Nuclear News Roundup for August 6, 2016

Duke Gets SER for AP1000 Reactors at William States Lee

(NucNet): There are no safety aspects that would preclude issuing the licenses for construction and operation of two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at Duke Energy’s William States Lee site in Cherokee County, South Carolina, says a final safety evaluation report (SER) by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC),

The NRC said its staff will provide the report and final environmental impact statement on the application to the Commission for the mandatory hearing phase of the licensing process, expected to take place later this year.

In that hearing, the Commission will examine whether the staff’s review supports the findings necessary to issue the licenses. Following the hearing, the Commission will vote on whether to authorize the staff to issue the licenses.

Duke Energy submitted its application for the William States Lee site in December 2007. The new units would be built on the site of Duke Power’s planned Cherokee nuclear station that was not built.

According to WNA Duke said in July 2013, when a delay in the site safety evaluation was announced, that it would maintain a target completion date for the new WSL power plant for some time in the 2020s. Assuming the project breaks ground as early as 2018, that would suggest a start-up date of about 2025-2027 for the 1st and 2nd reactor units in that order.

Georgia Power to Proceed with Early Site Work for New Nuclear Plant

(WNA) State regulators have approved a proposal by Georgia Power to spend up to $99 million on site investigation and licensing costs for a nuclear power plant at a new site at Stewart County in the south-west of the state. The work will be completed by early 2019.

Scope will include site suitability studies and developing a combined operating license (COL) application for the plant. Georgia Power will be required to file a status report on the project in its 2019 integrated resources plan (IRP).

Earlier this year, Georgia Power announced that preliminary work including geological and water studies had begun on a 7,000 acre site next to the Chattahoochee River, south of Columbus, Georgia.

The company said it had begun evaluating the Stewart County site to help to keep its future options open, having learned from experience with its Vogtle construction project that the process to obtain a COL alone can take up to seven years. CEO Paul Bowers said at the time a new plant would not be built until “sometime after 2030” at the earliest.

Commissioner Stan Wise, who proposed the motion to approve Georgia Power’s request, said:

“We’ve seen what happens when regulators do not make the tough decisions […] We see what happens when decisions are deferred, infrastructure crumbles and power is curtailed. We can debate the wisdom of the coal exodus but it must be replaced with something that is cost effective,” he said. “Nuclear power remains among the lowest cost energy source, with a 92% reliability rating and it is carbon free.”

The PSC also approved a revision to Georgia Power’s IRP to include an additional 1,600 MWe of renewable energy by 2021. PSC chair Chuck Eaton said the revised IRP “strikes the right balance between ensuring Georgia Power customers have reliable service and the right mix of resources”.

Another member of the five-man PSC, Tim Echols, emphasized his commitment to ensure a diverse, secure and clean energy supply while keeping rates low. “Adding renewables and nuclear together makes sense,” he said.

China’s CNEC Signs HTGR Agreements With Indonesia, South Africa

(NucNet): China Nuclear Engineering Corporation (CNEC), the Chinese nuclear power plant construction services company, has signed an agreement with the Indonesian government to develop high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGR) in Indonesia.

The agreement calls for both parties to cooperate to develop an Indonesian HTGR, and in training of the facility’s personnel, CNEC said.

China’s first commercial HTGR demonstration project is comprised of two pebble-bed units, a design known as HTR-PM. A unit is under construction in China at Shidaowan in Shandong province.

CNEC also said that it had signed a similar HTGR cooperation agreement with the South Africa Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa). That agreement targets projects and initiatives in the “localization and development” of HTGRs in South Africa.

CNNC Plans Merger of Hualong One Reactor Designs

(Bloomberg) China National Nuclear Corp. said its plan to merge two versions of the country’s leading reactor designs has won favor among nuclear experts, beating out a competing proposal by its partner China General Nuclear Power Corp.

China last year asked its two primary nuclear power operators to merge their competing designs for a domestically designed third-generation reactor, called the Hualong One. The companies jointly formed Hualong International in March to develop and export the home-grown design overseas.

The panel’s ruling showed that “integration of Hualong One technology has achieved substantial progress and laid a good foundation for exporting the technology to overseas markets,” CNNC Chairman Sun Qin said in the statement after the vote.

China has approved construction of at least six Hualong One reactors within the country, according to China General Nuclear. In November 2014, China’s National Energy Board and the China National Nuclear Corporation said they had designated Fuqing-5 and -6 in Fujian for the first deployment of the Hualong One.

The company may build a Hualong One reactor at Bradwell in southern England as part of an agreement signed during President Xi Jinping’s visit in October.

Russia connects first large new reactor to the grid

(WNA) Rosenergoatom has connected its first VVER-1200 reactor to the grid. Novovoronezh 6 is a V-392M version of the reactor in AES-2006 plants, from Moscow Atomenergoproekt, with net capacity 1114 MWe. It is an evolutionary development of the VVER-1000/V-320 and V-392 types. Construction began in June 2008. The plant is on one of the main hubs of the Russian grid, and construction was slowed last year due to low power demand. A second new unit is about two years behind it. This takes Russia’s operating reactors to 36, total 27,167 MWe.

India’s Prototype Fast Breeder Reactor Delayed

(The Hindu) Work on India’s first fast reactor at Kalpakam will be delayed until March 2017, or later. Key issues are safety reviews related to fuel loading and the configuration of 1,750 tonnes of liquid sodium to be used as a coolant.  The fuel for the 500 MW reactor is reported to be a MOX design.

NucNet reported in 2011 that India’s main research and development priority is to concentrate on nuclear fuel cycle issues to support the country’s fast breeder reactor program, the director of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) said.

Ratan Kumar Sinha said in an interview with India’s ‘Frontline’ magazine India has been working on a fast breeder reactor programme for almost 40 years.

By 2020, India plans to have four operational fast breeder units. Two are to be at Kalpakkam – the site of the twin-unit Madras nuclear plant – together with the installations needed for closing the fast-reactor fuel cycle.

He said the spent fuel from India’s imported LWRs, along with India’s existing first generation pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR), will be reprocessed to use in fast breeder reactors.

This plan may be a problem for both Rosatom and Areva which plan to retrograde spent fuel for their own reprocessing plants from the four VVER reactors (2 operational, two under construction) at Kudankulam and the six planned EPR reactors at Jaitapur. Westinghouse, which recently announced it will build six AP1000s for NPCIL, has not said how it plans to disposition of spent fuel once it moves to dry storage.

India has little in the way of natural uranium resources, but it does have abundant thorium. In order to use thorium for fuelling a nuclear power program, it needs be irradiated in a nuclear reactor to breed fissile uranium-233. Reprocessing then separates the fissile material and it can be used to manufacture nuclear fuel.

In January 2011 India opened a new nuclear fuel reprocessing facility at BARC. The plant is said to be capable of reprocessing 100 tonnes of used nuclear fuel a year.

India has two other reprocessing facilities: a similar one at the Kalpakkam nuclear site in southeast India, home to the two-unit Madras nuclear plant, and a smaller reprocessing unit at Tarapur.

Nonproliferation experts have questioned whether India’s operations and plans for reprocessing of spent fuel from LWRs is solely designed to support its three stage, long-term thorium fuel program. The country has an extensive nuclear weapons program used as a deterrent to its arch rival Pakistan, which is also a nuclear state.

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