Nuclear News Roundup for August 16, 2015

This report is based on wire services and information published by NucNet and World Nuclear News

China to build 600 MW fast reactor as pilot plant

According to English language news media in China, that country’s government plans to begin building a pilot fast nuclear reactor in Fujian province in 2017.The report first appeared in Shanghai’s China Business News.

According to that report, Xu Mi, a frequently cited researcher at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said construction of a pilot project for a fast neutron reactor in Fujian’s Xiapu province is set to begin at the end of 2017. The pilot plant will be a full scale facility with a capacity of 600 MW.

This isn’t the first fast reactor project in China. In 2011 World Nuclear News reported a prototype 20 MW sodium-cooled fast reactor was connected to the grid in Fujian province. The current project is reported to be an outgrowth of the prototype effort. World Nuclear News updated their profile of China’s work on fast reactors on July 29th of this year.

The Shanghai newspaper speculated that this newest facility, because of its planned full scale size, will be the long anticipated joint commercial venture between China National Nuclear Corp. and TerraPower, a firm based on Bellevue, WA. Gates has been instrumental in funding the development of a type of fast reactor called a “traveling wave reactor” through TerraPower, a company he founded in 2008 and chairs. Gates has visited China at least three times in recent years for possible cooperation on nuclear power.

On his last trip to Beijing, which took place last February of this year, Gates met with Nur Bekri, a vice chair of China’s National Development and Reform Commission, and with China National Nuclear Corp chairman Sun Qin. China National Nuclear Corp is one of the country’s largest nuclear power company and a major Chinese partner of TerraPower. The two firms first announced an intent to cooperate on fast reactor designs in 2012.

The Chinese newspaper did not cite a confirmation statement from Terrapower about the Fujian pilot project and there is no information about it in recent posts to the Terrapower website. According to trade press reports, Terrapower has placed multiple bets for advanced reactor R&D work, including multiple variations of the original traveling wave design, and with different fuel types. It is pursuing partnerships with counterparts in China, South Korea, and Russia.

WNN reported that in January 2013 a prototype TWR-P was being discussed as a TerraPower-SNERDI joint project, and the US Department of Energy had negotiated an agreement with China “that would facilitate the joint development of TWR technology,” including standing wave versions of it.

Russia to produce MOX fuel for BN-800 fast reactor

(NucNet) The first batch of 20 standard fuel assemblies with mixed oxide fuel is being produced in the new MOX Fuel Plant at Russia’s Mining and Chemical Combine (MCC) in Zheleznogorsk. The fuel was produced under a contract to supply the BN-800 fast reactor Beloyarsk 4.

MCC director general Petr Gavrilov told western news agencies the decision to begin production was taken by Rosatom’s top management after regulator Rostechnadzor had inspected the equipment and granted a license. According to wire service reports, the plutonium for the MOX will be supplied by PA Mayak in Ozersk and the uranium by MCC. Component parts for the assemblies are supplied by Mashinostroitelny Zavod. mr. Gavrilov is reported to have added that while some western equipment is used at the plant, he notes that it was acquired prior to the western nation sanctions placed on Russia following the takeover of Crimea.

According to the report, the first 10kg of MOX was produced at MCC last September. The production line has been assembled in a mine 200 meters (656 feet) underground.

China was at one time expected to be a customer for the BN-800 with an agreement in principle in place to take delivery of two units. However, Russia later said that commercialization plans for the BBN-800 have been suspended indefinitely and that the reactor will be more or less an R&D sandbox for experimentation purposes.

Holtec seeks license for spent fuel interim storage site in New Mexico

(WNN) Holtec International has submitted a letter of intent to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for its proposed consolidated interim storage facility for used nuclear fuel to be built at the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance site in south-eastern New Mexico. The letter, dated 3 August, was addressed to Mark Lombard, director of the NRC’s spent fuel management division, and signed by Stefan Anton, Holtec’s vice president of engineering. In it, Holtec requested that the NRC open a part 72 docket to serve as the “repository of information on [Holtec’s] planned licensing interactions” for the project. Part 72 refers to licensing requirements for the independent storage of used nuclear fuel, high-level radioactive waste, and reactor-related greater than Class C waste. Anton wrote that Holtec expects the site to “muster environmental qualification without any difficulty”.

NRC Issues Yucca Mountain EIA Supplement

(NucNet): The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has issued a supplement to the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the planned spent nuclear fuel repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, the NRC said. The supplement describes the environmental impacts which could occur from a potential radioactive contaminant release from the repository into aquifers in the surrounding area. The document also analyses the potential radiological and non-radiological impacts of such an event on the environment, soils, ecology, and public health, as well as the potential for disproportionate impacts on minority or low-income populations over a one million year period. The supplement concludes that all of the potential direct, indirect, and cumulative impacts would be “small”. The supplement is online:

EPC Contractors near completion of delivery team for UK’s Wylfa ABWRs

(WNN) Hitachi has confirmed that it is in exclusive negotiations with the USA’s Bechtel and Japan’s JGC Corporation as potential Tier 1 partners for its Wylfa Newydd delivery team. A Hitachi spokesman told World Nuclear News that it intends to “put together a delivery team which will build on our knowledge of deploying the Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR)” The project involves plans for two 1350 MW ABWR light water reactors.

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