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UK nuclear submarine fleet increases its costs with an undecided future after “high fuel burn up” test of prototype reactor at Dounreay – UK stakeholders ignored again!

…The big nuclear companies threatened DECC from withdrawing all co-operation concerning nuclear matters if they insisted on asking for information that was needed for the stakeholders to argue their points. So, DECC was actually blackmailed….

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OpEd Arclight2011

6 March 2014

Comment and report of Parliamentary session by P Hammond MP at 21.15 to 12.45 pm 6/3/2014

Posted to nuclear-news.netScreenshot from 2014-01-16 01:57:46

Philip Hammond MP was speaking today at the Houses of Parliament concerning the PWR2 nuclear prototype reactor that is used in nuclear submarine fleet such as in the Vanguard class nuclear submarines. Problems have been found in a prototype reactor with the same design based at Dounreay nuclear site in Scotland.

The prototype reactor has been running at a higher rate than in service reactors and damage to the fuel cladding is reported to be the problem.

P Hammond MP said that there was no safety issues even though radiation has been found circulating with the cooling system.

The reactor was restarted after a service schedule in 2012 and is expected to run until 2015.

Vernon Coaker MP commented on the problem with the reactor and asked why is the house being told today after missed opportunities in the last 4 years. He also said that transparency is important. It is now on maintenance cycle but if the reactor is run as scheduled, it would take 3 more years before the cladding can be assessed, is that not too long?

The fuel bundles are the same design as the new PWR3 generation reactors for the new class submarine  and may be needed to replace the existing vanguard class fuel rods . The cost of just one refuel is 120 million pounds sterling each or about 200 million dollars extra on top of the massive existing funding for these schemes.

Andrew Miller MP asked “that even if it was a “level zero event”, why werent at least local stakeholders informed of the issues?”

This is highlighting a staggering lack of transparency and co-operation with stakeholders such as the recent issue with the stakeholder group from Bradwell, and other anti nuclear Stakeholders, who were sidelined and ignored earlier this year, concerning their decommissioning fears, by the Department of the Environment and Climate Change (DECC). DECC released the final draft of their choice on the website whilst  they were attending stakeholder meetings,  without notifying the stakeholders.

P Hammond mentioned that “core burn” on the prototype PWR2 core exceeds by far the normal submarine operational reactors. He mentioned that the fuel rod cladding had likely developed a “pin hole” leak into the cooling system causing some contamination. P Hammond was unsure if the reactor might be stopped now so in 3 years the cladding and reactor surfaces can be analysed though he wanted to keep to the planned running schedule.

“The PWR3 reactor program will not need a prototype reactor” P Hammond said. This has not been included in previous government cost disclosures. The government hope to rely on computer programing software to map out any issues. However, the recent flaw in the PWR2 prototype was not found by software programing and the fault can not be confirmed until 3 years after the reactor stops running at the earliest.

The chief scientific advisor has been asked to look into the viability of making a prototype test reactor for the PWR3 Astute fleet it was confirmed by P. Hammond MP later in the debate.

P Hammond refused to detail the actual “burn up rate” as propriety knowledge of the nuclear companies and therefore a secret.

EDF have been pulled up by regulators in France for running their civil reactor fleet for longer causing the fuel rod cladding to get dangerously thin and similar problems are reported in the USA because of using high burnup techniques. This is to increase electricity output in a competitive electricity market place and to maximise profits from the very expensive fuel rod bundles. More frequent fuel replacements have been advocated that will cause rising costs for all nuclear reactors as well as reduced performance.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency had been informed but only key Scottish ministers have been informed. SEPA did not feel the Scottish Parliament needed to know of the situation P Hammond said.

The decisions on the new PWR3 driven reactor submarine fleet will be finally decided in 2016.

Rolls Royce were commended for being the lead technical authority and manufacturer of these reactor cores. 80 reactor cores have been supplied since 1963 by Rolls Royce who is a leading provider of military reactor cores.

AUDIO: Scottish Ministers Demand Meeting Over Secret Higland Nuclear Incident

Posted on Friday 7 March 2014

A row’s erupted between the Scottish and UK governments over secrecy surrounding a nuclear incident in the Highlands.

Yesterday the Ministry of Defence admitted to Parliament it had kept quiet about a problem with the Dounreay reactor.

The revelation came two years after radioactivity was detected where it shouldn’t have been.

Scottish Minister Keith Brown’s written a letter to London ‘seeking an early meeting’: “Why were we not told? It would simply take a phone call from Defence Secretary Philip Hammond or one of his ministers to a minister in the Scottish Government, and let us know.

“If it was not serious, as has been said, why not just let us know?

“It’s appalling that the UK Government has treated with such contempt both Scotland’s government and the people of Scotland.

“It shows the arrogance which has been demonstrated on a number of other defence issues.”

AUDIO:  A Highland nuclear incident, kept secret, has sparked a row, according to MFR Reporter Bryan Rutherford….

More here;

Ageing nuclear submarines could put sailors and public at…
August 04, 2013
Britain’s ageing hunter-killer nuclear submarines are suffering mounting technical problems that could endanger the safety of sailors and the public, a report from the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has warned. Five Trafalgar-class submarines, between 22 and 29 years old, are running into reliability issues with the reactors that power them, increasing the risk of cracks, pipe failures and…

Major nuclear incident at Britain’s Royal Navy submarine…
October 07, 2013
The failure of both the primary and secondary power sources of coolant for nuclear reactors at the Devonport dockyard in Plymouth on 29 July last year followed warnings in previous years of just such a situation.   Experts yesterday compared the crisis at the naval base, operated by the Ministry of Defence and government engineering contractors Babcock Marine, with the Fukushima Daiichi…


March 6, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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