toronto Star, By: John Spears Business reporter, Apr 16 2014
Ontario Power Generation will join forces with Westinghouse to bid for nuclear projects around the globe, the companies announced Wednesday.
The news comes the same week that the Ontario government set up a panel headed by TD Bank chairman Ed Clark to consider privatization – or other strategies – for provincial assets.
OPG is 100 per cent owned by the province.
“Under the agreement, the companies will consider a diversity of nuclear projects including refurbishment, maintenance and outage services, decommissioning and remediation of existing nuclear power plants, and new nuclear power plants,” OPG said a release.
Westinghouse will work directly with Canadian Nuclear Partners, a subsidiary of OPG headed by Pierre Tremblay….http://www.thestar.com/business/2014/04/16/opg_westinghouse_forge_nuclear_alliance.html
Japan reaffirms its plan to produce plutonium, Center for Public Integrity
The Abe government’s new energy plan calls for completing the Rokkasho plutonium fuel factory despite U.S. concern it poses terrorism risks By Douglas BirchemailJake Adelstein 12 April 14
Just weeks after Japan pledged to return hundreds of pounds of plutonium to the United States for disposal, the Japanese government on April 11 formally endorsed the completion of a factory designed to produce as much as eight tons of the nuclear explosive annually.
The plant is among the key elements of a long-range energy plan approved by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet, reversing the previous government’s efforts to phase out nuclear power in the wake of the March 2011 Fukushima disaster. The move is generally viewed in Japan as unpopular with the public but has been welcomed by Japan’s utilities, which are struggling with massive debts.
The mammoth plant in the village of Rokkasho, scheduled to be completed in October, is meant to extract plutonium from spent commercial reactor fuel so it can be used in fresh fuel to be burned in the country’s reactors. “With safety first in mind always, Japan will promote…the completion of Rokkasho,” the energy plan states.
Publicly, the Obama administration has said little about Rokkasho, located on the Pacific Coast about 1,000 miles north of Tokyo. But privately, U.S. officials and experts say they are worried that Japan’s operation of the $22 billion facility – in the wake of the country’s closure of most of its nuclear power plants — will add unnecessarily to its existing stockpile of 44 tons of plutonium, some of which is stored in Japan and some in Europe.
U.S. officials have complained to their Japanese counterparts that the plant lacks an adequate security force, making it a potential target for terrorists. They have also urged Japan to subject the plants’ workers to stringent background checks, a move the Japanese see as being at odds with privacy traditions. U.S. experts also have expressed concern that the plant’s operation will encourage other countries, including South Korea, to constructsimilar plutonium factories.
Japan’s stockpile of plutonium today ranks fifth in the world, behind four nuclear-weapons states. The Chinese government in recent weeks has repeatedly expressed concern about Japan’s plans to produce plutonium “far exceeding its normal needs.”
Tokyo’s decision to proceed follows a joint announcement on March 24 by Abe and President Obama and Abe, at the Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands, that Japan would return hundreds of pounds of plutonium and weapons-grade uranium it received under the U.S. Atoms for Peace program in the 1960s and 1970s.
The two leaders said the transfer would further “our mutual goal” of keeping global stocks of nuclear explosive materials to a minimum, to keep them out of the hands of terrorists.
But critics say Rokkasho’s operation would violate that goal……..
Many communities in Japan are dependent on a stream of payments by the federal government to promote the siting of nuclear power plants, but a few have recently expressed concerns about the burning of plutonium-laced reactor fuels.
In early April, the city of Hakodate sued to halt work on a reactor that would be the first to burn such fuel. Hakodate’s Mayor Toshiki Kudo told reporters in Tokyo Thursday that the government and utility had ignored a plea from the municipality to suspend work on the Ohma plant and made “a unilateral announcement that it would go ahead with construction.”
Kudo called the plant “a terrorist target,” and said it could pose a greater safety risk than reactors fueled in other ways.
Angela Erika Kubo contributed to this article from Tokyo. http://www.publicintegrity.org/2014/04/11/14582/japan-reaffirms-its-plan-produce-plutonium
Some were also drawn by the fact that for taking part in the selection process, they’ll get $400,000 even if they’re not chosen, providing they advance far enough in the process and a DGR is ultimately approved.
7 of 22 municipalities dropped from list of potential sites
By Rick MacInnes-Rae, CBC News Posted: Apr 09, 2014
(Interactive map showing locations of possible nuclear dump sites on link)
Canada is a step closer to picking a place to store spent nuclear fuel underground for the next 100,000 years, a project that’s backfired on some of the world’s other nuclear economies.
Despite the stigma of radioactivity, 22 Canadian municipalities expressed interest in hosting such a facility. Four have now been moved up the list for further evaluation, while seven have been rejected as not suitable. The other 11 are still in the initial assessment phase.
Final approval could take another couple of decades, but if a site is found and approval given to build a Deep Geologic Repository (DGR), the project will generate thousands of jobs, some lasting generations.
Billions would be spent constructing a vast warehouse over 500 metres underground to contain some of the most radioactive waste in the world.
Nuclear energy has helped meet Canada’s electricity needs for more than 40 years, but a deadly byproduct has been steadily building up as a result.
There’s a growing inventory of spent uranium pellets. The radioactive pellets are stored inside long silver tubes bundled together like 24-kilogram logs.
Heading the search for a secure place to store those tubes is the Nuclear Waste Management Organisation (NWMO), funded by Canada’s four nuclear agencies, which describes the situation this way: “If Canada’s entire current inventory of just over two million used fuel bundles could be stacked end-to-end, like cordwood, it would fit into six NHL-sized hockey rinks from the ice surface to the top of the boards.”
At present, spent fuel is stored at seven different sites across Canada, including at the reactors it once powered. But that’s not a long-term solution, because in time those reactors will be decommissioned and dismantled.
In its quest for a site, the NWMO took the novel step of asking Canadian communities if they’d think about hosting the highly-radioactive payload.
“Well, we didn’t know what to expect” said Jo-Ann Facella, director of social research and dialogue at the NWMO.
“We put out the plan that Canadians had come forward with and the government had selected as Canada’s plan. And an important part of that plan, it emerged from Canadians, is that these facilities only be implemented in a willing host.”
What also came back were expressions of interest from 22 different municipalities, tempted in part by the promise of employment if they’re chosen. Some were also drawn by the fact that for taking part in the selection process, they’ll get $400,000 even if they’re not chosen, providing they advance far enough in the process and a DGR is ultimately approved.
Westinghouse backs out of Small Modular Reactor market Enformable Nuclear News Lucas W Hixson http://enformable.com/2014/02/westinghouse-backs-small-modular-reactor-market/Danny Roderick, President and CEO of Westinghouse announced that the nuclear firm is backing off of research and development of their Small Modular Reactor design. The Westinghouse design is a scaled down version of the AP1000 reactor, designed to produce 225 MWe, which could power 45,000 residential houses.
In December, the firm was passed over for a second time by the United States Department of Energy’s SMR commercialization program. Roderick clarified the issue and noted that it was not the deployment of the technology that posed the biggest problem – it was that there were no customers. “The worst thing to do is get ahead of the market,” he added
According to Roderick, unless Westinghouse was capable of producing 30 to 50 small modular reactors, there was no way that the firm would return its investment in the development project. In the end, given the lack of market, and the similar lack of federal funding, Westinghouse was unable to justify the economics of small modular reactors at this point.
Westinghouse was working with St. Louis-based Ameren, which had indicated its desire to build a new reactor near the State’s only existing nuclear reactor – the Calloway nuclear power plant, if a federal investment could be secured.
Westinghouse will focus its attentions on its decommissioning business, which is a $1 billion dollar per year business for the firm – which is equivalent to Westinghouse’s new reactor construction business, and rededicate its staff to the AP1000 reactor design.
Analysts are monitoring how the companies who did receive funding from the Department of Energy perform as they evolve. Source: The Pittsburgh Post-Gazett
America’s Most Contaminated Nuclear Site Is Vulnerable To Earthquakes http://io9.com/americas-most-contaminated-nuclear-site-is-vulnerable-1558490796 Mark Strauss 4 April 14 Nearly 2,000 capsules containing radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation need to be relocated. That’s because the site was built in an area that’s prone to earthquakes. How could this happen?
The 1,936 capsules contain radioactive cesium and strontium that was previously buried in underground tanks, and then later moved into “wet storage”—a 13-foot-deep pool of water that helps cool the corrosive-proof containers, which account for 32 percent of the radioactivity at Hanford.
And, now, according to this Inspector General report from the US Department of Energy, the capsules in the Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility (WESF) need to be moved yet again:
The March 2011 tsunami and subsequent events at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant in Okuma and Futaba, Japan highlighted the vulnerabilities to nuclear facilities from possible seismic and natural disasters that are more severe than the facilities’ original design, or “beyond design threats.” One possible threat is a severe earthquake that may result in loss of power and/or loss of water in the WESF pool.
Making matters worse—yes, as usual, there’s a “worse”— the report notes that the storage facility has been in service for nine years beyond its design life. The age is beginning to show: the concrete in the WESF pool cells has begun to deteriorate due to years of radiation exposure.
So, it’s now incumbent upon the Energy Department to find a new temporary storage facility. I say “temporary” because we still don’t have a permanent nuclear waste repository. But, no worries, the government has set a goal to open such a facility…in 2048.
Nuclear decommissioning A glowing review Britain is paying dearly for neglecting its nuclear waste, The Economist, Apr 5th 2014 SWILLING around murky ponds in the oldest part of Sellafield, a nuclear research and reprocessing centre in Cumbria, is a soupy, radioactive sludge. For years boffins working on Britain’s first military and civil nuclear programmes abandoned spent fuel and other nastiness into the pools and tanks, which now grow decrepit. Though perhaps not the “slow-motion Chernobyl” which some environmental campaigners make out, the site is subject to one of the most complex nuclear clean-ups in the world.
Sellafield is the trickiest of several challenges facing the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA), a government body that manages the contractors who swab out Britain’s defunct facilities. Their projects swallow up about two-thirds of the budget of the Department of Energy and Climate Change; Sellafield alone costs £1.7 billion ($2.8 billion) a year, almost as much as the roughly £2 billion spent subsidising renewable energy in 2013. On March 31st NDA awarded a £7 billion contract to decommission 12 more of Britain’s oldest reactor sites over 14 years to a consortium including Babcock, a British engineering firm, and Fluor, an American one.These big sums reflect problems peculiar to Britain. It ploughed into nuclear bomb-making in the 1940s, and nuclear power in the 1950s, with little plan for how contaminated structures would be dealt with. …….
Vermont Nuclear Plant Seeks Decommission But Lacks Funds, Clean Technica 3 April 14, On Friday, the Vermont Public Service Board voted to authorize Entergy Nuclear Operations, Inc., the operators of the Vermont Yankee electricity generating station at 546 Governor Hunt Rd. in Vernon, to close down their nuclear power plant by the end of this year. Because Entergy planned to shut the Vermont nuclear plant down prior to its licensed end-term, the board was required to approve the shutdown……..
Another remaining issue is a 12-year-old National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systempermit that has been under review by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources for the past eight years. Continued discharges of warm water into the Connecticut River appear to have adversely affected water quality downstream and altered ecological systems in the watershed.
Entergy has reserved just over $600 million to date for decommissioning the Vermont nuclear plant, according to the Department of Public Service. This amount will not be adequate to meet the costs of full deconstruction, estimated at more than $1 billion according to the company’s 2012 Decommissioning Cost Analysis report.
The company has pledged to put $25 million toward site restoration after decommissioning the plant. However, presumably, the pledge would be moot if Entergy cannot totally decommission the plant.
“That $400 million gap raises issues about where the money will come from to dismantle the plant safely,” MassLive editorializes. http://cleantechnica.com/2014/04/02/vermont-nuclear-plant-seeks-decommission-lacks-funds/
TESTS SHOW RADIATION CONTAMINATION ON FOUR MORE WORKERS AT NEW MEXICO SITE http://www.nextgov.com/health/2014/04/tests-show-radiation-contamination-four-more-workers-new-mexico-site/81709/?oref=ng-HPriverThe U.S. Energy Department on Monday said testing had revealed trace levels of contamination in four additional workers at a nuclear waste site in New Mexico.
The announcement brings to 21 the total number of Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or “WIPP,” personnel who were exposed to small amounts of radiation following a February leak of some radioactive elements from the subterranean nuclear-materials dump, the Associated Pressreports.
The department intended to dispatch a team of eight specialists on Tuesday into the underground portion of the nuclear facility to start establishing outposts that would enable a probe into exactly what led to the leak.
The WIPP facility has not accepted any new atomic waste since the discovery of the radiation leak. This has caused some U.S. nuclear-weapons sites to turn to temporary options for storing their waste.
The 6,840 tonne British registered ship, owned by Warrington, UK based Pacific Nuclear Transport, sailed from Barrow-in-Furness, north of Liverpool, bound for Japan on 14 February 2014
The Japan Times reported in January, 2014 that 28 canisters of high-level radioactive waste, produced through the reprocessing of spent Japanese nuclear fuel in Britain, would be transported to the Aomori Prefecture on board Pacific Grebe.
The 28 canisters of vitrified radioactive waste included 14 for Kansai Electric Power Co and seven each for Chubu Electric Power Co. and Chugoku Electric Power Co.
The paper also reported in January that the shipment was the third involving vitrified radioactive waste to be brought to Japan from Britain.
Japan has received 104 canisters of such waste from Britain and plans to receive around 800 more. The 104 canisters have been stored at a facility in the village of Rokkasho, The Japan Times reported.
Babcock wins UK nuclear clean-up deal, Guardian UK, British engineering contractors and US group Fluor given £7bn contract covering sites such as Hinkley, Sizewell and Dungeness Britain has awarded a 14-year, £7bn contract to manage the decommissioning of its nuclear sites to engineering contractors Babcock and US group Fluor. The deal covers some of Britain’s oldest nuclear power sites, including Hinkley, Sizewell and Dungeness, and is one of the largest contracts the country has put out to tender.,,,,,,,,
Aside from EnergySolutions and Bechtel, Babcock beat two other consortiums: Serco, Areva and CH2M Hill; and Amec, Atkins and Rolls-Royce in a two-year-long bidding process.
Cavendish Fluor, the joint venture between Babcock-owned subsidiary Cavendish Nuclear and Fluor, will be formally awarded the contract – pending legal approval – on 1 September , after a ten-day mandatory standstill and a five-month transition period.
“Cavendish Fluor Partnership bring a successful track record and extensive nuclear experience that will bring enormous benefits to the decommissioning and clean-up programme,” NDA chief executive John Clarke said………http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/mar/31/babcock-uk-nuclear-clean-up-contract
Government set to award £7bn nuclear decommissioning contract http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/7a4ee910-b7fa-11e3-92f9-00144feabdc0.html By Gill Plimmer 31 March 14, A private sector consortium will be told on Monday it has won the £7bn job of decommissioning Britain’s oldest nuclear power plants.
The work is one of the largest and most sensitive public sector contracts to be awarded in the UK so far. The reactors, built in the 1960s originally to produce plutonium to make nuclear weapons, include those at Sizewell, Hinkley and Dungeness. They are now at the end of their lives and the government is preparing to decommission them this year. The overall contract is worth about £7bn over 14 years.
The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, the government-funded body responsible for Britain’s state-owned nuclear sites, started the competition two years ago, and work is expected to start in September.
Currently the sites are being run by Magnox, a company owned by Salt Lake City-based EnergySolutions. It is bidding for the new work in partnership with Bechtel. The only Magnox station still in use is in Wylfa in Anglesey, though this is due to stop producing electricity in the next two years.
The contract covers Britain’s 10 reactors as well two old nuclear research sites in Oxfordshire and Dorset. The oldest nuclear power plant, Calder Hall in Cumbria, was the world’s first commercial scale nuclear reactor and was opened by the Queen in 1959 before it closed a decade ago.
The incumbent Magnox is competing against consortiums made up of Amec, Atkins and Rolls-Royce; CH2M Hill, Areva and Serco; and Babcock and Fluor. The clean-up contract that the companies hope to take over employs about 3,000 workers on the 12 ageing nuclear sites across the country.
Unions are concerned that awarding the company to an overseas consortium willerode Britain’s nuclear expertise.
“The reality is the way we are breaking up our nuclear industry will go down as another Great British missed opportunity,” Gary Smith, a GMB spokesman said. “Britain was a world leader in nuclear. Successive governments have hived off our nuclear industry piecemeal. There is absolutely no strategy around nuclear which reflects the fact that wider energy policy is a mess.”
that they should stop making the stuff, as it has no place to go!
WIPP still considered for high-level waste By John Fleck / Journal Staff Writer , March 20, 2014 Despite last month’s radiation leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, researchers continue to look at the possibility of using WIPP or a facility like it to dispose of high level nuclear waste, a panel of waste experts was told Wednesday at a meeting in Albuquerque. But the leak has been a major setback to the idea.
Rod Ewing, chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board, made clear at the outset of a previously scheduled meeting that the Valentine’s Day WIPP leak was not the reason for the long-scheduled session. But as Ewing and the other panel members discussed broad nuclear waste policy questions and technical issues, WIPP’s recent problems kept intruding on the discussion.
The meeting’s primary purpose was to look at lessons learned at WIPP that might be applied to the disposal of other nuclear waste. In particular, a number of experts talked about the suitability of WIPP or something like it for the disposal of high-level radioactive waste – things like spent nuclear power plant fuel that currently has no place to go……….http://www.abqjournal.com/371437/news/wipp-still-considered-for-highlevel-waste.html
Nuclear waste from New Mexico lab may go to Texas Chron, By JERI CLAUSING and BETSY BLANEY, Associated Press | March 20, 2014 ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — With the government’s only permanent nuclear waste dump shuttered indefinitely by back-to-back accidents, officials are making plans to ship radioactive waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory to rural West Texas.
The Department of Energy and the operator of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad in southeastern New Mexico say they have signed an agreement with Waste Control Specialists to truck the waste to its site in Andrews County.
The agreement will help Los Alamos meet a June deadline for getting the last of thousands of barrels of plutonium-contaminated clothing, tools, rags and other debris off its northern New Mexico campus before wildfire season hits its peak.
The waste, which is shipped and stored in huge sealed canisters, would come back to New Mexico for final disposal once the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant reopens……..
The West Texas site has in the past taken some less toxic waste from Los Alamos, but the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant is the nation’s only permanent repository for low-level radioactive waste from nuclear weapons facilities.
Waste Control Specialists is licensed to take radioactive materials such as uranium, plutonium and thorium from commercial power plants, academic institutions and medical schools, as well as some DOE waste. It is also the burial ground for dirt from a Hudson River Superfund site that’s tainted with PCBs, or polychlorinated biphenyls.
Chuck McDonald, a spokesman for the plant, said federal officials are working with regulators at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to make sure that storing the Los Alamos waste is allowable under its permits.
The state of New Mexico pressured Los Alamos to get the waste off its campus in the northern New Mexico mountains following a massive 2011 wildfire that lapped at the edges of lab property. The waste from decades of bomb building has been stored outside on a mesa. Following the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant shutdown, the state and Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., emphasized that the deadline was non-negotiable.
“Removing waste from the mesa in Los Alamos before fire season is critical to ensure safety in the greater Los Alamos community,” Udall said in a statement Thursday. “I’m pleased we have a temporary solution that will ensure there will not be any significant disruption in cleanup efforts.”……
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