IAEA Checks Turkish Nuclear Progress
Nov. 21, 2013—An IAEA-led team has identified several strengths of Turkey’s nuclear program, including strong government support and plans to fund future safety upgrades. The Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review took place Nov. 4-14.
IAEA’s Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Reviews are designed to help member states assess their national infrastructure before pursuing new nuclear. Turkey has no nuclear energy facilities but plans to build reactors at the Akkuyu site with Russia and the Sinop site with Japan and France.
The team recommended that Turkey strengthen its regulator and complete national plans for both nuclear energy policy and human resource development.
Mitsubishi to Delay APWR Certification; Luminant Suspends Comanche Peak COL
Nov. 14, 2013—Mitsubishi announced that it will delay work to obtain U.S. design certification for its Advanced Pressurized Water Reactors. U.S. subsidiary Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems will focus instead on services and components for operating reactors as the company shifts its resources toward restarting the Japanese nuclear fleet.
MNES said it remains committed to obtaining design certification under an “extended schedule.” Its application was submitted to the NRC in late 2007; the NRC’s review of the design was due to be completed in 2015.
In response, Luminant has suspended its combined construction and operating license application with the NRC to build two APWRs at the Comanche Peak site in Texas.
In a letter to the NRC, Luminant said “it does not make sense to continue to expend Luminant and NRC resources on the COL application review.” Work on review activities is expected to be suspended by the end of March 2014.
Russia Ships Last Megatons to Megawatts Uranium
Nov. 14, 2013—Russia this week will ship the final batch of low-enriched uranium from the Megatons to Megawatts program to the United States, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told attendees of the American Nuclear Society’s national meeting.
The shipment of LEU, downblended from weapons-grade uranium, will leave St. Petersburg on Nov. 14 for use in U.S. reactors. The program, which began in the early 1990s, will have eliminated 500 metric tons of highly enriched uranium.
Construction Begins at Belarus’ First Reactor
Nov. 14, 2013—Construction has officially begun at Belarus’ first nuclear energy facility after safety-related concrete was poured at the Ostrovets site on Nov. 6.
The concrete will form the foundation for the containment and auxiliary building for the reactor’s nuclear island. Work began after the Nuclear Power Plant Construction Directorate was issued a construction license for reactor 1 by the country’s Department for Nuclear and Radiation Safety.
The site will house two 1,200-megawatt Russian-designed reactors. The first reactor is expected to be under construction for 60 months, with start-up and commissioning planned for 2018. The second reactor will follow a similar schedule about 18 months behind the first.
AREVA Fabricating MOX Fuel for Dutch Reactor
Nov. 7, 2013—AREVA’s Melox facility at Marcoule in southern France has begun producing mixed-oxide fuel for the 500-megawatt Borssele pressurized water reactor in the Netherlands, the country's first use of MOX.
Dutch utility EPZ decided in 2008 to begin using MOX fuel for Borssele, and its application to the government was approved in 2011. EPZ intends to use the fuel, enriched with 5.4 percent fissile plutonium, for up to 40 percent of the reactor core.
Plutonium from about 375 metric tons of used fuel from Borssele has been separated in AREVA’s La Hague reprocessing facility in northern France for nearly 30 years and will continue until 2015 under the current contract. Other countries that use or have used MOX fuel include Belgium, France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
NNSA Removes Last HEU From Hungarian Research Reactor
Nov. 7, 2013—The last 49 kilograms of a total of 239 kilograms of highly enriched uranium has been removed from Hungary’s Budapest research reactor to Russia, where it will be downblended to low-enriched uranium for use in power reactors, the U.S. Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration announced this week. Three earlier shipments dating back to 2008 removed the previous 190 kilograms.
NNSA administers the program, as part of the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, to remove highly enriched uranium—which contains more than 20 percent fissile uranium-235—from research reactors around the world and replace it with low-enriched uranium. HEU fuel is seen as a proliferation risk since it potentially can be used to make a nuclear weapon. The GTRI program to date has removed more than 5,000 kilograms of HEU and plutonium from 40 nations.
Reactor Pressure Vessel for Novovoronezh Phase II Reactor 2 Arrives
Nov. 7, 2013—Rosatom subsidiary Atomenergoproekt has announced the delivery of the reactor pressure vessel for the second reactor of Russia’s Novovoronezh Phase II nuclear plant project.
Novovoronezh II consists of two 1,068-megawatt VVER-1200 reactors and has been under construction since 2007. The reactors are to be commissioned in 2014 and 2015.
First Nuclear Project for Belarus Gets Go-Ahead
Oct. 31, 2013—Belarus’ nuclear regulator Gosatomnadzor has issued a construction permit for the country’s first nuclear energy facility. The permit paves the way for full construction to begin on the first of two 1,200-megawatt AES-2006 VVER pressurized water reactors at the Ostrovets site.
Being built by Russia’s AtomStroyExport under a $10 billion turnkey contract that was finalized in July 2012, the first reactor is expected to come on line by 2018 and the second by 2020. Groundwork at the site has been under way for some months, and the pouring of first nuclear concrete is expected to take place later this year.
Davis-Besse Steam Generators Arrive
Oct. 31, 2013—Babcock & Wilcox has delivered two replacement steam generators to FirstEnergy’s Davis-Besse nuclear energy facility in Ohio. The components were manufactured by B&W’s Canadian subsidiary in Cambridge, Ontario, and transported across Lake Erie to Toledo.
FirstEnergy said the steam generator replacement will take place early next year during a refueling outage.
Swiss Utility to Shut Muehleberg in 2019
Oct. 31, 2013—BKW, the utility operator of the 390-megawatt Muehleberg nuclear energy facility in Switzerland, announced plans to close the plant in 2019 after analyzing various options for the reactor's future.
"The decision not to invest in the plant's long-term operation significantly reduces the business risk and will facilitate stronger hydroelectric and wind power expansion in Switzerland and abroad," BKW said.
BKW chose the middle option of three dates it was looking at to shut the reactor—2017, which would not require any further investments; 2019, which would require an investment in safety upgrades of about $223 million; and 2026, would require a major investment.
BKW said the upgrades would improve the cooling water supply and the spent fuel storage pool cooling system, allowing the plant to meet all safety requirements during its last six years of operations.
Two Chinese Plants Make Startup Progress
Oct. 31, 2013—Two new Chinese-designed CPR-1000 reactors have moved toward commissioning.
China General Nuclear Power Group announced that the 1,080-megawatt Hongyanhe reactor 2 in Liaoning province achieved first criticality on Oct. 24. Honhyanhe 1 began commercial operation earlier this year, and two other reactors are being built at the site.
Meanwhile, fuel loading has begun at another CPR-1000, Yangjiang 1. The reactor has been undergoing systems and pressure testing since construction was completed in June. Four other reactors are being built at the Yangjiang site in Guangdong province, and construction of a sixth will begin next year, making it the world’s largest nuclear construction site. All six reactors should be in operation by 2018.
India’s Kudankulam 1 Connected to Grid
Oct. 24, 2013—The Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd. said its Kudankulam reactor 1 was connected to the national grid Oct. 22, becoming India’s 21st operating nuclear energy facility. The reactor achieved first criticality in July.
NPCIL said the power output would be raised in stages while tests are conducted before the reactor’s full capacity of 1,000 megawatts is reached next month, when AtomStroyExport will hand over the reactor to NPCIL for commercial operations.
The reactor is one of two Russian-designed VVER-1000 pressurized water reactors that have been under construction at the site since 2002. Reactor 1 has been complete since March 2011, but commissioning was delayed by public concerns following the Fukushima Daiichi accident.
The second reactor at Kudankulam is expected to begin commercial operation in June. Negotiations with Russia are under way for two more reactors at the site.
Olkiluoto 3 EPR Reactor Vessel Head Installed
Oct. 24, 2013—Finland’s first EPR, Olkiluoto 3, has achieved a milestone with the installation of its reactor vessel head. The head will be removed later when fuel is loaded into the reactor.
AREVA said the milestone makes Olkiluoto 3 the first EPR with a fully equipped reactor vessel. Other EPRs are under construction in Flamanville in France and Taishan 1 and 2 in China.
Finnish power company Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (TVO) said the plant may start operating in 2016.
Georgia PSC Approves $209 Million in Vogtle Costs
Oct. 17, 2013—The Georgia Public Service Commission unanimously approved Georgia Power’s $209 million in expenditures for the Vogtle expansion project for the second half of 2012.
With the eighth semi-annual Vogtle construction monitoring request, the PSC has approved a total of $2.21 billion for Georgia Power’s 45.7 percent share of the project.
The approval follows Georgia Power’s request earlier this year that the PSC increase the project’s certified cost from $4.418 billion to $4.8 billion. An agreement last month, however, stated that Georgia Power will delay any cost increase requests until Vogtle Unit 3 is completed, expected in 2017. Georgia Power must also file its ninth and 10th construction monitoring requests for 2013 by Feb. 28, 2014.
Korean Companies Submit Design Certification Application to NRC
Oct. 17, 2013—Korea Electric Power Co. and subsidiary Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power have submitted a joint application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for design certification of the APR1400 reactor.
KEPCO and EHNP submitted a design control document, which includes the safety analysis report and proposed inspections, tests, analyses and acceptance criteria. It also includes an environmental report and several technical reports.
Two APR1400 reactors are currently under construction in South Korea. In 2009, KEPCO signed an agreement with the United Arab Emirates to supply four APR1400 reactors.
The NRC had said it might conclude its review of the application in 2017.
The NRC is currently reviewing four advanced reactor designs: General Electric’s ESBWR; an amended version of Westinghouse’s AP1000; Mitsubishi’s US-APWR; and AREVA’s EPR.
Finnish Utility Submits Safety Report for First Reactor
Oct. 17, 2013—Finnish energy cooperative Fennovoima has submitted a safety report to Finland’s Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) for assessment of its proposed Hanhikivi 1 reactor at the Pyhajoki site in northern Finland.
The safety report included information about Fennovoima, which does not yet operate any nuclear reactors, as well as an assessment of the proposed Russian-designed AES-2006 VVER reactor technology and how it complies with Finnish requirements.
Fennovoima said its shareholders—Finnish power companies—would decide this month whether to continue their involvement with the project. It has signed an agreement with Russia’s Rusatom Overseas aimed at signing a contract by year’s end under which Russia would construct the reactor, slated for operation in 2024.
The organization plans to submit an environmental impact assessment by mid-February.
Taishan Generator Arrives On Site
Oct. 17, 2013—The world’s largest single-piece electrical generator has arrived at the Taishan site.
The component, capable of generating 1,750 megawatts, left Dongfang Electric’s manufacturing facility in Sichuan province at the end of August and traveled by road to the Taishan site in Guangdong province. On Oct. 6, the Taishan 1 EPR generator stator was hoisted into place for installation in a five-hour operation.
Belgium Debuts Nuclear Medicine Network
Oct. 17, 2013—A new nuclear medicine network intends to promote Belgian expertise and maintain its position as a world leader in the field.
Rad4Med.be, the Belgian Network for Radiation Applications in Healthcare, allows international investors access to Belgian nuclear medicine infrastructure. The network, which also aims to help export skills to emerging markets, was founded by the Belgian Nuclear Research Center, the National Institute for Radioelements, health firm group BioWin and medical device and software company IBA.
Belgium is a major producer of medical isotopes, producing more than 25 percent of the world’s Molybdenum-99. Belgium also operators seven cyclotrons—a type of particle accelerator. The country, which employs 2,600 people in the nuclear medicine industry, has seven training centers for technicians, radiologists and nuclear physicians.
Flamanville Reactor Vessel Arrives on Site
Oct. 10, 2013—The reactor vessel for France’s first EPR has been delivered to the Flamanville site in Normandy. AREVA said the reactor vessel delivery “marks the ramp-up of operations in the nuclear island and acceleration of electromechanical installation work at the site.”
The Flamanville 3 reactor vessel, which required 50,000 hours of design and manufacturing work, departed by ship from AREVA’s Saint Marcel manufacturing plant in eastern France last month. The vessel will be installed within the reactor building in the next few months.
Construction work on the 1,650-megawatt reactor began in December 2007. Operation is scheduled for 2016.
Next Steps for First Bangladeshi Reactors
Oct. 10, 2013—Russia and Bangladesh signed an agreement this week covering the two-year design stage for the Rooppur nuclear energy facility, Bangladesh’s first.
The contract follows a 2011 agreement in which Russia agreed to build the Rooppur plant and to provide $500 million for preparatory work. Russia’s AtomEnergoProekt will carry out design and survey work at the site, which will ultimately house two reactors based on a modified NPP-2006 VVER. Site preparation is expected to begin next year, with construction beginning in 2015 and the first unit beginning operation in 2020.
The signing was accompanied by the laying of a foundation stone at the Rooppur site and the opening of a nuclear information center to inform Bangladeshis about nuclear energy and Russian nuclear technology.
Fuqing 1 Passes Test, Expected to Operate This Year
Oct. 10, 2013—Hydrostatic testing of the Fuqing 1 reactor coolant system has been successfully completed, bringing the Chinese-designed reactor one step closer to commissioning. The tests, which confirmed the integrity of the reactor water coolant lines, were completed Oct. 3.
Operation of Fuqing 1 is slated to begin by the end of this year. The Fujian province site will eventually house six CPR-1000 pressurized water reactors.
Spain’s Centralized Waste Storage Facility on Track
Oct. 10, 2013—Work on Spain’s planned centralized interim storage facility for high-level radioactive waste and used fuel could begin in early 2018, according to the head of the country’s radioactive waste management agency.
Francisco Gil-Ortega, head of Spain’s Enresa, said the storage facility project is currently on schedule. The project, to be located in Villar de Cañas in the province of Cuenca, will allow Spain to manage its used fuel and radioactive waste for decades. The project is expected to involve investment equaling $953 million.
Trade Agreement Between Canada and India Takes Effect
Oct. 3, 2013—Nuclear trade between Canada and India can take place once more after an agreement signed by the two countries in April came into force this week.
The agreement permits Canadian exports of nuclear materials, equipment and technology to India for peaceful purposes under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. Trade between the two countries was cut off in 1974 after India detonated a nuclear weapon that used materials produced in one of India’s Canadian-built reactors.
India represents a potential uranium export market for Canada, which exports about 8,100 metric tons of U3O8 annually.
First Concrete at Tianwan 4 Poured Ahead of Schedule
Oct. 3, 2013—Construction of Tianwan 4 in Jiangsu province in eastern China officially began this week one month ahead of schedule with the pouring of first concrete. The 990-megawatt VVER-1000 reactor is the 30th commercial nuclear unit under construction in China.
Russia’s Atomstroyexport is the nuclear island supplier, with AREVA and Siemens supplying the instrumentation and control systems. Civil construction is being completed by Jiangsu Nuclear Power Corp.
The reactor is expected to begin commercial operation in December 2018.
Russia Places Steam Generator on Its First Floating Vessel
Oct. 3, 2013—Russia met an important milestone this week in the construction of the world’s first floating commercial nuclear energy facility, with the Sept. 27 placement of the two nuclear steam generating units on the vessel.
The Akademik Lomonosov floating nuclear plant will be capable of providing electricity, heat and desalination. The Russian-designed, 35-megawatt reactors are being constructed on a purpose-built barge in St. Petersburg, with a scheduled completion date of September 2016. Upon completion, Rosatom plans to construct seven more floating nuclear plants.
Chinese Emergency Control Center Opens
Oct. 3, 2013—A new emergency control center has opened at China’s Qinshan nuclear facility. China National Nuclear Corp. said the new center would bring the country’s emergency preparedness capabilities to a level required by the Chinese government in the wake of Japan’s 2011 Fukushima accident.
The center is capable of monitoring radiation levels, weather and seismic activity; broadcasting emergency communications; and providing power to the seven-unit Qinshan plant in the event of a loss-of-power incident.
New Argentine Reactor Meets Commission Testing Milestone
Oct. 3, 2013—Argentina’s Atucha 2 reactor was successfully synchronized to the grid during commissioning testing this week.
Construction of the reactor first began in 1981, was stalled in 1994, and was resumed in 2006. Owner and operator Nucleoelectrica Argentina SA began loading fuel in December 2012 and completed hot tests and pressure tests in January.
The Argentine-designed 745-megawatt reactor is expected to begin generating power at the end of this year.
URENCO USA Achieves 3 Million SWU Production Capacity
Sept. 19, 2013—Louisiana Energy Services’ URENCO USA facility in Eunice, N.M.—the only operating uranium enrichment plant in the United States—activated its newest centrifuge cascade this week, thereby reaching an enrichment capacity of 3 million separative work units (SWU).
The facility’s first cascade began operating in June 2010, using industry-leading centrifuge technology. The plant continues to add capacity with the installation of additional cascades—apart from 350 full-time plant employees, there are about 1,000 construction workers on-site.
A virtual plant tour is available on URENCO USA’s website.
Barakah Gets Nuclear-Quality Rebar
Sept. 19, 2013—The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation has taken delivery of the first consignment of nuclear-quality reinforcing steel rebar for the Barakah nuclear power plant project.
The 45,000 metric tons of rebar including 5,000 tons of Q-class nuclear-quality product was domestically produced by Emirates Steel Industries, the only steel maker in the Middle East and North Africa region qualified to produce nuclear quality reinforcing steel and the fourth company in the world qualified by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
More than 200 UAE companies are now supplying products and services worth more than $1 billion to the Barakah project, where two of four Korean reactors are currently being built by a consortium led by Korea Electric Power Co.
UK Begins Public Consultation on Repository Siting
Sept. 19, 2013—The British government has launched a three-month public consultation on how to proceed with selecting a site for a geologic repository for high-level radioactive waste. The U.K.’s present process centers on a community to volunteer to host a site.
The government said its proposals for a revised process include direct engagement with stakeholders and international bodies. The secretary for energy and climate change noted in a written statement to Parliament the “transformative effect” on the local economy of a multi-decade repository construction program, “stimulating local business, supply chains and providing skilled jobs and training opportunities.”
The government said it intends to relaunch the site selection process in 2014.
Yangjiang 5 Pours First Concrete
Sept.. 19, 2013—China Nuclear Engineering Corp. announced the official start of construction of Yangjiang 5, a Chinese-designed advanced CPR-1000+ reactor, in China’s Guangdong province.
Yangjiang, where four other reactors are also being built, is the largest nuclear construction site in the world. Work on Yangjiang 1, like the others a CPR-1000 design, began in 2008. A sixth CPR-1000+ reactor is expected to begin construction next year. All the reactors are to be in operation by 2018, adding more than 6,000 megawatts to the Chinese grid.
UK Opens Research Facility
Sept. 12, 2013—The United Kingdom has opened a new $31 million facility that aims to deliver world-leading nuclear research and knowledge transfer to industry.
The Dalton Cumbrian Facility has been jointly funded by the U.K.'s Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the University of Manchester's Dalton Nuclear Institute. Located near the Sellafield site in northwestern England, the new research center is a core component of the National Nuclear Users Facility that was announced earlier this year.
Research at the DCF will focus primarily on radiation science and nuclear engineering decommissioning. The facility has its own particle accelerator, large-scale experimental laboratories, irradiation facilities, and associated analytical and inspection equipment. The DCF also will offer academic access to active research facilities at the nearby Sellafield site.
Fangchenggang 1 RPV Installed
Sept. 5, 2013—The reactor pressure vessel has been installed for Fangchenggang 1, the first of six Chinese-designed CPR-1000 reactors.
Fangchenggang is located in the Guangxi Autonomous Region about 30 miles from the border with Vietnam. While reactors 1 and 2 are CPR-1000 designs slated to come on line in 2015 and 2016, reactors 3 and 4 are planned to be the evolutionary ACPR-1000 and the last two will be Westinghouse AP1000s.
Chinese Company Ships World's Largest Single-Piece Generator
Aug. 29, 2013—Dongfang Electric has shipped the 1,750-megawatt generator for China’s Taishan 1 EPR currently under construction. The component, constructed in central Sichuan province, is the world’s largest single-piece electrical generator, the company said.
About 90 megawatts of the generator’s power will be used by plant components, with the remaining 1,660 megawatts devoted to supplying power to the grid. The two AREVA EPR units at the Taishan plant are expected to begin operation in 2014 and 2015.
Russia Completes Megatons to Megawatts Program
Aug. 29, 2013—Russia has downblended the final batch of high-enriched uranium under the Megatons to Megawatts program. Electrochemical Plant, a uranium enrichment subsidiary of state nuclear utility Rosatom, dispatched the final batch of low-enriched uranium.
The program, which began in 1995, converted Russian weapons-grade uranium into a low-enriched form for fabrication into nuclear reactor fuel. It provided the uranium market with about 24 million pounds of U3O8 each year, according to Cameco President and CEO Tim Gitzel.
Over the course of its 17-year involvement in Megatons to Megawatts, Electrochemical Plant converted about one-third of the program’s 500 megatons of high-enriched uranium.
Ningde 2 Hot Tests Begin
Aug. 22, 2013—Pre-operational “hot” testing has begun at Ningde reactor 2 in China’s Fujian province. The tests, conducted prior to fuel loading, simulate reactor temperatures and pressures during normal operation, and will ensure that coolant circuits and nuclear safety systems are functioning correctly.
The Chinese-designed CPR-1000 pressurized water reactor, one of four at the site, is expected to start commercial operations late next year. Reactor 1 started up in April and all reactors should be operational by 2015.
New Consortium Applies for DOE SMR Funding
Aug. 15, 2013—A New York State-based consortium has submitted an application for the U.S. Department of Energy’s second round of funding for its public-private cost-shared program to develop innovative small reactors.
The National Project Management Corp. includes a cluster of regional partners including the New York state government, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, Oswego City and port authority, and Empire State Development Co. It also includes South Africa-based Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Co. and the U.K.-based National Grid Co.
NPMC’s submittal is based on its 165-megawatt gas turbine modular high-temperature reactor (GT-MHR) design, which the company says has applications ranging from electric power generation and hydrogen fuel generation to recycling used fuel.
Pickering Gets License Renewal
Aug. 15, 2013—The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission has granted Ontario Power Generation’s six pressurized heavy water reactors at the Pickering nuclear energy facility a five-year extension on their operating licenses.
The renewed license is valid until the end of August 2018 and requires the operator to submit a revised probabilistic safety assessment taking into account post-Fukushima safety enhancements and a public information document summarizing an integrated emergency response plan.
Canada has 19 operational and six permanently shut down nuclear reactors, which in 2012 produced 15 percent of the country’s electricity.
Pressure Vessel Installed at Changjiang 1
Aug. 15, 2013—The reactor pressure vessel has been installed for Changjiang reactor 1, a 600-megawatt Chinese-designed pressurized water reactor being built on the southern island province of Hainan.
The reactor, one of four being built at the site in a joint venture of China National Nuclear Corp. and China Huaneng Group, is expected to start operating by the end of 2014.
WIPP Adds More Rooms for TRU Waste
Aug. 8, 2013—A seventh “panel” of seven waste disposal rooms has been added to DOE’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad, N.M., after receiving approval from the New Mexico Environment Department. DOE’s Carlsbad field office said the new panel could begin emplacing canisters of the plutonium-contaminated materials as soon as August, once Panel 6 is full.
The world's only geologic repository for defense-origin transuranic waste has been operational since 1999. Since then, nearly 88,000 cubic meters of waste in almost 170,000 steel-and-concrete containers have been disposed of in the facility, which has been carved from geologic salt formations 2,150 feet below the surface. Nearly 11,500 shipments have been safely made to WIPP.
Transuranic waste typically comprises materials such as clothing, tools, residues, soil and other items contaminated with radioactive elements heavier than uranium—mostly plutonium. All the waste comes from the Energy Department’s defense programs. The plasticity of salt allows it to gradually seal over the containers, eventually isolating them from the biosphere. At WIPP the salt closes in at a rate of up to 6 inches a year.
DOE Posts Proposed Part 810 Nuclear Export Rule
Aug. 1, 2013—The Department of Energy has posted on its website a “Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking” to amend 10 CFR Part 810 regulations controlling the export of unclassified nuclear technology and assistance. The proposed rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register Aug. 2 for a 90-day comment period.
The department will hold a public meeting on Aug. 5 to discuss its latest proposed revision of the Part 810 rule. The DOE web announcement claimed the revisions will make the U.S. nuclear export licensing process “more efficient, transparent, timely and predictable” and “more effectively support U.S. companies seeking to engage in civil nuclear trade.”
Information about the Aug. 5 meeting (including instructions on participating in person or via call-in) is available in the proposed rulemaking document at the above link. Also available at the link is a DOE analysis of economic impacts of the proposed changes, developed with the Commerce Department.
EPA’s 316(b) Cooling Water Rule Under OMB Review
Aug. 1, 2013—EPA’s final 316(b) rule on protecting aquatic life at power plant cooling water intake structures has been submitted to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. The rule was due to be finalized by June 27, but petitioners agreed to allow the agency to extend the deadline to Nov. 4. As part of that agreement, EPA has asked the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service for consultation on the rule’s impact on endangered species.
The agency also asked its Science Advisory Board to review its “willingness-to-pay” survey on the value of fish “to obtain further independent professional judgment ... and suggestions for possible future improvements.”
Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act requires EPA to ensure that cooling water intake structures reflect the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impacts.
CENG Reactor Licenses to Transfer to Exelon
Aug. 1, 2013—Constellation Energy Nuclear Group, the joint venture co-owned by Exelon and Électricité de France, will transfer the NRC-issued operating licenses of five of its reactors to Exelon as CENG turns over operations to Exelon over the next nine months. Exelon merged with Constellation last year.
The CENG reactors to be taken over by Exelon Generation, the largest U.S. nuclear operator with 17 reactors, include Calvert Cliffs 1 and 2 in Maryland and Ginna and Nine Mile Point 2 and 3 in New York state.
In a joint July 30 statement, Exelon said it will “lend $400 million to CENG to support a special dividend to EDF.” EDF will retain an option to sell its 49.99 percent stake in CENG to Exelon at fair market value between 2016 and 2022.
CENG will retain a board of directors comprised of five members each from EDF and Exelon. Maria Korsnick, CENG’s chief nuclear officer, will become the company’s acting CEO.
DOE to Fund USEC’s ACP for Rest of Fiscal 2013
Aug. 1, 2013—USEC and DOE have signed an amendment to a June 2012 research, development and demonstration cooperative agreement that will provide an additional $29.9 million for USEC’s American Centrifuge uranium enrichment project, bringing total government funding to $227.7 million, sufficient to fund the project until Sept. 30.
USEC said the agreement defines the scope of the RD&D program and establishes an 80-20 cost sharing split, with DOE’s total contribution up to $280 million, and USEC’s up to $70 million.
USEC has since 2002 been developing and demonstrating its gas centrifuge uranium enrichment technology at its American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon, Ohio. USEC intends to develop the technology commercially to produce low-enriched uranium for nuclear fuel. The company also is seeking a $2 billion DOE loan guarantee to help complete plant construction.
USEC said July 29 the sixth of nine milestones—testing the effects of a power loss to the centrifuge machines—has been completed. USEC said in April it had also completed construction of a full-scale commercial cascade (see Milestones, Nuclear Energy Overview, April 4).
France’s Bugey 4 Gets Another 10 Years
Aug. 1, 2013—The French nuclear safety authority ASN has given permission for Bugey 4 to operate into its fourth decade, provided post-Fukushima safety standards are implemented.
Licenses to operate nuclear reactors in France are not time-bound. Instead, operators undergo safety reviews that allow continued operation every 10 years. This was the third 10-year safety review undergone by Bugey 4.
ASN said the 880-megawatt pressurized water reactor needed to show by the end of 2012 it could maintain fundamental safety functions in extreme situations including a combination of natural phenomena “of an exceptional scale” and severe accident conditions following the prolonged loss of electrical power or heat sinks.
First Steam Generator Installed at Fangchenggang
July 25, 2013—The first of three steam generators has been put in place at Fangchenggang reactor 1 in China's Guangxi province. The Chinese-designed CPR-1000 reactor, one of two being built at the site, is scheduled to begin operating in 2015. The second will follow a year later.
The plant is a project of a joint venture between China Guangdong Nuclear Power Co. and Guangxi Investment Group. The site will eventually house six reactors.
Calandria Delivered for India’s RAPP 7
July 25, 2013—The calandria for Rajasthan Atomic Power Project’s reactor 7 was recently delivered to the construction site from its manufacturer M/S Godrej in Mumbai. Construction of all the pressurized heavy water reactors at RAPP has been undertaken by Hindustan Construction Co.
RAPP 7 and 8—both indigenously designed 700-megawatt PHWRs—are scheduled to begin commercial operation in June and December 2016.
EPR Dome Installed at Flamanville 3
July 18, 2013—France's first EPR has achieved a construction milestone with the placement of the reactor’s dome. The dome will be welded to the reactor building and then encased in concrete. The nuclear steam supply system, including the reactor vessel, pressurizer and steam generators will be installed inside the building in the coming months.
Utility and project architect-engineer EDF said the civil engineering work is 95 percent complete, with nearly half of electrical and mechanical installation done. The nuclear steam supply system has been supplied by AREVA, and Bouygues Construction is leading the civil engineering consortium.
The 1,650-megawatt pressurized water reactor, which began construction in 2007, is expected to begin operating in 2016 after three years of delays.
EPRs under construction at Taishan 1 and 2 in China are expected to begin operating this year and next, while Finland’s Olkiluoto 3, like Flamanville 3, is to start up by 2016.
India’s Kudankulam 1 Attains First Criticality
July 18, 2013—Nuclear Power Corp. of India Ltd. announced that its 1,000-megawatt Kudankulam 1 VVER reached first criticality July 13. The startup was conducted by NPCIL staff and supervised by Russian vendor Atomstroyexport and India's Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.
India’s 21st nuclear energy facility, its first large pressurized water reactor, will be connected to the electrical grid in the next 30 to 45 days before being powered up to full capacity. Startup had been delayed as a result of protests by area residents.
Kudankulam 2, also a VVER, is expected to begin commercial operation next March.
AREVA-Mitsubishi’s Atmea1 Gets Canadian Regulatory OK
July 18, 2013—Atmea1, a 1,100-megawatt pressurized water reactor design from an AREVA-Mitsubishi joint venture, has obtained initial regulatory approval by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
A similar pre-licensing assessment was granted by the French regulator in February 2012, and the design is also under consideration in Argentina, Jordan and Turkey.
Canada is in the early stages of planning new nuclear reactors. Ontario Power Generation is developing plans for up to four new reactors at Darlington and is looking at the Westinghouse AP1000 and Enhanced CANDU 6 designs.
Pakistan Buying Two Chinese Reactors
July 18, 2013—The Pakistani government has approved the purchase of two 1,100-megawatt ACP1000 pressurized water reactors from China. Worth $9.6 billion, the reactors will be located near the coastal city of Karachi and will be supplied by China National Nuclear Corp.
The ACP1000 design is modified from French 900-megawatt reactors that China imported in the 1990s. As Pakistan is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the reactors will be owned and operated under item-specific international safeguards.
Pakistan currently operates a 125-megawatt pressurized heavy water reactor at Karachi and two 300-MW Chinese-built reactors at Chashma, with two more under construction.
Snake Robot Trial Successful
July 18, 2013—A modular snake robot, designed to transmit high-quality video of nuclear plant pipework internals, was successfully tested at a never-operated boiling water reactor at Zwentendorf, Austria.
The robot, developed by Carnegie Mellon University, is two inches in diameter and three feet long and has 16 modular segments. It is powered and controlled by a tether up to 60 feet long and can negotiate bends and open valves. The Carnegie Mellon team is working on developments to allow underwater operation and the addition of a “runner” device to ensure the machine can be retrieved.
Robots, drones and other remote-controlled equipment have a growing range of applications in the nuclear field, particularly in decommissioning.
GAO Says NRC License Renewal Follows Procedures
July 11, 2013—In a report released July 10, the GAO said that the NRC largely followed its own procedures on granting license renewals but stopped short of offering any recommendations.
The report said that “NRC generally followed its procedures when reviewing selected safety and environmental elements in eight license renewal applications GAO examined.”
GAO added that NRC’s “safety reviews were generally consistent with the agency’s procedures for evaluating both an applicant’s identification of components within the scope of the license renewal process and proposed buried piping and tanks inspection and fire protection programs.”
The GAO said that “some stakeholders suggested potential changes to improve the license renewal process, including broadening the scope of NRC’s reviews and modifying aspects of the public hearing process.”
The report said that the "NRC neither agreed nor disagreed with GAO's findings.”
NRC Sends Annual Report on Security Inspections to Congress
July 11, 2013—The NRC has sent its annual report on security inspections to Congress.
The report said that, in 2012, the NRC conducted 206 security inspections (of which 23 were force-on-force inspections) at commercial nuclear power reactors and CAT I fuel cycle facilities.
According to the NRC, a “full” force-on-force inspection spans two weeks and includes tabletop drills and multiple simulated combat exercises between a mock commando-type adversary force and the plant's own security force.
The 206 inspections identified 156 findings, 148 of which were of very low security significance, while eight were of greater than very low security significance.
According to the report, whenever a finding is identified during a security inspection, the NRC ensures that the licensee implements adequate compensatory measures until the problem is corrected. These measures can include additional armed personnel and/or physical security measures, the report said.
Spain's Garoña Plant Closes
July 11, 2013—Spain's Garoña nuclear power plant has officially shut down. The 446-megawatt boiling water reactor began operations in 1971.
Four years ago the Spanish government issued an operating license lasting until July of this year. Nuclenor, the plant operator, did not apply for a license renewal.
In a brief statement on its website, Nuclenor said the shutdown was solely due to economic reasons and that the company had not waived the right to apply for a license renewal in the future. According to the World Nuclear Association, electricity consumption declined almost 2 percent in 2012 due to Spain's recession.
The plant is located in the Burgos region in the north of Spain where it supported about 1,500 jobs and contributed €280 million ($360 million) per year to the economy, according to a study sponsored by Nuclenor.
Fessenheim 1 Reinforcements Complete
July 11, 2013—EDF's Fessenheim 1 has completed a project to upgrade the reactor’s concrete basemat, allowing the reactor to continue operating.
As a result of stress test done in response to the Fukushima accident, French nuclear regulators required an increase the resistance of the unit's basemat.
France's Nuclear Safety Authority set a deadline for completing the work of June 30. The project has seen the thickness of the unit's concrete basemat increased by 50 centimeters (approximately 20 inches).
Company Submits EIA for Plant in Turkey
July 11, 2013—Akkuyu NGS, a Russian-Turkish company led by Rosatom, has submitted an environmental impact assessment report on its planned Akkuyu nuclear power plant project to Turkey’s ministry of environment and city planning, the Russian state nuclear corporation said July 9.
Rosatom’s will build, own and operate the plant on the country’s southern Mediterranean coast. The plant will have four reactors with a capacity of 1,200 megawatts each. The first reactor should be commissioned in 2020.