Nuclear News Roundup for 12/26/15

Fuel Loading Complete at TVA’s Watts Bar II

(WNA) The loading of 193 nuclear fuel assemblies into the core of unit 2 of the Watts Bar nuclear power plant has been completed, the Tennessee Valley Authority announced yesterday. The 1165 MW PWR will enter the final phase of commissioning during which the unit’s performance is tested as the power output is gradually increased to full capacity. Watts Bar 2 is scheduled to begin operations in 2016.

Russia’s BN-800 Fast Reactor Connected to the Grid

(NucEngIntl)) The BN-800 fast neutron reactor at unit 4 of the Beloyarsk NPP in Russia’s Sverdlovsk district was connected to the national grid on 12/10/15.. The reactor was raised to 25% of its nominal capacity.The generator was synchronized with the electricity grid. The new unit joined the energy system at a minimum power level of 235MW.

Beloyarsk nuclear plant director Ivan Sidorov told Nuclear Engineering International (NEI) that the startup phase is a work in progress with the next stage being an increase in capacity to 50%, pilot operation and a gradual increase in capacity to 100%.

“So we still have a lot of work ahead of us. But the most important milestone in the history of the new power unit has been achieved right now.”

Boris Vasilyev, chief BN designer at OKBM told NEI, “The start of the BN-800 confirms the efficiency of the design of the reactor facility, showing the possibility of applying the same basic technical solutions to future projects, primarily in the BN-1200 project now being developed. “

Beloyarsk 4 is fuelled by a mix of uranium and plutonium oxides arranged to produce new fuel material as it burns. The reactor was first brought to minimum controlled power in June 2014, with the start of operation planned for the end of that year.

China Approves Four More Reactors Using New LWR Designs

(WNA) China’s State Council has approved the construction of two more units at each of the Tianwan and Fangchenggang nuclear power plant sites.

In meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, the State Council gave its approval for units 5 and 6 of the Tianwan nuclear power plant in Jiangsu province. These units will feature 1080 MW ACPR1000 reactors and will be 50% owned by China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC), 30% by China Power Investment and 20% by Jiangsu Guoxin Asset Management Group.

It also approved the construction of two Hualong One reactors as units 3 and 4 of the Fangchenggang plant in Guangxi province. These units are owned 61% by China General Nuclear (CGN) and 39% by Guangxi Investment Group.

A total of six reactors are planned to operate at the Fangchenggang site. Units 3 and 4 are planned to be based on Hualong One reactors, and units 5 and 6 are to be Westinghouse designed AP1000s.

CNNC has already started construction of unit 5 of its Fuqing nuclear power plant in Fujian province based on its version of the Hualong One design. CGN has earlier said it plans to start construction of Fangchenggang units 3 and 4 – for which its own version of the reactor design has already been approved – later this year.

Fangchenggang 3 and 4 will be the reference plant for the proposed Bradwell B plant in the UK. CGN has agreed to form a joint venture company with EDF Energy to seek regulatory approval for a UK version of the Hualong One design.

Finland’s Hanhikivi-1 to Pour First Concrete in 2018

(NucNet) The construction licensing process for the planned Hanhikivi-1 nuclear power station in Finland is on schedule with the pouring of first concrete expected in early 2018, Fennovoima’s licensing manager Janne Liuko told NucNet.

Mr Liuko said the company expects to receive the construction licence for the plant, at Pyhäjoki on Finland’s northwest coast, in late 2017. The application was submitted to the Finnish Ministry of Employment and the Economy in June 2015.

Hanhikivi-1 will be a 1,200-megawatt VVER pressurised water reactor of the Russian AES-2006 type. Start of commissioning is scheduled for 2022 and commercial operation for 2024.

Rosatom Will Not Stop Work on Turkey Nuclear Project

(NucNet) The issue of whether Russia decides to go ahead and build Turkey’s first nuclear power plant must be decided by state nuclear corporation Rosatom and its partners, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at his annual news conference in Moscow.

“The future of the project is a purely commercial matter and we will not take any steps that would harm our economic interests, but this is for Rosatom and its partners to decide,” Mr Putin was quoted as saying.

Earlier this month media reports indicated Rosatom had stopped work at Akkuyu, but it had not terminated the contract and was reluctant to do so because of heavy compensation clauses.

Political tensions between Russia and Turkey flared after the shooting down of a Russian military jet on November 24th. Russian officials said the suspension of major bilateral projects might become part of Russia’s response to the incident. Apparently, the Akkuyu plant, which will be composed of four 1200 MW VVERs, isn’t one of them. The project will cost an estimated $22 billion.

Putin said Russia has already invested about $3bn (€2.7bn) in the project to build the plant at Akkuyu in the southern province of Mersin.

Omnibus Appropriations Act Strongly Supports Nuclear Energy

(NucNet) The FY2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act signed into law by President Barack Obama will see nuclear energy programs receive $986m (€902m) in fiscal 2016, an increase of $80M, or nine percent, over the budget request.

The money will be targeted to “critical areas” of innovative nuclear energy research that advances clean air energy and energy security, the Washington-based Nuclear Energy Institute said in a statement.

In line with the recent White House Summit on Nuclear Energy and the international agreement resulting from the UN climate conference in Paris, the Act supports funding for small modular reactors (SMRs) and the development of new advanced reactors.

It provides $141M for reactor concepts research and development, an increase of $30M over the budget request, and $203M for fuel cycle R&D. The small reactor licensing programme will continue to receive “strong support” with funding of $62.5M in fiscal 2016. For details see NEI’s website: http://bit.ly/1QHasJd

DOE Increases In Funding Benefit Idaho National Laboratory

(Idaho Statesman) The $1.1 trillion omnibus spending package that will fund the federal government through September 2016 “contains many critical wins for Idaho and Western States,” Idaho Rep. Mike Simpson said in a statement to the newspaper praising the bill.

  • Increased funding for operations and programs at Idaho National Laboratories, including infrastructure maintenance and improvements, safeguards and security, and various research projects – a $73 million increase in spending.
  • $396 million for cleanup activities associated with the Idaho Cleanup Project and the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project co-located on the Idaho desert with INL, an increase of $16.5 million.
  • $2 million more for work at INL on the National Spent Fuel Program and another $2 million to create tools to assess threats to the energy grid, including electric, oil and gas, and nuclear sectors.

NRC Expects To Consider SMR Design Certification In 2016

(Bloomberg) A design certification for NuScale’s small modular reactors should be received by the end of next year, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Stephen Burns.

“I think that’s an important area, particularly when we consider that there are potentially other advanced [non-light water] reactor developers who have an interest of potentially getting their design in front of the NRC, maybe not next year, or the year after, but in the next five to 10 years,” Burns said.

The NRC staff is also planning to issue a report in March as part of its Project Aim 2020 program which will outline how to re-baseline the agency’s mission and priorities and reduce staff to align with the fewer-than-expected new nuclear reactor applications it has received over the years, Burns said.

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