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Small and Medium Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) – cost estimates, and what they cost to build

SMR cost estimates, and costs of SMRs under construction, Nuclear Monitor Issue:  #872-873 4777 07/03/2019Jim Green ‒ Nuclear Monitor editor

Costs of SMRs under construction   https://wiseinternational.org/nuclear-monitor/872-873/smr-cost-estimates-and-costs-smrs-under-construction?fbclid=IwAR1TQA0xJ4bYxnVxJ0Aulcxvp0miMhEP4Vt8YqvLQKrhI3lTDhnrzZxQCE8Estimated construction costs for Russia’s floating nuclear power plant (with two 35-MW ice-breaker-type reactors) have increased more than four-fold and now equate to over US$10 billion / gigawatt (GW) (US$740 million / 70 MW).1 A 2016 OECD Nuclear Energy Agency report said that electricity produced by the plant is expected to cost about US$200/MWh, with the high cost due to large staffing requirements, high fuel costs, and resources required to maintain the barge and coastal infrastructure.2

Little credible information is available on the cost of China’s demonstration 2×250 MW high-temperature gas-cooled reactor (HTGR). If the demonstration reactor is completed and successfully operated, China reportedly plans to upscale the design to 655 MW (three modules feeding one turbine, total 655 MW) and to build these reactors in pairs with a total capacity of about 1,200 MW (so much for the small-is-beautiful SMR rhetoric). According to the World Nuclear Association, China’s Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology at Tsinghua University expects the cost of a 655 MWe HTGR to be 15-20% more than the cost of a conventional 600 MWe PWR.3

A 2016 report said that the estimated construction cost of China’s demonstration HTGR is about US$5,000/kW ‒ about twice the initial cost estimates.4 Cost increases have arisen from higher material and component costs, increases in labor costs, and increased costs associated with project delays.4 The World Nuclear Association states that the cost of the demonstration HTGR is US$6,000/kW.5

The CAREM (Central Argentina de Elementos Modulares) SMR under construction in Argentina illustrates the gap between SMR rhetoric and reality. Argentina’s Undersecretary of Nuclear Energy, Julián Gadano, said in 2016 that the world market for SMRs is in the tens of billions of dollars and that Argentina could capture 20% of the market with its CAREM technology.6 But cost estimates have ballooned: Continue reading

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March 25, 2019 Posted by | 2 WORLD, Reference, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Global nuclear lobby desperate to market an array of non existent Small and Medium Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)

IAEA Showcases Global Coordination on Small, Medium Sized or Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) IAEA, October 2018   Vienna, Austria The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) expanding international coordination on the safe and secure development and deployment of small, medium sized or modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) has come into focus with new publications and expert meetings on these emerging technologies.

Significant advances have been made in recent years on SMRs, some of which will use pre-fabricated systems and components to shorten construction schedules and offer greater flexibility and affordability than traditional nuclear power plants. Some 50 SMR concepts are at various stages of development around the world, with commercial operations expected to begin in the coming years.

Following an IAEA meeting in September on SMR design and technology, energy experts from around Europe gathered at the Agency’s Vienna headquarters for a workshop earlier this month to discuss infrastructure, economic and finance aspects of SMRs. The meetings are part of an ongoing SMR project involving the IAEA Departments of Nuclear Energy, Nuclear Safety and Security and Technical Cooperation. In addition, representatives of regulatory authorities and other stakeholders also met this month at the IAEA’s SMR Regulators’ Forum, which exchanges experiences on SMR regulatory reviews.

Many IAEA Member States are interested in the development and deployment of SMRs as a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels and for reducing greenhouse gas emissions,” said IAEA Deputy Director General Mikhail Chudakov, Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy. “The IAEA’s flurry of recent activities on SMRs is part of our efforts to respond to Member State requests for assistance on this exciting emerging technology.”

The IAEA recently released two new publications on SMRs: Deployment Indicators for Small Modular Reactors, which provides Member States with a methodology for evaluating the potential deployment of SMRs in their national energy systems; and an updated edition of Advances in Small Modular Reactor Technology Developments, which provides a concise overview of the latest status of SMR designs around the world and is intended as a supplement to the IAEA’s Advanced Reactor Information System (ARIS)…….https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/iaea-showcases-global-coordination-on-small-medium-sized-or-modular-nuclear-reactors-smrs

https://www.iaea.org/newscenter/pressreleases/iaea-showcases-global-coordination-on-small-medium-sized-or-modular-nuclear-reactors-smrs

October 16, 2018 Posted by | Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Climate and Nuclear News – week to 15 May

Climate change –   climate crisis might be the more accurate phrase. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in New Zealand, said the political will to fight climate change has faded at the same time as it is getting worse for those feeling its effects.

Some videos of this week’s news on the effects of global warming -Arctic Ocean Coastal Temperatures Surge to 84.2 F  11 May https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rk4sTnfsVcQ    -Global Sea Ice Plunges to New Record Lows https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ukc7-OVMx_Q . A tiny bit of good news: Rooftop Panels of Tiny Plants Can Cleanse Polluted Air at 100 Times the Rate of a Single Tree.

Nuclear news – the focus this week has been on international politics. While nuclear competition between India and Pakistan is accelerating, Stimson’s South Asia Program offers ways to reduce tensions.  Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign: paving the way for war against Iran?  Donald Trump likes strutting on the global ‘nuclear summit’ stage, but is not interested in genuine arms control.

Radioactive fallout could be released from melting glaciers.  Deep ocean animals are eating radioactive carbon from nuclear bomb tests.

Deep divisions between nations as preparations made for next year’s review of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Global paralysis in weapons control agreements as a new arms race begins.

The problematic arrival of Artificial Intelligence for Nuclear Weapons.

The vulnerability of nuclear weapons systems to cyber threats.

Nuclear power is subject to human error. — and that makes it a poor solution to climate change.

The World Blows Over $5 Trillion A Year On Oil And Gas Subsidies: Report

GREENLAND. Greenland Melt off to a Rather Early Start .

PACIFIC ISLANDS. UN chief Antonio Guterres to Pacific islands, warning rich nations about climate impacts.

UKRAINE. Drones find new radiation hotspots near site of Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Investigative journalism –  Chernobyl nuclear accident: how it happened, and the aftermath. The International Atomic Energy Agency itself predicted 4,000 cancer deaths from the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

USA. 

MEXICO 108 wildfires are burning in 17 states, most in central and southern regions

NORTH KOREA. North Korea is unlikely to ever give up all its nuclear weapons.  Increased tension as U.S. has seized a North Korean ship for sanctions violations,

JAPAN. Fukushima’s mothers became radiation experts to protect their children after nuclear meltdown.  Highly radioactive chimney at Fukushima No 1 plant to be taken apart. New Discovery At Fukushima Unit 3 Provides Clues To Meltdown Severity, Environmental Releases.  Fukushima’s ghost towns. .“Worst Criminality against Humankind” Report from Fukushima by Kazuhiko Kobayashi.   South Korea plans to continue to ban all seafood imports from Fukushima Prefecture and seven other prefectures near Fukushima to protect public health and food safety.

IRAN.  European Union countries face deadline to save nuclear deal with Iran.  Iran Supports Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  The difficulty in knowing if Iran did start making a nuclear bomb.  Increase in Iran Snap Nuclear Inspections as Tensions With U.S. Rise. Why Iran decided to partially withdraw from the nuclear weapons treaty.

UK.

UKRAINE. Drones find new radiation hotspots near site of Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Investigative journalism –  Chernobyl nuclear accident: how it happened, and the aftermath. The International Atomic Energy Agency itself predicted 4,000 cancer deaths from the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

FRANCE. Fraud and falsification regarding nuclear safety in France’s EDF reactors?

RUSSIA. Russia’s upgraded nuclear-powered missile cruisers to get advanced torpedo defense systems.  Rosatom keenly pursuing international nuclear sales, especially nuclear-weapons related.

MIDDLE EAST. Nuclear power completely unnecessary in sunblest Middle East.

ISRAEL. President Kennedy strongly warned Israel against getting nuclear weapons.

SLOVAKIA. Safety concerns by Austria mean delay in Slovakia’s nuclear station expansion.

AUSTRALIA  Federal election on 18 May. If the climate-denying, nuclear-loving Liberal Coalition gets back in, I reckon that there’ll be wholesale emigration to New Zealand, where they have decent and compassionate policies, and a Prime Minister with integrity!  Australia’s role in the species extinction crisis.

 

May 15, 2019 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Chernobyl nuclear accident: how it happened, and the aftermath

In the immediate aftermath of Chernobyl, a total of 31 firemen and plant workers died. Some of their bodies were so radioactive, they had to be buried in lead coffins. A report by the World Health Organization estimated that 600,000 people within the Soviet Union were exposed to high levels of radiation, and of those, 4,000 would die. Those who lived near the Chernobyl site have reported increased instances of thyroid cancer, and they have an increased risk of developing leukemia.

700 Million Years

The Chernobyl accident is one of only two nuclear energy accidents that is classified as a “Level 7 Event,” the highest classification. The other is 2011’s Fukushima disaster in Japan. At the lowest level of Reactor 4 lies the famous “elephant’s foot”, a several-meter wide mass of corium that is still giving off lethal amounts of radiation. The half-life of radioactive elements is defined as the amount of time it takes for the radioactivity to fall to half its original value. The half life of U-235 is 700 million years. 

May 13, 2019 Posted by | incidents, Ukraine, wastes | Leave a comment

The past week in nuclear and climate news

This week, I’m briefly aberrating, to draw attention to the situation of Julian Assange. No, this is not directly relevant to nuclear or climate issues. But, knowing the corruption and lying ingrained in the nuclear and fossil fuel industries, it’s important to be mindful of the role of whistleblowers. The Australian government, which generously supports Australian convicted murderers and drug dealers in foreign lands, has done nothing to help Australian citizen, Julian Assange.  Assange is in dire danger of extradition to USA, of being locked up, “disappeared” forever, because in 2010 he exposed US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan.   The branding of this truth teller as “criminal” should be a warning to the world.    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X8j42o04AZA

On nuclear issues – India and Pakistan came close to the brink.

And the media is awash with propaganda about nuclear energy being essential to combat climate change. Especially propaganda about “new nukes” – small nuclear reactors (SMRs) . The reality is that it’s desperate hubris about a nonexistent technology without a future. Despite heavy promotion, SMRs are too expensive and there are no buyers.

CLIMATE – Climate change threatens millions of Bangladeshi children, warns UNICEF.     Some good news. Dozens of Countries Have Been Working to Plant ‘Great Green Wall’ – and It’s Holding Back Poverty.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tIj764m7bys

Before we enter “a new nuclear age” – learn from the newly declassified Chernobyl health records.

Risk of nuclear weapons use is now at a record high.- Nuclear weapons accidents and losses 1950s – 2000s.

Book – “Deadly Dust – Made in the USA: Depleted Uranium Weapons Contaminating the World”

Challenges in Nuclear Verification– IAEA .

Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, and the campaign to criminalise whistleblowing.

Reflective roofs can reduce overheating in cities and save lives during heatwaves.

EUROPE. European Parliament votes to exclude nuclear power from receiving a green stamp of approval on financial markets.

JAPAN. Japan Business Federation, Keidanren, wants maximum service life of nuclear power plants extended to over 60 years Few evacuees are likely to return next week to parts of Okuma, host of Fukushima nuclear plant.  New legal action compensation claim by 25 Fukushim evacuees.  Japanese panel says that people under 40 should have iodine tablets ready, in advance of nuclear emergencies.

USA.

SAUDI ARABIA. Saudi Arabia moves forward on developing a nuclear industry.  Tensions in volatile Middle East region, as Saudi nuclear program accelerates.  Saudi Arabia resists IAEA’s inspection regime, as it completes its first nuclear reactor. IAEA head UN nuclear inspector asks Saudi Arabia to agree to safeguards on nuclear material.

CHINA. China will fall short of its nuclear power generation capacity target for 2020. China to Resume Approving Nuclear Power Plants.

SWEDEN. Doubts on safety of Sweden’s copper canisters for radioactive wastes.

UKRAINE. Ukraine’s President Poroshenko issues nuclear decree, demands new reactors be built.

FRANCE.  It’s likely that Flamanville nuclear reactor will be delayed yet again, with discussion on how to fix faulty welds.  France’s Orano (formerly bankrupt Areva) to send MOX fuel to Japan.  France’s ‘public consultation’ on old nuclear reactors – full of bureaucratic jargon – no debate took place.

KAZAKHSTAN. Research on gene mutations caused by nuclear radiation – Kazakhstan .  Russia keen to market nuclear reactors to Kazakhstan.

SOUTH AFRICA. Concerns about radioactive waste incidents – Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI)

UK. 

BRAZIL. Former Brazilian President Michel Temer indicted on corruption charges Involving nuclear plant bribes.

SPAIN. Spain to Shut Down Nuclear Plants And Push Forward Clean Energy Plan.

GERMANYRenewables provide over half of German net power in March .

CANADA.  Canada replaces largest North American coal plant with solar.

NEPAL.  Nepal assures South Asian doctors that UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weaponswill be ratified soon.

April 9, 2019 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

Don’t fall for the propaganda touting “New Nuclear Reactors”- theme for April 19

The nuclear lobby is desperately pitching its new gimmicks –  to governments  (nobody else would put their money in)  They come up with all sorts of new titles, with appropriate abbeviations  –  Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) , Small and Medium Reactors,  (also SMRs)  Micro Reactors, Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactors  (LFTRs) ,  Integral molten Salt Reactot (IMSR), Virtual Test Reactor,  (VTR) – to name just a few .

So -new nuclear reactors leave a smaller amount of radioactive trash? But it’s so highly toxic that it requires the same volume of space for its final disposal. The reactors themselves become radioactive trash eventually.

Thorium nuclear reactors produce these radioactive wastes:

  • Technetium-99 has a half life of 220,000 years
  • uranium-232 produces thallium-208 (a nasty wee gamma emitter)
  • Selenium-79 (another gamma emitter with a 327,000 year half-life),
  • even Thorium-232 is a problem with its half life of 14 Billion years (and while the T-232 isn’t a major worry, all the time during this 14 Billion years it will be decaying and producing stuff that is!)

Mixed-oxide (MOX) nuclear fuel reprocessing turns out to be twice as expensive as burial of nuclear wastes. according to an unreleased US Department of Energy report – and the World Nuclear Association knows this!

zombie rising

 

 

April 4, 2019 Posted by | Christina's themes | 2 Comments

This week, in climate and nuclear news

Why single out one ecological disaster – when there are so many? I originally dedicated this weekly post to nuclear issues. Now it’s hard to prioritise nuclear.  We have the biodiversity crash now going on, and picking up speed. Climate change is always there -its most notable expression this week is in the drowning of Mozambique.

A huge global wake-up call- the human devastation of climate change.

Drastic decline in insect numbers – the bugocalypse.

Small and Medium Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) – cost estimates, and what they cost to build.  The sorry history of small nuclear power reactors.

AFRICA. Cyclone Idai Lays Bare Deadly Reality of Climate Change in Africa.

SOUTH KOREA. Limits to South Korean President Moon’s ability to negotiate US-N. Korea nuclear deal.

UK. Strong opposition in Holywell County Council to hosting nuclear waste dump.  Despite £1 million just to listen , UK County Councillors not keen to host nuclear waste dump. Sizewell C and nuclear accidents. Bradwell B nuclear project – a risk to UK’s national security? The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) dismiss the need for Sizewell C nuclear station, and call for renewables.  Dangers of nuclear weapons convoys travelling through Northampton. Fukushima 8th Anniversary: 2 events in London.

BRAZIL. Brazil’s former president Michel Temer arrested on charges of corruption relating to Angra 3 nuclear plant.  Nuclear convoy in Brazil attacked by armed men.

USA.

FRANCE. French Nuclear test victim ordered to repay compensation. Earthquake in France, not that far away from nuclear reactors. Orano (makeover of bankrupt AREVA ) not getting anywhere in selling nuclear reprocessing plant to China.

CANADA. Ontario’s govt about to sabotage energy saving systems, – in the interests of the nuclear lobby.

JAPAN.  Cost of the Fukushima nuclear disaster estimated at up to 81 trillion yen.    To increase energy self-sufficiency after the 2011 nuclear disaster, renewables are Japan’s only option. REMEMBERING Katsuko Saruhashi THE TRAILBLAZING SCIENTIST WHO UNCOVERED NUCLEAR FALLOUT IN THE PACIFIC.

MIDDLE EAST.  In the Middle East, world’s most volatile region, nuclear power is taking off – what could possibly go wrong?

ISRAEL. UN raps Israel’s use of ‘unlawful force’ against Gazans .

SOUTH AFRICA. Energy expert dismisses Zuma’s nuclear deal comment.

SPAIN. Power firms agree on route to close Spain’s oldest nuclear plant.

March 27, 2019 Posted by | Christina's notes | 2 Comments

Diseconomics of Generation IV nuclear reactors -theme for April 19

First of all, dispel the nonsense that these expensive gimmicks will solve climate change. They can’t. And even if they could, they’d be deployed far too late to make any difference.

Generation IV nuclear reactors , Thorium Molten Salt Reactors (TMSRs) , Medium and Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (MSRs)   – have only one real use – to support the nuclear weapons industry – providing it with expertise, materials, technology development and media hoohah.

The nuclear salesmen promote other lies,  as well as the climate one.  There’s the lie about solving the waste problem, and the one about safety.

But the most compelling case against Generation IV nuclear reactors is that inevitable one – COST. There’s no market for these nuclear lobby toys – no chance of commercial biability. That’s mainly because , to have any hope, they would have to be ordered en masse. – and who’s going to invest in that risky idea?

Therefore – the only possible customers are governments. Which means YOU – your taxes.

In the meantime, rapid developments in energy efficiency, renewables, and battery storage offer a genuine opportunity for investors – and they are taking it up.

 

March 23, 2019 Posted by | Christina's themes | 3 Comments

The week in Climate and Nuclear news

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

The various human-caused threats to life on this Earth are becoming more apparent. Sometimes, it seems almost silly to separate them out -as climate change, pollution, deforestation etc, as they all add up to one grand global human disrespect for nature. The latest U.N. study reports loss of biodiversity as a even greater crisis than climate change.

It’s a global disgrace, that it’s been left to children to take the lead on climate action. World wide climate protests, by hundreds of thousands of school students. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtZ12FOat_8

Southern African States, Mozambique, Zimbabwe,  are now devastated by Cyclone Idai.  Sure, they’ve had cyclones before, but climate change is increasing the intensity, to record levels. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9S5RlM7KGZI

On the nuclear scene, one veteran correspondent asks  “Who will be the world’s next nuclear policeman?”, as USA abandons its historic role as  the world’s chief advocate for de-nuclearis.ation.  Meanwhile, Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton leads us back to the Nuclear Precipice. Trump’s USA is committed to dominating the world – heading for weapons in space. 

Over 1.4 million young people went on strike for climate action.  Mary Robinson, international climate badass, on why green solutions require a feminist lens.

JAPAN. 

INDIA. Indian military confirms deployment of nuclear subs amid rising tensions with Pakistan.

USA.

NORTH KOREA. The merits of letting North Korea keep its nuclear weapons, for now.

UK. UK Labour undermines renewable energy pledges with state ownership plan for new nuclear power plant.  UK pledges to fully fund EU nuclear-fusion facility.  EDF Energy extends outages at UK’s Hunterston B nuclear plant.  Are the UK’s cracked Hunterston nuclear reactors safe?  UK communities not convinced by bribes to host nuclear waste. UK govt’s health study of nuclear veterans – but they’ve lost half the records.

RUSSIA. Danger in Russia’s nuclear- powered icebreakers parked at Murmansk.

BRAZIL. Nuclear transport trucks in the thick of gang gunfire in Brazil.

IRELAND. Irish Council opposes dumping of UK’s nuclear waste in any part of Ireland.

ROMANIA. NuScale includes Romania in its desperate search for taxpayer funding for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors.

NORWAY. Teenage Climate Activist Greta Thunberg Has Been Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize.

March 21, 2019 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment

U.S. army wants risky small modular nuclear reactors

The Army wants mobile nuclear reactors for FOBs, but some scientists say that’s ‘naive’, Army Times Todd South  3 Marc 19, The Army wants to bring back mobile nuclear reactors to power forward bases and is asking industry how to make that happen.

March 4, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, spinbuster, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Political push for small modular nuclear reactors in Utah

March 2, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Energy efficiency, renewables, battery storage race ahead, as Bill Gates seeks tax-payer funds for chimera of “small modular nuclear reactors”

Consumers, businesses and utilities all win with this new distributed clean utility because renewables plus efficiency and batteries is available as a very resilient, near-zero carbon solution to providing power when and where it’s needed at the lowest cost. As these technologies continue to scale, they continue to experience steep cost declines, making the idea of a nuclear alternative vanishingly unrealistic.

Tens of billions of dollars have been spent developing different nuclear power plant designs, and even with enormous government subsidies and guarantees, corporations and utilities do not want to invest in nuclear power. Gates is a large investor in a nuclear firm, Terrapower, which hopes to build a prototype by 2030. If this target is achieved and a prototype is demonstrated by 2030, it could move toward commercial deployment in the 2030s. But we cannot afford to wait 15 or 20 years to scale very-low-carbon energy — and, fortunately, we don’t need to.

Renewable energy has more than doubled in the last decade to provide 20 percent of U.S. electricity, as much as nuclear.

Bill Gates’ quixotic quest to revive nuclear power https://www.greenbiz.com/article/bill-gates-quixotic-quest-revive-nuclear-power,Greg Kats, February 7, 2019  Bill Gates has been lobbying Congress to secure federal financial support for nuclear power and for a nuclear company in which he is a large investor. This plea for federal largesse from a decabillionaire illustrates why further nuclear subsidies make no sense.

Nuclear power is already a heavily subsidized 60-year-old industry with over half a trillion dollars invested in several hundred large operating nuclear plants, including 99 in the United States. The cost of nuclear power has soared while the cost for other low-carbon power options — including wind, solar, batteries and energy efficiency — have plunged. This is why no U.S. utilities want to build nuclear plants unless they can get large additional subsidies.

Gates’ rationale for nuclear power can be summarized as follows: Given the reality and gravity of climate change, nuclear provides the only large-scale, very-low-carbon electricity source that cost-effectively can provide power at scale when needed. Other very-low-carbon options, such as wind and solar power, batteries and energy efficiency, cannot reliably provide power when needed — especially on hot summer afternoons when air conditioning loads are large.

This same argument was made by nuclear advocates 30 years ago and is even less true today. Continue reading

February 16, 2019 Posted by | renewable, spinbuster | Leave a comment

The danger of ‘dual use’ nuclear facilities – for both military and commercial purposes

Nuclear watchdogs warn against blurring energy, military uses at Ohio fuel plantNuclear watchdogs warn against blurring energy, military uses at Ohio fuel plant,  Energy News,  BY Kathiann M. Kowalski, 13 Feb 19, 

Combining the capability to make fuel for nuclear reactors and material for weapons undercuts nonproliferation efforts, critics say.

A planned nuclear fuel plant in Ohio could help enable the nation’s next wave of carbon-free electricity, a fleet of small reactors providing continuous power to the grid.

The U.S. Department of Energy fuel facility would be unique in part because it could also produce material for use in nuclear weapons. That crosses a potentially dangerous line, nuclear watchdog groups say — one that could undercut efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

The Department of Energy announced plans last month to contract with Centrus Energy Corp.’s American Centrifuge Operating subsidiary to reopen a nuclear fuel plant in Piketon, Ohio, about 70 miles south of Columbus where Appalachia’s foothills start rising from sprawling farmland.

The new project would likely resemble an earlier pilot program there that ended in 2015, but with various updates and technical fixes. It would also require U.S.-only sources, in lieu of some foreign components and technology.

Dual uses envisioned

DOE is proposing the company as the sole source for the work, and the agency’s notice suggests the demonstration project’s fuel could be used for both civilian and military purposes.

On the civilian side, the project’s fuel would be used for research and development of next-generation nuclear reactors. Designs for those smaller reactors call for fuel known as HALEU, which stands for high assay low-enriched uranium.

HALEU can have between 5 and 20 percent of uranium’s U-235 isotope. That’s the form that undergoes fission readily. In contrast, most U.S. commercial reactors use fuel with 3 to 5 percent U-235. Natural uranium is about 99 percent U-238.

On the defense side, HALEU could be used for small mobile reactorsto power on-the-go military operations. Beyond that, DOE’s requirement for U.S.-only technology could also let the plant’s fuel be used to make tritium. That radioactive isotope of hydrogen is used innuclear weapons.

Foreign policy fears

The possible crossover uses for the Piketon plant’s fuel could conflict with the country’s positions on nuclear nonproliferation.

The United States signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in1968 in hopes of curbing the risk of global nuclear war. The treaty recognizes the rights of countries to use nuclear power for peaceful purposes but forbids countries that didn’t already have nuclear weapons from building or obtaining them. Supplemental treaties apply to transfers of goods and technology and other matters.

Those treaties account for the “U.S.-only” requirement for any facility or technology that would produce nuclear fuel that could be used for the country’s nuclear weapons program. But critics see a problem in blurring the lines of civilian and military uses of Piketon’s fuel.

“Our entire nonproliferation endeavor where our reactors are concerned has been to prevent our civilian programs from being used in support of military bomb-making programs,” said Peter Bradford, a former member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who later taught at Vermont Law School. “One of the pillars of that undertaking has been to keep them separate in the U.S.”

An exception has been the irradiation of rods in a light-water reactorat the Tennessee Valley Authority, using “U.S.-only” fuel. Tritium is then extracted from those rods at DOE’s Savannah River Site.

A dual use for the Piketon plant would expand the fuel supply for those or similar operations. But it would also add another site blending civilian and military uses of nuclear technology…………

Conceptually, I think that is a very bad image for the U.S. to project at this point when the U.S. is trying to dissuade other countries from building their own facilities,” said Edwin Lyman, acting director of the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Nuclear Safety Project. ……

“The proposed demonstration is very good news for the entire U.S. nuclear industry,” said Centrus Energy spokesperson Jeremy Derryberry. “If America wants to be competitive in supplying the next generation of nuclear reactors around the world, we need an assured, American source of high-assay low-enriched uranium to power those reactors. We stand ready to work with the department to get the proposed project underway as  quickly as possible.” The Nuclear Energy Institute likewise hailed the news. …….

However, Piketon isn’t the only option for supplying smaller, new nuclear reactors. “There is actually an enrichment facility in the United States in New Mexico that would be capable of supplying any civilian nuclear power plant,” said Lyman at the Union of Concerned Scientists……..

That “midnight-hour resurrection” of production at Piketon raises “a lot of questions about not only the viability of the project, but the need for it, and the consequences of getting it restarted at this point after this has been shut down for three years,” Lyman said.

“The plan and the intent have been to clean the Piketon plant up and to deal with all the radioactive contamination there,” Judson said. “This is a step in the wrong direction.” https://energynews.us/2019/02/13/midwest/nuclear-watchdogs-warn-against-blurring-energy-military-uses-at-ohio-fuel-plant/

February 14, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

“New nukes” company Terrestrial Energy sets up a new group to promote its (as yet non-existent) molten salt nuclear reactors.

Terrestrial Energy Forms Nuclear Innovation Working Group to Support IMSR Power Plant Development

– Bruce Power, Michael Rencheck, President and CEO — Burns & McDonnell, Glenn Neises, Nuclear Director — SNC-Lavalin, EVP and Candu Energy, President and CEO, William (Bill) A. Fox III, — Corporate Risk Associates Limited, Jasbir Sidhu, CEO — Kinectrics, David Harris, President and CEO — Laker Energy Products, Christopher Hughes, President and CEO — Promation, Mark Zimny, President and CEO — Sargent & Lundy, Michael J. Knaszak, Senior Vice President and Project Director

February 14, 2019 Posted by | Canada, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Climate and nuclear news to 13 February

The discussion on climate change is subtly switching from warnings, and debates on, climate change impacts, to adaptation, preparation for those impacts.  What prevents us from thinking ‘meaningfully‘ about climate change.

While all seems quiet on the nuclear front, the nuclear arms race is now grimmer than ever.  Meanwhile angst over nuclear waste continues on both sides of the Atlantic. And I really wish that there were news from secretive Russia and China, about their waste problems.

Global warming temperatures to rise by 1.5 Celsius in 5 years – India to get knocked out. Climate change increasingly ranks as the world’s most pressing security threat – Pew Poll. Climate chaos ahead, as Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets melt?

Increasing danger of the radioactive by-products from the nuclear industry.

Growing cancer rates: the focus must be on prevention, on researching environmental causes.

CENTRAL AMERICA. Central American immigration driven by climate change, but this fact is being ignored.

JAPAN. TEPCO firmly at fault for balking at payouts to disaster victims.  The State of Medical Nuclear Emergency Declared after the Fukushima Meltdown is Still On Today!  Japan’s Reconstruction Agency to air ad for Fukushima products on TV, online and at cinemas. Fire extinguisher system at nuclear plant freezes.

UK.

BRAZIL. Brazil prosecutor calls for emergency safety measures at tailings dam at former Poços de Caldas uranium mine. Brazil moving towards nuclear-powered submarine.

BELGIUMGoogle refuses to blur its satellite images of nuclear facilities. Belgium heading for a nuclear-free future.

RUSSIA. Russia is open to considering new proposals for a broader nuclear weapons treaty.  Russia’s very threatening new 100-megaton underwater nuclear doomsday device.

NETHERLANDSRed Cross urges Netherlands to sign UN nuclear weapons ban treaty.

USA.

NORTH KOREA. North Korea’s moves to hide its nuclear missiles from US strikes.

FRANCE. France to build hypersonic nuclear weapons.

ARCTIC. Secret USA nuclear base in Greenland revealed. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5a328G8sxoQ

AFRICA. Is nuclear power REALLY a clean-power fix for Africa – as Russia and China push it.

UGANDA. Despite the severe disadvantages to Uganda, of nuclear power, Uganda’s govt succumbs

February 13, 2019 Posted by | Christina's notes | Leave a comment