Nuclear News Roundup for September 11, 2016

Wyoming Lawmakers Warm Up to Spent Nuclear Fuel Site

Wyoming lawmakers and regulatory officials are reported to have said that they’re ready to consider revising laws and possibly take part in a federal effort to build temporary and permanent storage for spent nuclear fuel nuclear power plants.

The Legislature’s Joint Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee is considering the possibility of participating in what the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) says would be a voluntary and “consent-based” approach. The committee heard testimony and public comment on the topic in Casper, resurrecting a controversial idea for Wyoming.

“We are at the very beginning of saying, ‘Hey, what if?’ and ‘How do we do it?’” said Rep. Lloyd Larsen (R-Lander).

The DOE under the Obama administration has started looking for new temporary and permanent storage sites.

Separately, there are two other commercial efforts to license and build interim storage sites for spent nuclear fuel. One is in Andrews, TX, and the other is near Hobbs, NM.

South Africa Energy Minister Says 9.6 Gwe Tender Due this Month

(Reuters) – South Africa will put out requests for proposals on a nuclear procurement process on Sept. 30, energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson told parliament.

South Africa has said it intends to build new nuclear power stations to reduce its heavy dependence on coal, but critics have said the costs will be prohibitive and have questioned the transparency around the process.

Last year Rostom said it has locked up the deal worth at least $50 billion. The premature announcement followed a meeting between South African President Zuma and Russia President Putin. The news set off a firestorm of controversy in South Africa.

It is unclear how the reactors will be paid for since Russia is unlikely to offer more than 50% of the funding.  Eskom, the South African electric utility, has been hobbled by political decisions that have prevented it from raising rates.

Government officials from the South Africa Department of Energy and the Treasury have feuded over financing and the terms of a public tender.

Electricity shortages in South Africa has caused brownouts and the episodic shutdown of heavy industries. Work on a major coal fired power plant has been hit by construction delays.

Argentina’s President Promises Cooperation With CNNC On New Reactors

(NucNet) Argentina will work closely with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to ensure a new Candu heavy water reactor will be put into commercial operation in 2017 and construction of a planned pressurised water reactor (PWR)(Hualong One) unit can begin in 2019,

Argentinian president Mauricio Macri met CNNC’s president Qian Zhimin during the G20 summit in Hangzhou, China, last week, and said the two sides will aim to extend their cooperation to the entire nuclear industry supply chain and shared projects in third-party countries “within three years.”

In November 2015, China and Argentina signed a memorandum of understanding reaffirming plans to build two new nuclear power reactors in the Latin American country with financing from Chinese banks.

The site for the unit has not been announced. The agreements will require China to provide most of the financing for the two new plants.

One of the units will be a third 600 MW Candu reactor at the existing Atucha site. According to CNNC, the second unit will be a 1000 MW Hualong One, which China is  heavily promoting in western countries.

In the UK its efforts have hit headwinds with PM Therresa May calling for a security review of the proposal.

Construction in Vietnam on Ninh Thuan Nuclear Plant Delayed Again

(VietNamNet Bridge) Experts believe the construction of the Ninh Thuan nuclear power plant should be delayed because the country has not adequately prepared for it.

The Prime Minister in March 2016 approved the adjusted 7th power development plan for 2011-2020, which says that the first power generation unit of the first nuclear power plant would be operational by 2028. However, the project could be delayed to 2030.

Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung is quoted as saying if Vietnam still cannot have nuclear power, it would have to develop coal thermal power instead. Vietnam would have to push up the development of renewable energy.

If the domestic sources cannot satisfy demand, Vietnam would have to import electricity from China or Laos.

Meanwhile, Nguyen Nhi Dien, Deputy Director of the Institute of Vietnam Atomic Energy and Director of the Da Lat Nuclear Research Institute, on August 29, affirmed that the Prime Minister’s Decision No 428 remains the latest legal instruction on the project implementation.

“The document says that the first power generation unit would become operational by 2028, while another 3-4 units would be operational by 2030,” Dien said.

However, Dien also said that further delays are possible.  Commenting about the delay, Dien said it was reasonable to delay the operation beyond 2028 because there are still some problems that need to be solved.

“It will take time to examine the project’s items, call for bids and make designs,” he said.

He also emphasized the necessity of preparing the labor force well. About 300-400 engineers have been sent to training courses in Russia, while 100 engineers will return from Japan soon.

According to Nguyen Minh De from the Vietnam Economics Science Association, there are still problems to be discussed. Vietnam will have to import foreign technologies, possibly Japanese and Russian. The terms are still under negotiation.

Vietnam has ambitious plans for nuclear energy with provisional agreements with Russia and Japan to each provide up to four nuclear reactors. Start-up of work  on the power stations has been delayed several times.

The first units are slated to be built in the central highlands by Rosatom. The 1000 MW VVER units will supply electricity for manufacturing and to support development of the country’s aluminum deposits by building smelters and factories to produce finished aluminum products.

IAEA Notes China’s Regulatory Framework Will Need Further Development

(NucNet)  China’s regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety is effective but will require further development due to rapid nuclear energy growth, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts said.

The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) team, which recently concluded a 10-day mission to assess the regulatory safety framework in China, found that most of the recommendations made during an initial mission in 2010 had been implemented

Key areas where further work is needed in areas include managing long-term operation of nuclear power plants and waste management.

China’s authorities should continue progress toward adopting the country’s Nuclear Safety Act, ensuring that it embeds in law the independence and transparency of the regulatory body, and that it assigns responsibility for safety to operators in line with IAEA safety principles.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) and the National Nuclear Safety Administration (NNSA) should expand requirements for operators to ensure financial provisions for decommissioning so they include facilities other than nuclear power plants and fuel cycle facilities.

According to the IAEA, China has 32 nuclear power reactors in commercial operation, 22 more than in 2010. There are 24 nuclear power reactors under construction – the highest number globally – and the country aims to have about 90 reactors in operation or under construction by 2020.

In 2015, nuclear power reactors generated 3% of China’s electricity, a share the country aims to increase to 4% by 2020.

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