APR: your source for nuclear news and analysis since April 16, 2010

Thursday, June 27, 2013

£10 Billion Guarantee for Hinkley Point C in UK


UK Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander has announced a vast new civil works project in the UK, which includes guarantees running some £10 Billion for construction of two UK-EPR nuclear plants at a to-be-built Hinkley Point C nuclear station.  Seen above, courtesy EDF, is an artists' conception of the public footpath and seawall to be built at the station; the two new nuclear units' turbine buildings are seen at right as the two largest buildings visible.

Click here for a full transcript of Danny Alexander's speech, conveniently indexed.

Click here for a Guardian article with analysis on the nuclear guarantee.

Click here to see the official EDF Energy site covering the Hinkley Point C project.

10:45 AM Eastern 6/27
ATOMIC POWER REVIEW

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

SCE begins job elimination process at SONGS

SCE press release follows.

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Media Contact: Media Relations, (626) 302-2255


SCE Begins Notification Process to Eliminate 600 Nuclear Plant Jobs

ROSEMEAD, Calif., June 26, 2013 — Southern California Edison (SCE) issued a workforce reduction notice Monday that approximately 600 non-union jobs will be eliminated at the San Onofre nuclear plant this summer.

The notice follows SCE’s announcement on June 7 to permanently retire San Onofre Units 2 and 3. The nuclear plant’s workforce of 1,500 will be reduced to 400 next year as preparations proceed to decommission the 2,200-megawatt plant.


The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act notice issued Monday signals that non-union employees affected by the workforce reduction will be laid off in a little over 60 days. In addition, SCE will work with the Utility Workers Union of America and the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers through the collective bargaining process on transition plans for the union employees affected by the shutdown.

“The premature shutdown of San Onofre is very unfortunate,” said Pete Dietrich, SCE’s senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. “We have an extraordinary team of men and women. We appreciate their years of dedicated service and will continue to extend to them the utmost respect and consideration.”

He noted the company will work to ensure a fair process for the transition, including a job fair for displaced workers.

For more information about SCE, follow us on Twitter and on Facebook.

About Southern California Edison
An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 4.9 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.

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1:20 PM Eastern 6/26/2013


Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Obama's Climate Action Plan

Today (June 25) President Obama will give a speech on his vision for a national climate policy, which is of interest to us involved with nuclear energy in that it's also going to impact energy policy. 

Overnight, the speech leaked out.  The Nuclear Energy Institute has made cuts of the speech that include reference to nuclear energy.  See NEI's post on NEI Nuclear Notes here

NEI President and CEO Marv Fertel has made a statement about the Obama policy; see it here.

The White House has released a brief Fact Sheet on the overall plan.  See it here.

There is also available from the White House a full 21 page report.  See the .pdf file here.

In this full report we find the statement - "Going forward, we will expand these efforts to promote nuclear energy generation consistent with maximizing safety and nonproliferation goals. " 

The American Nuclear Society (of which I'm a member, and also have a seat on the ANS Communications Committee) has a position statement on nuclear energy, entitled "Nuclear Power: The Leading Strategy for Reducing Carbon Emissions."  Click here to see it.

For further information..

ANS Position on Need for Near Term Deployment of Nuclear Power

The speech will mention SMR or Small Modular Reactors; here is the ANS Position on these.

Small Modular Reactors can be used to repower existing fossil fired facilities.  Small sized (but not modular) reactors were in fact used in this capacity before; the technique is proven, and not on a small scale.  See an extensive article about this phenomenon here.

More details later.

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1:57 PM  Edison Electric Institute Statement.

2:25 PM  Heritage Foundation briefs on nuclear energy and energy policy.

10:30 AM 6/26  Politico - Ten Takeaways on Obama's Climate Speech (via Glenn Williams)

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Perspective -  OBAMA'S CLIMATE / ENERGY / POLITICAL LEVERAGE SPEECH

The Nuclear Agenda

President Obama's speech only mentioned nuclear energy briefly, in passing - a great disappointment to those of us solidly behind nuclear energy who were listening intently.  What appears in the printed material is really not much better than what's appeared before.  We can expect further push on Small Modular Reactors, the plan says; but is that really promising any more than continuance of the first round of DOE SMR funding?  Is there any promise of an increase?  No, and no.  So the words are just a continuation of previous policy.  But the President did say some things that might put off a number of solidly pro-nuclear folks that had nothing at all to do with nuclear energy.

The Flat Earth Society?

During his speech, President Obama referred to those who deny or question in some way the effect of man on climate change as "flat earthers."  It's for that reason that I include the following link.  Those who do not believe that there is any large, solid core of people who doubt anthropogenically driven climate change need to read the following article very carefully.

Obama's Climate Change Speech Ignores Science & EU Experience

The people for whom the above article was written aren't going to buy into any plans based entirely on climate change.  However, no one can deny the importance of maintaining the United States as a technological leader -- and no one can deny the sound of opportunity knocking at the door.

That "opportunity" is the strong desire for many nations overseas to acquire nuclear power plants.  Some are well underway, like the United Arab Emirates; others, like Kenya, are only just starting.  Those just starting -- or, in some cases, others looking to restart dead or stalled programs -- are potential sales locations for American built technologies.  We need to get moving on international agreements, and sell nuclear plants anywhere we can show there's a suitable location, a stable government, a solid regulator, and trained and capable operating staff.

That's the part of the President's plan they'll buy in with.  Calling them names isn't helpful; finding out what matters to them, and what might convince them as a result, is helpful. 

I'll be keeping my eyes open for futher good perspectives on the Obama speech, and will post them here.

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10:50 AM 6/26   Andrea Jennetta / Fuel Cycle Week:  Nuclear Energy, not Unreliables, is the Solution to Climate Change

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11:58 AM 6/28  Jack Spencer of the Heritage Foundation has written an analytical piece entitled "The President's Pro-Nuclear Rhetoric vs. his Anti-Nuclear Policies."  It's realistic, sobering, and worth a read at least once.  Click here to see it. 

I will continue to add analytical pieces to this blog post as I find relevant and realistic examples.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers 162

Atomic Power Review is proud to host another in a long line of pro-nuclear advocacy vehicles that we call the "Carnival."  This feature rotates among pro-nuclear blogs each week, and presents the top stories of that week. 

We've just come off a grand American Nuclear Society Annual Meeting, which I attended and reported on under contract to the American Nuclear Society.  The topical meetings were great, and of course as with any such meeting the networking before and after the sessions were invaluable.  Some of the links you'll see below relate to material delivered at the meeting.

But first... What is this?


You can click the photo to enlarge it.  No hints this week -- and yes, this photo was very deliberately chosen to appear in this feature at this juncture.. in fact, I thought I'd picked the photo prior to the weekend but I changed photos at the last minute.  You'll find out why later on.  Now, the Carnival!

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Next Big Future - Brian Wang

Japan has new nuclear safety guidelines:  The Nuclear Regulation Authority said it would start accepting applications on July 8 from power companies seeking to restart their reactors. Seven companies have said they will apply to restart a total of 13 reactors across Japan. Japan has passed new safety guidelines.

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Atomic Insights - Rod Adams

Defy Joe Romm's advice and watch Pandora's PromiseJoe Romm, the lead thinker at Climate Progress, has once again exposed the fact that he is not terribly serious about fighting climate change. In fact, he is so casual about the effort that he wants everyone to dismiss nuclear energy out of hand as being too expensive to matter, without even thinking about trying to solve the often solvable issue of cost. He does not want to deal with the discussion that might happen if people watch Pandora's Promise and begin to consider nuclear as an effective tool in an important struggle.

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Yes Vermont Yankee - Meredith Angwin

Pandora's Promise: Nationwide Now    In this post, Meredith Angwin compares reactions to the movie Pandora's Promise, particularly reactions by anti-nuclear activists. One nuclear opponent wrote: "For me, this film’s strength was not that it changed my mind, which it did not, but that it expanded it." Another supposed environmentalist used the terms "hoax" and "liar" about the film. In other words, some people have open eyes. Other people keep their eyes shut, in order to defend themselves from inconvenient truths.

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Hiroshima Syndrome - Leslie Corrice

The Hiroshima Syndrome covers two topics of import this week.  First, in "Japan's Red Cross violates its moral imperative with too-low limits," we find that the Japan Red Cross Society (JRCS) has set a maximum radiation exposure limit of one millisievert per year for emergency response workers.  The primary mission of these workers is saving the lives of survivable victims.  To the contrary, it seems the JRCS is more concerned about avoidance of negligible radiation exposures than saving people's lives.  Next, in "A New Fukushima Scare About Strontium-90," this past Wednesday Tokyo Electric Power Company said Strontium-90 was found in a groundwater sampling well near Fukushima Daiichi.  The announcement has set off a tsunami of alarming press articles based on questionable evidence.  Japan's press seems dedicated to keeping its readers in a state of fear.

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ANS Nuclear Cafe - submitted by Paul Bowersox

The American Nuclear Society's Annual Meeting was held this past week in Atlanta, Georgia.  The technical sessions there provided a great deal of timely and relevant information about nuclear energy and research; two were covered in some detail on the ANS Nuclear Cafe blog by Will Davis.  First, a panel discussed the risks and challenges involved with Building New Nuclear Plants.  Second, another expert panel discussed Supply Chain and Procurement Issues in Nuclear Energy.  Both presentations carried important implications for the future of nuclear energy in this country, in both the areas of new construction and support for plants already operating.

Westinghouse has released a brand new television commercial entitled "We Are Nuclear Energy."  This was debuted at the ANS Annual Meeting to round applause.  See this link for the ANS Nuclear Cafe article on it.

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We now get to the "What is this" feature that Atomic Power Review always has when it hosts the Carnival. 

The illustration you saw earlier shows an artist's conception of the NEP-1 and NEP-2 units which were to have been built at the site of what had been the Charlestown Naval Air Station, Rhode Island.  These units were ordered by New England Power (and other utilities) in May, 1974.  In September, 1976, a construction permit was applied for.  Some statistics (partly from the back of the post card whose front provided the illustration) are as follows:

Proposed Site - 604 acres
Total Estimated Cost - Over $1.5 billion
Scheduled Completion Dates - Unit 1, 1982; Unit 2, 1983.
Both units Westinghouse Pressurized Water Reactors.  (Rated 1194 MWe each.)
Architect-Engineer:  United Engineers & Constructors.

The project would have employed a peak construction force of over 2000 workers, and kept an operating and maintenance force of over 200 workers - greatly boosting the local economy, and providing GHG-free electricity 24 hours a day, rain or shine.

The project was cancelled in 1979, officially 0% complete.  According to Energy Information Administration documents, the official reason was "reversal of economic advantage," with the footnote "it was determined that the implementation of conservation and load management programs, and the conversion to coal of existing units, could satisfy current and projected demand." 

"Conversion to coal" is particularly stunning right now, immediately after the release of the movie Pandora's Promise, in which a number of former anti-nuclear activists detail their conversion to being pro-nuclear.  How strange is it that prevention of a nuclear plant's construction was in part made possible by converting other units to coal. 

The fact about this project's abandonment though is that a major deciding pressure was a bevy of lawsuits brought against the project by local "environmentalist" activists.  Certainly, the downward trend in projected power requirements played a role - but so did obstruction by intervenors, better and more accurately named as "opponents."

This last described fact is appalling in light of converting plants to coal at the time.  These lawsuits are no secret; look them up yourselves.

There was already a clearly established trend of nuclear plant delay and cancellation underway by the time the NEP units were cancelled in 1979.  Below is a graph from a 1981 US DOE document entitled "Nuclear Power Program Information and Data."


Click the illustration to enlarge it.  It's clear that the trend to having a net negative quantity if one only considers plants ordered annually and plants cancelled annually started in fact shortly after the NEP plants were ordered.  What's also clear is that many of the stated reasons in EIA documents that make economic assessments don't take into consideration the opposition from anti-nuclear forces back at that time.  That opposition's primary effect was delayed construction, meaning that interest drained the coffers of those on the hook for it.

A document that's been available on this site for some time is an AEC internally written history of the early years of the anti-nuclear movement up to mid-1973.  It's essential reading for those who have seen Pandora's Promise and want a better view of what was really going on.  It's quite eye opening.  The document can be found by clicking this link; however, it's also available in the right side bar.  See "Public Attitudes Toward Nuclear Energy - WASH-1250." 

On Tuesday, President Obama is now known to be making a speech about energy policy and climate change.  The whitehouse.gov video hints that he'll mention new biofuels, and new technologies.  One wonders if the hiring of a former Union of Concerned Scientists executive at a high level in the Department of Energy isn't part of a broader administration signal that nuclear energy will be left out.  Indeed, it's instructive today (considering environmental panic of the moment) to look back at the Charlestown RI "NEP" project -- and see that part of the justification for cancelling it was "conservation."  That's right -- that means forcing people to make do with less, instead of generating more power cleanly.

We might be coming to a serious junction in this country in terms of energy policy.  It's important to see that nuclear energy must play a role in our energy future - it provides relatively fixed-cost, reliable energy around the clock with no exhaust.  No GHG; no soot.  Further, manufacturers of SMR (Small Modular Reactor) plants are planning to replace coal fired units nearer to cities than large nuclear plants can be built with small, underground, inherently safe nuclear units that bring lowered purchasing and operating cost along with 24/7 power capability to the table.  These units will even be able to load follow -- allowing for more renewables to be used on the same grid. 

Let's select the direction we want to go, this time around -- and get there.  Let's not allow under-construction and planned nuclear stations to get waylaid.  Instead, let's embrace the reasons why we need nuclear energy (safe, efficient, round the clock power) and the reasons we might want to avoid fossil fuel (greenhouse gas emissions) and have the courage to take a path and plow toward a goal.  And, let's not leave a trail of incomplete gravestones to our ideals this time around.  I've seen enough of the illustrations such as I've showed you today -- nuclear plants planned and ordered but never built.

2:00 PM Eastern 6/23/2013
ATOMIC POWER REVIEW


Thursday, June 13, 2013

SCE notifies NRC that San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station is permanently shut down

Press release from Southern California Edison, courtesy Maureen Brown, follows.

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Media Contact: Media Relations, (626) 302-2255

SCE Formally Notifies NRC of San Onofre Nuclear Plant’s Permanent Shutdown



ROSEMEAD, Calif., June 13, 2013 — Southern California Edison (SCE) on Wednesday formally notified the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that it has permanently ceased operation of San Onofre nuclear plant Units 2 and 3, effective June 7.

The notification, called a Certification of Permanent Cessation of Power Operations, is the formal administrative step following SCE’s announcement last week that the company will retire Units 2 and 3.

“Safety will remain our top priority as we transition to the decommissioning process,” said Pete Dietrich, SCE senior vice president and chief nuclear officer. “We take very seriously our obligation to protect the health and safety of the public and our employees as we take the regulatory and planning steps to decommission San Onofre.”

Dietrich said the NRC will continue to provide regulatory oversight of San Onofre. He noted that San Onofre management will draw upon the expertise of staff who managed the decommissioning of Unit 1, which ceased operation in 1992. Decommissioning is a detailed process that will take many years. The process requirements are outlined in federal regulations.

San Onofre Unit 2 was taken out of service Jan. 9, 2012, for a planned outage and Unit 3 was safely taken offline Jan. 31, 2012, after station operators detected a leak in a steam generator tube.

More information is available at www.edison.com/SONGSupdate and at www.SONGScommunity.com. San Onofre is jointly owned by SCE (78.21 percent), San Diego Gas & Electric (20 percent) and the city of Riverside (1.79 percent). Follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/SCE) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/SCE).

About Southern California Edison

An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nations largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 4.9 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.

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3:20 PM Eastern 6/13/2013
ATOMIC POWER REVIEW


Friday, June 7, 2013

FLASH: SAN ONOFRE NUCLEAR GENERATING STATION TO BE RETIRED

SAN ONOFRE NUCLEAR GENERATING STATION to be retired in wake of steam generator tube damage

Two units affected by unparalleled effects in RSG (Replacement Steam Generator) units supplied by Mitsubishi with design parameters specified by SCE (Southern California Edison - Edison International) have led to long term problems, intervenor action, full NRC investigation, Congressional intervention and massive study of the problem

SCE had both submitted plans to NRC to restart Unit 2 with new lower power limit, and had also in parallel requested a license amendment for a new 100% power rating equivalent to the old 70% power rating to meet the letter of NRC rule

Links:

Yahoo Finance (via Glenn Williams)

SCE Press Release:

Southern California Edison Announces Plans to Retire San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station
Company Will Continue Its Work with State Agencies on Electric Grid Reliability
ROSEMEAD, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Southern California Edison (SCE) has decided to permanently retire Units 2 and 3 of its San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).
“this is an extraordinary team of men and women. We will treat them fairly.”
“SONGS has served this region for over 40 years,” said Ted Craver, Chairman and CEO of Edison International, parent company of SCE, “but we have concluded that the continuing uncertainty about when or if SONGS might return to service was not good for our customers, our investors, or the need to plan for our region’s long-term electricity needs.”
Both SONGS units have been shut down safely since January 2012. Unit 2 was taken out of service January 9, 2012, for a planned routine outage. Unit 3 was safely taken offline January 31, 2012, after station operators detected a small leak in a tube inside a steam generator manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI). Two steam generators manufactured by MHI were installed in Unit 2 in 2009 and two more were installed in Unit 3 in 2010, one of which developed the leak.
In connection with the decision, SCE estimates that it will record a charge in the second quarter of between $450 million and $650 million before taxes ($300 million - $425 million after tax), in accordance with accounting requirements.
After months of analysis and tests, SCE submitted a restart plan to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in October 2012. SCE proposed to safely restart Unit 2 at a reduced power level (70 %) for an initial period of approximately five months. That plan was based on work done by engineering groups from three independent firms with expertise in steam generator design and manufacturing.
The NRC has been reviewing SCE’s plans for restart of Unit 2 for the last eight months, during which several public meetings have been held. A recent ruling by an adjudicatory arm of the NRC, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, creates further uncertainty regarding when a final decision might be made on restarting Unit 2. Additional administrative processes and appeals could result in delay of more than a year. During this period, the costs of maintaining SONGS in a state of readiness to restart and the costs to replace the power SONGS previously provided would continue. Moreover, it is uneconomic for SCE and its customers to bear the long-term repair costs for returning SONGS to full power operation without restart of Unit 2. SCE has concluded that efforts are better focused on planning for the replacement generation and transmission resources which will be required for grid reliability.
“Looking ahead,” said Ron Litzinger, SCE’s President, “we think that our decision to retire the units will eliminate uncertainty and facilitate orderly planning for California’s energy future.”
Litzinger noted that the company has worked with the California Independent System Operator, the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission in planning for Southern California’s energy needs and will continue to do so.
“The company is already well into a summer reliability program and has completed numerous transmission upgrades in addition to those completed last year,” Litzinger said. “Thanks to consumer conservation, energy efficiency programs and a moderate summer, the region was able to get through last summer without electricity shortages. We hope for the same positive result again this year,” Litzinger added, “although generation outages, soaring temperatures or wildfires impacting transmission lines would test the system.”
In connection with the retirement of Units 2 and 3, San Onofre anticipates reducing staff over the next year from approximately 1,500 to approximately 400 employees, subject to applicable regulatory approvals. The majority of such reductions are expected to occur in 2013.
“This situation is very unfortunate,” said Pete Dietrich, SCE’s Chief Nuclear Officer, noting that “this is an extraordinary team of men and women. We will treat them fairly.” SCE will work to ensure a fair process for this transition, and will work with the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) and the International Brotherhood of Electric Workers (IBEW) on transition plans for the employees they represent.
SCE also recognizes its continuing safety responsibilities as it moves toward decommissioning of the units. SCE’s top priority will be to ensure a safe, orderly, and compliant retirement of these units. Full retirement of the units prior to decommissioning will take some years in accordance with customary practices. Actual decommissioning will take many years until completion. Such activities will remain subject to the continued oversight of the NRC.
SCE intends to pursue recovery of damages from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the supplier of the replacement steam generators, as well as recovery of amounts under applicable insurance policies.
For updates, please visit www.SONGScommunity.com, or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SCE_SONGS and on www.facebook.com/SCE.
San Onofre is jointly owned by SCE (78.21 percent), San Diego Gas & Electric (20 percent) and the city of Riverside (1.79 percent).
About Southern California Edison
An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 4.9 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.
 
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We'll print more details as they're made available.  Watch @atomicnews on Twitter for updates throughout the day.
 
9:12 AM Eastern June 7, 2013