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Russia enthusiastically marketing latest third-generation nuclear reactors to India

Russia offers India latest third-generation reactors for post-Kudankulam nuclear project, First Post , 11 July 17 Moscow: Russia has offered India the latest “Generation 3-plus” nuclear reactor —the VVER-1200 — powered by advanced fuel, to be set up at a yet-to-be designated site in parallel to the ongoing 6,000 MW Kudankulam project in Tamil Nadu……

Both countries have agreed on a second nuclear power project to follow Kudankulam, which envisages the construction of six reactors of the earlier generation VVER type of 1,000 MW capacity each. The VVER-1200 has 20 percent more capacity than the VVER-1000.

July 14, 2017 Posted by | India, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

Nuclear purchase deal by Egypt from Russia not yet signed

Egypt to sign nuclear power plant deal with Russia| 2017-07-12  Editor: Mu Xuequan CAIRO, July 11 (Xinhua) –– Egypt intends to finalize a deal with Russia to build four nuclear power stations in Egypt “soon,” said Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Omar Marwan on Tuesday, state-run Ahram news reported.

“The government has no intention of backtracking the deal because it’s very important to Egypt,” said Marwan in a press conference.

“The government wanted to ensure that the safety measures will be in place before signing the deal, so the stations would cause no harmful radiation in the future,” he added.

Egypt and Russia signed an agreement in 2015 to build four nuclear power stations in Egypt by 2022.

However, the final deal hasn’t been signed yet between the two sides……

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Egypt, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment

Questions on safety of USA nuclear stations, risks of cyber attacks

Cyber attacks target nuclear power plants. Is Oyster Creek safe?  Amanda Oglesby , @OglesbyAPP APPJuly 13, 2017 LACEY – Computer hackers, not content with mucking around with U.S. commerce and elections, have trained their sights on nuclear power plants, prompting questions about cyber security at Oyster Creek.

July 14, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Senator Edward Markey calls for U.S. govt to reveal details of nuclear plant cyber attacks

US Senator demands details of nuclear plant cyber attacks, Nuclear Energy Insider, US Senator demands details of cyber attacks on nuclear reactors

Senator Edward Markey has called for U.S. federal government departments to reveal how many nuclear power plants have been impacted by cyber attacks and demonstrate sufficient cyber security measures are in place, following media reports of security breaches.

Last week the New York Times reported a persistent cyber security threat targeted personnel working for nuclear plant operators and manufacturers of plant control systems, citing a classified report by the Department of Homeland Security. Bloomberg reported that the chief suspect in these attacks was Russia, which is also suspected of disrupting energy infrastructure in Ukraine.

Senator Markey demanded further details in a letter sent to federal government departments on July 10. Markey is a member of a U.S. subcommittee for international cyber security and sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

“The Department of Homeland Security has stated that the impact of these attacks ‘appears to be limited to administrative and business networks.’ However, there is no guarantee that malicious code could not migrate to physical control systems through the errant or unauthorized use of removable storage devices,” Senator Markey said in the letter.

“Furthermore, administrative and business networks could contain information relevant to the safety and security of nuclear plants, as well as personal information about the plant personnel. Malicious actors could use sensitive data to undermine plant security,” he said……..

July 14, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | 1 Comment

Nuclear fiasco: the mismanagement of Los Alamos National Laboratory

Dr. Strangelove and the Los Alamos Nuclear FiascoFarming out the nuclear arsenal turned out to be radioactive. The American Conservative , By KELLEY BEAUCAR VLAHOS • July 13, 2017  WASHINGTON — It’s no secret that federal bureaucracy can be inefficient, wasteful and dysfunctional, but when the cumulative effect of mistakes at a major nuclear weapons laboratory starts resembling a Three Stooges shtick, it’s anything but funny. It’s dangerous.

Despite being a major component (and birthplace) of the U.S. nuclear weapons program, the lab is not (mis)managed solely by the federal government. The longstanding problems at the New Mexico campus, which include enough safety and security lapses to make one’s hair curl, have taken place under the stewardship of a private global construction giant, Bechtel Corporation, which leads the public-private partnership called Los Alamos National Security LLC. This also includes the University of California, which botched its own 62-year management of the lab but was taken on as a partner anyway. Two other private contractors—BWX Technologies and Washington Group International (now AECOM)—form the rest of the enterprise, which beat out other major privateers, such as Lockheed Martin, for the $2.2 billion contract in 2006.

Bechtel, the largest civil engineering and construction contractor in the United States, brought in an annual revenue stream of $32.3 billion as of 2015. It raked in billions of military contracts during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, scooping up a $680 million deal to “rebuild” only a month after the initial invasion of Iraq in 2003. Despite a long record of cost-overruns, mismanagement, environmental violations, and even fraud in its many war and domestic contracts, Bechtel has soared on to bigger and better things, today holding an unprecedented $10 billion contract to build Saudi Arabia’s first underground transportation system in Riyadh, and a planet full of other projects, including those involving the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

The Los Alamos partnership is destined to be just a footnote in the company’s 120-year history, however. In fact, Bechtel’s stewardship was so bad the consortium is losing its contract in 2018 and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), the semi-autonomous part of the Department of Energy that oversees the development and modernization of the nation’s nuclear warheads, officially started the bid process for the new contract in late June.

The question is if privatizing the industry proved less safe and more expensive than a government run operation, will another private contractor be any better? Furthermore, seeing how the DOE, NNSA—even the U.S. Congress—fell down in its oversight responsibilities, who can be confident that the government can turn this lab, or any other that has been farmed out to industry, around?

“The management problems at Los Alamos National Laboratory are so deep and structural, there’s a lot of blame to go around, and they won’t be fixed by picking one contractor over another. The entire contracting arrangements need to be completely rethought and congressional oversight committees need to do their duty,” says Greg Mello, director of the Los Alamos Study Group, an Albuquerque-based non-profit that since 1989 has been relentless in its pursuit to cast sunlight on the lab’s activities, including its contract and program boondoggles and security breaches.

“There has been little accountability for mistakes for literally hundreds of fiascos and goofball management decisions,” Mello told TAC last week. “We have to start with parsing the elements of the mission and the presumption that a lot of people can get rich while doing very little work at a federal nuclear weapons laboratory. The culture of Los Alamos is deeply arrogant and to bring back a culture of public service and intellectual integrity will require more institutional examination than has ever happened.”……..

But what about cost? The move toward privatization was supposed to save taxpayers money but as the watchdogs point out, it’s done anything but. As the Santa Fe New Mexican reported early this year, the management fee incurred by the government increased from $8 million in 2005 to $80 million by 2010, while the number of upper-level managers making more than $200,000 a year tripled.

Just as bad are the lab’s boondoggles. As TAC reported in 2011, a facility that was supposed to increase pit (the cores of a nuclear weapon) production to 80 pits a year (per congressional mandate) ballooned to $6 billion in projected costs and spent $500 million in the planning phase before it was cancelled amid widespread criticism. That didn’t stop the lab from embarking on a new plan, one that is expected to cost $3 billion despite all of the aforementioned safety problems that already exist and have yet to be fixed.

Lydia Dennett, an investigator with the Project on Government Oversight says she has little confidence a new contractor will do any better after the Bechtel gang leaves town. There are less than two dozen contractors in this field, and they have all worked together in some configuration or another, even on the current contract. The big ones have their lobbyists in Washington to help pull the strings. She points to Lockheed Martin, which got a mere ‘slap on the wrist’ for using federal funds to lobby Washington for no-bid contracts, which is illegal. It still manages the Sandia National Laboratory to the tune of $2.4 billion a year.

“I don’t see any of these concerns changing just because there is a changing of the guard,” she tells TAC. “What needs to happen is the DOE needs to get more engaged in its management and oversight role.” She said the lack of accountability has been appalling, taking nearly a decade before Bechtel was penalized. “They got a lot of leeway and a lot of chances before the government stepped in and said, ‘enough.’ How much are taxpayers paying for before the government says, ‘enough’’’?

Mello points out that without stronger government oversight, a change in the lazy, pass-the-buck culture, and a true ‘free market’ approach that breaks up the small number of contractors’ grip on the industry and makes them truly accountable, the status quo will remain.

“In the absence of such a profound self-examination the only conclusion we can make is that Los Alamos cannot be reformed, it’s just going to be a mess,” he said. “And it will be just a matter of time before there’s more accidents, more project management failures, hundreds if not billions wasted.”

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is managing editor of The American Conservative

July 14, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

India’s nuclear energy goals unattainable? delays, costs, terrorism risks, proliferation and wastes problems

A primer on India’s nuclear energy sector, Hans India , By Gudipati Rajendera Kumar  , 10 July 17    “……..Target set by DAE is that by 2050 33 % of India’s total electricity requirement by 2050 will be from nuclear power. This comes out to be about 275000 MW. This target seems unachievable and undesirable because of following concerns –

 1.  India’s domestic Uranium Reserve can support only 10000 MW of energy. So our future potential depends upon development of third stage of Nuclear Program. Otherwise, there will be again overdependence upon imported Uranium as it is case with Oil currently. Hence, long term strategy will be only determined when third stage is functional.
 2. Current Nuclear reactors consume significant amount of water. So most of upcoming plants will be set up near sea costs. It will put pressure on the coastline as India’s Western coastline is home to fragile ecology of Western Ghats.
3.  Further, till now only 21 plants have been operational. There are long gestation periods which increase costs of the plant significantly. Only a Nuclear Industry revolution in the future in nuclear energy can make this achievable.
4.  New safeguard requirements post Fukushima disaster, has pushed per MW costs of nuclear reactors significantly higher in comparison to Thermal, solar and wind plants. Jaitapur plant in Maharashtra (AREVA) is expected to cost 21 crore/ MW in comparison other sources cost 8-10 crore/ MW. It is to be seen that whether differences of operational/ running costs justify such higher capital expenditure on nuclear plants.
5.  Some argue that Total costs of a Nuclear Lifecycle which involves Mining of Uranium, transportation and storage, capital costs of plants , processing/ reprocessing of plants, possible disasters and then handling of waste generated for hundreds of years is significantly more that economic value generated during lifetime of the functioning of the plant, which is generally 40-50 years.
6.  Nuclear installations will be favorite targets of terrorists (also in case of war) which can cause irreversible damage to people living in nearby areas.
7.  In long run if worldwide dependence on Nuclear energy increases, it will be most unavoidable way of nuclear proliferation as interest and attempt to invest in indigenous industry will increase. Otherwise smaller counties will continue to buy relevant technologies or components from a few western countries which will serve private interest of few.
8.  India doesn’t yet have credible waste disposal policy and infrastructure in place…….

July 14, 2017 Posted by | India, politics | Leave a comment

Legal wrangle looms over British or EU responsibility for nuclear fuel and wastes

Brexit clash looms over European court, nuclear power, British government says it wants ‘smooth and orderly’ end to jurisdiction of European Court of Justice in the UK.Politico, By 7/13/17,  LONDON Britain will go into next week’s Brexit negotiations staking out positions on the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and on liability for nuclear materials in the U.K. that are squarely at odds with Brussels…….

On nuclear material (the fuel and waste associated with civil nuclear plants), the U.K. wants to make sure ownership remains with whoever has the right to use it regardless of where it currently is. With ownership comes legal liability for the material and the U.K. is trying to avoid taking on responsibility which it does not see as its own — for example when Switzerland, Germany or the Netherlands sends materials to the U.K. to be turned into higher quality nuclear waste, and the U.K. sends it back.

The position would essentially lock in law what already happens under commercial contracts but it differs from the one the European Commission presented in June, potentially setting the scene for a tussle over who takes responsibility for special fissile material in the U.K. after it leaves the European Atomic Energy Community, or Euratom.

Euratom owns all of the EU’s special fissile materials such as uranium, which are used to generate nuclear power.

The U.K. said the ownership should be transferred to “the persons or undertakings with the right of use and consumption of the material,” and that it should apply “whether these are established in the U.K., EU or non-EU states.”

The Commission’s paper, in contrast, said “it seems appropriate” that ownership of special fissile materials and Euratom property used for safeguard inspections in the U.K. be transferred to Britain — making it more costly for the country.

Existing rights to use and consume special fissile material shouldn’t be affected by the U.K.’s withdrawal, and the Commission should be able to require that this material be deposited with the Euratom Supply Agency or another store that the Commission can supervise, it added.

The U.K.’s position paper said it would make sure all necessary equipment is in place to maintain safeguard inspections after it leaves Euratom.

As for ownership, it was a little less cut-and-dried than Brussels.

“Further consideration will be given to the possibility of the U.K. taking ownership of existing Euratom-owned equipment. This will need to be rooted in a common understanding of the fair value and liabilities of the equipment concerned, and interactions with the EU budget.”

The documents — which laid out the U.K. negotiating positions on nuclear issuesjudicial matters and the privileges and immunities of EU institutions post Brexit — will form the basis of Brexit discussions next week……….

July 14, 2017 Posted by | politics international, UK | Leave a comment

Scottish govt concerned over furure transfer of radioactive materials, if UK leaves Euratom

Holyrood 12th July 2017, The Scottish Government has raised concerns over the future transfer of
radioactive materials in Scotland, after a Westminster debate saw Theresa
May’s government maintain its commitment to withdrawing from an
international nuclear treaty.

With May facing growing opposition from herown party over plans to withdraw the UK’s membership of the European
Atomic Energy Community (Euratom), which fosters cooperation on the safe
handling of nuclear materials, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham
expressed irritation over a lack of consultation from UK ministers.

In a letter to the UK’s Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial
Strategy, Cunningham reiterated calls from the Scottish Government for the
UK to retain membership of Euratom, or to seek associate membership if
continued membership is not possible.

July 14, 2017 Posted by | safety, UK | Leave a comment

South Korea’s nuclear export plans may now be in doubt

New York Times 12th July 2017, A decision by South Korea’s new president to scrap plans for more domestic
nuclear power plants will make it harder for the country to sell reactors
to buyers overseas, experts warn.

State-run Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO) is building the first of four nuclear plants in the United Arab
Emirates in an $18.6 billion deal, and is scouting for more business in
Britain and other countries. But many nuclear experts doubt South Korea’s
ability to export a technology it is ditching at home after President Moon
Jae-in, who took office in May, said he would scrap plans to build new
domestic reactors.

South Korea is the world’s fifth-biggest user of nuclear energy and KEPCO, which has built more than 20 reactors at home, vies withthe likes of France’s EDF and Toshiba’s Westinghouse unit in the niche but
fiercely competitive nuclear export market. KEPCO’s international nuclear
project team is working to keep its export business alive. “We are
focussing on the UK market, but also on Saudi Arabia, South Africa and
Iran,” said Jong-hyuck Park, chief nuclear officer at KEPCO at a recent
industry event in London.

KEPCO is also in talks with Japan’s Toshiba to
buy a stake in Britain’s NuGen nuclear project, aiming to use its own
reactor design. “The company (KEPCO) aims to finish the due diligence
process by August or September…. and it will take more time to look into
South Africa,” said a source with direct knowledge of the matter who
declined to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to media.
NuGen, planned for Moorside in northwest England, was thrown into doubt
after Westinghouse declared bankruptcy and its partner in the project,
France’s Engie, pulled out. A KEPCO spokesman said the company is awaiting
government guidelines on nuclear exports.

July 14, 2017 Posted by | marketing, South Korea | Leave a comment

Japan now hoping to export Renewable Energy Technology

Japan vows to ramp up efforts to export renewable energy technology, July 13, 2017 (Mainichi Japan), TOKYO (Kyodo) — Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida pledged Thursday that Japan will aggressively pursue the export of renewable energy technologies to tap into growth spurred via the worldwide transition to clean energy sources necessitated by the onset of climate change.

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Japan, marketing, renewable | Leave a comment

India’s grand thorium nuclear plan: pity it’s many decades away and not economically viable

A primer on India’s nuclear energy sector, Hans India , By Gudipati Rajendera Kumar  , 10 July 17 “………India has insufficient Uranium reserves of 1-2% of global reserves, but is endowed with one of the largest reserves of Thorium which constitute about 30 % of global reserves.

Thorium however is not fissile and can’t be used directly to trigger Nuclear Reaction. But it is ‘fertile’ and what makes it Nuclear Fuel is the fact that its isotope Thorium – 232 can be converted to Uranium -233 which is ‘fissile’. This process of conversion is called ‘Transmutation’. To exploit Thorium reserves Dr. Homi Jehangir Bhabha conceived ‘3 Stage Nuclear Program’….
 at present thorium is not economically viable because global uranium prices are much lower…..
Thorium itself is not a fissile material, and thus cannot undergo fission to produce energy.

•  Instead, it must be transmuted to uranium-233 in a reactor fueled by other fissile materials [plutonium-239 or uranium-235].

•  The first two stages, natural uranium-fueled heavy water reactors and plutonium-fueled fast breeder reactors, are intended to generate sufficient fissile material from India’s limited uranium resources, so that all its vast thorium reserves can be fully utilized in the third stage of thermal breeder reactor.

Stage I – Pressurized Heavy Water Reactor [PHWR]

•  In the first stage of the programme, natural uranium fuelled pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR) produce electricity while generating plutonium-239 as by-product.

[U-238 ] Plutonium-239 + Heat]

[In PWHR, enrichment of Uranium to improve concentration of U-235 is not required. U-238 can be directly fed into the reactor core]

[Natural uranium contains only 0.7% of the fissile isotope uranium-235. Most of the remaining 99.3% is uranium-238 which is not fissile but can be converted in a reactor to the fissile isotope plutonium-239].

[Heavy water (deuterium oxide, D 2O) is used as moderator and coolant in PHWR].

•  PHWRs was a natural choice for implementing the first stage because it had the mostefficient reactor design [uranium enrichment not required] in terms of uranium utilisation…..

• In the second stage, fast breeder reactors (FBRs)[moderators not required] would use plutonium-239, recovered by reprocessing spent fuel from the first stage, and natural uranium.

•  In FBRs, plutonium-239 undergoes fission to produce energy, while the uranium-238 present in the fuel transmutes to additional plutonium-239.

transmuted to Plutonium-239?

Uranium-235 and Plutonium-239 can sustain a chain reaction. But Uranium-238 cannot sustain a chain reaction. So it is transmuted to Plutonium-239.

But Why U-238 and not U-235?

Natural uranium contains only 0.7% of the fissile isotope uranium-235. Most of the remaining 99.3% is uranium-238.

•  Thus, the Stage II FBRs are designed to “breed” more fuel than they consume.

•  Once the inventory of plutonium-239 is built up thorium can be introduced as a blanket material in the reactor and transmuted to uranium-233 for use in the third stage.

• The surplus plutonium bred in each fast reactor can be used to set up more such reactors, and might thus grow the Indian civil nuclear power capacity till the point where the third stage reactors using thorium as fuel can be brought online.

As of August 2014, India’s first Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor at Kalpakkam had been delayed – with first criticality expected in 2015, 2016..and it drags on.

Stage III – Thorium Based Reactors

•   A Stage III reactor or an Advanced nuclear power system involves a self-sustaining series of thorium-232-uranium-233 fuelled reactors.

•  This would be a thermal breeder reactor, which in principle can be refueled – after its initial fuel charge – using only naturally occurring thorium.

•  According to replies given in Q&A in the Indian Parliament on two separate occasions, 19 August 2010 and 21 March 2012, large scale thorium deployment is only to be expected 3 – 4 decades after the commercial operation of fast breeder reactors. [2040-2070]

As there is a long delay before direct thorium utilisation in the three-stage programme, the country is now looking at reactor designs that allow more direct use of thorium in parallel with the sequential three-stage programme

•  Three options under consideration are the Accelerator Driven Systems (ADS), Advanced Heavy Water Reactor (AHWR) and Compact High Temperature Reactor

Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor at Kalpakkam

•  The Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) is a 500 MWe fast breeder nuclear reactor presently being constructed at the Madras Atomic Power Station in Kalpakkam, India.

•  The Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) is responsible for the design of this reactor.

•  As of 2007 the reactor was expected to begin functioning in 2010 but now it is expected to achieve first criticality in March-April 2016.

•  Construction is over and the owner/operator, Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Limited (BHAVINI), is awaiting clearance from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB).

•  Total costs, originally estimated at 3500 crore are now estimated at 5,677 crore.

•  The Kalpakkam PFBR is using uranium-238 not thorium, to breed new fissile material, in a sodium-cooled fast reactor design.

•  The surplus plutonium or uranium-233 for thorium reactors [U-238 transmutes into plutonium] from each fast reactor can be used to set up more such reactors and grow the nuclear capacity in tune with India’s needs for power.

•  The fact that PFBR will be cooled by liquid sodium creates additional safety requirements to isolate the coolant from the environment, since sodium explodes if it comes into contact with water and burns when in contact with air……

1. In the first stage, heavy water reactors fuelled by natural uranium would produceplutonium [U-238 will be transmuted to Plutonium 239 in PHWR];

2.  The second stage would initially be fuelled by a mix of the plutonium from the first stage and natural uranium. This uranium would transmute into more plutonium and once sufficient stocks have been built up, thorium would be introduced into the fuel cycle to convert it intouranium 233 for the third stage [thorium will be transmuted to U-233 with the help plutonium 239].

3.  In the final stage, a mix of thorium and uranium fuels the reactors. The thorium transmutes to U-233 which powers the reactor. Fresh thorium can replace the depleted thorium [can be totally done away with uranium which is very scares in India] in the reactor core, making it essentially a thorium-fuelled reactor [thorium keeps transmuting into U-233. It is U-233 that generates the energy].

Present State of India’s Three-Stage Nuclear Power Programme

•  After decades of operating pressurized heavy-water reactors (PHWR), India is finally ready to start the second stage.

•  A 500 MW Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR) at Kalpakkam is set to achieve criticality any day now and four more fast breeder reactors have been sanctioned, two at the same site and two elsewhere.

•  However, experts estimate that it would take India many more FBRs and at least another four decades before it has built up a sufficient fissile material inventory to launch the third stage.

Solution to India’s Fissile

Shortage Problem – Procuring Fissile Material Plutonium

•  The obvious solution to India’s shortage of fissile material is to procure it from the international market

July 14, 2017 Posted by | India, Reference, technology, thorium | Leave a comment

Too late! UK will not be able to leave European Union, yet still stay in Euratom

FT 11th July 2017, There are reports that MPs will insist on the UK government reversing its
intention to leave Euratom, the pan-European nuclear regulator.

If so, this creates a fascinating legal and political problem. How would the UK
government go about pulling back from leaving Euratom?

For the reasons set out below, I cannot see how the UK can do this without either revoking or
amending the Article 50 notification sent in March, and even that route may
not be possible.

The overall position is peculiar but many EU lawyers would
say Euratom is part of the EU, so if a member state leaves one then it
leaves both. No countries are members of the EU and not of Euratom (in
contrast to, say, non-EU members Norway being in the single market and
Turkey in part being in the customs union).

So when the UK sent its Article 50 letter in March, there was a view that leaving Euratom was a necessary
implication of leaving the EU. But the notification put the matter beyond
any doubt: the third paragraph of the letter, in the sort of legalistic
language that no normal person uses by accident, provided: ” In addition,
in accordance with the same Article 50(2) as applied by Article 106a of the
Treaty Establishing the European Atomic Energy Community, I hereby notify
the European Council of the United Kingdom’s intention to withdraw from
the European Atomic Energy Community. References in this letter to the
European Union should therefore be taken to include a reference to the
European Atomic Energy Community.”

Parliament can vote as much as it likes against parts of Brexit, but it is too late. The bag, the lamp, the
coop and the stable are now all empty. The country lost control of the
process the moment it made the Article 50 notification (which was cheered
on by a sizable majority of MPs). The EU may not not even notice, still
less care, what hesitant MPs now think and fear. The UK is on course for
getting the Brexit the EU decides it will have.

July 14, 2017 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

New Tepco chairman wants to hasten release of radioactively polluted water into the sea

TEPCO chair: Nuclear plant must release contaminated water, FOX Business , By MARI YAMAGUCHI  July 13, 2017 TOKYO –  The new chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co. says the utility needs to stop dragging its feet on plans to dump massive amounts of treated but contaminated water into the sea and make more money if it’s ever going to succeed in cleaning up the mess left by meltdowns more than six years ago at the tsunami-hit Fukushima nuclear power plant.

Takashi Kawamura, an engineer-turned-business leader who previously headed Hitachi’s transformation into a global conglomerate, is in charge of reviving TEPCO and leading the cleanup at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant. In an interview Thursday with selected media including The Associated Press, Kawamura said despite the massive costs of the cleanup and meeting tighter safety requirements, nuclear power is still vital for Japan’s national security…………..

July 14, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima continuing, Japan, oceans | Leave a comment

Yet again, hope for nuclear fusion pushed into the distant future

Fusion energy pushed back beyond 2050, BBC, 11 July 2017, We will have to wait until the second half of the century for fusion reactors to start generating electricity, experts have announced.
A new version of a European “road map” lays out the technological hurdles to be overcome if the processes powering the Sun are to be harnessed on Earth.

The road map has been drawn up by scientists and engineers at EUROfusion.

This is a consortium of European laboratories and universities that funds research on fusion energy.

The original version of the road map, published in 2012, forecast that a demonstration fusion power plant known as DEMO could be operating in the early 2040s, in order to supply electricity to the grid by 2050.

But in the updated version, yet to be released, DEMO would not start running until “early in the second half of the century”.

A related document that provides more detail on DEMO’s design says that operations would start after 2054.

The setback has been caused largely by delays to ITER, a 20bn-euro reactor that is currently being built in the south of France to prove that fusion energy is scientifically and technically feasible.

In fact, according to EUROfusion’s programme manager, nuclear physicist Tony Donné, DEMO’s schedule could slip further, depending on progress both with ITER and a facility to test materials for fusion power plants that has yet to be built.

“2054 is optimistic,” he says. “It is doable but we need to align political decision makers and get industry involved.”

Fusion involves heating nuclei of light atoms – usually isotopes of hydrogen – to temperatures many times higher than that at the centre of the Sun so that they can overcome their mutual repulsion and join together to form a heavier nucleus, giving off huge amounts of energy in the process……

the project has been beset by delays and cost overruns. Originally foreseen to switch on in 2016 and cost around 5bn euros, its price has since roughly quadrupled and its start-up pushed back to 2025. Full-scale experiments are now not foreseen until at least 2035.

As well as being technically very demanding, ITER is also complex politically…..


July 14, 2017 Posted by | EUROPE, technology | Leave a comment

America’s NRC to examine safety vulnerabilities, following fire and explosion at Turkey Point nuclear station

Turkey Point: Fire and Explosion at the Nuclear Plant, UCS , DAVE LOCHBAUM, DIRECTOR, NUCLEAR SAFETY PROJECT | JULY 11, 2017The Florida Power & Light Company’s Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station about 20 miles south of Miami has two Westinghouse pressurized water reactors that began operating in the early 1970s. Built next to two fossil-fired generating units, Units 3 and 4 each add about 875 megawatts of nuclear-generated electricity to the power grid.

Both reactors hummed along at full power on the morning of Saturday, March 18, 2017, when problems arose.

The Event

At 11:07 am, a high energy arc flash (HEAF) in Cubicle 3AA06 of safety-related Bus 3A ignited a fire and caused an explosion. The explosion inside the small concrete-wall room (called Switchgear Room 3A) injured a worker and blew open Fire Door D070-3 into the adjacent room housing the safety-related Bus 3B (called Switchgear Room 3B.)

A second later, the Unit 3 reactor automatically tripped when Reactor Coolant Pump 3A stopped running. This motor-driven pump received its electrical power from Bus 3A. The HEAF event damaged Bus 3A, causing the reactor coolant pump to trip on under-voltage (i.e., less than the desired voltage of 4,160 volts.) The pump’s trip triggered the insertion of all control rods into the reactor core, terminating the nuclear chain reaction.

Another second later and Reactor Coolant Pumps 3B and 3C also stopped running. These motor-driven pumps received electricity from Bus 3B. The HEAF event should have been isolated to the Switchgear Room 3A, but the force of the explosion blew open the connecting fire door, allowing Bus 3B to also be affected. Reactor Coolant Pumps 3B and 3C tripped on under-frequency (i.e., alternating current electricity at too much less than the desired 60 cycles per second). Each Turkey Point unit has three Reactor Coolant Pumps that force the flow of water through the reactor core, out the reactor vessel to the steam generators where heat gets transferred to a secondary loop of water, and then back to the reactor vessel. With all three pumps turned off, the reactor core would be cooled by natural circulation. Natural circulation can remove small amounts of heat, but not larger amounts; hence, the reactor automatically shuts down when even one of its three Reactor Coolant Pumps is not running.

At shortly before 11:09 am, the operators in the control room received word about a fire in Switchgear Room 3A and the injured worker. The operators dispatched the plant’s fire brigade to the area. At 11:19 am, the operators declared an emergency due to a “Fire or Explosion Affecting the Operability of Plant Systems Required to Establish or Maintain Safe Shutdown.”

At 11:30 am, the fire brigade reported to the control room operators that there was no fire in either Switchgear Room 3A or 3B.

Complication #1…….

Complication #2…… Complication #3……. Complication #4…..

…….The NRC needs to understand HEAF factors as fully as practical before it can determine if additional measures are needed to manage the risk. The NRC is also collecting information about potential HEAF vulnerabilities. Collectively, these efforts should enable the NRC to identify any nuclear safety problems posed by HEAF events and to implement a triaged plan that resolves the biggest vulnerabilities sooner rather than later.

July 14, 2017 Posted by | incidents, USA | Leave a comment