Nuclear news roundup for May 26, 2015

Based on reports from NucNet, World Nuclear News, and Wire ServicesTelegraphOperator

Japan Regulator Approves Restart Of Ikata-3

20 May (NucNet): Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) approved the restart of the Ikata-3 nuclear unit in Ehime prefecture in southern Japan. The agency said the 846 MW PWR  conforms with new safety standards adopted in June 2013 to incorporate lessons learned from the March 2011 Fukushima-Daiichi accident.

The NRA agreed to move to the next step of the restart procedure – public consultation on the draft report – before publishing the final version of its decision. Shikoku Electric, the station’s operator, said it plans to restart the unit by the end of 2015.

Jordan sees first of two new reactors in revneue service by 2022

19 May (NucNet): The first of two 1000 MW VVER type nuclear reactors in Jordan is expected to be “up and running” by 2022, with the second following one year later, Jordan Atomic Energy Commission Chief Khaled Toukan said in an interview with Venture magazine.

Mr Toukan said the total cost of the project should not exceed $10 billion (€8.9 bn). Russia will meet 49.9 percent of the costs and Jordan the remaining 50.1 percent. Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom will build the reactors and supply fuel for 10 years.

“After that, it will be up to us to look for more competitive bids,” Mr Toukan said.

UK Regulator Highlights ‘Significant Progress’ On AP1000 GDA

22 May (NucNet): Westinghouse has made significant progress with the generic design assessment (GDA) for the AP1000 in the UK, the UK’s joint regulators said this week. The Office for Nuclear Regulation and the Environment Agency said in a quarterly report on the GDA process that Westinghouse’s approach over January 2015 was “a marked shift in pace” and Westinghouse was able to deliver credible resolution plans across all of the GDA issues with associated schedules to close them.

Previously, Westinghouse said it was in no rush to complete the GDA until a customer was ready to place an order for new AP1000 units in the UK. The company complained about the cost of the process.  Three AP1000s are planned for the UK Moorside project with startup of the first unit slated for 2024.  This date suggests a target to break ground in 2018. With a target to break ground for the first unit approaching, Westinghouse has stepped up its game with the GDA process.

The AP1000 GDA should be complete in January 2017. The regulators said to meet that milestone, “there are several GDA Issues that will require sustained and enhanced attention” from Westinghouse, and it must get the right information to the agency the first time.

Areva in Deal for Interim Spent Fuel Facility in Texas

05/23/15 (WNN) US-based Waste Control Specialists (WCS) has named AREVA Inc. as the exclusive primary subcontractor for the design, development, construction, operation and maintenance of the proposed WCS Consolidated Interim Storage Facility that it is hoping to build in West Texas.

AREVA will also offer services to support the transportation of nuclear materials to and from the facility and jointly work with WCS to support the licence application process.

Through the agreement, WCS and AREVA have the option to offer bundled services to the Department of Energy for secure greater-than-Class-C and high-level waste removal, transportation, and interim storage. Greater than Class C wastes consists of activated metals, sealed sources, and contaminated trash. The radionuclides in these wastes are primarily caesium-137 and americium-241.

WCS announced in February that it intends to submit a licence application to the US nuclear regulator in April 2016 for an interim spent fuel storage facility to be built on its 14,000-acre Andrews site in west Texas, which is currently home to two low-level waste disposal facilities.

The CISF could be ready to begin storing used fuel by the end of 2020.

In a separate project, Holtec International and the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance have announced plans to establish an interim used fuel storage facility in New Mexico.

Romania to Close on Chinese Reactor Deal

(05/18/15) The Romanian state owned utility could close by the end of the year an investment agreement with the Chinese company China General Nuclear Power Corporation for developing the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant Units 3 and 4 project, said Energy Minister Andrei Gerea.

Last October, the project was estimated at about EUR 6.45 billion. However, the feasibility study will be revised.

“It’s a known thing that it’s not easy to negotiate with Chinese companies,” said Gerea, cited by local Agerpres.

The Romanian state holds an 81.3% stake in Nuclearelectrica and investment fund Fondul Proprietatea (FP) has 9.7% of the shares, with the remaining 9% held by private investors on the Bucharest Stock Exchange.

Czech Republic PM seeks EU support for new reactors

26 May (NucNet & wire services): The debate about the use of nuclear energy needs to be “rational and free of prejudice”, Czech prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka said at the opening of the European Nuclear Energy Forum in Prague.

Mr Sobotka said the crisis in eastern Ukraine and instability in the Middle East and northern Africa have had a direct impact on Europe’s energy security and it is therefore necessary to discuss ways in which the EU will respond to these challenges.

“In my opinion, nuclear energy is a good response and an appropriate solution.”

Mr Sobotka said the Czech Republic approved last week a state energy plan that “predicts an increase” in the use of nuclear in the next several decades.

In April 2014 Czech utility CEZ cancelled the tender to build two new reactor units at Temelín, blaming the EU’s failure to clearly define long-term parameters for energy policy.

The real reason is that government ministers could not agree on a rate guarantee plan that wouldn’t be seen as a “subsidy’ by Austria, the Czech Republic’s anti-nuclear neighbor, which has demonstrated its extreme views by attempting to meddle in the UK Hinkley Point project.

The Czech Republic has six commercially operational reactor units: four VVER-440 units at the Dukovany site and two VVER-1000 units at Temelín.

India launches fast reactor burning MOX

(05/12/15) India’s first domestically designed and built fast reactor, expected to produce 500 MW of electrical power, will start generating electricity and be connected to the grid next September. It is the Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor (PFBR). Officials at Bharatiya Nabhikiya Vidyut Nigam Ltd (BHAVINI) said initially the reactor would be run at 20-30% of rated capacity. It is expecgted to run at full capacity in 2016.

The reactor is being constructed in Kalpakkam, India. The Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR) is responsible for the design of this reactor. The Kalpakkam PFBR is using uranium-238, not thorium, to breed new fissile material, in a sodium-cooled fast reactor design. The power island of this project is being engineered by Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited.

The surplus plutonium (or uranium-233 for thorium reactors) from each fast reactor can be used to set up more such reactors and grow the nuclear capacity in tune with India’s needs for power. The PFBR is part of the three-stage nuclear power program.

Officials BHAVINI said India has the capability to use thorium cycle based processes to extract nuclear fuel. This is of special significance to the Indian nuclear power generation strategy as India has one of the world’s largest reserves of thorium, which could provide power for more than 10,000 years, and perhaps as long as 60,000 years.

These types of expansive estimates need to be taken with more than a grain of salt. India had three decades of being locked out of the world’s market for commercial nuclear fuel, and made almost no progress bringing a commercial thorium reactor to completion.  Now that the country is getting the uranium it needs from Australia, efforts to complete additional advanced reactors designs may take a back seat to building operating units using PWR or PHWR designs. The PFBR unit will burn MOX fuel, not thorium.

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One Response to Nuclear news roundup for May 26, 2015

  1. SteveK9 says:

    I think the PFBR was always intended to burn MOX fuel, with a thorium blanket to generate U233. Then plutonium and U233 in the advanced heavy water reactor, with more U233 from thorium and finally just burning U233 to generate more U233 from thorium … although I may be confused. India’s multi-stage plan is awfully complicated.

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