Nuclear News Roundup for July 11, 2016

Fluor Idaho Begins Operations at DOE’s Idaho Site

make_it_so_star_trek_225_button10Operational responsibilities for environmental management work at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho Operations Office were transitioned to Fluor Idaho, LLC ON June 1, marking the start of a five-year, $1.4 billion contract to support cleanup at the Department’s Idaho site.

Fluor Idaho will focus on safely integrating, accelerating, and delivering the Idaho cleanup mission, including processing transuranic waste for disposal, completing  retrieval of buried nuclear waste, and managing spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste. It has a big job ahead of it.

The work consolidates the Idaho Cleanup Project and Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project contracts, and will support multiple national and state regulatory agreements, including the 1995 Idaho Settlement Agreement.

Fluor Idaho will lead a workforce of approximately 1,700 personnel, the vast majority of whom were already performing cleanup work with the incumbent contractors.

Fluor leads a team that includes subcontractors CH2M, Waste Control Specialists, and Idaho-based small businesses North Wind, Inc. and Portage, Inc.

The Idaho Falls Post Register reported on July 7 that a top priority is moving US Navy spent nuclear fuel from wet to dry storage.

The cleanup contractor’s biggest challenge, says Fred Hughes, President of Fluor Idaho, is getting the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU) into operation to process 900,000 gallons of liquid radioactive waste.

The IWTU was supposed to cost $160M when work started in 2005 under a different set of contractors, but technical difficulties, and changes in design direction from DOE, have delayed completion of the facility and pushed the price tag north of $500M.

Hughes says his company has put together a new project plan for the IWTU which will include a small test facility in Colorado and more test runs with simulated waste at the main plant. A national panel of experts will provide oversight on the project’s operational progress.

This is the fourth time in his career Hughes, 61, has worked on a nuclear project at the Idaho site. He told the newspaper, “we can make this process work.”

Florida Power & Light Pushes Back Start Dates for Turkey Point 6 & 7

Plans to build two new Westinghouse 1150 MW AP1000 nuclear reactors near Miami have been delayed to 2028. Key factors include the timing of increased demand for electricity and other economic factors.

The project costs are still being estimated, but given the current plan to start construction sometime after 2020, total costs for the project could be as much as $20 billion.

FPL has run into opposition to charging back costs on the project from the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC). So far ratepayers have reimbursed the utility for $282 million in costs. The PSC and FPL recently signed off on a plan to defer collection of another $22M until 2018.

The utility also asked the PSC to exempt it from a requirement to assess the economics of a power station that is so far in the future. However, anti-nuclear groups and Florida’s Office of Public Counsel objected to the request arguing that FPL is asking for the exemption because it can’t make a dollars and cents case for the reactors.

Opponents point out the analysis is needed based on a 2006 law that shifts the cost recovery burden to rate payers if a feasibility study shows the power station is a good deal for rate payers.

For its part, FPL said it still plans to move ahead with the project. The Palm Beach Post reported July 7 that utility spokesman Peter Robbins said,

“FPL continues to pursue the federal and state approvals necessary to create the opportunity to build new nuclear units at Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant.”

“We believe there is tremendous value for our customers in FPL having the option to proceed with new, reliable, emissions-free nuclear energy.”

In 2009 FPL submitted a COL application to the NRC. The final environmental impact statement is expected in October of this year. An NRC license for each reactor is expected by the end of 2017.

EDF / Areva Submit New Plan to Build Six EPRs at Jaitapur

The Economic Times of India reports July 7 that two French state-owned nuclear giants have submitted a new plan for building nuclear reactors at the Jaitapur site on India’s west coast. Instead of just two 1650 MW units, the plan now calls for all six to be built. Previously, the plan was to build two units and then evaluate future needs for another four reactors in the future.

EDF officials told the newspaper planning for all six units to be built will bring down costs because the supply chains, including local procurement of long lead time components from Indian firms, will be more focused and reliable.

Senior executives from EDF and Areva are now in detailed financial negotiations with the Nuclear Power Corporation  of India (NPCIL) on the new proposal.  EDF took over management of the project as part of the recapitalization of Areva’s nuclear division.

A key issue for EDF is India’s civil liability law for nuclear plants. EDF has asked the NPCIL provide the same level of protection that India has signed up for on an international level to domestic projects.

India ratified an international convention on compensation for nuclear damages, but has not modified its domestic law in this area. An insurance fund has been created to pay for damages, but industry analysts point out that at less than $300M, it is unlikely to cover costs associated with a major nuclear accident.

EDF said the French government wants binding conditions for protection on the Jaitapur project.

During a visit to India earlier this year, French President Francois Hollande and Indian PM Narandra Modi signed off on a roadmap to conclude all project negotiations by the end of 2016.

Blue Castle Project Begins Selection Process for New Nuclear Power Plant Construction Contractors in Utah

Blue Castle Holdings is beginning the contractor selection process for its construction joint venture for a two-unit 2200 MW nuclear power plant in Green River, Utah. The firm is hosting a project overview webinar on July 21, 2016 at 1:00 PM MDT. Information and registration forms for firms can be found on the web

The webinar is limited to qualified contractors with the capability to execute large contracts in heavy civil, mechanical, electrical, structural building, engineering, industrial procurement, modular fabrication and project management. It is not a public meeting.

Contractors qualified under Appendix B, ASME Nuclear Quality Assurance (NQA-1) programs are required for about 70% of the scope of work. About 30% of work scope will be conducted under other typical industrial construction standards.

The combined estimated contract work available to construction joint venture participants is approximately $8 billion in nuclear and non-nuclear related plant and infrastructure work over a seven year time frame. The project is expected to start in 2020 for non-safety related work and 2022 for nuclear safety related work. This timetable would put completion of the first of two reactors at about 2028 although the company has not announced that date.

NRC Licensing Status

The Blue Castle Project has not yet submitted a COL license application to the NRC for its project’s reactors. According to an NRC status report the agency has a provisional schedule showing the start of licensing activities sometime in 2017.

According to a February 2016 NRC congressional budget briefing, the Blue Castle Early Site Permit (ESP) is experiencing delays in its development of an ESP application with revised plans to submit its application during FY  2017.

Reactor for the Project

The firm’s original plans involved the possible use of GE-Hitachi new ESBWR. However, in 2014 Blue Castle and Westinghouse announced plans to develop two 1150 MW AP1000 reactors at the Green River, UT, site.

The companies will work together to develop a scope of activities including marketing, nuclear safety licensing, permitting, design, engineering, procurement, construction, installation, commissioning, startup, testing, nuclear fuel, refueling, operation and maintenance of the two-unit plant.

The proposed multi-unit Blue Castle Nuclear Project could increase the electricity generated in Utah by approximately 30% by adding 2,200 MW of installed electrical capacity. It is expected that about 1,000 permanent full-time employees will work at the plant for 60 years, and that more than 2,500 workers will work during the projected six year construction of the multi-unit plant.

Water Rights

A November 2013 court ruling approved water for use at the proposed Blue Castle Holdings new nuclear power project in Green River. Blue Castle is now the first new nuclear site in the western U.S. with an approved water source, the single most important asset for deployment of a new nuclear power project.

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