Nuclear News Briefs for 12/12/15

Idaho site reviewed as possible home for SMR

inl_logo(wire services) Department of Energy Department officials and the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) energy cooperative are considering the Idaho National Laboratory site for housing and operating small modular reactors.

“There is a lot of space and the early indication is that there is water and there is good (power line) transmission,” said LaVarr Webb, spokesman for the cooperative.

“The local leaders seem to be supportive and the (Department of Energy) also seems to be supportive.” INL Deputy Director of Science and Technology Todd Allen said the laboratory would “certainly love to be the host” of the SMRs.”

NuScale is developing its 50 MW SMR for UAMPS, but the utility is years away from formal commitment to a site as part an NRC license application.

Hostility to nuclear energy projects in the state led by former Idaho governors Cecil Andrus and Phil Batt recently scuttled plans for a small quantity of spent nuclear fuel to sent to the INL from other reactors for R&D evaluation. It is unclear what position they or their supporters might take on new spent fuel from a commercial nuclear reactor that actually operates in the state.

NuScale SMRs Can Be A ‘Game-Changer’ Says US Energy Secretary

(NucNet) Small modular reactors (SMRFs) being developed by NuScale Power can be a “game-changer” by making nuclear power plants more affordable to build, US energy secretary Ernest Moniz said.

“The proof will be in the pudding in terms of the economic performance, but it looks very promising and that can be a game-changer,” Bloomberg quoted Mr Moniz as saying at the COP21 climate talks in Paris.

“If we have a viable pathway at building nuclear power in smaller bites, the whole financing structure can change and make it much more affordable. If we can demonstrate the first modular reactor in the early part of the next decade, then what we hope is it’s part of the planning process in the middle of the next decade for our utilities. Around 2030 the 60-year lifetime of existing reactors will start to kick in, and that’s a time period when utility commitments to a new round of nuclear will be especially important.”

Wisconsin legislature may overturn ban on new nuclear reactors

(WNN) A bill seeking to overturn Wisconsin’s 32-year old moratorium on building new nuclear power plants has been approved by the Wisconsin Assembly Energy and Utilities Committee. The bill opposes legal requirements that a federally licensed facility for used nuclear fuel must be available and the economic advantages of a nuclear power plant must be demonstrated before a plant can be built. The bill will now go forward for approval by the full state Assembly.

If passed would NuScale think about becoming a cheese head?

Idaho Expert: Nuclear energy’s radiation limits outmoded

(EENews) The restrictive and outdated radiation limits placed on the nuclear energy industry have led to increased costs and reactor development time, according to Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar, associate chairwoman of Idaho State University’s nuclear engineering and health physics program.

“The regulations say that no nuclear facility can expose a person to a fraction of what people are exposed to living in the world,” Dunzik-Gougar said.

“We live in a radioactive world. If it was so dangerous, we would be seeing different effects. There has to be a sort of refocus on basing laws and regulations on what we actually know.”

Maybe Andrus and Batt should take a trip to Pocatello and have a chat with Prof. Dunzik-Gougar?

Russia’s Beloyarsk-4 Fast Neutron Reactor Connected To The Grid

(NucNet) Unit 4 of the Beloyarsk nuclear station in Sverdlovsk Oblast, central Russia, was connected to the grid on 12/10 Rosatom said.  Beloyarsk-4 is a 789-megawatt sodium-cooled fast neutron reactor of the BN-800 design, burning mixed uranium-plutonium fuel. The unit is operating at 35% of its design capacity generating 235 megawatts of electrical output into the grid.

It is scheduled to begin commercial operation by the end of 2016 and will be the most powerful fast reactor unit in commercial operation in the world. There is one commercially operational reactor at the Beloyarsk station, the Beloyarsk-3 BN-600 fast neutron unit, a smaller version of the BN-800.

(WNN) Since construction start in 2006 the 789 MWe net BN-800 has been delayed by lack of funds.  It is a demonstration unit for fuel and design features for the BN-1200, which will be the first full commercial fast reactor.  Russia plans to have three of them on line by 2035

Russia offers to reprocess Fukushima spent fuel

(WNN) Russia’s Mayak reprocessing plant would be “technically ready” by the start of 2017 to treat used nuclear fuel from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, the company has said, citing its deputy general director for the production of civilian goods, Sergey Kirillov. The statement followed the recent visit by a delegation from Russian state nuclear corporation Rosatom to the Japanese plant’s site, where the possibility of reprocessing the fuel at Mayak was discussed.

“No Brainer” quote of the week

(WNN) Australia should establish a high-level waste repository to store radioactive waste from other countries as well as repatriating waste arising from its exported uranium, the country’s former foreign minister Gareth Evans has told South Australia’s Royal Commission into the nuclear fuel cycle. “My personal view is it’s a complete no brainer for Australia to go down this path,” said Evans, whose comments were reported in The Australian newspaper.

US Export-Import Bank back in business

(WNN) US President Barack Obama signed a bill reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank, which supports the sale of US goods and services abroad and is a pre-requisite for major nuclear exports. The bill, part of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act of 2015, was signed on 4 December.

Westinghouse AP1000s pass crucial tests in China’s new nuclear build

(WNN) Containment structural integrity tests at Haiyang unit 1, the first of two AP1000s under construction at the site in China’s Shandong province, were successfully completed on 12/4 the State Nuclear Power Technology Company announced. Such tests were successfully completed recently at unit 1 of the Sanmen plant, expected in September 2016 to become the first AP1000 to begin operating.

Tepco Releases IAEA Report On Kashiwazaki Kariwa

(NucNet) The Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear station in Japan has implemented “comprehensive and robust defences against severe accidents including additional tsunami and internal flood protection measures, and improved static and mobile back-up electrical power supplies, pumps and heat exchangers, according to a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Tepco made the 67-page IAEA Operational Safety Review Team (Osart) report public. The IAEA review of Units 6 and 7 at the seven-unit Kashiwazaki Kariwa station took place in July and was not a regulatory review or a formal part of Tepco’s request for government approval to restart the facility. All seven reactors at Kashiwazaki Kariwa are offline for inspections and safety upgrades. The report is online: http://bit.ly/1NkqnGX

Finland advances nuclear projects

(WNN) Teollisuuden Voima Oyj said it expects the instrumentation and control system, equipment, pipeline and cabling installations to be completed at the first-of-a-kind EPR reactor at Olkiluoto next spring, when system commissioning will be started. The Finnish utility will then apply for an operating license for the unit, which is expected to start operations in December 2018.

The public comment period has opened for the environmental permit applications for Fennovoima’s planned Hanhikivi 1 nuclear power plant in Pyhäjoki.

First fuel loading at TVA’s Watts Bar 2

(wire services) Workers with the Tennessee Valley Authority have begun loading the first of 193 nuclear fuel assemblies into Watts Bar unit 2. Construction on the PWR began in 1972, but was suspended in 1985. TVA resumed the project in 2007, and the unit is expected to begin operations in early 2016.

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