Nuclear fuel reload begins at Bruce Unit 2

Issue 3 and Volume 4.

The 4,700 MW Bruce Power station on the shores of Lake Huron. Copyright © 2011 Bruce Power Inc., all rights reserved.

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) will allow Bruce Power to begin to reload fuel into Unit 2 and continue with refurbishment activities.

As the Bruce A Units 1 and 2 refurbishment project nears completion, the units are being returned to service through a process, which includes regulatory hold points. The CNSC’s action follows Bruce Power’s request for the release of the fuel reload hold point for Unit 2.

CNSC approval is still required to remove the shutdown guarantees and restart the reactor.

CNSC staff said it is satisfied that Bruce Power is qualified to reload fuel to Unit 2 and has made adequate provisions for the safety of the public, workers and the environment.

Unit 2 is expected to synchronize with the province’s electrical grid by the end of the year, followed by Unit 1 early next year.


Fukushima nuclear power plant experienced full meltdowns, agency says

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant experienced full meltdowns at three of the plant’s reactors, a nuclear agency was quoted as saying to CNN.

An evaluation from Japan’s Nuclear Emergency Response Headquarters goes further than previous statements describing the extent of the damage following the earthquake and tsunami in March.

The agency reportedly said units 1, 2 and 3 experienced full meltdowns.

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the plant’s owner, said fuel rods in units 2 and 3 may have melted during the first week of the disaster and that a major part of fuel rods in Unit 2 melted and fallen to the bottom of the pressure vessel. Unit 1’s fuel rods melted within the first 16 hours of the disaster and are now sitting at the bottom of the pressure vessel.

Parts of the fuel rods in Unit 3 are also believed to be sitting at the bottom of the pressure vessel, the article said.

A Japanese nuclear engineer told a panel of U.S. scientists on May 27 that nuclear fuel at the plant began melting just hours after the earthquake struck.

TEPCO, however, reportedly estimates a full meltdown did not occur in units 2 and 3.


Taiwan to proceed with construction of new plant

Taiwan’s legislature has approved NT$14 billion ($482.76 million) for the ongoing construction of a fourth nuclear power plant on the island. The two-unit Lungmen nuclear power plant will utilize Advanced Boiling Water Reactors and will have a capacity of 2,600 MW when complete.

The June 13th move by the ruling Nationalist-controlled legislature comes despite rising public concerns over the safety of nuclear power after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Since the quake, President Ma Ying-jeou has said he will continue Taiwan’s nuclear power program, while main opposition presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen has proposed to gradually eliminate the use of nuclear power.

Taiwan currently has 4,900 MW of nuclear power generation from six units.


Italy says ‘no’ to nuclear

Italians have voted overwhelmingly against a return to nuclear power in a national referendum, repealing legislation allowing the construction of new reactors.

According to World Nuclear News, 54.79 percent of citizens participated in the poll held on June 12 and 13, and over 94 percent of these voted against the construction of any new nuclear reactors in Italy.

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi told journalists that Italy “must say goodbye to the possibility of nuclear power stations and we must strongly commit ourselves to renewable energy.”

Italy’s previous nuclear power plants were all shut down following a referendum in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl accident, a move that was described in 2008 as a ‘50 billion Euro mistake’ by then economic minister Claudio Scajola. The latest referendum outcome will not affect decommissioning work on those retired nuclear sites, nor the search for a national repository for radioactive waste.


Canadian nuclear regulator releases task force criteria for safety review

A task force established under the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) will examine operational and technical implications of the nuclear event in Japan in relation to Canadian nuclear power plants.

The task force is in response to a request on March 17 from the CNSC that all nuclear power plants in Canada re-examine their safety cases, underlying defense-in-depth against external hazards, severe accident scenarios and emergency preparedness procedures and guidelines. It comprises of senior CNSC subject matter experts in reactor design, safety assessment and emergency preparedness and response.

The task force will also review the CNSC’s regulatory framework to identify any additional requirements or guidance that may be necessary and evaluate licensees’ responses to the request. Detailed nuclear power plant safety review criteria have been developed, which the task force will use in their assessment of the safety cases and emergency preparedness of nuclear power plants in Canada.

There will be an update at the next regularly scheduled meeting of the Commission on August 10 and a final report on the task force’s findings and recommendations will be issued at the end of September 2011.

The Canadian approach is consistent with the review activities currently underway by nuclear regulators around the world.


Nuclear power plant fuel set for Watts Bar Unit 2

Tennessee Valley Authority’s Watts Bar nuclear power plant. Photo courtesy of TVA.

Westinghouse Electric Co. said it will begin shipping nuclear fuel to the Tennessee Valley Authority’s (TVA) Watts Bar site for use in the 1,800 MW Unit 2 reactor. TVA recently received a license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to receive, inspect and store new nuclear fuel for the reactor.

Westinghouse manufactured the fuel assemblies at its Columbia Fuel Fabrication Facility in Columbia, S.C., and will ship the assemblies between late June and August 2011. Fuel loading is expected to begin in 2012 at Watts Bar 2, which is currently under construction. Once licensed to operate by the NRC, Unit 2 will be the first new reactor to achieve commercial operations in the U.S. since Watts Bar Unit 1 in 1996 and will add 1,180 MW to the TVA power system.


Areva signs nuclear upgrades agreement with Entergy

Areva DZ LLC, a joint venture of Areva and Day & Zimmerman ECM, has signed agreements with Entergy Nuclear for future upgrades at all nine Entergy nuclear plant sites.

The five-year agreements include full-scope engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services for capital projects to upgrade the sites for future operations. Entergy owns 11 nuclear units at nine plant sites. The 11 nuclear units include five General Electric boiling water reactors (BWRs), three Combustion Engineering pressurized water reactors (PWRs), one Babcock and Wilcox PWR and two Westinghouse PWRs. Entergy’s nuclear fleet includes the 688 MW Pilgrim, 605 MW Vermont Yankee, 2,069 MW Indian Point, 798 MW Palisades, 838 MW FitzPatrick, 978 MW River Bend, 1,133 MW Grand Gulf, 1,839 MW Arkansas Nuclear One and 1,176 MW Waterford stations.

Areva DZ LLC was formed in April 2009 to offer all U.S. operating sites full EPC services for plant modifications under a single contracting model.

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