(NucNet) Private companies have invested over $1bn in the development of small modular reactors (SMRs), but more investment through public-private partnerships is needed to assure that SMRs are a viable option in the mid-2020s, the US-based SMR Start industry consortium said in a policy statement.
SMR Start is urging Congress to authorize sufficient funds for an SMR commercial deployment program and called for the continuation and expansion of the existing licensing technical support program to include the design and engineering, regulatory review and approval of SMR technologies and facilities.
The statement said that in addition to accomplishing the public benefit from SMR deployment, the federal government would receive a return on investment through taxes associated with investment, job creation and economic output over the lifetime of the SMR facilities that would otherwise not exist without federal investment.
It also called for continuation of the loan guarantee program to support financing for the design and construction of SMR facilities and SMR component manufacturing facilities. The policy statement is online: http://bit.ly/2kQM1vG
The group listed its objectives.
- Establish industry’s strategy for commercialization of SMRs and coordinate with stakeholders on achieving the established goals.
- Serve as a trusted resource for inquiries by legislators, administrative offices, and regulators related to SMRs.
- Develop information that is needed to enable industry, governmental entities and others to establish policies and reach decisions related to SMR development and deployment.
- Identify the potential need for and benefits of government support and public-private partnerships for SMRs.
- Promote development of U.S. SMR designs and supportive domestic supply chains for deployment of U.S. technologies both domestic and abroad.
- Apply “lessons learned” from recent new plant development to SMR designs and projects.
Members of the consortium include AREVA, Bechtel, BWXT, Dominion, Duke Energy, Energy Northwest, Fluor, Holtec International, NuScale Power, Ontario Power Generation, PSEG Nuclear, Southern Nuclear, TVA, and UAMPS
Plant Vogtle could use new fuel when MOX is complete
(Augusta Chronicle) Proponents of the Savannah River Site’s mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility are touting the possibility that once in production, its output, PWR type fuel assemblies in the form of MOX fuel, could be used at Units 3 and 4 at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle.
According to Areva Nuclear Materials LLC, one of the companies involved in MOX design and construction, the Energy Department planned for a subsidized cost structure to make the MOX fuel more attractive.
Plant Vogtle, which could have four operating reactor units when the MOX plant is finished, could make the switch to the mixed-oxide fuel. Up to one-third of the reactor’s fuel assemblies could be MOX fuel. The advantage of the fuel is that there are longer periods between fuel outages during which time the reactor is not generating electricity nor making any money for its investors.
Georgia Power spokesman Jacob Hawkins objected to idea.
“In order to accommodate the potential use of MOX fuel, modifications would be required for the plant’s physical structure, as well as the processes and procedures used to operate the facility.”
He might have also added that the plant would have to modify the NRC license for each reactor based on the change in fuel type. The agency has no experience with this kind of modification of a license.
4th Circuit ruling affirms Virginia uranium mining ban
(AP) A federal appeals court has rejected a Virginia company’s bid to end the state’s decades-long ban on uranium mining.
A panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond has upheld the ruling of a district judge who threw out a lawsuit from Virginia Uranium Inc. challenging the ban.
The Pittsylvania County company wants to mine a 119-million-pound deposit of the radioactive ore. It argued that a federal law should pre-empt state regulations, but the courts disagreed.
Does India still want the Westinghouse reactors despite Toshiba meltdown?
(Reuters)(PTI) In a burst of what can charitably be characterized as wishful thinking, an Indian government official said he does not expect fallout from the financial meltdown at Toshiba Corp to halt plans to buy six nuclear reactors from the Japanese company’s U.S. nuclear unit Westinghouse.
Indian wire services added details to the report. This statement was not made by NPCIL which is the main actor in all matters related to building new nuclear power plants. This raises a question of how credible the statement is as an expression of the Indian’s government’s views on Toshiba’s financial troubles.
India has been in talks for years to build six Westinghouse AP1000 reactors in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh under its drive to expand nuclear generation and to move the economy off polluting fuels like coal.
“As for the technical execution of the project, I do not see many problems,” Sekhar Basu, secretary of the Department of Atomic Energy that reports directly to Modi, told Reuters in a short telephone interview.
The wire service reported that negotiations on the technical and commercial terms of the reactor deal have reached an advanced stage. Not mentioned in the report is any measure of relief from the terms of the supplier liability law that has kept U.S. firms out of the Indian market.
Industry experts said that, if the project is still at all viable, the main logistical challenge would be to locate civil engineering contractors since Westinghouse would only provide the reactors.
India has not yet signed a contract with Westinghouse, nor has cash changed hands. Basu said that talks on financing had not yet begun in earnest. Significantly, he also said the state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) had yet to be updated by Westinghouse on recent developments. Westinghouse and NPCIL did not respond to requests for comment from wire service reporters.
Separately, there is considerable pressure within India’s nuclear industdry to abandon the Westinghouse reactor project and build 700 MW PHWR reactors based on an Indian adaptation of the CANDU technology.
Further, an amendment to the enabling legislation for NPCIL allows it to do joint development efforts with heavy industry such as steel and petrochemicals and even provide electricity for India’s vast electrified rail network. This is seen as an advantage and would build domestic capabilities, supply chains, and not have India relying on western technology.
WIPP to resume taking waste shipments
(Albuquerque Journal) WIPP said it expects to begin accepting shipments of nuclear waste from storage sites around the country in April. Feb 14th marked three years since a radiation accident contaminated the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant outside Carlsbad. After struggling to clean up the deep underground repository, WIPP commenced waste emplacement last month.
WIPP has been moving waste drums underground from an above-ground warehouse, where waste was being temporarily held when a drum of radioactive material burst underground on Feb. 14, 2014, and WIPP was shut down.
WIPP has started off slowly, making just two emplacements per week from the waste handling building, according to a spokesman. When shipments begin, the facility is aiming to make about four emplacements per week by the end of the year compared with an average of 17 per week before the accident.
Los Alamos National Laboratory is on the list of those sites expected to begin shipping in April, along with Department of Energy facilities at Idaho, Oak Ridge and Savannah River. LANL faced its own issues after investigators discovered that the drum that burst at WIPP had been improperly packed by a LANL subcontractor.
The Idaho Falls Post Register reported that the Idaho Cleanup Project will send an estimated 61 shipments of radioactive waste to New Mexico’s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant over the next year, more than any other site, U.S. Department of Energy officials said.
While Idaho cleanup contractor Fluor Idaho will send more than twice the number of shipments of any other site, it will not be nearly enough to make the necessary progress toward meeting a Dec. 31, 1995, Settlement Agreement deadline with the state of Idaho.
Idaho has more than 900 shipments — or more than 20,000 individual containers — of transuranic waste that are supposed to leave by the end of next year.
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