The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Doubts about the Vermont Yankee nuclear cleanup plan

ANTI-NUCLEAR GROUP DOUBTS VERMONT YANKEE CLEANUP PLAN, VTDIGGER,JUL. 9, 2017, 4:17 PM BY MIKE FAHER BRATTLEBORO – The company that wants to buy Vermont Yankee hasn’t properly assessed the plant for radiological contamination and “cannot know” the true cleanup cost, a Brattleboro anti-nuclear group contends.

The New England Coalition, in new filings with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, seeks to intervene in the federal review of Vermont Yankee’s proposed sale to NorthStar Group Services.

One of the coalition’s biggest concerns mirrors worries that have been previously expressed by Vermont officials: that NorthStar could run into unforeseen problems and run out of money before finishing decommissioning.

NorthStar “cannot reasonably assure that it has adequate financial resources to own and operate Vermont Yankee for the purpose of decommissioning and fuel storage,” wrote Ray Shadis, a New England Coalition technical adviser…….

NorthStar has promised to clean up the majority of the site no later than 2030. That would make the property available for redevelopment much sooner, but some have expressed skepticism about the company’s ability to follow through.

That sentiment has spilled over to the NRC’s review of NorthStar’s plans.

In documents filed last month with the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board – an independent judicial body of the NRC – Vermont officials declared there is “significant risk” in NorthStar’s proposal due to “numerous, thus-far-unanalyzed health, safety and environmental concerns.”

State officials focused on financial issues, arguing that unexpected contamination, complications related to long-term spent fuel storage, and other issues could drastically drive up decommissioning costs.

Like Vermont officials, the New England Coalition is asking the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board for intervention status and a hearing in connection with the Vermont Yankee license transfer. The coalition offers two main contentions.

First, Shadis says the license transfer application is incomplete because it does not offer any environmental impact statement or “any substantive and reliable information about the varieties, quantities, depth and extent of radiological contamination.”

Shadis is critical of what he calls the NRC’s “tunnel vision” approach to NorthStar’s application.

He says the scope of NorthStar’s decommissioning proposal is far greater than a standard license transfer application. Instead, NorthStar is pitching “an untested method of managing decommissioning under new and unanalyzed circumstances.”……..

July 17, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Who wants to host the nuke carcass…?, June 22, 2017Demystifying Nuclear Power, Atomic Power and a Just Transition for ‘Host Communities’   By Maggie Gundersen &Ben Shulman-Reed, Atomic power plants are shutting down faster than they are being built.  These reactors conceptualized in the 1960s are failing because they are old and they are being closed because they are not competitive with renewables and therefore economically unfeasible.  People around the world understand that a Fukushima-like disaster can happen anywhere, anytime.  The nuclear power industry that dreams of building a new nuke every twelve days for the next 35 years) – totaling 1000 new rectors by 2050) are facing the harsh reality that atomic energy is not needed and is no longer wanted.

In the United States (U.S.), where largest amount of atomic power reactors in the world are located, Pilgrim in Massachusetts, Indian Point outside New York City, Oyster Creek in New Jersey, Diablo Canyon in California, and most recently Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania have recently announced their intent to close in the near future. While the shutdown of American nukes is good for our economy as well as the planet’s environment, decommissioning is a costly and complicated process that takes a toll on the local communities that hosted these giant facilities. When a nuclear power reactor shuts down, an incredible amount of work must be done to ensure a just, smooth financial transition for the local economy and also to create long-term viable storage for its toxic radioactive waste, which the U.S. Government has failed to provide. In addition to hosting the physical radioactive carcass of the power reactor for decades, the local community must restructure its economy to make it more diverse and self-sufficient as well as creating a more healthy and sustainable energy future.

Unfortunately, the usually small and economically stifled cities and towns, often referred to as ‘host communities’ to these atomic power reactors are not always given a voice at the table when it comes to deciding plans for their future – yet they are the true stakeholders. Fairewinds has continuously monitored and reported upon the challenges and defects of the Vermont Yankee atomic reactor and the lack of stakeholder respect given to its Windham County host. When it came time to close reactor in 2014, the Vermont Legislators and State Officials found themselves having to stand up to both Entergy (Vermont Yankee’s parent corporation), and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) the alleged federal regulator for the nuclear power industry, for the Vermont’s own State’s rights and for the rights of all Vermont citizens.

Vermont is still negotiating the terms of the decommissioning process for Vermont Yankee – the state’s lone nuclear power plant and is becoming a leading example for nationwide regarding how to advocate for a smooth and just transition from atomic power operations to decommissioning and dismantlement. Vermont is seeking a just transition that will protect all the stakeholders, not only the profit interests of the power plant’s corporate owners.

The real question for all nuclear power plant host communities is: who is protecting and advocating for the rights of the ratepayers, for the level of decontamination at the site, nearby aquifers and watersheds, and an orderly economic transition for all the people in the impacted surrounding communities? The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), while the controlling interest in radiological standards and decommissioning processes on each site, does not examine or consider any of these critical human rights issues.  All the environmental justice and human rights issues of assuring ongoing open access to clean air, safe water, and uncontaminated food from the remaining carcass of a shutdown atomic power reactor falls upon local and state governments throughout the US. Vermont is leading the way in creating an open and transparent process for local communities to self-advocate in creating a safer and more transparent decommissioning process and transition to a safe and permanently uncontaminated dismantlement of these highly radioactive nukes.

By opening a wide dialogue as we all advocate for an open and transparent decommissioning process, we believe the U.S. can shed its title of founding nuclear energy and instead become a global leader in cleaning up the mess we started. By following Vermont’s of paying close attention to the interests of our local governments, ratepayers and host communities, we all will begin to achieve just and safe transitions from the glut of toxic radioactive nuclear power plant carcasses coming our way as atomic power continues to become economically unviable.

It is Fairewinds’ goal to help communities work together to achieve a safer transition in their energy futures by shifting energy paradigms to an economically feasible and environmentally compatible model for the health and survival of our species and our planet.

June 23, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

South Korea’s  Kori No. 1 nuclear reactor shut down

Korea’s oldest nuclear reactor ceases operation,   By Kim Da-sol (, Kori No. 1, South Korea’s oldest nuclear reactor located in Busan, ceased operation Sunday at midnight after four decades.

Its operator Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Co. said that it cut the power supply Saturday and began the cooling-down process of the reactor. It was officially decommissioned, with the temperature of the reactor gradually dropping to 90 degrees Celsius, from its normal operation at 300 degree Celsius, the KHNP said. Officials will then relocate the spent nuclear fuel stored inside the rector to a liquid sodium-cooled reactor for reprocessing.

The actual dismantling of the facilities is expected to start no later than 2022. The KHNP expects that at least 634 billion won ($559 million) is required for the dismantling. They also need to submit a dismantlement plan within five years for the NCCS’ approval.

The state-run Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, which approved earlier this month the permanent shutdown of Kori No. 1, said it will continue to check the safety management of the suspended reactor on a regular basis until the dismantlement.

Following the government’s approval in 2007, Kori No. 1’s operation was extended by 10 years after a 30-year run.

Some experts oppose the planned reprocessing of nuclear waste, saying the technology, though effective in reducing the volume of waste, could complicate waste disposal by creating different types of radioactive waste.

Under President Moon Jae-in, the South Korean government aims to close all nuclear power plants by shutting down aged facilities and eventually phasing out the rest over the next 40 years.

June 19, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, South Korea | Leave a comment

The risky jobs of closing down 200 nuclear reactors around the world

Here’s what dismantling a nuclear reactor involves: Robots, radiation, risk  IEA says about 200 nuclear reactors around the world will be shut down over the next quarter century   Reuters  |  Muelheim-Kaerlich, Germany June 12, 2017 As head of the nuclear reactor, Thomas Volmar spends his days plotting how to tear down his workplace. The best way to do that, he says, is to cut out humans.

About 200 nuclear reactors around the world will be shut down over the next quarter century, mostly in Europe, according to the Energy Agency. That means a lot of work for the half a dozen companies that specialise in the massively complex and dangerous job of dismantling plants.

Those firms — including Areva, Rosatom’s Engineering Services, and Toshiba’s — are increasingly turning away from humans to do this work and instead deploying robots and other new technologies.

That is transforming an industry that until now has mainly relied on electric saws, with the most rapid advances being made in the highly technical area of dismantling a reactor’s core — the super-radioactive heart of the plant where the nuclear reactions take place.

The transformation of the sector is an engineering one, but companies are also looking to the new technology to cut time and costs in a competitive sector with slim margins.

Dismantling a plant can take decades and cost up to 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion), depending on its size and age. The cost of taking apart the plant in will be about 800 million euros, according to sources familiar with the station’s economics.

Some inroads have already been made: a programmable robot arm developed by has reduced the time it takes to dismantle some of the most contaminated components of a plant by 20-30 per cent compared with conventional cutting techniques.

For and rival Westinghouse, reactor dismantling is unlikely to make an impact on the dire financial straits they are mired in at present as it represents just a small part of their businesses, which are dominated by plant-building.

But it nonetheless represents a rare area of revenue growth; the global market for decommissioning services is expected to nearly double to $8.6 billion by 2021, from $4.8 billion last year, according to research firm MarketsandMarkets. Such growth could prove important for the two companies should they weather their current difficulties.

“We’re not talking about the kind of margins is making on its iPhone,” said Thomas Eichhorn, head of Areva’s German dismantling activities. “But it’s a business with a long-term perspective.”

When reactors were built in the 1970s, they were designed to keep radiation contained inside at all costs, with little thought given to those who might be tearing them down more than 40 years later.

First, engineers need to remove the spent nuclear fuel rods stored in reactor buildings — but only after they’ve cooled off. At this took about two years in total. Then peripheral equipment such as turbines need to be removed, a stage has begun and which can take several years.

Finally, the reactor itself needs to be taken apart and the buildings demolished, which takes about a decade. Some of the most highly contaminated components are cocooned in concrete and placed in iron containers that will be buried deep underground at some point.

Robots under water

While the more mundane tasks, including bringing down the plants’ outer walls, are left to construction groups such as Hochtief, it’s the dismantling of the reactor’s core where more advanced skills matter — and where the use of technology has advanced most in recent years.

Enter companies such as Areva, Westinghouse, Nukem Technologies, as well as GNS, owned by Germany’s four operators. They have all begun using robots and software to navigate their way into the reactor core, or pressure vessel.

“The most difficult task is the dismantling of the reactor pressure vessel, where the remaining radioactivity is highest,” said Volmar, who took charge of the RWE-owned plant two years ago. “We leave this to a specialised expert firm.”

The vessel — which can be as high as 13 metres and weigh up to 700 tonnes — is hidden deep inside the containment building that is shaped like a sphere to ensure its 30-centimetre thick steel wall is evenly strained in case of an explosion.

The 2011 Fukushima disaster and the Chernobyl accident of 1986 are imprinted in the world’s consciousness as examples of the catastrophic consequences of the leakage of radioactive material.

France’s recently won the contract to dismantle the pressure vessel internals at Vattenfall’s 806 megawatts (Mw) Brunsbuettel in Germany, which includes an option for the Swedish utility’s 1,402 MW Kruemmel site.

There, the group will for the first time use its new programmable robot arm. It hopes this will help it outstrip rivals in what is the world’s largest dismantling market following Germany’s decision to close all its last nuclear plants by 2022, in response to the Fukushima disaster.

operates under water because the liquid absorbs radiation from the vessel components — reducing the risk of leakage and contamination of the surrounding area. The chamber is flooded before its work begins.

Areva’s German unit invests about 5 per cent of its annual sales, or about 40 million euros, in research and development, including in-house innovation such as  By comparison, the world’s 1,000 largest corporate R&D spenders, on average, spent 4.2 per cent last year, according to PwC.

The robot arm technology helped beat by winning tenders to dismantle pressure vessel internals at EnBW’s Philippsburg 2 and Gundremmingen 2 blocks, industry sources familiar with the matter said.

and both declined to comment. — whose US business filed for bankruptcy in March — did not respond to repeated requests for comment. Time and money

Britain’s OC Robotics has built the LaserSnake2, a flexible 4.5-metre snake arm, which can operate in difficult spaces and uses a laser to increase cutting speeds — thus reducing the risk of atmospheric contamination. It was tested at the Sellafield nuclear site in west Cumbria last year.

This followed France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), whose laser-based dismantling technology generates fewer radioactive aerosols — a key problem during cutting — than other technologies.

The complexity of the dismantling process is also giving rise to modelling software that maps out the different levels of radiation on plant parts, making it easier to calculate the most efficient sequence of dismantling – the more contaminated parts are typically dealt with first – and gives clarity over what safety containers will be needed to store various components.

GNS, which is jointly owned by E.ON, RWE, and Vattenfall, is currently helping to dismantle the German Neckarwestheim 1 and Philippsburg 1 reactors, using its software to plan the demolition.

The company also hopes to supply its software services for the dismantling of PreussenElektra’s Isar 1 reactor, which is being tendered, and aims to expand to other European countries.

“Two things matter: time and money,” said Joerg Viermann, head of sales of waste management activities at 

“The less I have to cut, the sooner I will be done and the less I will spend.”

June 14, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, decommission reactor, Reference | 1 Comment

Japan’s struggle to decommission Fukushima nuclear reactors

Japan struggling to decommission Fukushima nuclear reactors , By Hwang Hyung-gyu, 2017.06.13 It appears that much has changed at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan since the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl six years ago. The ongoing restoration work evidently made progress, but decommissioning is still an uphill battle – posing as a lesson for South Korea as it has recently decided to retire the country’s first nuclear reactor and phase out of commercial nuclear power.

All ordinary visitors, including reporters, must wear a protective gear such as two layers of socks, gloves, a helmet, a filter mask covering the mouth and nose, a safety vest and rubber shoes before approaching a point just 80 meters away from the crippled power station. A hazmat suit which had been required just six months ago was no longer recommended as the radiation level was lowered.

The passage route to the first reactor was flanked by gigantic storage tanks that hold contaminated water.

Reactors still showing skeletal steel frames and roof debris remind a 17-meter-high tsunami which flooded the facility on March 11 in 2011 and caused a hydrogen explosion, bringing the plant to a complete standstill.

Molten fuel rods were completely retrieved from the reactor Unit 4, but progress is much slow in Unit 2, where an internal survey is not even started. The six-year clean-up work for the four nuclear reactors was only a fraction of time.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (Tepco), the operator of the plant, has deployed 7,000 workers including its own staff to the site. Their first priority is to tackle the influx of contaminated groundwater. Workers erected a cutoff wall and pumped out upstream groundwater, but still, about 100 to 150 tons of contaminated water is generated every day, according to Tepco. The amount of the contaminated water in storage tanks reaches nearly 1 million tons. It has not yet been decided how to treat the water.

The operation for complete decommissioning is a long way to go. It will take 30 years to finish the job, including the treatment of contaminated water, said Yuichi Okamura, Tepco communication manager.

The Japanese government is going all out to develop advanced robot and drone technology to accurately grasp the internal situation of the reactors to support decommissioning.

June 14, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, Japan | Leave a comment

Permanent shutdown of unit 1 of South Korea’s Kori nuclear power plant

World Nuclear News 9th June 2017, The permanent shutdown of unit 1 of the Kori nuclear power plant has been approved by the South Korea’s nuclear safety regulator. The unit – the country’s oldest operating reactor unit – will be taken offline on 19 June.

Kori 1 is a 576 MWe pressurized water reactor that started commercial operation in 1978. A six-month upgrading and inspection outage at Kori 1 in the second half of 2007 concluded a major refurbishment program and enabled its relicensing for a further ten years. A subsequent relicensing process could have taken Kori 1 to 2027, but Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power (KHNP) announced in August 2015 that it had withdrawn its application to extend the unit’s operating licence. In June last year, the company applied to decommission the reactor.

June 12, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, South Korea | Leave a comment

Planning for new phase in getting rid of Dounreay – UK’s 1950s nuclear reactor complex

BBC 7th June 2017 A planning application is being prepared for a new phase in the decommissioning of the Dounreay nuclear power complex in Caithness.
Buildings on the experimental nuclear energy site, which dates to the 1950s, are being emptied of radioactive material and demolished. Starting in 2018, the planned next stage would involve dismantling reactors.

New temporary buildings would also need to be built to aid the new phase. The new buildings would include facilities for handling the clean up and demolition of areas of the site called the Silo and The Shaft. Also included are plans for restoration and landscaping work to restore areas of land to close to how they looked before the construction of Dounreay. The phase would take the site near Thurso to what is called its interim end state. Dounreay Site Restoration Limited has notified Highland Council that it expects to submit the planning application later this year.

June 10, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, UK | Leave a comment

On costs of decommissioning Fort Calhoun nuclear plant, and on security

Q&A session on Fort Calhoun nuclear plant focuses on cost of decommissioning, security, By Cole Epley / Omaha World-Herald staff writer, Jun 1, 2017 

OPPD’s plan to fund dismantling and cleanup of its Fort Calhoun nuclear plant is expected to be sufficient to cover the cost, and the now-closed plant will retain its 24-hour armed security force even after the last building is no longer needed.

That was the message from federal regulators to Omaha Public Power District ratepayers and members of the public Wednesday night at a meeting on decommissioning the reactor. The plant, which closed in October, is 20 miles north of Omaha.

Questions about security — both in terms of armed guards and spent nuclear fuel left on site — and the cost of tearing down and cleaning up the plant were among issues addressed during a question-and-answer session at the Doubletree Hotel in downtown Omaha.

 Representatives from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and OPPD fielded questions for about an hour following a general overview of the decommissioning process……

Decommissioning the plant is expected to cost about $1.5 billion in 2016 dollars. By the time the work is completed in some 60 years, the inflation-adjusted cost is expected to be roughly $3 billion…….

Within five years, OPPD will be pulling spent fuel from the storage pool inside one of the buildings and putting it in concrete casks on site. Because the U.S. has no functioning long-term storage site for spent nuclear fuel, the Fort Calhoun site will hold spent fuel in the above-ground casks indefinitely. At least as long as the fuel is there, security guards will be there, the public was told Wednesday.

Significant demolition isn’t expected until the 2050s, once much of the radioactivity at the site has decayed.

Doug Broaddus, head of the NRC branch that oversees plants like Fort Calhoun that are transitioning from operating to decommissioning, said utilities that fall short of the money needed to close their plants generally look to the same place.

June 2, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

With UK terror threat raised, decommissioning continues as normal at Dounreay nuclear site

Decommissioning continues as normal at Dounreay under heightened response rate, John O’Groat Journal, 26 May 17,   DOUNREAY said decommissioning work is continuing as normal as the UK terror threat level has been raised to critical.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced on Tuesday night the threat level was raised from severe to critical, the highest possible level after the Manchester Arena bombing on Monday night.

Critical level means an attack is expected imminently in the UK.

A spokeswoman at Dounreay has announced the site is operating at a heightened response rate but work continues as normal.

She said: “Security at Dounreay and other sites owned by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority is kept under continuous review.

“The site is continuing to operate at a “heightened” response state and decommissioning work is continuing as normal….

May 27, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, safety, UK | Leave a comment

German energy groups turn to lucrative business of decommissioning nuclear power stations

Dismantling nuclear: German power firms sell new skills, 9 May 17, By Christoph Steitz | FRANKFURT\  Energy groups E.ON and EnBW are tearing down their nuclear plants at massive cost following Germany’s decision to abandon nuclear power by 2022, but they are seeking to turn a burden into business by exporting their newfound dismantling skills.

Germany is the only country in the world to dump the technology as a direct consequence of Japan’s Fukushima disaster in 2011, a decision that came as a major blow to the two energy firms which owned most of Germany’s 17 operational nuclear stations.

E.ON and EnBW have already shut down five plants between them and must close another five by 2022. Not only are they losing a major profit driver – a station could earn 1 million euros ($1.1 million) a day – but are also facing combined decommissioning costs of around 17 billion euros.

This tough new reality has nonetheless forced them to rapidly acquire expertise in the lengthy and complex process of dismantling nuclear plants – presenting an unlikely but potentially lucrative business opportunity in a world where dozens of reactors are set to be closed over the next 25 years.

They say their skills are attracting the interest of international customers. Continue reading

May 10, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, Germany | Leave a comment

Concern that Plymouth’s representatives will have little say in decommissioning process of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant.

Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel strategizes with selectmen, Wicked Local, Plymouth – The state’s Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel will hold its first meeting in Plymouth on May 24, but there is already concern that that Plymouth’s representatives on the panel will have little say in the decommissioning process of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant.

Based on the numbers alone, Plymouth’s interests should be well represented on the panel……..

Their basic mission, Grassie said, was to meet four times a year, advise the governor, general court and the public on the issues, “serve as a conduit of communications and encourage public involvement” and receive and issue reports.

Meanwhile, Grassie said, Entergy would hold its own meetings, including with the NRC, and making decisions including, as happened with the recently closed Entergy-owned Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, selling the decommissioning function to a separate entity altogether……..

The basic priorities that town officials and panelists will take are, however, becoming clear.

Because of safety concerns the town does not want spent fuel to be left in the pool inside the reactor building. Fortunately Entergy likely doesn’t want that either because, when the spent fuel is out of the pool they can dramatically reduce on-site staff and, therefore, reduce their management costs as well.

The town does not want spent fuel stored forever on site permanently. Unfortunately there is neither a temporary or permanent national spent fuel storage facility available at this time.

In the event that spent fuel in dry cask storage remains on site for the foreseeable future the town wants to be fairly compensated.

The town does not want to see the decommissioning fund used to pay for other costs associated with the continued presence of radioactive materials at the site. That has been happening at Vermont Yankee, where the decommissioning fund has been used to pay the tax payments charged by the host community……

The town wants the rights to the so-called “1,500 acres,” the largely pristine buffer around the plant that stretches from the waterfront around the plant, to the top of the Pine Hill.

The town wants a lot but the question on the minds of the panel members right now is simple: How can they influence the process effectively toward those goals?……..

May 10, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

Failure of legal attempt to halt shutdown of Indian Point Nuclear Station

Indian Point lawsuit dead before arrival, Rye City Review, May 5, 2017  by James Pero A lawsuit seeking to halt the shutdown of a long controversial nuclear power plant located at Indian Point in Buchanan is dead on arrival after staunch opposition from Westchester County’s Democratic lawmakers.

Last week, the Board of Legislators’ Democratic caucus voted to kill the lawsuit, proposed by County Executive Rob Astorino, a Republican, earlier this month, before it was even sent to committee, and well short of a vote by the full Legislature, which is required by law.

“Instead of engaging in a wasteful lawsuit where both sides are funded with taxpayer money, the best approach is to work with all of the affected communities on how to mitigate the economic, social, and environmental impacts of Indian Point closing,” said Democratic Majority Leader Catherine Borgia, of Ossining……..

County Democrats say they plan to host community meetings with affected residents and stakeholders in Indian Point as a part of their own initiative.

To lessen the economic impact on workers at the plant, Cuomo has floated a potential transition into the renewable energy sector for workers laid off by the plant’s closure.

Details of what the decommissioning process will look like will continue to be hashed out by a recently formed task force, which consists of both state and local lawmakers as well as various officials from Cuomo’s administration.

May 10, 2017 Posted by | decommission reactor, USA | Leave a comment

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)

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)

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…….

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