Nuclear

Hitachi-GE nuclear reactor gains initial approval for UK project

Issue 4 and Volume 7.

Hitachi-GE nuclear reactor

July 25

Plans for a nuclear reactor at the Wylfa nuclear power plant in Anglesey have been provisionally approved.

The UK Energy Secretary gave the approval to reactor manufacturer Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy Ltd. for an advanced boiling water reactor. The approval is a required step before assessing proposed nuclear builds, according to the BBC. The reactor will be built on the site of the existing Wylfa nuclear power plant. Hitachi-GE is the lead contractor and reactor provider for Horizon Nuclear Power, the company building the new reactor.

The 490-MW Unit 1 is scheduled to permanently shut down September 30, but Magnox has requested a 15-month life extension. Wylfa 2 shut down in April 2012.


Candu reactors headed for nuclear plant in Romania

July 25

Candu Energy Inc. signed a binding and exclusive cooperation agreement with China Nuclear Power Engineering Co. Ltd. (CNPEC) to build two CANDU 6 nuclear reactors at the Cernavoda Nuclear Power Plant in Romania.

The agreement follows a letter of intent signed by CNPEC’s parent company, China General Nuclear Power Group, and Romania utility Societatea Nationala Nuclearelectrica in November 2013 for the investment in and development of two additional nuclear units at the Cernavoda site.

Romania already has two operating CANDU 6 reactors that came into service in 1996 and 2007. Two 700-MW CANDU reactors are also in use at the Qinshan Phase III power plant in China.


Southern Co. aims to build more nuclear reactors

July 24

Southern Co. (NYSE: SO) said it hopes to announce plans for even more new nuclear reactors.

Southern Co. Chief Executive Officer Tom Fanning reportedly made the comments at a conference in Washington, according to Reuters. Fanning said the company is evaluating six possible sites for more reactors, including existing power plants and greenfield locations.

Southern is currently building two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at its Plant Vogtle in Georgia. The reactors cost about $14 billion, but delays have increased the price tag. Unit 3 is expected to begin operations in late 2017 or early 2018, and Unit 4 is expected to come online shortly thereafter.


NRC lifts order at uranium conversion facility

July 24

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has lifted a confirmatory order at the Honeywell Metropolis Works facility in Illinois.

NRC issued the order in October 2012 after an inspection found that process equipment at the uranium conversion plant lacked adequate seismic restraints, supports and bracing to protect the facility against major earthquakes and tornadoes.

Honeywell (NYSE: HON) agreed to make the modifications, and the NRC confirmed that they were completed within agency requirements and authorized the facility to resume operations in July 2013. NRC also reviewed Honeywell’s revised Integrated Safety Analysis and determined it was adequate and lifted the confirmatory order.

The plant converts milled uranium into uranium hexafluoride gas, which is then enriched at other facilities to make commercial nuclear reactor fuel.


S. Africa plans new nuclear reactors after 2020

July 24

South Africa expects to have operational nuclear power plants after the year 2020.

South Africa plans to add 9,600-MW of nuclear capacity to reduce its reliance on coal, according to Bloomberg. Coal currently provides more than 90 percent of it’s power. Areva, EDF S.A., Westinghouse Electric, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Corp., Rosatom and Korea Electric Power Corp. have all expressed interest in building new nuclear in South Africa, the article said.

The Energy Ministry published a revised 20-year energy plan that predicted nuclear capacity would not be needed until at least 2025, the article said. South Africa is home to the 1,800-MW Koeberg nuclear power plant operated by state-run company Eskom Holdings SOC.


Kudankulam nuclear Unit 2 expected to be commissioned soon

July 24

The second 1,000-MW unit at the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in India is expected to be commissioned soon.

A government official was quoted as saying in The Hindu that the unit will be “commissioned shortly.” Another official with the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre in Mumbai said in June that the reactor could be operational by year-end.

The 1,000-MW Unit 1 reached full power in June.


Columbia nuclear power plant sets generation record

July 24

The 1,170-MW Columbia Generating Station in Washington state generated a record 9.7 million megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity during the fiscal year that ended June 30. The previous record for the plant was 9.5 million MWh, set in fiscal year 2006.

Plant operator Energy Northwest said the plant has operated for more than four-and-a-half year without an unplanned shutdown, and workers recently surpassed 12 million work-hours without a lost-time to injury.


Company to provide radiography services to Southern nuclear fleet

July 24

Mistras Group Inc. was awarded a multi-year contract to provide fleet radiography services to Southern Nuclear, a subsidiary of Southern Co. (NYSE: SO).

The scope of work includes balance of plant, flow accelerated corrosion programs, in-service and vendor location inspection services for Southern’s fleet of nuclear power plants, which are the Farley and Hatch plants in Alabama and Plant Vogtle in Georgia.


Senate confirms Madelyn Creedon at DOE’s NNSA

July 24

The U.S. Senate confirmed Madelyn Creedon as the Principal Deputy Administrator for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).

In her new position, Creedon will support NNSA Administrator Frank Klotz in the management and operation of the NNSA as well as the policy matters across the DOE and the NNSA. Prior to her NNSA confirmation, Creedon was confirmed by the Senate in 2011 to serve as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Global Strategic Affairs at the Department of Defense.

Creedon is a graduate of the St. Louis University School of Law and received her undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Evansville in Indiana.


DOE awards $420mn order for uranium enrichment facility decommissioning

July 23

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded a task order to Fluor Federal Services Inc. for deactivation services at a former uranium enrichment facility in Kentucky.

The three-year, $420 million order will support transitioning and preparing the site for deactivation and decommissioning at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. The order also provides detailed hiring preferences for the labor force. Services include project management, facility modification and infrastructure optimization, environmental services and decontamination and demolition.

The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant is a government-owned uranium enrichment plant operated by the DOE. It was leased to the United States Enrichment Corp. (USEC) in 1993, but will soon be returned to DOE operations.


Nuclear power plants reducing output due to warm water

July 23

Two nuclear power plants in Sweden have had to cut output due to warm temperatures in Scandinavia.

The Oskarshamn and Forsmark plants, operated by E.ON and Vattenfall, respectively, have had to cut output because warmer sea temperatures are limiting their ability to cool equipment, according to Reuters.

Water temperatures are currently around 22-23 degrees C (71.6 degrees-73.4 degrees F), Reuters said. Officials with Forsmark were quoted as saying that for each degree above 23 degrees C, each unit has to decrease power by 3 percent. If temperatures reach 26 degrees C (78.8 degrees F), Forsmark 3 must be shut down. At 28 degrees (82.4 degrees F), the other two units must be shut down, the article said. Oskarshamn has had to reduce output by about 90-MW and is operating at 93 percent of its built capacity.


Indian Point shutdown plan debated in New York

By Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst

GenerationHub

July 23

Indian Point

A debate is brewing over the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) proposal to force Entergy (NYSE: ETR)’s Indian Point nuclear units go offline for a prolonged period during the fish migration season every year.

If approved, the state plan would force the nuclear units to suspend operations an average of 42 days each year between May 10 and Aug. 10, a period which could affect Indian Point availability for part of the summer air conditioning season.

The DEC plan is the latest twist in the much-contested history of the nuclear units located along the banks of the Hudson River roughly 40 miles from New York City.

The proposal is to address concern over fish kills linked to the Indian Point 2 and 3 nuclear units. One way to reduce “impingement mortality” for fish would be to install costly closed-cycle cooling, the state has noted.

“DEC is seeking to reduce the impact to aquatic life as part of the ongoing adjudication of Entergy’s operating permits for Indian Point,” according to a statement released by DEC.

“As alternatives are weighed in this process, DEC has asked for a shutdown for an average of 42 days during prime fish migrations – between May 10 and August 10, as was the practice at these plants when Con Edison owned the facilities and is consistent with what has been done at other facilities on the Hudson River. This would not curtail operations this summer. In addition, DEC recognizes that Entergy will need adequate lead time to comply with any solution, and that other stakeholders, such as [Department of Public Service] DPS and NYISO [New York Independent System Operator], will need time to plan and to ensure that if outages are required they do not disrupt supply or adversely impact system-wide capacity,” DEC said.

Indian Point units 2 and 3 in Buchanan, N.Y., located roughly an hour from New York City, are both pressurized water reactors (PWRs) with a combined generating capacity in excess of 2,000-MW.

A 20-year license renewal request for the unit has faced much public opposition in New York. The units are currently undergoing a contested renewal procedure before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The New York Power Authority has gotten many power plant proposals in response to a request for proposals issued a couple of years ago to secure options in case the Indian Point reactors are not relicensed.

Each unit utilizes a once-through condenser cooling water system, with the intake structure on the bank of, and a shared discharge canal to, the Hudson River, according to a May 9 fact sheet from DEC.

The maximum flow rate of the cooling system for each unit is 840,000 gallons of water per minute (GPM), for a combined intake capacity of approximately 2.5 billion gallons of Hudson River water per day. Relative to impingement and entrainment, the Indian Point facilities currently operate with dual (Unit 2) and variable (Unit 3) speed pumps, modified Ristroph screens, and a fish return system, as well as certain flow limitations.

Entergy reacts to forced outage proposal

The DEC was holding public meetings on the forced outage proposal July 22 and 23, said an Entergy spokesperson, who said the company is very opposed.

“First, I want to make clear that Indian Point right now operates in a manner that is fully protective of the Hudson River ecosystem and pursuant to its state and federal permits and law,” the company spokesperson said.

“Entergy strongly disagrees with DEC Staff’s proposal for annual simultaneous, forced outages of 42, 62, or 92 days at both Indian Point units between the months of May and August, or some combination of forced outages and Cooling Towers,” the representative said.

“We believe that DEC Staff’s proposal ignores the immensely important reality facing everyone living and working in New York City and the lower Hudson Valley: Shutting down Indian Point during summer months will significantly and negatively impact human health, the New York economy and the local environment without any discernible benefit to an already healthy fish population. To suggest that Indian Point be out for 42 days during the summertime peak demand period today, however you slice it, is out of touch with the New York electric system’s and New York electricity customers’ needs,” said the Entergy representative.

More details could arise on the New York situation during the Entergy quarterly earnings conference call July 29.

This article was republished with permission from GenerationHub.


Summer nuclear plant automatically trips offline

July 23

The single-unit V.C. Summer nuclear power plant in South Carolina tripped back offline July 22 due to low steam generator level.

The reactor was running at 48 percent when it automatically tripped offline. Workers with South Carolina Gas & Electric (SCE&G) found that the water level in the “C” steam generator was decreasing because a system condensate bypass valve failed to open as required, which caused low levels in the deaerator storage tank, which then tripped all feedwater pumps.

The unit was taken offline July 17 to repair a leaky pressurizer safety valve, and SCE&G said then that it could take up to two weeks to get the plant operating again.


NRC’s Magwood announces when he will leave his post

July 22

Commissioner William Magwood IV of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced his last day on the job.

Magwood said he would step down from his position at the close of business Aug. 31. He will be the Director-General of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s Nuclear Energy Agency on Sept. 1.

Magwood was sworn in as commissioner on April 1, 2010 and his term was scheduled to run through June 2015. About 34 groups sent a letter to Magwood and other commissioners alleging Magwood “fatally compromised” his current role by not recusing himself from safety decisions while negotiating for the role as Director-General. The NRC did not comment on the allegations, but many have praised Magwood’s work with the NRC as well as in public service. He was the longest-serving head of the U.S.’ civilian nuclear technology program serving under two presidents and five secretaries of Energy.

“It has been a rare honor to have been one of only 33 people to have served as an NRC Commissioner,” Magwood said. “The NRC is a truly outstanding organization that stands as a powerful model for nuclear safety organizations throughout the world. The mission of the NRC has engendered a culture of independence of decision-making, dedication to purpose, and commitment to excellence to which one would hope all regulators and staffs might aspire. Though my tenure with the NRC is coming to its end, I will remain a strong advocate for these values.”

Magwood succeeds Luis Echávarri, who retired from the OECD in April 2014 after 17 years as Director-General.


NRC issues confirmatory order to Entergy Nuclear

July 22

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) issued a confirmatory order to Entergy Nuclear (NYSE: ETR) in regards to corrective actions taken at the Palisades nuclear power plant in Michigan.

The December 2012 violation occurred when a security manager assigned a security supervisor to perform security duties without verifying the supervisor’s qualifications and failing to ensure he was qualified to perform his assigned duties. The NRC determined the incident was of very low security significance.

NRC and Entergy officials met May 15 and the order was issued July 22. Entergy agreed to a series of corrective actions, including ensuring proper verification of training credentials for staff and management across the Entergy fleet; taking a wide range of actions to strengthen safety culture; making presentations on this event to the reactor community, and conducting an effectiveness review of the actions.

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