Nuclear, Reactors

Coolant Leak Shuts Down Nuclear Reactor in India

Issue 2 and Volume 9.

March 11

The 220-MW Kakrapar 1 nuclear plant in India automatically shut down after a leak in its coolant system.

The pressurized heavy water reactor tripped automatically after the leak before it was shut down. The safety and backup systems all worked as designed. Officials with the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) say there was no release of radioactivity as a result of the incident.

AERB is asking to keep the unit shut down until the incident is fully investigated and corrective actions are taken. Unit 2 has been shut down since July 2015, and two, 700-MW-each reactors are currently under construction at the site.


US, Korea Launch Nuclear Energy Cooperation Commission

March 11

The U.S. Department of Energy and the Republic of Korea launched a commission that would focus on nuclear security, safety, nonproliferation and clean energy between the two countries.

The High Level Bilateral Commission (HLBC) will serve as a senior-level forum to facilitate strategic dialogue and technical exchanges on peaceful nuclear cooperation. The HLBC will examine the management of spent nuclear fuel, the promotion of nuclear exports and export control cooperation, assurances of nuclear fuel supply and nuclear security.

The HLBC had been established pursuant to the terms of the Agreement for Cooperation Between the United States of America and the Republic of Korea Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, often referred to as the U.S.-ROK 123 Agreement. During a meeting earlier this month, the two countries established the structure and functions of the four working groups established in the 123 Agreement and confirmed the groups’ membership. The official task for the working groups is to develop terms of reference and work plans that will be presented to the HLBC co-chairs in April for approval.


L-3 Mapps to Help in Darlington Nuclear Plant Refurbishment Project

March 10

L-3 Mapps will contribute computers for the refurbishment project at the Darlington nuclear power plant in Ontario, Canada.

L-3 Mapps will provide replacement trip computers for the second shutdown system (SDS2) and display/test computers for both the first shutdown system (SDS1) and SDS2 on the four reactors. The design phase is underway and the final production computer equipment for the four units is expected to be delivered by second quarter 2019.

The company will carry out the hardware design, integration and testing of prototype systems, including qualification testing, followed by delivery of production units for the SDS2 trip computers and the SDS1 and SDS2 display/test computers.

Darlington plant operator Ontario Power Generation phased out coal generation in 2014, and relies on hydro and nuclear power. The four-unit, 3,512-MW Darlington Nuclear Generating Station began operating in the early 1990s. OPG is planning a C$12.8 billion ($9 billion) refurbishment project that will extend the operational life of the plant. The outage on the first unit is set for October 2016, and the entire project is scheduled for completion in 2026.


Watts Bar 2 Shut Down After Turbine Building Fire

March 9

Workers with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) declared an Unusual Event at Watts Bar Unit 2 in Tennessee due to a fire inside the turbine building.

The fire was extinguished in 15 minutes and no offsite assistance was requested. No injuries were reported.

Unit 2 was shut down and making preparations for startup at the time of the fire. The cause is under investigation. Unit 1 continued to operate at full power.


EDF Finance Director Quits Amid Hinkley Point C Row

March 8

EDF’s chief financial officer (CFO) resigned reportedly over plans to build two nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point C in the U.K.

Thomas Piquemal resigned from his position as finance director of EDF. Xavier Girre was appointed to the position of CFO on a provisional basis. News reports say Piquemal left because he felt the 23.3 billion euro ($25.6 billion) Hinkley Point C project would put too much stress on EDF’s already stretched finances. The plant would use two Areva-designed European Pressurized Reactors (EPRs). However, two EPRs under construction in France and Finland are years behind schedule and over budget.

China’s state nuclear company CGN bought a 33.5 percent stake in the project in October 2015, and EDF is trying to find more investors to take some of the remaining stake off their plate. Reuters UK said EDF’s net debt has increased to 37.4 billion euros ($41.3 billion) at the end of 2015, and the company’s market value is now at 22.8 billion euros ($25.2 billion), less than what the Hinkley Point C project will cost.

“With the support of its shareholder, the state, EDF can confirm that it is looking to invest in two reactors at Hinkley Point under the best possible financial conditions for the Group, with the objective of making a final investment decision in the near future,” said EDF CEO Jean-Bernard Levy.


Oconee Nuclear Unit 1 Shuts Down After Transformer Fire

March 7

A fire inside a main transformer at Unit 1 of the Oconee nuclear power plant in South Carolina caused the reactor to automatically shut down.

According to a report filed with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, workers with Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) called for offsite assistance with three local fire departments responding. The fire was brought under control in about an hour. The fire damaged an overhead power line that supplies emergency power to all three Oconee units. Offsite power is still available.

There were no injuries reported during the incident, and all systems operated as designed. Units 2 and 3 continue to operate at full power.


More than 1,800 Cubic Yards of Concrete Placed at Plant Vogtle Nuclear Project

March 7

Workers with Georgia Power, a unit of Southern Co. (NYSE: SO), placed more than 1,800 cubic yards of concrete to fill the walls of the Unit 3 CA20 module at the Plant Vogtle expansion project in Georgia.

The 45-hour continuous pour is a key achievement for the vertical construction of the shield building and will provide structural support for the installation of select mechanical modules. The CA20 module, which weighs more than 2.2 million pounds and is more than five stories tall, was placed in March 2014. It will house various plant components, including the used fuel storage area.

The two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors are now more than 60 percent complete based on contractual milestones. Unit 3 is scheduled for completion in June 2019, and Unit 4 in June 2020.


Indian Point 2 Down for Scheduled Refueling Outage

March 7

Workers with Entergy (NYSE: ETR) shut down the Indian Point 2 nuclear plant in New York to begin a planned refueling outage.

Unit 2 was online 99.6 percent of the time since returning to service from it’s a prior refueling outage in March 2014. It also set a record for continuous days of operation at 626, and a record for the amount of electricity generated, 17.8 million megawatt hours.

In addition to the hundreds of inspections planned over the next few weeks, workers will complete the installation of post-Fukushima safety enhancements, including portable electrical generators, pumps, cables and other equipment. Entergy is investing more than $60 million at Indian Point 2, in addition to tens of millions of dollars in new fuel, to complete the refueling and maintenance project. Indian Point 3 is expected to continue operating at full power.


EDF to Close Controversial Nuclear Power Plant by End of 2016

March 7

French utility EDF said it will shut down the Fessenheim nuclear power plant in France by the end of 2016 to help quell disputes with Germany and Switzerland.

German news outlets claim they obtained a report that had been sent from regulators to the head of EDF about a leak reported at the plant in April 2014. In the report, officials say workers were unable to shut down the reactor in a normal fashion because control rods had jammed and they had to add boron to the pressure vessel, an unprecedented move in Western Europe. The German officials say regulators did not release information about the boron or the jammed control rods, nor was it reported to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The dual-unit plant, located near the border with Germany and Switzerland, is France’s oldest and has been operating since 1977 and 1978.


All But 3 US Nuclear Plants Performed in Highest Categories in 2015

March 4

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) said all but three of the nation’s nuclear power plants were operating in the two highest performance categories in 2015.

Of the 96 highest-performing reactors, 85 fully met all safety and security performance objectives and were inspected by the NRC using the normal inspection program.

Eleven reactors need to resolve one or two items of low safety significance and now undergo additional inspections and follow-up of corrective actions. The plants are: Clinton in Illinois; Davis-Besse in Ohio, Dresden 2 in Illinois; Duane Arnold in Iowa; Indian Point 3 in New York; Millstone 3 in Connecticut; Prairie Island 2 in Minnesota; River Bend in Louisiana; Sequoyah 1 in Tennessee; and Susquehanna 1 and 2 in Pennsylvania. Duane Arnold, Millstone 3 and Susquehanna 1 and 2 have since resolved their issues and have transitioned to the highest performing level. There were no reactors in the third performance category.

Three reactors were in the fourth performance category. Reactors in this category receive additional inspections and increased NRC management attention to confirm performance issues are being addressed. Arkansas Nuclear One 1 and 2 require increased oversight because of two safety findings of substantial significance. Pilgrim in Massachusetts is in the category because of long-standing issues of low-to-moderate safety significance.

Every six months, each plant either receives a mid-cycle assessment or annual assessment along with an NRC inspection plan. Annual construction oversight assessments for reactors at Vogtle, Summer and Watts Bar 2 are also available.


Bird Poop Caused Shut Down at Indian Point 3 Nuclear Plant

March 4

Entergy (NYSE: ETR) says an automatic shut down in December of the Indian Point 3 nuclear plant in New York was caused by bird poop.

The utility says a so-called streamer from large birds caused an electrical arc between wires which tripped a safety breaker and shut down Unit 3 in December for three days. Entergy said streamers are a long line of excrement from large birds often expelled as they take off from a perch.

“If a streamer contacts an energized conductor, the electrical current may travel through the streamer back to the bird or pole/transmission tower,” Entergy said. “The result may be a bird electrocution, power outage, and/or line trip.”

Workers replaced several electrical insulators on a high voltage transmission line before returning the unit to service. Workers will also install bird guards on the transmission towers to protect from bird streams.


Bechtel, BWXT to Accelerate SMR Development

March 4

Bechtel and BWX Technologies Inc. announced a new agreement to pursue accelerated development of a commercially viable Generation III++ small modular nuclear reactor (SMR).

Bechtel will lead the program and leverage the company’s experience in engineering, licensing, procurement, construction and project management. BWXT will focus on designing and testing the nuclear steam supply system for the 195-MW BWXT mPower reactor. Both companies will collaborate to prepare a design certification application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“This technology holds great promise and we are firmly committed to doing everything we can to bring it to market,” said Ty Troutman, general manager of Bechtel’s nuclear power business unit. “It’s one of the keys to solving the problem of replacing older power plants without relying on fossil fuels or the intermittent availability of solar and wind.”


Terrestrial Energy Awarded $4 Million Grant to Build Nuclear Reactor Mockup

March 4

Terrestrial Energy was awarded a C$5.7 million ($4.3 million) grant from a tech fund founded by the Canadian government.

The grant from the Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s (SDTC) SD Tech Fund will be used to support Terrestrial’s pre-commercial activities, which conclude with the construction of an electrically-heated non-nuclear mockup within 30 months. The mockup will test and demonstrate many aspects of the integrated molten salt reactor (IMSR) operation, and will include data collected over a wide range of operating conditions of the performance of the reactor’s passive cooling systems. This will validate Terrestrial Energy’s safety analysis computer codes, regulatory engagement and key aspects of the IMSR’s safety case.


Former Bruce Power CEO to Lead Horizon Nuclear Power

March 4

Horizon Nuclear Power Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hitachi, appointed Duncan Hawthorne as Chief Executive Officer, effective May 1.

Hawthorne announced his retirement as President and CEO of Bruce Power LP in Canada earlier this month, effective April 30. He has held a range of leadership positions in the UK, U.S. and Canada. He served as chair of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) Atlanta Centre and until recently was President of WANO’s Governing Board.

Hawthorne takes over as the company moves forward with the Wylfa Newydd nuclear project in the UK. Construction on the two UK Advanced Boiling Water Reactors is expected to begin in 2019.


APS Names Maria Lacal Nuclear Plant SVP of Regulatory & Oversight

March 3

Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) promoted Maria Lacal to senior vice president of regulatory and oversight at the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station effective immediately.

Lacal succeeds Dwight Mims, who is retiring October 2016 following a nine-year career at Palo Verde and a 39-year career in the nuclear industry. In her new position, Lacal will oversee regulatory affairs, nuclear assurance, performance improvement, site programs and employee concerns and nuclear safety culture.

Lacal joined APS as director of strategic planning at Palo Verde in 2007. She was named vice president, operations support for the plant in January 2011. Prior to that, she served as general manager, emergency services and support and director, strategic planning. Prior to joining APS, she served as director of operations support for the nuclear division of Florida Power & Light.

Lacal earned a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering from the University of Miami and recently completed the Harvard Business School Advanced Management Program. She received a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission senior reactor operator license in 1996.


UK Research Center to Study Manufacturing of Westinghouse SMR Parts

March 3

Westinghouse Electric Co. is working with the UK’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (Nuclear AMRC) to explore the most effective way to manufacture Westinghouse’s small modular reactor (SMR) reactor pressure vessels (RPVs) in the UK

The study will focus on RPVs, one of the largest and most demanding parts of any reactor. The Nuclear AMRC will provide an independent assessment of the current Westinghouse SMR RPV design and identify efficiencies within the advanced manufacturing process to reduce capital costs, drive project savings and identify potential suppliers for when the SMR begins production. Nuclear AMRC has experience in design for the manufacture of large complex parts for safety-critical applications.

In 2015, Westinghouse bid to partner with the UK government to deploy Westinghouse’s SMR technology. Westinghouse’s Springfields facility achieved requirements necessary to manufacture SMR fuel in the UK.


Amec Foster Wheeler Joint Venture Awarded Sellafield Decommissioning Contract

March 2

A joint venture with Amec Foster Wheeler, Hertel (UK) Ltd. and Shepley Engineers Ltd. has been awarded a major decommissioning contract for the Sellafield nuclear site in West Cumbria.

Under the 10-year framework agreement, worth an estimated $175.7 million, the companies will help prepare the Magnox Swarf Storage Silo facility as it transitions to a new phase of retrieving waste from its compartments.

Due to the age of the building, asset care work is an integral part of the scope, and the joint venture will help support Sellafield Ltd.’s strategic planning and design capability.

Amec Foster Wheeler, Hertel and Shepley Engineers have worked there for a combined 126 years.


Nuclear Plant Cooling Canals Reportedly Leaking into Florida Waters

March 9

A Miami-Dade County study shows that cooling canals from the Turkey Point nuclear power plant in Florida are leaking into Biscayne Bay.

Water sampling in December and January showed tritium levels up to 215 times higher than normal in ocean water, according to the Miami Herald. A judge two weeks ago ordered Florida Power & Light (FP&L) to clean up the cooling canals after concluding they caused a huge underground saltwater plume to migrate west and threaten a wellfield that supplies drinking water to the Florida Keys, the article said. The judge also ruled the state did not properly address the problem by coming up with a faulty management plan. Commissioners ordered additional monitoring of the bay last year.

FP&L completed a five-year, $3 billion uprate project at Turkey Point in 2013 that increased the output of the four-unit plant by 525 MW, or 15 percent of its pre-uprate capacity. However, the canals began running dangerously hot soon after, which FP&L officials blamed on an algae bloom that grew when the canals were shut down during the project. FP&L officials were granted permission from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to operate the canals at 104 degrees, the hottest in the nation.

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