Nuclear News Roundup for 11/27/15

Nuclear news roundup based on reports from World Nuclear News, NucNet, and wire services

Significant Expansion Of Nuclear Is Essential, Says Climate Group

(NucNet): Significant expansion of nuclear energy is needed for the world to achieve an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Nuclear for Climate, a global initiative supported by more than 140 regional and national nuclear associations and technical societies, made the statement in a new position paper.

The paper urges negotiators at the COP21 climate summit to develop “an achievable agreement” for the reduction of greenhouse gasses which ensures countries have the right to choose nuclear energy in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while meeting their energy and development objectives.

“All countries should have the right to choose nuclear energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and meet their national clean energy objectives,” said Jean-Pol Poncelet, secretary-general of the European Nuclear Society.

“All possible solutions have to be carefully considered and all ideologically or doctrinally driven decisions avoided. States should recognise nuclear energy as a greenhouse gas-reducing technology necessary for us to achieve the sustainability we want.” The position paper is online: http://bit.ly/1ObnXP2

UK to close all coal fired power plants by 2025

(WNN) The UK will launch a consultation on the timescale for the closure of all “unabated” coal-fired power stations in the spring of 2016, energy and climate change secretary Amber Rudd announced yesterday.

In a speech on a new direction for UK energy policy to the Institution of Civil Engineers in London, Rudd said that the consultation will set out proposals “to close coal” by 2025 and restrict its use from 2023.

Rudd said that nuclear capacity, alongside gas, would be central to a secure energy future for the UK.

Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear plant gets positive safety review

(Japan Times) Upgrades made Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear plant “much safer,” monitoring panel says Nuclear Reform Monitoring Committee members said safety has improved at Tokyo Electric Power’s Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear plant in Japan after a site visit.

“From what we’ve seen with the physical improvements, I believe the plant is much safer than it has been in the past,” said Dale Klein, former Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman and leader of the monitoring committee. TEPCO has applied to the nation’s Nuclear Regulation Authority for safety inspections on Kashiwazaki Kariwa Units 6 and 7.

Klein said he and other independent advisers were “positively impressed” by safety upgrades made at Tokyo Electric Power’s Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear plant.

“The physical enhancements that have been made and the effort that they are making to develop a safety culture” indicate the facility is closer to satisfying international safety standards, Klein said.

Three Japanese reactors to restart

(WNN) Three Japanese reactors have approval to operate for their full licence periods of 40 years after decisions by the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). One of the units, Sendai 2, is already in operation, the other two, Takahama 3 and 4, are scheduled to restart in early winter 2016.

Under Japanese regulations nuclear power plant operators receive a licence that lasts for 40 years, subject to a review at 30 years in which the NRA checks the operator’s maintenance plan for the unit. Success for this 30-year check was announced on November by Kansai Electric Power Company’s Takahama 3 and 4 as well as by Kyushu Electric Power Company’s Sendai 2.

Argentina closes deal with China for two nuclear reactors

(WNN) Argentina has signed deals with China for the construction of the Latin American country’s fourth and fifth nuclear power plants. The agreements were signed by the president of Nucleoeléctrica Argentina SA, Jose Luis Antunez, and the head of China’s China National Nuclear Corporation, Quian Zhimin, during the G20 summit taking place in Turkey last week.

The projects are worth around $15 billion and China will contribute 85% of the required financing, according to a statement issued by the Argentine president’s office.

Atucha 3 is expected to cost almost $6 billion and to take eight years to build at the Atucha Nuclear Power Plant Complex in Buenos Aires province, where the 335 MWe Atucha I and 745 MWe Atucha 2 currently operate.

Atucha 3 will be a part Canadian-developed Candu reactor running on natural uranium fuel, like the 648 MWe Embalse Candu reactor in Córdoba province. CNNC operates two Candu 6 units at its Qinshan plant in China’s Zhejiang province.

Separately, China will export its Hualong One 1000 MW PWR to Argentina for a first of a kind build outside of that country. A site has not yet been announced for the PWR.

Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez, whose presidential term ends in December, will be succeeded by Mauricio Macri, who won the presidential elections. There are reports of concerns expressed by Mr Macri’s advisers about the nuclear plant agreements, including the allegation that they may have been “hastily entered into.”

Separately, earlier this year Rosatom inked a deal with Argentina for the nation’s sixth nuclear reactor. It is not clear whether the new government will also question this project.

Completion of Japan’s MOX fuel pushed back two years

(WNN) Completion of Japan’s Rokkasho reprocessing plant and mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel factory have been postponed by around two years as work continues to comply with new safety requirements.

Japan Nuclear Fuels Ltd (JNFL) said that Rokkasho would be complete in mid-2018 rather than early 2016, while the MOX plant will be complete in mid-2019 instead of late 2017.

Together the facilities will store used nuclear fuel from Japanese nuclear power plants before separating it into one stream of waste for disposal and another stream of uranium and plutonium that would be recycled in new MOX fuel assemblies. This work has previously been carried out for Japanese power companies at similar facilities in France and the UK.

JNFL said the reprocessing plant needs a new emergency response centre twice as large as the one that was completed around the time of the Fukushima accident in 2011.

Furthermore the new building will need to be anchored to the bedrock. Similarly, an existing water storage tank built before the new regulations came in must be retrofitted with anchors to secure it to the bedrock. In addition, a large amount of piping must be upgraded to higher seismic standards.

All this work will take another 2.5 years for the reprocessing plant and 3.5 years for the MOX plant, JNFL said, based on the current rate of progress in agreed upon changes with regulators.

Energy Solutions buys Texas radioactive waste firm

(WNN) Energy Solutions Inc has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Waste Control Specialists LLC (WCS), operator of a low-level radioactive and hazardous wastes waste processing, treatment, storage and disposal facility in Andrews County, Texas, for $270 million in cash and $20 million in stock. Energy Solutions will also assume about $77 million of debt as well as all financial assurance obligations related to the WCS business.

One of the longer term prospects for the Texas site is described in a proposal to develop the facility as an interim storage site for spent nuclear fuel. Waste Control Specialists is partnered with Areva to develop the project.

India’s cabinet expands prospects for new NPCIL projects

(WNN) India’s cabinet has decided to amend the country’s atomic energy act to enable the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) to enter joint ventures with other public sector undertakings, the Economic Times of India reported, citing minister of state Jitendra Singh.

The move will help to speed up nuclear power projects by helping NPCIL to secure finance, Singh said. The first project under the new law is said to be a nuclear reactor intended to supply electricity to an aluminum plant.

Dominion to be first utility to request 80-year nuclear plant life span

(Bloomberg) Dominion Resources plans to request a second license extension for its Surry nuclear plant in Virginia, which would make it the first plant to increase its planned life span to 80 years. The outcome of the request could serve as a precedent for dozens of US nuclear plants that are approaching the end of their operating licenses, analysts say.

Separately, Dominion Virginia Power is looking at the possibility of adding a third reactor.

“It’s a different design. We went out and we got competitive bids, and we’ve decided to go with an ESBWR reactor from General Electric. The original units built in the 1970s are Westinghouse units,” said site vice president Gerald Bischof.

NRC issues final EIS for Salem & Hope Creek ESP

(NucNet): US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the US Army Corps of Engineers have issued the final environmental impact statement for an early site permit (ESP) application from PSEG Power and PSEG Nuclear for a site next to the existing Salem and Hope Creek nuclear power stations in Salem County, New Jersey.

The 2,000-page statement concludes that environmental impacts would not preclude the NRC issuing the permit. The ESP process allows an applicant to address site-related issues for possible future construction and operation of a nuclear power station. PSEG submitted the application in 2010. If approved, the permit would be valid for 20 years, allowing PSEG time to decide whether to apply for a licence to build and operate a reactor at the New Jersey site.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan told wire services PSE&G is not committed to building even one reactor, but could construct two under the Early Site Permit, or ESP, it applied for. The utility applied in 2010 when fossil fuels were much more expensive. Early estimates call for a $14 billion project.

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