Nuclear, Reactors

License for Calvert Cliffs 3 in Maryland denied

Issue 5 and Volume 5.

Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, Units 1 and 2. Photo courtesy of CCNPPI and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant, Units 1 and 2. Photo courtesy of CCNPPI and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

UniStar Nuclear Operating Services, LLC and Calvert Cliffs 3 Nuclear Project, LLC cannot build a third unit at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Maryland, judges from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) ruled on Aug. 30. The judges said the applicants cannot receive a combined license to build and operate an Areva EPR at Calvert Cliffs since the applicants are 100 percent owned by a foreign corporation.

“A license cannot be issued in this proceeding until the ownership issue is properly corrected,” the judges wrote in the 29-page decision.

When UniStar originally applied for the COL, Electricite de France (EDF) and Constellation Energy Group were 50/50 partners in UniStar and the Calvert Cliffs 3 project. In November 2010, Constellation sold its 50 percent interest in UniStar to EDF, making EDF the sole owner of UniStar. EDF now has 60 days to find a U.S. partner before the ASLB considers the proceeding concluded.

“As no contentions remain pending, the Board will terminate this proceeding 60 days after the issuance of this order unless, within that time, Applicants provide information to show that they have changed their ownership situation so as to satisfy foreign ownership, control, and domination requirements,” the judges wrote.

Constellation Energy Nuclear Group, a joint venture between Exelon Corp. and EDF, owns 100 percent of the two-unit, 1,750 MW Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant.

Exelon cancels plans for new nuclear plant in Texas

Exelon Corp. on Aug. 28 said it is halting efforts to gain initial federal regulatory approvals for new nuclear construction in Victoria County, Texas.

The company said it has notified the NRC that it will withdraw its Early Site Permit application for an 11,500-acre tract southeast of Victoria. Exelon said the action is in response to low natural gas prices and economic and market conditions that have made construction of new merchant nuclear power plants in competitive markets uneconomical now and for the foreseeable future.

“This is all about the economics of the project, which are driven by commodity and financial markets. I cannot stress enough how important it was to us to have partnered with Victoria, and we look forward to other Texas partnerships in the future,” said Marilyn Kray, vice president of Nuclear Project Development for Exelon Generation.

Exelon originally submitted an application for a combined construction and operating license (COL) for the Victoria County site in 2008, but never made a decision to build a nuclear plant there. In 2010 the company applied for an Early Site Permit, a change in licensing strategy that allowed Exelon to continue with some aspects of site evaluation and regulatory approvals while deferring a construction decision for up to 20 years.

The Aug. 28 withdrawal brings an end to all project activity.

Industry, U.S. Navy sign workforce partnership for veterans

The nuclear energy industry and the U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program in August signed an agreement establishing the first program that allows personnel leaving the Navy to transition to civilian employment. The Nuclear Energy Institute said the agreement is the first formal partnership between the Navy and the nuclear energy industry designed to put veterans to work in the domestic nuclear energy field.

Nuclear-trained naval personnel who have decided to leave the service following the end of their commitment will have the option to have their contact information provided to industry recruiters with the nearly 30 companies that have signed the agreement. The agreement expands from the civilian sector to also include recruitment by the Navy for enlisted positions through the industry’s Nuclear Uniform Curriculum Program, a partnership with 38 community colleges to educate the next generation of nuclear technicians, operators and maintenance personnel. The agreement will allow the Navy to directly recruit from the partner colleges.

Plant management turned over to Exelon

Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) officials said on Aug. 16 that they have signed an operating services agreement turning over management of the 500 MW Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant to a unit of Exelon Generation LLC.

Exelon Nuclear Partners, a division of Exelon Generation, has been assisting with the recovery of the plant since January 2012. The agreement will increase Exelon’s involvement in the management of the plant. OPPD remains the owner and operator of the plant, while Exelon will provide the day-to-day operations management of the plant.

“While we have made significant progress in our recovery efforts, this operating agreement will help take Fort Calhoun Station to the next level,” said W. Gary Gates, president and chief executive officer of OPPD.

Fort Calhoun has been offline since April 2011 for a scheduled refueling outage. During that time, the plant was inundated with a flood from the nearby Missouri River. The NRC has been working with OPPD to address regulatory issues before bringing the plant back to service.

Westinghouse to jointly decommission nuclear power plants in Europe

Westinghouse Electric Co. has signed a teaming agreement with Studsvik AB to offer a full range of decommissioning services for nuclear power plants in Europe under the name Nuclear Decommissioning Consortium by Studsvik and Westinghouse, or ndcon.

Services will include dismantling, decontamination and waste handling, initially in Germany and Sweden. Officials in Germany plan to phase out 17 nuclear reactors in the country by 2022. Eight were shut down in March 2011. Many of the other units in Europe were commissioned 50 years ago and are reaching the end of their designed operating life.

Darlington project in Canada receives site preparation license

The four-unit, 3,512 MW Darlington station is about 70 km east of Toronto. Photo courtesy of Ontario Power Generation.
The four-unit, 3,512 MW Darlington station is about 70 km east of Toronto. Photo courtesy of Ontario Power Generation.

The Joint Review Panel (JRP) of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) on Aug. 17 said it will issue a Nuclear Power Reactor Site Preparation License to Ontario Power Generation Inc. (OPG). The license is for OPG’s new nuclear plant project at the Darlington nuclear site.

The license will be valid from Aug. 17, 2012 to Aug. 17, 2022.

In June 2012, OPG announced it had signed agreements with Westinghouse and SNC-Lavalin/Candu Energy Inc., to prepare detailed construction plans, schedules and cost estimates for two potential nuclear reactors at the Darlington Nuclear site.

During a 17-day public hearing held March 21 to April 8, 2011 in Courtice, Ontario, the JRP received and considered submissions from OPG and 264 interveners, as well as 14 government departments, including the CNSC.

“This decision is an important milestone in Canada’s nuclear history,” said Alan Graham, chair of the JRP.

The JRP said it is satisfied that the licensee meets the requirements of section 24 of the Nuclear Safety and Control Act, that OPG is qualified to carry out the activities that will be permitted under the license, and that the health and safety of people and the environment will be protected.

The JRP was established in 2009 to consider the environmental assessment and the license application to prepare a site for the proposed Darlington project. In August 2011, the JRP submitted its environmental assessment report to the Government of Canada, concluding that the project was not likely to cause significant adverse environmental effects, taking into consideration the implementation of proposed mitigation measures. In May 2012, the government agreed with the JRP’s recommendation and authorized the project to proceed to licensing to prepare a site. This marked the end of the first step in the multiphase CNSC licensing process that is required for any new nuclear power project in Canada.

The JRP said it has directed OPG to prepare a mid-term report on the conduct of the licensed activities and the implementation status of commitments made during the environmental assessment.

The next step in the regulatory process will be the CNSC licensing decision phase to construct a nuclear power plant, once OPG submits its application.

SCE to cut 730 jobs at shut down nuclear power plant in California

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, Units 2 and 3. Photo courtesy of Southern California Edison and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commisison.
San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, Units 2 and 3. Photo courtesy of Southern California Edison and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commisison.

Southern California Edison (SCE) on Aug. 20 said it plans to downsize the staff at the two-unit, 2,200 MW San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) near San Clemente, Calif., to 1,500, a reduction of 730 employees. The staff cuts are expected to begin in the fourth quarter of 2012.

“As a result of exhaustive benchmarking and analysis of industry best practices, SCE has concluded that SONGS’ staffing and costs are significantly higher than other similar dual unit, non-fleet nuclear power plants,” the utility said in a press release. “Indicators also show there are opportunities to reduce operating and maintenance costs by improving plant processes while fully maintaining all safety commitments.”

SCE said this effort was initiated more than two years ago as part of the larger SONGS Excellence plan to align SCE’s processes and staffing levels with the top performing nuclear operating plants in the industry and its benchmarked best practices.

SCE also said the steam generator issues at SONGS also require that SCE be prudent with its future spending while both the company and regulators review the long-term viability of the nuclear plant.

“The reality is that the Unit 3 reactor will not be operating for some time,” SCE said.

Over the next two months, SONGS’ employee workloads will be quantified and peer comparisons made to better understand what specific changes are necessary to transition to top performer status. A decision regarding the new organizational structure is anticipated in late October.