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D&D Industry News

Keep up with deactivation and decommissioning industry news and current events.

Fractured Fukushima exhaust stack to be dismantled

May 23, 2016

​Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco) plans to begin dismantling the upper section of the joint exhaust stack for the unit 1 and 2 reactors at its Fukushima Daiichi NPP in fiscal 2018, company officials announced on April 25 during a meeting with the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA). NRA officials had advised Tepco to disassemble the structure because of fractures in its pillars that increased the risk of collapse, The Mainichi reported.

However, venting to reduce pressure inside the reactor containment vessels contaminated the stack during the 2011 nuclear disaster and radiation levels are extremely high. Radiation measurements conducted at the base of the structure in 2013 stood at an estimated 25 sieverts per hour. 

As a result, the will be undertaken from a distance utilizing a large crane. It is expected to be completed in fiscal 2019. Tepco officials told NRA that fractures or deformities had been detected in eight different sections of the pillars' steel joints, which are found at approximately the 66 metre-mark of the 120-metre-high exhaust stack. The cracks are thought to have been caused by the hydrogen explosions that occurred during the disaster. 

Tepco has said the structure "would not fall over even if an earthquake of the same intensity as that which struck during the Great East Japan Earthquake (an upper level 6 on the Japanese scale) were to occur again". However, it decided to dismantle the top section as it would have repercussions on the reactor decommissioning work taking place in the area in the unlikely event of the structure's collapse.

Read the full article at:

http://www.neimagazine.com/news/newsfractured-fukushima-exhaust-stack-to-be-dismantled-4874948​

Germany looks to export reactor decommissioning technologies

May 23, 2016

​BERLIN – Germany may become an exporter of technologies to decommission reactors in the future given the experience gained after its phasing out of nuclear energy, German Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said in a recent interview with Kyodo News.

Germany believes it may be able to halt all nuclear power in the country before its 2022 target year, Hendricks said Wednesday in Berlin. She also expressed hope for cooperation with other countries in reactor decommissioning.

“I cannot exclude the possibility that the last nuclear reactor will be switched off earlier than 2022; there has been a reactor which switched off earlier than it was planned, because of the costs of running it longer,” she said.

The interview was held prior to her visit to Japan to take part in the Group of Seven environment ministers’ meeting scheduled for May 15 and 16 in Toyama on the Sea of Japan coast.

After the session, she plans to travel on to Fukushima Prefecture, home to the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, which suffered a triple-meltdown triggered by a major quake and tsunami in 2011.

“I want see the situation with my eyes and see how Japan has dealt with it,” she said.

The Fukushima disaster motivated Germany to decide the same year to abandon atomic energy by 2022.

“In Germany we have begun or finished the decommissioning of nearly 20 nuclear power units and more than 30 research reactors,” she said. “We have gathered a lot of technological experiences.

“The nuclear power phase-out is an advantage, because we have begun earlier to gather experiences on how to change a nuclear power plant to a green grass or a base for another industry,” she said.

The minister added that nuclear decommissioning “will become the next export technology” for Germany.

Asked to comment on Japan’s resumption of some reactors taken offline after the nuclear accident, she said: “Every country has to decide about their energy mix. I do not want to make advice.”

Hendricks, however, expressed “surprise” that Japan has not fully made use of renewable energy sources like solar, wind and hydropower.

The environment ministers’ meeting is one of the G-7 ministerial sessions being held in Japan in the run-up to the Ise-Shima summit May 26 and 27. The G-7 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

Read the full article at:

In Focus: Pile Fuel Cladding Silo

May 23, 2016

​The Pile Fuel Cladding Silo is Sellafield’s oldest nuclear waste storage facility and will be the last of the four ‘legacy’ ponds and silos to start the process of reducing the nuclear and environmental risk by getting the waste out of the old building into a safer place. Although there’s been a huge amount learned the hard way on how decommissioning needs to be considered right at the outset of planning and construction, in many ways the team’s ‘lead and learn’ early retrievals approach of today harks back to the ‘simplicity first’ ethos used when it was built.

It’s fair to say that anyone building an Intermediate Level Waste storage facility today wouldn’t look to a 1940s North American grain silo for engineering and architectural inspiration. But that’s what happened with the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo when it was designed and built in the aftermath of the Second World War. The rush to secure Britain’s place at the world’s atomic weapons table in the Cold War was paramount, meaning the solution for dealing with the waste and by-products of plutonium production was way down the pecking order. Put frankly, storage solutions that were ‘agricultural’ in every sense of the word had to be good enough at the time.

“The people who built the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo did extraordinary things in incredibly short timescales. Their mandate was to develop the first nuclear weapons, not to consider the long-term effects of radioactive waste storage,” said Gary Snow, head of the silo programme. “Anywhere in the world where there was a post-war weapons programme has the same issues: waste storage buildings which weren’t really built to last; poor and inconsistent record keeping on the contents; and no real thought given to eventual retrievals.”

Pile Fuel Cladding Silo.jpg 
 
 

Gary’s team is delivering the programme of emptying and decommissioning the building used as the UK’s first ever storage facility for intermediate level waste. He says if he could go back in time and say anything to these nuclear pioneers, it would be “make the building more robust and keep good records”. But, without the luxury of time travel, Sellafield has instead had to carefully manage and monitor the facility.

Read the full article at: 

WIPP one step closer to reopening

May 13, 2016

​CARLSBAD — With the Department of Energy's approval of their newest Documented Safety Analysis, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant finds itself one, very complicated, step closer to reopening by the end of the year.

"It is an exciting point because it is a major milestone that has been reached," said John Heaton, chair of the Mayor's Nuclear Task Force in Carlsbad. "This was, frankly, one of the long poles in the tent, no doubt about it."

The Documented Safety Analysis is a required document in which WIPP details potential scenarios, like fire or radiological releases, and the plan of action that will be taken should a situation arise.

WIPPDSA.jpg 
 Heaton said the document took a year and 100,000 man hours to create.

WIPP had a Documented Safety Analysis in place already, but the Department of Energy revised its standards for the document in November 2014, prompting the creation of a new one.

"It follows a new standard and the standard is much more stringent," Tim Runyon, WIPP Recovery Operations Communication manager, said.

Runyon said a combination of the new standard and the need for changes in WIPP operations after the 2014 fire led to major changes within their Documented Safety Analysis.

"I think it'd be fair to say that it pretty much got rewritten from the ground up," Runyon said.

After a fire started in the underground in February 2014, workers were unable to properly use their emergency oxygen supplies.

Also, a facility shift manager switched the ventilation system from normal to filtration mode, thinking it would clear smoke. In reality, this caused areas that were supposed to have "good" air to fill with smoke.

The approval of the document enables the team at WIPP to complete the final phase of their Independent Verification Review and begin training workers on the new safety document.

After that, cold operations begin, during which workers will conduct normal waste emplacement procedures using weighted waste containers.

Once the Department of Energy deems the workforce to be fully trained, real waste emplacement operations can begin, Runyon said.

“We reached an important milestone Friday on the way to resumption of operations,” said Phil Breidenbach, president and project manager at WIPP contractor Nuclear Waste Partnership, in an email. “Getting the DSA approved was a remarkable team effort with almost every group at WIPP being involved in the development of this key document. I am very proud of this team and look forward to achieving our ultimate goal of safely resuming transuranic waste disposal operations at WIPP.”

WIPP hopes to resume operations by December.

"Hopefully this makes WIPP safer and should something happen, they’ll know precisely how to respond to it," Heaton said.​

Read the full article at:

http://www.currentargus.com/story/news/special-reports/wipp/2016/05/03/wipp-one-step-closer-reopening/83878492/​


Britain Predicting Serious Nuclear Technician Shortage

May 13, 2016

​Retiring nuclear power plants in Britain and elsewhere remains a central focus of the nuclear power industry. But what about the retiring technicians who may be nearing the end of their careers just at a time when the industry will require an upswing in highly skilled workers?

Not only will some highly qualified technicians more over to work in decommissioning activities, but some areas expect to see an increase in new build projects that will require highly skilled workers for construction and for plant operations positions.

Such topics were in discussion last week at the Nuclear New Build Forum in London, where British Energy Minister Andrea Leadsom noted that Nuclear Workforce Assessment numbers pointed to a demand for nuclear power technicians that would rise from a current workforce of 78,000 to 111,000, a gain of 33,000.

Just as the demand for highly skilled workers is expected to rise in Britain, many of those current workers are expected to retire soon. Leadsom said 70 percent of the country's highly skilled nuclear power workforce are expected to reach retirement age by 2025.

Those numbers change the bottom line quickly. If 70 percent of 78,000 retire, that would leave 23,400 technicians in the workforce. With demand for workers expected to rise to 111,000, that would leave a gap of 87,600 technicians, not the 33,000 that would be needed if none of the technicians were to retire by 2025.

Despite the dour headlines that pop up concerning financing issues surrounding the massive Hinkley Point C project, which is expected to cost close to $25 billion, Britain is not backing down from nuclear power, which the government sees as a vital energy source while the country reduces its dependence on coal and oil.

While Britain explores a potential game-changing industry with small modular reactors, there are six potential large plant projects in various stages of discussion and development. They include new plants at Hinkley Point C, Sizewell, Bradwell, Moorside, Wylfa and Oldbury.

Discussions at the forum centered on apprenticeships and other programs to help Britain keep up with the increased demand for educated workers in the nuclear power sector. Last year, Britain's Business Minister Matt Hancock announced the formation of a National College for Nuclear, a virtual college for which Lakes College, Sellafield Ltd. and the University of Cumbria would form a Northern education center, while Bridgewater College, EDF Energy and the University of Bristol would form a southern learning center.

Read the full article at:

http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_industry_news/b/nuclear_power_news/archive/2016/05/02/britain-predicting-serious-nuclear-technician-shortage-050201#.VzIB10zR-JC​


Can radioactive waste at Trojan withstand a major quake?

May 13, 2016

​PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Along the Columbia River, just an hour north of Portland, is the former Trojan Nuclear Power Plant. It went online in 1976 and went offline in 1992.

The reactor, control room and cooling tower were demolished in 2006, but something dangerous, and possibly lethal, remain.

A total of 34 concrete cylinders, or casks, which hold more than 379 tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste, remain at the site, guarded 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Inside the cement silos are stainless steel containers which hold 790 spent uranium fuel rods that once powered Oregon’s only nuclear plant.

trojan-nuclear-plant-a-1978.jpg 
 
 “When you get right down to it, a facility like this is designed to be boring,” says Steve Corson with Portland General Electric. “The goal is to make sure that nothing happens here.”

But what the security guards can’t prevent, an earthquake, is the biggest threat to Trojan. The silos sit on an earthquake fault, and scientists have been warning the public about a large Cascadia subduction zone quake for years.

The big question is, will the casks survive a major quake intact?

“We would not expect to see any damage to these storage containers as a result of something like that,” says Corson.

But, officials weren’t expecting that to happen in Virginia in 2011 either.

On August 23, 2011, a 5.8 magnitude earthquake rattled Virginia’s North Anna Nuclear Reactor, causing an emergency shutdown. That was expected. What wasn’t expected was the giant casks holding spent nuclear fuel shifting several inches. Concrete even flaked off some of the cylinders.

“I said, ‘I can’t believe that’ because that…magnitude was not really super significant compared to the big earthquakes that affect us out here and do major amounts of damage,” says Scott Burns, a professor of geology at Portland State University.

He says a major Cascadia subduction zone quake would be 27,000 times more powerful than that Virginia quake.

Burns is concerned about the shaking, but PGE isn’t because the Trojan casks are 30 tons heavier than the casks in Virginia.

“Just moving an inch or two, although that’s pretty unlikely, these are very heavy containers,” says Corson. “Even movement shouldn’t be a problem, even if you knocked one over, that should not be a problem.”

Read the full article at:

http://koin.com/2016/05/04/can-radioactive-waste-at-trojan-withstand-a-major-quake/​


Chugoku Electric Power to End Decommissioning Shimane-1 by Fiscal 2045

May 13, 2016

​On April 28, Japan's Chugoku Electric Power Co. released an outline of a decommissioning plan for its Shimane-1 Nuclear Power Plant (BWR, 460MWe), located in Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture. The plant’s official decommissioning had been decided upon on April 30 of last year.

The outline, describing the dismantling and removal processes at the reactor, says that Chugoku Electric Power will complete the decommissioning by FY45 (ending March 31, 2046). Prior to filing an application with Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) for approval of the plan, the power company had given an explanation about it to the hosting municipality, Matsue City, asking that municipality for its consent.

In a visit to the office of Matsue Mayor Masataka Matsuura, Chugoku Electric Power President Mareshige Shimizu explained that the decommissioning would be carried out over 30 years, beginning in the current fiscal year. Until FY29 (ending March 31, 2030), the power company plans to prepare for dismantling work, and will also dismantle and remove peripheral reactor equipment.

The power company will launch the dismantling of the reactor itself in FY30 (ending March 31, 2031). The spent nuclear fuel assemblies are to be removed from the premises before the reactor is dismantled.

Having already requested removal of the spent fuel assemblies early on, Mayor Matsuura said, “The plan says that they will be removed at a relatively early stage, and I greatly appreciate that. I expect that the company will implement the plan steadily.”

Shimane-1 has been operated for more than 40 years. Originally, Chugoku Electric Power, Matsue City and Shimane Prefecture concluded a safety agreement on operation of NPPs and decommissioning, requiring preliminary consents of the prefecture and local municipalities before filing decommissioning applications.

In the afternoon of April 28, the power company also asked Tottori City and other adjacent cities for their preliminary consents as well.

Read the full article at:

http://www.jaif.or.jp/en/chugoku-electric-power-to-end-decommissioning-shimane-1-by-fiscal-2045/​


Cost to decommission Diablo Canyon escalates

May 06, 2016

Someday, the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant will close, and when it does, PG&E will be required to remove everything, from the mammoth reactor domes to nondescript parking lots, guard shacks and restrooms.

The plant’s dismantled remains — the concrete rubble, the scrap metal, even the massive breakwater — will be loaded on trains and shipped out of state, according to a revised post-closure plan and cost estimate released this spring. (It may be possible to keep some facilities, such as the desalination plant, but that would require special approval.)

The dismantling of Diablo will cost an estimated $3.8 billion, making it one of the most expensive and complex projects in San Luis Obispo County history. To put that figure in perspective, it cost $5.7 billion to build the plant in the 1970s.

Nothing about Diablo’s dismantling — as detailed in a report by PG&E consultant TLG Services — will be routine.

One example: While it was once anticipated that most waste could be disposed of locally, that’s no longer the case, in part because of an executive order signed by Gov. Gray Davis in 2002 that prohibits disposal of low-level radioactive waste from California Class III landfills.

Now, the plan is to send scrap metal to Nevada. Low-level radioactive waste will go to Utah or Texas. Concrete rubble will be packed into bags and shipped to an out-of-state disposal site.

Spent fuel rods — classified as high-level nuclear waste — will be stored on site until they’re picked up by the Department of Energy.

a1 diablo.jpg 
 
Who will pay?

PG&E has been collecting money from ratepayers for years to pay for the decommissioning. It has approximately $2.6 billion in trust, according to PG&E executive Loren Sharp.

But the cost could far exceed that by the time the plant closes; in the past few years alone, estimates jumped from $2.5 billion in 2012 to $3.8 billion in 2016 — a difference of $1.3 billion.

PG&E recently asked the state Public Utilities Commission to approve a rate increase to cover the difference — a case the commission is expected to take up later this year.

Because the higher decommissioning cost will be spread among all PG&E ratepayers, the increase will barely be noticeable. According to PG&E, effective Jan. 1, 2017, the bill for a typical residential customer using 500 kilowatt hours a month will go to $97.65, from $97.14 — less than a 1 percent increase. (PG&E also is requesting a rate increase to fund Diablo Canyon seismic studies. If granted, it will add another nickel to the average bill.)


Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/article73608002.html#storylink=cpy

Read the full article at:
http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/article73608002.html


Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/news/local/article73608002.html#storylink=cpy

Milestone for US enrichment plant cleanup

May 06, 2016

​The final piece of process gas equipment has been removed from one of three process buildings at the former Portsmouth gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment plant in Ohio, USA.

Fluor-BWXT-Portsmouth, the US Department of Energy's (DOE) contractor for the decommissioning of the Portsmouth site, removed the last of over 7000 components from the X-326 facility on 21 March. More than 6800 of those components have been shipped offsite for disposal.

The components were part of 2340 enrichment "stages", each consisting of a compressor, a converter and a cooler, plus interconnecting pipes. The converters alone weigh almost 5 tonnes each. Each of Portsmouth's three process buildings - X326, X-330 and X-333 - covers over 12 hectares and housed uranium enrichment equipment. Deactivation activities are under way at all three.

DOE site lead Joel Bradburne said the "difficult and hazardous" work had presented many challenges which had all been met. "The Fluor-BWXT X-326 Deactivation team has removed the largest sources of contamination and safely shipped these components offsite for disposal. In the process the Portsmouth D&D Project has become one of the largest shippers in the DOE complex for offsite disposal," he said.

The deactivation work has presented challenges from radiological, industrial and safety perspectives. These involved chemical hazards and radiological contamination issues. They also included hoisting and rigging, welding and torch cutting, and work in confined spaces. Up to 300 employees and support staff worked on the project.

Portsmouth converter 460.jpg 
 
Work is now under way to characterize auxiliary systems and remove any held-up uranium and hazardous materials inside them. "Our plan is to have the X-326 'cold and dark' and ready for demolition by June of 2017," Bradburne said.

The Portsmouth plant began operations in 1954, originally as part of the USA's nuclear weapons complex, but produced fuel for commercial nuclear plants from the 1960s. Enrichment operations ended in 2001, after which the plant was maintained in cold standby for ten years. Limited cleanup operations began at the site in the 1990s.

The DOE recently approved a 30-month contract option for Fluor-BWXT to finalize X-326 deactivation, fully mobilize deactivation efforts in the X-333 building, and finish design and begin construction of an on-site waste disposal facility to safely dispose of building debris and contaminated soils from plant demolition.

Read the full article at:  

http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/WR-Milestone-for-US-enrichment-plant-cleanup-2104167.html​

Demolition moving quickly at historic K-27 uranium site

May 06, 2016

OAK RIDGE — On a chilly morning in early February, workers maneuvered their heavy equipment to take a ceremonial "first bite" out of K-27 — a four-story, 383,000-square-foot industrial facility that once processed uranium for the nation's Cold War nuclear arsenal and helped fuel early generations of power reactors.

A small group of onlookers applauded the moment.

In the 10 weeks since then, the demolition project has progressed mightily, thanks to an experienced workforce and an unusual run of good weather in East Tennessee.

The project is already approaching the halfway point, and it looks like the U.S. Department of Energy's cleanup contractor — URS-CH2M Oak Ridge — will have no trouble meeting its year-end completion goal.

During a visit to the site earlier this week, demolition activities were going full bore. Bricks and mortar cascaded to the ground, accompanied by shreds of steel and other structural remnants. The work formed small mountains of contaminated debris.

Demolition was coordinated with battalion of dump trucks, waiting in line to be loaded with waste. The trucks were then covered with tarps to prepare for the trip to a DOE landfill, which is approved for radioactive and hazardous materials generated by Oak Ridge cleanup projects.

Since the K-27 demolition project began earlier this year, more than 1,500 truckloads of waste have been shipped to disposal sites, Smith said.

K0013405889--826677.JPG 
 
 

About 90 percent of the debris is bound for an Oak Ridge landfill known officially as the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility.

The other 10 percent, which is either too radioactive or contains pollutants not allowed at the Oak Ridge landfill, is shipped off-site for disposal — mostly to a desert burial ground at DOE's Nevada National Security Site.

K-27 is a big deal in the government's Oak Ridge cleanup campaign that has already invested billions of taxpayer dollars.

It is the last of five gaseous diffusion plants at the sprawling site that once formed the nation's largest uranium-enrichment complex. Demolition of K-25, the mile-long, U-shaped building originally constructed for the World War II Manhattan Project, was completed a couple of years ago at a cost exceeding $1 billion.

The takedown projects are not simple, requiring years of preparation before the actual demolition begins.

K-27, like its sister K-25 plant, contained a lot of deposits of enriched uranium in its miles of processing equipment. The fissionable material had to be removed in advance or fixed in place to prevent the uranium from creating a "criticality" accident — an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction with release of radiation — during the actual demolition.

Demolition of K-27 is the final milestone of DOE's "Vision 2016," and it will make the conversion of the site to a private industrial park more realistic visually and perhaps help attract new tenants.

After the old uranium-processing plants are removed, DOE contractors will focus on other cleanup tasks at the sprawling site known as the East Tennessee Technology Park.

Among the future projects will be removal of what's left of DOE's toxic waste incinerator, which was shut down in late 2009 after burning more than 35 million pounds of toxic waste over two decades, and a large facility that once manufactured highly classified "barrier" materials used in the separation of U-235 for atomic bombs and nuclear reactors.

Read the full article at: http://www.knoxnews.com/news/local/demolition-moving-quickly-at-historic-k-27-uranium-site-30ec7831-7eef-562a-e053-0100007f5f88-376584191.html




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