nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Nuclear Decommissioning makes every other disaster in the post-war period pale into insignificanc

nuClear News No.94 April 2017  The UK Government has been forced to pay nearly £100m in a settlement with two US companies – Energy Solutions and Bechtel – for mishandling the way it awarded a £6.1bn nuclear decommissioning contract. Ministers have ordered an inquiry headed by the former boss of National Grid to find out why the procurement process was so flawed. Labour said the payout showed “dramatic levels of incompetence”. The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) will also terminate the contract it awarded for cleaning up the UK’s old Magnox reactor sites nine years early. The sites include Bradwell, Chapelcross, Hinkley A and Hunterston A. (1)

The High Court ruled last summer that the NDA had “manipulated” and “fudged” the tender process. It meant that the wrong company won the work to decommission 12 UK nuclear sites (10 Magnox sites plus Harwell and Winfrith). The move opens the door for other bidders to attempt to reclaim their bid costs, which could run to an additional £50m. The contract was awarded in 2014 to Cavendish Fluor Partnership, a joint venture between the UK’s Babcock International and Texas-based Fluor. However, the consortium cannot be asked to take on the extra work because that could increase potential compensation claims by companies that wrongly lost out in the tender. Some industry sources have complained that the government plumped for an unrealistically low bid for the work at the outset. Another losing bidder, UK Nuclear Restoration Ltd, which is a consortium of Amec Foster Wheeler, Atkins and Rolls-Royce, said that the settlement “raises serious concerns” about the procurement process and that it has raised the implications of the judgment with the government and the NDA. (2)

Former National Grid chief executive Steve Holliday has been appointed to lead an independent inquiry into what went wrong. The inquiry will look at how the mistakes were made and by who, how the litigation was handled, and the relationship between the NDA and the government departments. Holliday will publish an interim report in October. The government now has the daunting task of starting a new tendering process for the 12 sites, as the deal with Cavendish Fluor Partnership (CFP) will end early, in September 2019 instead of 2028. (3)

Babcock said in a statement the CFP, in which it has a 65% stake, has come to a mutual agreement with the NDA to bring to an end the contract at the end of August 2019, having operated the contract for a full five years. Babcock said it had become apparent that the work that needs to be done is now materially different in volume from that specified in the NDA’s tender, and this puts the contract at risk of a legal challenge. What those material differences are remains a mystery.

The Business Secretary, Greg Clark, said: “It has become clear to the NDA through this consolidation process that there is a significant mismatch between the work that was specified in the contract as tendered in 2012 and awarded in 2014, and the work that actually needs to be done. The scale of the additional work is such that the NDA board considers that it would amount to a material change to the specification on which bidders were invited in 2012 to tender.” (4)

The failure of the contract award process was “inevitable” according to nuclear power expert Dr Paul Dorfman, from University College London’s Energy Institute. “They were set up to fail and have failed because the understanding of costs and complexity to nuclear decommissioning is changing all the time,” he said. “Magnox reactors were thrown up in a rush to give electricity too cheap to meter and create plutonium and there was no thought of how they would be decommissioned. Each Magnox reactor is bespoke so decommissioning each one is different with its own complexities and challenges. The more we learn about dealing with the ‘back end’ of nuclear power, the more we see how complex and costly it is.” (5)

Stop Hinkley Spokesperson Roy Pumfrey said: “Why should anyone believe that this astonishing level of incompetence will suddenly end when we start to build new reactors? Just because Hinkley Point C is not a Magnox reactor doesn’t just suddenly make the industry competent.” (6)

The Daily Telegraph declared today “if we could, we would stop this madness … In committing to new nuclear, we seem to have joined a runaway train, with no hope of getting off. Has not the time finally arrived for a fully fledged rethink of the merits of Britain’s nuclear energy strategy?” (7)

Roy Pumfrey continued: “We agree – it is time to stop this madness. The UK’s nuclear decommissioning costs have increased from £55.8 billion in 2008 to £117.4 billion at the last count. Although EDF is required to set aside funds for decommissioning Hinkley Point C, this is only up to an agreed limit. The taxpayer will be on the hook for the all too predictable shortfall.”

Chris Huhne, former energy secretary for the coalition government, said the remit for the enquiry by Steve Holliday was not broad enough and it needed to look at the total cost of nuclear decommissioning. “It is a complete mess, it’s deeply embarrassing but it’s actually I’m afraid only the latest in a long line of embarrassments,” Huhne told BBC Radio 4. “We’re not even scraping the surface with the problem that this legal case has exposed.” Huhne, who was energy secretary between 2010 and 2012 and left the before the contract was awarded, said the cost of decommissioning the UK’s old nuclear fleet had increased £107bn in the last five years to £161bn. “In terms of industrial strategy this makes every other disaster in the post-war period pale into insignificance.” He said the problem stemmed from how early reactors stations were complex bespoke constructions made without consideration to how they would later be disassembled. “We ordered a whole series of Savile Row suits rather than a bunch of work-a-day Marks & Spencer suits… Every single one of those reactors is different. Even the fuel rods in every single one of those reactors are different – crazy.” (8) Huhne called on the government not to allow subsidies for new reactors. That was the coalition government policy. It should be the policy again but the government seems to be relenting – it’s opening the door to exactly a repetition of the sort of disaster that we see today. (9) http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo94.pdf

April 8, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, politics, UK | Leave a comment

EDF’s nuclear decommissioning – financial problems

Another month in UK’s failing new nuclear programme nuClear News No.94 April 2017 EDF Finances A French Parliamentary report from the National Assembly’s Commission for Sustainable Development and Regional Development says the clean-up of French reactors will take longer, be more challenging and cost much more than French nuclear operator EDF anticipates. Whereas Germany has set aside €38 billion to decommission 17 nuclear reactors, and the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority estimates that clean-up of UK’s 17 nuclear sites will cost between €109‒250 billion over the next 120 years, France has set aside only €23 billion to decommissioning its 58 reactors. In other words France estimates it will cost €300 million per gigawatt (GW) of generating capacity to decommission a nuclear reactor, Germany estimates €1.4 billion per GW and the UK estimates €2.7 billion per GW.

EDF says it wants to set aside a €23 billion fund to cover decommissioning and waste storage for an estimated €54 billion final bill ‒ and the difference between these two figures will be closed through the appreciating value of its equities, bonds and investments ‒ in other words, ‘discounting’. Unfortunately, recent experience has taught us that markets can go up and down over time ‒ especially the very long-time periods involved in radioactive waste management. But for a company that has huge borrowings and an enormous debt of €37 billion, €23 billion is a large sum of money to find. Any significant change in the cost of decommissioning would have an immediate and disastrous impact on EDFs credit rating ‒ something that the debt-ridden corporation can simply not afford. EDF is already in financial trouble. Along with bailing out collapsing AREVA, EDF also has to bear the huge financial burden of the failing reactor newbuild at Flamanville. It will also have to pay for extending the life of France’s existing nuclear power stations (to 2025), at a cost of €55 billion.

On top of all this the French authority tasked with disposal of all the countries vast and increasing waste burden (Andra) has recently ramped up the estimated cost for the planned national nuclear waste repository at Cigéo, to €25 billion ‒ and EDF must pay for most of Cigéo’s construction. Although €5 billion more than EDF anticipated, it still seems a gross underestimation, and the costs are likely to rise considerably. (21) http://www.no2nuclearpower.org.uk/nuclearnews/NuClearNewsNo94.pdf

April 8, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, France, politics | Leave a comment

Demolition of McCluskey Room at Hanford’s Plutonium Finishing Plant

Workers demolish site of nuclear mishap in Washington state , San Franciso Chronicle, NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS, ASSOCIATED PRESS, March 30, 2017,  SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Workers at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state have finished demolishing the site of a famous nuclear accident during the Cold War that exposed a man to the highest dose of radiation from the plutonium byproduct americium ever recorded, the U.S. Department of Energy announced Thursday.

The McCluskey Room was named for Harold McCluskey, who in 1976 survived the horrifying accident and died 11 years later of unrelated causes after becoming known as the Atomic Man.

 A contractor recently demolished the room — the first of four main buildings that made up the Plutonium Finishing Plant complex that will be torn down.

“Completing demolition on this building was years in the making and is both historic and a significant risk reduction,” said Tom Teynor, project director for the Department of Energy.

Hanford, located in southeastern Washington, began making most of the plutonium for the nation’s nuclear arsenal during World War II.

Plutonium production has ended and the site is now engaged in a massive cleanup of nuclear waste. That work is expected to take decades and cost tens of billions of dollars.

One of the most heavily contaminated portions of the site — half the size of Rhode Island — is the Plutonium Finishing Plant, where plutonium was converted into hockey puck-shaped disks and shipped to factories where nuclear weapons were assembled…….http://www.sfchronicle.com/news/us/article/Workers-demolish-site-of-nuclear-mishap-in-11039438.php

March 31, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear decommissioning debacle is costly for Britain

UK nuclear decommissioning debacle costs government nearly £100m
Business secretary orders inquiry into flawed tendering process for dismantling old reactors at 12 sites as US firms get paid for out of court settlement,
Guardian, , 27 Mar 17, The government has been forced to pay nearly £100m in a settlement with two US companies for mishandling the way it awarded a £6.1bn nuclear decommissioning contract.

Ministers have ordered an inquiry headed by the former boss of National Grid to find out why the procurement process was so flawed. Labour said the payout showed “dramatic levels of incompetence”.

The government body tasked with decommissioning old reactors will also terminate the contract it awarded for cleaning up a dozen of the UK’s old nuclear sites nine years early……..

The government now has the daunting task of starting a new tendering process for the 12 sites, as the deal with Cavendish Fluor Partnership will end early, in September 2019 instead of 2028…….

The contract is being terminated early because the NDA underestimated the scale of the decommissioning required to clean up the Magnox sites, which form part of the UK’s first generation of nuclear power stations.

The share price of Babcock International Group, which has a stake in the Cavendish Fluor Partnership, has fallen by more than 3% since the government announcement…….

The NDA has an annual budget of £3.1bn, two thirds of which is spent on Sellafield in Cumbria, which stores most of Britain’s nuclear waste. https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/mar/27/uk-nuclear-decommissioning-debacle-costs-government-100m

March 29, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

Decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

Trump’s budget could help get rid of the nuclear waste along the San Onofre coastline http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-nuclear-waste-20170320-story.html Rob Nikolewski
 A sense of momentum is building about finding a way to deal with the massive amounts of radioactive waste from nuclear power plants, including Southern California’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
Last week’s Trump administration “skinny budget” proposal, which calls for boosts in defense spending but cuts in domestic funding and federal agencies, found $120 million for starters to “initiate a robust interim storage program” while also looking at reviving the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada.

Decommissioning San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station

“These investments would accelerate progress on fulfilling the federal government’s obligations to address nuclear waste, enhance national security and reduce future taxpayer burden,” a note said in the section reserved for the U.S. Department of Energy. (The Energy Department’s budget came in for a 5.6% reduction.)

A president’s budget proposals are ultimately subordinate to what Congress decides. But David Victor, chairman of the SONGS Community Engagement Panel, said the appropriation for nuclear waste may be one of the only topics in the current political environment that can generate support from members of both parties.

There are 3.6 million pounds of nuclear waste sitting along the coastline at the San Onofre plant, part of the 76,000 metric tons of spent fuel at sites nationwide.

“There’s a lot of Trump’s proposed budget that horrifies me, in particular around cutting funding for science and energy, but [long-term nuclear storage] is an area where I think the nation is now starting to make some progress,” Victor said.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), who has introduced a bill called the Interim Consolidated Storage Act, said he thinks the chances for funding the White House nuclear waste proposal are “extremely good.”

“You have an active group of members, some of whom are Democratic members, who have a vested interest” in moving legislation forward, Issa said. “And … the fingerprints of whoever wanted to force it out would show all over.”

“As a budget line item it’s not a bad number at all,” Issa said in a telephone interview from Washington. “It’s sufficient to do the feasibility of these sites.”

Consolidated interim storage sites are designed to be built in isolated locations where multiple nuclear facilities could deposit their waste.

Two potential interim storage locations have been discussed — one in western Texas and another in eastern New Mexico.A company in Andrews, Texas, has filed an application to accept 5,000 metric tons of nuclear material. The district is represented by Republican Rep. Mike Conaway, who has co-sponsored Issa’s bill.

Getting the massive nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, located about 100 miles from Las Vegas, back on track assuredly would involve a battle on Capitol Hill.

Democrats as well as Republicans from Nevada blasted the Trump proposal. “Washington needs to understand what Nevada has been saying for years: We will not be the nation’s nuclear waste dump,” said Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.).

The federal government spent about $15 billion to build the facility at Yucca Mountain to house nuclear waste from sites across the country. But then-Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) led the fight to shut the repository down, and in 2010 President Obama suspended licensing for the site.

Yucca Mountain was scheduled to open in 2017.

While taking a tour of San Onofre last month with Issa, Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.), who is chairman of the House subcommittee that reviews nuclear sites, was asked if Yucca Mountain was coming back onto the bargaining table.

“It’s never been off the table,” Shimkus said.

Issa’s bill would be paid for by using part of the federal government’s Nuclear Waste Fund, which is worth upward of $40 billion and was funded by ratepayers in areas powered by nuclear plants.

A 2014 court order stopped the federal government from taking fees from electricity customers because, with Yucca Mountain sidelined, the government had no place to send nuclear waste.

“We’re paying a lot of money for the privilege of not having a solution that we were obligated to have,” Issa said. “It’s not free. It’s going to cost every taxpayer money until there’s a working solution.”

But even if Congress adopts a plan roughly similar to the White House proposal, there are a series of practical and regulatory hurdles to clear.

For example, sites such as San Onofre, which closed in 2013, would still need to place some of their spent fuel into canisters. Then federal law would need to be changed to install a reliable funding mechanism for interim sites, and a strategy would need to be adopted in order to move the waste from one place to another.

“There is still a long way to go,” Victor said. “We could have troubles on any of those fronts, but I think what’s encouraging is that on every single one of those fronts, we’re starting to see progress.”

Millions of people live within 50 miles of San Onofre, which hasn’t produced electricity since January 2012 after a steam generator leaked a small amount of radiation.

Southern California Edison is the majority owner of the plant, which is in the process of being decommissioned.

Edison officials said they were heartened by the news of $120-million proposal.

“We are pleased to see funding proposed to restart the Yucca licensing process, and continue to also support interim storage proposals that would enable [Southern California Edison] to move San Onofre’s used fuel to an off-site location,” spokeswoman Maureen Brown said

March 27, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Global nuclear industry heading towards a decommissioning crisis

Lobbyists debate responses to the nuclear power crisis, Online opinion, .By Jim Green – , 27 March 2017The Era of Nuclear Decommissioning (END)  “……….The ageing of the global reactor fleet isn’t yet a crisis for the industry, but it is heading that way. The assessment by the ‘Environmental Progress’ lobby group that 151 GW of worldwide nuclear power capacity could be shut down by 2030 is consistent with figures from the World Nuclear Association (132 reactor shut-downs by 2035), the International Energy Agency (almost 200 shut-downs between 2014 and 2040) and Nuclear Energy Insider (up to 200 shut-downs in the next two decades)

It looks increasingly unlikely that new reactors will match shut-downs. Another 20 years of stagnation is possible, but only if China continues to do the heavy lifting. And if China’s nuclear program slows, worldwide nuclear decline is certain.

Perhaps the best characterisation of the global nuclear industry is that a new era is approaching – the Era of Nuclear Decommissioning (END). Nuclear power’s END will entail:

  • a slow decline in the number of operating reactors (unless growth in China can match the decline elsewhere);
  • an increasingly unreliable and accident-pronereactor fleet as ageing sets in;
  • countless battles over lifespan extensions for ageing reactors;
  • many battles over the nature and timing of decommissioning operations;
  • many battles over taxpayer bailouts for companies and utilities that haven’t set aside adequate funding for decommissioning;
  • more battles over proposals to impose nuclear waste repositories on unwilling or divided communities; and
  • battles over taxpayer bailouts for companies and utilities that haven’t set aside adequate funding for nuclear waste disposal.

Nuclear power is likely to enjoy a small, short-lived upswing in the next couple of years as reactors ordered in the few years before the Fukushima disaster come online. Beyond that, the Era of Nuclear Decommissioning sets in, characterised by escalating battles ‒ and escalating sticker-shock ‒ over lifespan extensions, decommissioning and nuclear waste management.

In those circumstances, it will become even more difficult than it currently is for the industry to pursue new reactor projects. A positive feedback loop could take hold and then the industry will be well and truly in crisis………http://onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=18929&page=0

March 27, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decommission reactor | Leave a comment

1 reactor at Fukushima No. 2 plant, others – not certain

TEPCO to decommission 1 reactor at Fukushima No. 2 plant, mulling fate of 3 others http://mainichi.jp/english/articles/20170317/p2a/00m/0na/024000c

March 17, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, Fukushima continuing, Japan | Leave a comment

Pulling down nuclear reactors now looks like the only viable area for the nuclear industry

money-in-wastes-2

Nuclear Power Is In Crisis As Cost Overruns Cripple Industry Giants, New Matilda.,  By  on February 26, 2017  “………‘Rapidly accelerating crisis’

Shellenberger has recently written cataclysmic assessments of nuclear power’s “rapidly accelerating crisis” and a “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West“.

Likewise, Dan Yurman says that a “sense of panic is emerging globally” as Toshiba exits the reactor construction industry. He adds: “After nine years of writing about the global nuclear industry, these developments make for an unusually grim outlook. It’s a very big rock hitting the pond. Toshiba’s self-inflicted wounds will result in long lasting challenges to the future of the global nuclear energy industry. Worse, it comes on top of the French government having to restructure and recapitalize Areva, its state-owned nuclear power corporation, so that it can complete two 1650 MW EPR reactors that are under construction in Europe and to begin work on the Hinkley project the UK.”

Ironically, Westinghouse, the villain in Toshiba’s demise, may have made the best strategic decision of all the nuclear utilities. In 2014, Westinghouse announced plans to expand and hopefully triple its nuclear decommissioning business. Decommissioning is undoubtedly a growth area.

The average age of the global reactor fleet now stands at 30 years. The World Nuclear Association anticipates 132 reactor shut-downs by 2035. The International Energy Agency anticipates a “wave of retirements of ageing nuclear reactors” and an “unprecedented rate of decommissioning” ‒ almost 200 shut-downs between 2014 and 2040. Up to 200 reactors are set to go offline in the next two decades according to a recent Nuclear Energy Insider article……… https://newmatilda.com/2017/02/26/nuclear-power-is-in-crisis-as-cost-overruns-cripple-industry-giants/

February 27, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decommission reactor | Leave a comment

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority approves closure of Monju nuclear reprocessing reactor by next April

monju-plant-in-tsuruga-fukui-prefectureNuclear watchdog approves scrapping Monju reactor  https://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/en/news/20161228_19/ Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority has approved the government’s decision to scrap the Monju prototype fast-breeder nuclear reactor. The education, science and technology ministry briefed the NRA on Wednesday about the government’s decision last week about the troubled reactor in Fukui Prefecture on the Sea of Japan coast.

NRA Chairman Shunichi Tanaka said the decision is in line with the recommendation it made in November last year.
In it, the NRA urged an overhaul of a research and development project involving the reactor. It said scrapping the reactor would be an option unless a new operator were found for it.

The ministry also told the NRA on Wednesday that it will draw up a basic plan for decommissioning the reactor by next April.

It added that to eliminate possible safety risks soon, it will instruct reactor operator Japan Atomic Energy Agency to remove nuclear fuel from the reactor in about 5 and half years.

Tanaka asked the ministry to oversee the decommissioning process to ensure safety. He said the NRA will study whether relevant laws should be amended to step up regulation. He added that it may also set up an expert team to monitor the process.

December 30, 2016 Posted by | decommission reactor, Japan, reprocessing | Leave a comment

The lengthy process for decommissioning Palisades (or any) nuclear power station

DecommissioningDecommissioning Palisades nuclear plant a lengthy process, NRC says http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2016/12/decommissioning_palisades_nucl.html  COVERT, MI — When nuclear plants open, they are required to provide for their eventual closing.

Entergy Corp., owner of the Palisades nuclear plant in Covert Township near South Haven, had set aside  $384.16 million in 2014, according to the most recent report submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 2015. (The next report, due in 2017, will show the numbers for 2016.).

Entergy Corp announced Thursday that it plans to close the Palisade plant in October 2018.

Viktoria Mitlyng, spokesperson for the NRC Midwestern Region near Chicago, said Entergy has 30 days from Thursday’s announcement to formally notify the NRC of its intentions.

Closing nuclear plants is a complicated process with “lots of moving parts,” she said. “Our role as a nuclear safety regulator, is to oversee that process, including the removal of all fuel from the reactor to a “spent fuel pool” withing the facility, to its eventual placement, for an indefinite period, in dry cask storage.”

 The dry cask storage is within the plant’s protected perimeter but not within the building itself, she said.

Throughout the process, Mitlyng said, the NRC requires that security is maintained and that detailed safety protocols are The very last phase of decommissioning requires that radiation levels in the area meet NRC requirements for decommissioning.

There is not yet a site, nationally, for long-term storage of spent fuel, an ongoing policy issue in which the NRC is not involved, Mitlyng said.

Until such a facility is planned – “and there is nothing on the drawing board at this point as far as we know,” she said — spent fuel remains in dry cask storage on site.

The storage is monitored by the NRC.

During final decommissioning, plant is taken apart — all radioactive systems are removed — and the plant has 60 years to get to final phase where the decommissioning is complete and meets NRC requirements.

After the plant is totally decommissioned, only the dry cask storage remains.

Some companies perform decommissioning activities themselves, others hire another company to take down the plant. If that is done, though, the license must be transferred, with NRC approval, Mitlyng said. The NRC also monitors the status of the decommissioning fund, which cannot be used for any other operations, she said.

“I want to emphasize that our responsibility as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is to ensure that a plant is safe, whether in operation or during decommissioning,” she said. “We have inspections for all stages of that process to assure that it is done in a way to protect people.”

Safety requirements do not change, whether a plant is operational or closing, Mitlyng said. “There is no change in the NRCs posture, none at all.”

December 9, 2016 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

San Onofre’s nuclear wastes a great danger to public safety

text-relevantCritics Question Plans For Nuclear Waste Storage At San Onofre Nuclear expert says it’s a “witches brew of radioactivity” 7 San Deiego BJW August , 30 Sept 16  The threat of a nuclear meltdown is no longer a concern at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station because it’s shut down.

A shuttered nuclear plant does present another potential threat to public safety, according to an editorial in the April 2016 edition of Scientific American Magazine. The article warns of a greater danger, and says “more threatening than a meltdown, it’s the steady accumulation of radioactive waste.”

san-onofre-deadf

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station was permanently retired by its owners, Southern California Edison, SCE, and SDG&E in 2013. The plant’s operations left 3.6 million pounds of radioactive waste behind.

If all goes as planned that radioactive waste is headed to bluffs just north of the dead reactors above San Onofre State Beach. It will sit near Interstate 5 in Southern California between two major metropolitan areas, San Diego and Los Angeles, where 17 million people call home.

Fifty canisters of radioactive leftovers, from fuel burned before the plant closed, are already in storage on the plant’s property. It accounts for about 30 percent of the radioactive waste on site. In the spring of 2017, the remaining radioactive waste will begin to be moved out of the pools of cooling water where it is currently stored and into 100 stainless steel dry casks which will also be encased in a cement pad.

Daniel Hirsch, the Director of the Program on Environmental and Nuclear Policy at UC Santa Cruz, said it is imperative the fuel rods be moved out of the pools and into dry casks as soon as possible.

“It is the most dangerous stuff on earth; a witches brew of radioactive material,” he said.

A fuel rod is a long zirconium metal tube containing pellets of fissionable material, which provide fuel for nuclear reactors.

“Those pools are so densely packed, that if you lose the coolant you could have a fire in them,” Hirsch said.

According to a report from Robert Alvarez, a former policy advisor to the U.S. Department of Energy, a pool fire would release more radioactivity than a reactor meltdown.  Hirsch, a long-time critic of the industry told NBC 7 Investigates the clock is ticking, something the plant’s owners agree with.

The location of the waste storage is something the plant’s owners and nuclear waste critics do not agree with.

“They’re going to be stored on the beach in the worst possible location you can imagine,” Charles Langley, who opposes the storage plans at San Onofre, said. Langley tracks all things related to San Onofre and the nuclear waste storage plans for Public Watchdogs, a San Diego based non-profit website.

The proposed storage site is northwest of the plant’s units one and two; the two reactor domes that can be seen from the freeway.

Currently, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is the largest privately-owned coastal nuclear storage site in the country. When compared to government owned sites, it’s the second largest in the country, behind the Hanford Site in Washington where the first plutonium reactor was built and the bomb dropped on Nagasaki, Japan was created.

Langley said the location selected is all about money. “It’s the cheapest alternative,” he said. “It’s what’s best for the stockholders. It’s not what’s best for the people of Orange and San Diego County.”

SCE does not agree. Neither does the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NRC, and the California Coastal Commission, which both approved the Pacific coastline location.

It’s not a case of no risk, the utilities argue, but low risk.

In January, due to El Nino weather conditions, there was considerable erosion of the beaches and bluffs around the San Onofre plant, the same area where the canisters will be stored.

Nina Babiarz, a transportation consultant and former journalist, said the location for the nuclear waste storage is a poor one.  “It’s on an earthquake fault in a tsunami zone,” she said. NBC 7 Investigates reviewed weather reports and found rising sea levels at and around the nuclear waste storage location could continue.

A Pacific Institute report on sea level rise, with contributions by the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, found “flooding and erosion” risks will increase. According to the report, “in areas where the coast erodes easily, sea level rise will likely accelerate shoreline recession” and “may expose previously protected areas to flooding.” The United States Geological Service found the same dynamics: extreme bluff, cliff and beach erosion, accelerating over time.

The City of Del Mar, located 33 miles from San Onofre and with a similar coastline, did its own risk assessment of projected impact from sea level rise, storm surges and coastal flooding. In its assessment it describes the potential for extensive flooding and cliff collapses. …………http://www.nbcsandiego.com/news/local/Critics-Question-Plans-For-Nuclear-Waste-Storage-At-San-Onofre-395305981.html

October 1, 2016 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

At the end of the Hinkley nuclear power story – massive radioactive clean-up costs

text-relevantHinkley Point C developers face £7.2bn cleanup bill at end of nuclear plant’s lifeDecommissioning
French and Chinese developers will be the first nuclear operators in the UK that will have to pay to decommission the site,
Guardian, , 30 Sept 16 , The French and Chinese companies that are to build the £18bn Hinkley Point C nuclear power station will have to pay up to £7.2bn to dismantle and clean it up.

Documents published yesterday reveal for the first time how much the developers, EDF and China General Nuclear Power Group (CGN), will have to pay to decommission the plant, beginning in 2083.

The new reactors in Somerset will be unique in British nuclear history, as they are the first for which the operator will have to pay to make good the site afterwards.

“Waste transfer contracts signed today mean that, for the first time in the UK, the full costs of decommissioning and waste management associated with the new power station are set aside during generation and are included in the price of the electricity,” EDF said in a statement.

Decommissioning costs ate up around half the budget for the now-disbanded department of energy and climate change, after the liabilities for cleaning up old nuclear plants were effectively nationalised in 2004 and 2005 when two companies faced financial problems.

The Hinkley Point C decommissioning costs are estimated at £5.9bn to £7.2bn, with the dismantling of the plant expected to begin in 2083. The government, EDF and CGN anticipate the winding up of the new reactors will continue well into the 22nd century. The plant is expected to be fully decommissioned “from 2138” when the final spent fuel is disposed of.

Experts said the cost estimate was likely to be on the low side. “The reality in terms of decommissioning is that it always costs more than people say,” said Dr Paul Dorfman, of the Energy Institute at University College London.

He claimed that the precedent of the government taking ownership of the liabilities of British Nuclear Fuels Limited and British Energy more than a decade ago showed that the government would be forced to shoulder the costs if Hinkley’s developers had a shortfall.

The body charged with dismantling 17 of Britain’s old nuclear power plants puts the cost of cleanup at £117bn over 100 years in its latest annual report, more than twice the cost estimated a decade ago. A large proportion of the cost is due to the complexity of Sellafield……..https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2016/sep/30/hinkley-point-c-developers-face-72bn-cleanup-bill-at-end-of-nuclear-plants-life?CMP=twt_a-environment_b-gdneco&utm_content=buffer99004&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer

October 1, 2016 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Japan to formally decide to decommission Monju nuclear reprocessing reactor by end of year

JAPAN SIGNALS END FOR $10BN NUCLEAR PROTOTYPE, Eyewitness News, 30 Sept 16 Tokyo believes it would be difficult to gain public support to spend several hundreds of billion yen. Reuters |

TOKYO – Japan signalled on Wednesday it would scrap a costly prototype nuclear reactor that has operated for less than a year in more than two decades at a cost of 1 trillion yen (£7.6 billion).

Tokyo believes it would be difficult to gain public support to spend several hundreds of billion yen to upgrade the Monju facility, which has been plagued by accidents, missteps and falsification of documents.

There is also a strong anti-nuclear sentiment in Japan in reaction to the 2011 Fukushima atomic disaster and calls to decommission Monju have been growing in the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, with scant results from using around 20 billion yen of public money a year for maintenance alone.

Monju was designed to burn plutonium from spent fuel at conventional reactors to create more fuel than it consumes…….A formal decision to decommission Monju is likely to be made by the end of the year, government officials said. http://ewn.co.za/2016/09/30/Japan-signals-end-for-10-billion-nuclear-prototype

October 1, 2016 Posted by | decommission reactor, Japan | Leave a comment

The 100 billion pound bill for decommissioning Europe’s old nuclear power stations

nuke-reactor-deadStandard and Poor’s: dismantling Europe’s old nuclear power plants will run up a hundred billion  pound bill for EDF EON RWE and others 
http://www.cityam.com/229161/standard-poors-dismantling-europes-old-nuclear-power-plants-will-run-up-a-eur100bn-bill-for-edf-eon-rwe-and-others  Dismantling Europe’s old, uneconomic power plants will impose heavy costs on Europe’s biggest operators, something which could strain their balance sheets, and hit their credit rating.

Nuclear liabilities of the largest eight nuclear plant operators in Europe totaled €100bn at the end of last year, representing around 22 per cent of their aggregate debt, according to credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s.

Operators are legally responsible for decommissioning nuclear power plants, a process which can take several decades to implement, meaning the associated costs are high. Europe’s main nuclear operators include France’s EDF, Germany’s E.ON and RWE. They are legally responsible for decommissioning nuclear power plants, a process which can take several decades to implement, meaning the associated costs are high.

While the analysis by S&P treats nuclear liabilities as debt-like obligations, it recognises that several features differentiate them from traditional debt. But given the size of the liabilities against a company’s debt, they can impact a company’s credit metrics, and their credit rating.

The report noted that a company’s nuclear provisions are difficult to quantify, as well as cross compare, because accounting methods vary between different countries.

It also foresees many operational challenges ahead, including a reality check on costs and execution capabilities.

September 30, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, EUROPE, Reference | Leave a comment

European Court of Auditors see nuclear decommissioning funds shortfall

nuke-reactor-deadEU auditor sees nuclear decommissioning funds shortfall, Reuters,  By Alissa de Carbonnel, 20 Sept 16,  | BRUSSELS European Union plans for financing the decommissioning of nuclear plants in Bulgaria, Lithuania and Slovakia are inadequate and more resources need to be put aside, the European Court of Auditors said in a report.

The report criticizing costly delays and warning of technical hurdles ahead shines a spotlight on the challenges facing Germany and other nations within the bloc that are planning to retire their nuclear reactors.

The EU’s spending watchdog said the estimated cost of decommissioning the three Soviet-era plants closed more than a decade ago had risen 40 percent since 2010 to at least 5.7 billion euros ($6.4 billion) by 2015. That figure doubles if the cost of disposing spent fuel once and for all is included.

The EU auditors said while the bloc’s budget covered the vast majority of the costs of shutting down the reactors in the three member states, significant funding was still needed to take the plants offline completely.

They said the reactor buildings at Bulgaria’s Kozloduy, Lithuania’s Ignalina and Slovakia’s Bohunice had yet to be dismantled and no solution had been found for the disposal of spent nuclear fuel……..

The only repository for spent fuel being dug deep underground in Europe has been under construction in Finland for nearly 40 years and won’t be ready until after 2020…….

A working paper by the European Commission, seen by Reuters in February, showed the bloc was short of more than 118 billion euros needed to dismantle its nuclear plants. ($1 = 0.8945 euros)(Editing by David Clarke) http://www.reuters.com/article/us-eu-nuclearpower-idUSKCN11Q12A

September 22, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, decommission reactor, EUROPE | Leave a comment