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British government’s “perpetual” lack of knowledge about £130bn clean-up of 17 old nuclear sites.

MPs attack ‘lack of knowledge’ over UK nuclear power clean-up
Public accounts committee calls for ‘clearer discipline’ in managing sites,
  Nathalie Thomas in Edinburgh Ft.com  NOVEMBER 27 2020   MPs have warned there is a “perpetual” lack of knowledge in government about the state of Britain’s 17 earliest nuclear power sites, which are expected to cost taxpayers about £130bn to clean up over the next 120 years.

 This lack of knowledge about the retired facilities, which include Sellafield in Cumbria and 12 early nuclear power sites known as the “Magnox” stations, has already wasted hundreds of millions of pounds of taxpayer money and “continues to be a major barrier to making progress” with the clean-up, according to the House of Commons’ public accounts committee.
 The spending watchdog called for “clearer discipline” in managing the 17 sites, which were all built before privatisation of the electricity system in the 1990s and are the responsibility of the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority, a public body overseen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.
  Decommissioning of the earliest nuclear power reactors and research facilities has been a long-running and torturous saga in Britain.
 Responsibility for cleaning up the two Magnox research sites and 10 Magnox nuclear power stations was brought back in-house last year following a bungled tender process in 2014, which handed a lucrative contract to a joint venture between UK-based Babcock International and Fluor of the US but was later challenged in the courts.
 That botched process cost the taxpayer more than £140m, including settlements with unsuccessful bidders, legal costs and staff time, but MPs warned the NDA still did not have “full understanding of the condition” of those Magnox plants as well as other sites under its responsibility, including the Dounreay nuclear power research facility in Scotland.
The latest estimate for cleaning up all of the 17 earliest sites stands at £132bn, the MPs said, the lion’s share of which falls on Sellafield — where the world’s first commercial nuclear power station, Calder Hall, was developed in the 1950s and housed major civil nuclear fuel reprocessing facilities.
The committee is pressing the NDA to “exploit” opportunities to reduce the amount of time it will take to clean up sites and reduce costs to the taxpayer, including prioritising plans to find a location for a permanent “geological disposal facility” for nuclear waste deep under ground, which would replace current storage at Sellafield and elsewhere and would be designed to prevent the release of harmful quantities of radioactivity to the surface.
The UK went from leading the world in establishing nuclear power to this sorry saga of a perpetual lack of knowledge about the current state of the UK’s nuclear sites. With a project of this length and cost we need to see clearer discipline in project management,” said Meg Hillier MP, chair of the committee…….
Nuclear industry executives are hoping the government will soon agree to enter negotiations over financing a new nuclear power plant, Sizewell C in Suffolk, although the plans are contested by environment campaigners. Developers of new nuclear power plants are now required to pay towards the eventual decommissioning of their sites. https://www.ft.com/content/6f6ef7c2-84cf-4f2c-ab80-34eeab954e71

December 12, 2020 Posted by | UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear developers keenly await UK government support for new reactors large and small

Nuclear Developers Dust Off Plans for More Reactors in U.K. Bloomberg,By Rachel Morison, 11 December 2020,
Industry sees shift to allow more reactors to be built
Government is due to release a paper on financing projects.   
Nuclear power developers are refreshing plans for new reactors in the U.K. after speculation that the government could be willing to support building more plants than the industry had been  expecting.

A little-noticed paper issued by the Treasury on Nov. 25 said it is important that the U.K. can “maintain options by pursuing additional large-scale nuclear projects,” assuming they can be done in a cost-effective way. That wording, with a notable plural on the word “projects,” went beyond a recommendation made two years ago that Britain should build only one more major atomic facility.

After years of waiting for a signal, the document was read by nuclear industry executives as evidence that energy policy could be shifting their way. They anticipate the government may soon look more favorably on nuclear after more than a decade of tilting toward renewables. Electricite de France SA, Hitachi Ltd. and China General Nuclear Power Corp. are looking at ways to revive designs that were shelved in the past few years.

Large-scale projects have a bright future in Britain if the government backs a financing model to cut the cost of capital,” said Tom Greatrex, chief executive officer of the Nuclear Industry Association. “There are a number of viable sites.

For its part, government insists its policy on nuclear hasn’t changed — even with all the debate about exiting the European Union. It’s allowing EDF to seek planning permission for the Sizewell plant in east England, but ministers have been quiet about what, if any, further plants might win favor.……

China’s Bid

One of the biggest question marks is whether China will be able to move ahead with a long-planned reactor in the U.K. despite a political chill toward investment from that nation. Under pressure from the U.S., the government has clamped down on the spread of 5G mobile technology from Huawei Technologies Ltd.

China General Nuclear’s Chief Executive Officer Rob Davies said the company is willing to self-finance the Bradwell B project in southeast England. His remark suggests the company would take a market power price for electricity sold from the plant, a break from EDF’s move at Hinkley Point to secure a long-term contract before moving ahead.

The project would be a Chinese-designed reactor, called HPR1000. It would showcase the nation’s technical skill in Europe. Davies said CGN is committed to nuclear development in the U.K. regardless of the political winds.

We plan to maintain our support for Hinkley Point C, to help Sizewell C to reach a Final Investment Decision, to complete the general design assessment for the HPR1000 and to continue with Bradwell. That’s our plan and that’s our offer to the U.K. And we’ll self finance,” he said at an industry event this month.Hitachi in Wales

The CEO of Hitachi Ltd.’s Horizon Nuclear Power Ltd. subsidiary said he’s lining up a project for the Wylfa site in Wales. His remark is an indication that the project may still be revived even after Hitachi exited it in September after failing to agree on financing.EDF’s Work in Moorside

In June, EDF revamped plans for the Moorside site in Cumbria that Toshiba Corp. pulled out of in 2018. The proposed Clean Energy Hub includes a large nuclear plant, the same design as Hinkley Point and Sizewell, small modular reactors and advanced modular reactors…….

Not all of these projects will be built. In the U.K., EDF is building the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in Somerset and next in line is the Sizewell site in Essex northeast of London. The government is keen on small modular reactors that are quicker [?} to build and cheaper [?]. If it gets enough of those, there may not be a need for any more large scale stations. That’s what policy makers will hope to avoid tying themselves into. ……https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-12-11/nuclear-developers-dust-off-plans-to-build-more-reactors-in-u-k

December 12, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK | 1 Comment

More Countries Ratified Nuke Ban Treaty & Next Step — limitless life

Another country just ratified the TPNW and here’s what we’re planning to do next Hi  — Did you think we’d slow down when we reached 50 ratifications of the Treaty on the Prohibitions of Nuclear Weapons? No chance – here’s what just happened this last week: On 4th December, Zimbabwe signed the Treaty On 9th […]

More Countries Ratified Nuke Ban Treaty & Next Step — limitless life

December 12, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Tokyo 2021 Radioactive Olympics – Newsletter December 2020 — limitless life

Tokyo 2021 – The Radioactive Olympics – Newsletter December 2020   Dear Friends,   I am sending you my message sent to President Thomas Bach of the IOC , transmitting the mail sent to me from Dr. Alex Rosen, IPPNW.   With warmest regards, Mitsuhei Murata       Sent: Friday, December 11, 2020 3:31 PMTo: ‘Boîte […]

Tokyo 2021 Radioactive Olympics – Newsletter December 2020 — limitless life

December 12, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Trying to test for cracks in nuclear waste containers that have to last for over a million years

Waste from nuclear fuel must be stored for more than a million years/

“Salt can be present in the ambient air and environment anywhere, not just near the ocean. We need to be able to plan for extended long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel at nuclear power plants for the foreseeable future — it’s a national reality,”

Sandia to put nuclear waste storage canisters to the test,   https://www.newswise.com/articles/sandia-to-put-nuclear-waste-storage-canisters-to-the-test, Scientists will explore science of cracks caused by corrosion, 10-Dec-2020 by Sandia National Laboratories    Newswise — ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia National Laboratories is outfitting three 22.5-ton, 16.5-feet-long stainless-steel storage canisters with heaters and instrumentation to simulate nuclear waste so researchers can study their durability.

The three canisters, which arrived in mid-November and have never contained any nuclear materials, will be used to study how much salt gathers on canisters over time. Sandia will also study the potential for cracks caused by salt- and stress-induced corrosion with additional canisters that will be delivered during the next stage of the project.

Currently there is not an operating geologic repository in the U.S. for the permanent disposal of spent nuclear fuel. As a result, spent fuel is being stored at commercial nuclear power plants in both storage pools and dry storage canisters. The storage canisters currently holding the spent nuclear fuel were designed to have a useful life of a few decades but will now likely need to be used longer than planned, said Tito Bonano, Sandia’s nuclear energy fuel cycle senior manager.

Data is urgently needed to validate and guide how industry should manage storage canisters for longer than originally anticipated, Bonano said.

“Salt can be present in the ambient air and environment anywhere, not just near the ocean. We need to be able to plan for extended long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel at nuclear power plants for the foreseeable future — it’s a national reality,” he said.

The researchers expect the project could have long-reaching implications for public health and safety, industry practices, regulatory framework and defining future research paths, said Bonano.

The three-year project is funded by the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy office. Overall, fifteen never-used, never-irradiated DOE-owned canisters are being distributed for large scale testing to Sandia and two other national laboratories, an industry research institute and an independent storage facility at an existing nuclear power plant.

Waste from nuclear fuel must be stored for more than a million years

Nuclear power plants use uranium pellets inside a metal-cladded tube, called a fuel rod, to power reactors to create the heat needed to make electricity. After the fuel rods can no longer be used in the reactor, they need to be stored onsite until they are taken offsite to another facility and eventually permanently disposed because they will be radioactive for a long time, said Samuel Durbin, a mechanical engineer and Sandia’s canister project lead.

“When fuel is removed from a reactor, it’s very hot, both in temperature and radioactivity” Durbin said. “The utility loads it into a pool for about five years to cool down. After that, the spent fuel can be offloaded into a dry storage canister.”

A storage canister starts as a flat piece of stainless steel that is rolled into a cylinder and then welded where the seams come together. The heat from the welding creates heat-affected zones in the seams of the canister that experience tensile, or pulling, stress. This stress makes these areas around the welds more susceptible to corrosion from salt over time, said Durbin.

Research will test how much salt deposits on canisters over time

Sandia received three canisters Nov. 13. The research team will outfit each of them with 32 electrical heaters to simulate the decay heat, which is heat released as a result of radioactive decay, from the 32 spent fuel assemblies that would typically be stored in this type of canister. No radioactive materials will be used in the testing, Durbin said.

Instruments called thermocouples, which measure temperature, and other sensors for diagnostic testing and surface sampling also will be added, he said.

Once the outfitted canisters have been tested and repacked for transport at Sandia, the team plans to move them to a storage pad at an independent spent fuel storage installation on the West Coast where they will experience the same real-life conditions of in-use canisters. The Sandia team, led by managers Sylvia Saltzstein and Geoff Freeze, Durbin, and chemists/corrosion scientists Charles Bryan and Rebecca Schaller, along with partners from other national laboratories will monitor the test canisters and record surface deposits, especially chloride-bearing salts, for three to more than 10 years, depending on how much the data varies over time.

“Sodium-chloride, or salt, that settles on the surface of spent nuclear-fuel canisters can lead to chloride-induced stress corrosion cracking, and right now there is inadequate data on these surface deposits,” said Durbin.

In real-life storage of nuclear waste, Durbin said the decay heat from the spent fuel creates natural convection around the storage canisters, causing outside air to be drawn over the canister surface. This process helps cool the spent fuel over time. As ambient air is drawn in, salt and other particulates in the air are drawn in as well and can settle on the canister surface. During the test, the electrical heaters installed inside the canisters at Sandia will replicate this decay heat-driven convection without using nuclear materials.

In hot, dry conditions, Durbin said salt deposits alone don’t cause any issues, but over time, as the decay heat decreases and the canister cools, water can condense on the canister surface and a brine can form.

“These conditions can occur nationwide and are seen as precursors to chloride-induced, stress-corrosion cracking. Back when these canisters were being designed, people weren’t thinking about this as an issue because we had a plan for permanent disposal. The current national nuclear waste situation forces canisters to be stored onsite for the foreseeable future, which could be 100 years or longer, so stress corrosion cracking becomes more of a concern,” Durbin said.

In addition to the long-term heating and surface deposition test, Sandia will use up to another three canisters for laboratory-based tests to conduct fundamental research on cracking caused by salt and stress, especially on the welded seams and intersections of the canisters. Researchers will measure the effectiveness of commercially available crack repair and mitigation coatings.

To test these seams, the team will cut the canisters into small segments and test pieces with and without welded seams to study the pre-cursor conditions for salt and stress to cause the corrosion that leads to cracks, he said.

December 12, 2020 Posted by | Reference, safety, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Shutdown of 3 uranium mines in midst of dispute could lead to ecological disaster in Ukraine

World Socialist Web 10th Dec 2020, Three uranium mines have been shut down in the Kirovohrad region of central Ukraine over disputed payments between the state nuclear energy company Energoatom and the state-owned enterprise operating the mine, Eastern Mining and Processing. As a result of the alleged nonpayment, approximately 5,000 miners have been placed on unpaid leave. They are still owed approximately $5 million in months of back pay.

The shuttering of the mines could also lead to an ecological catastrophe if the mines lose power and water pumps fail to operate, creating a toxic mixture of radioactive uranium-contaminated groundwater that could spread throughout the vast river systems of central Ukraine.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2020/12/11/ukr-d11.html

December 12, 2020 Posted by | safety, Ukraine | Leave a comment

Sizewell C nuclear power station, thrown into doubt as China ponders pulling out of £20bn project

Sizewell C nuclear power station, thrown into doubt as China ponders pulling out of £20bn project, This Is Money, By FRANCESCA WASHTELL FOR THE DAILY MAIL 12 December 2020 

China is considering pulling out of the Sizewell C nuclear plant in a move that throws the future of the project into doubt.

The country’s nuclear agency, China General Nuclear Power (CGN), is planning to duck out of the next phase of the £20billion project, claim industry sources.

CGN holds a 20 per cent stake in the Suffolk plant and has spent years developing it with French energy giant EDF.

The agency has not revealed how much it has invested in the Sizewell C development phase, though it is estimated to be hundreds of millions.

Its departure at the construction stage could leave a huge hole in the project’s funding – and could deal another body blow to the Government’s energy strategy.

The reports come as tensions between London and Beijing have flared since the Government’s decision to exclude Huawei’s equipment being used in new 5G networks.

The recent clampdown on foreign investment and takeover rules have also added to the hostility.

An industry source said: ‘If the UK were to lose Chinese know-how in nuclear it would be a shame given their expertise in building and operating the reactors that would be used at Sizewell C.’………. https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/markets/article-9044795/Sizewell-C-nuclear-plant-doubt-China-ponders-pulling-out.html

 

December 12, 2020 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Japan’s power companies consider opening up Aomari nuclear waste site to other utilities

Aomori spent nuclear fuel site may be opened up to other utilities, https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/12/11/national/shared-nuclear-fuel-facility-a    Dec 11, 2020

The Federation of Electric Power Companies of Japan is considering a plan for member power suppliers that have nuclear power plants to jointly use a temporary storage facility for spent nuclear fuel in the city of Mutsu, Aomori Prefecture, sources said Thursday.

The Mutsu facility is held by Recyclable-Fuel Storage Co., which is jointly owned by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and Japan Atomic Power Co. Recyclable-Fuel Storage aims to start facility operations in fiscal 2021, which starts next April.

The federation is in talks with parties including Tepco on allowing power firms other than Tepco and Japan Atomic Power to use the temporary spent fuel storage facility if they pay fees, informed sources said.

The joint use initiative is partly aimed at supporting Kansai Electric Power Co., according to the sources. The Fukui Prefectural Government is urging Kansai Electric, which has nuclear plants in the prefecture, to show by the end of this year a candidate site outside of the prefecture for temporary storage of spent nuclear fuel.

Selecting a candidate location early is a key challenge for Kansai Electric, which heavily relies on nuclear power generation, because it is a condition for local authorities to decide whether to approve the restart of the No. 1 and No. 2 reactors at the firm’s Takahama nuclear plant and the No. 3 reactor at its Mihama plant, all of which have seen more than 40 years pass since the launch of their operations.

“There’s been no contact” from the power industry group about the shared use plan for the temporary storage facility, Mutsu Mayor Soichiro Miyashita told reporters Thursday. “If they are proceeding with the plan within themselves, that shouldn’t be the case.”

A media report said in 2018 that Tepco was considering a joint use of the facility with Kansai Electric and others. The reported plan went nowhere after the mayor opposed it.

Shared use of the facility requires approval by the Aomori Prefectural Government and the city of Mutsu. But it remains to be seen at the moment if such local permission can be obtained.

As of the end of September this year, the amount of spent fuel from nuclear power stations in Japan stood at about 19,000 tons.

Of the total, about 16,000 tons have been kept at locations including storage pools at nuclear power plants. The amount is about 75% of storage capacity as work to reprocess spent nuclear fuel has stalled, a situation stoking concerns among nuclear plant host municipalities.

December 12, 2020 Posted by | wastes | Leave a comment