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D&D Industry News

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

US nuclear plant explosion: transformer failure caused fire but no injuries

May 11, 2015

Indian Point nuclear facility 40 miles from New York city shuts down after a transformer failure, but owner says public and employees not in danger

 Smoke rises from Indian Point Energy Center on Saturday. Photograph: Ricky Flores/AP

A transformer failed at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in suburban New York, causing a fire that forced an automatic shutdown of a reactor. The fire was quickly extinguished and the reactor was deemed safe and stable, said a spokesman for owner Entergy Corp.

The transformer at Indian Point 3 takes energy created by the plant and changes the voltage for the grid supplying power to the state. The blaze, which sent black smoke billowing into the sky Saturday, was extinguished by a sprinkler system and on-site personnel, Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi said. Westchester County police and fire were on site as a precaution.

It was not immediately clear what caused the failure, or whether the transformer would be repaired or replaced. Nappi said there were no health or safety risks. It’s unclear how long the 1,000-megawatt reactor will be down. Entergy is investigating the failure.

The plant’s adjacent Unit 2 reactor was not affected.

The Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, 35 miles up the Hudson River from midtown Manhattan, supplies electricity for millions of homes, businesses and public facilities in New York City and Westchester County.

In accordance with federal regulations, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, state, county and local officials were notified of the event, considered the lowest of four emergency classifications for US nuclear plants.

Governor Andrew Cuomo was briefed on the failure at the site and said officials would review how the emergency was handled to determine if anything could have been done better. Cuomo said the fire had caused oil to leak and could possibly spill into the Hudson River, but crews were working containing it.

“These situations we take very seriously. Luckily this was not a major situation. But the emergency protocols are very important,” he said. “I take nothing lightly when it comes to this plant specifically.”

But he said there had been too many emergencies of late. Unit 3 had been shut down Thursday morning for an unrelated issue, a water leak on the non-nuclear side of the plant. It was repaired and there was no radioactive release, Nappi said. In March, Unit 3 was shut down for a planned refueling that took about a month.

A spokeswoman for the NRC said an agency inspector assigned to the plant was headed there, and the agency would follow up as Indian Point troubleshoots.

Spokeswoman Diane Screnci said there was no impact on the public. She said it was not out of the ordinary for a transformer to have a problem, and noted that it was on the non-nuclear side of the plant.

source: EINNews

Energy Industry Sponsors Four FIRST® Robotics World Championship Finalists

April 27, 2015

WASHINGTON (April 24, 2015) – Opening ceremonies for the FIRST® Robotics Competition World Championship took place last night in St. Louis, and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) congratulates all of the teams that have advanced to the final round of competition. In addition to individual company-sponsored teams, four of the finalists are sponsored by the energy industry through a first-of-its-kind sponsorship, “Get Into Energy, Get Into STEM,” managed by the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD). 

RECYCLE RUSH SM is a recycling-themed game played by two Alliances of three robots each. Robots score points by stacking Totes on Scoring Platforms, capping those stacks with Recycling Containers, and properly disposing of pool noodles, representing Litter. In keeping with the recycling theme of the game, all game pieces used are reusable or recyclable by teams in their home locations or by FIRST® at the end of the season. 

Each Alliance competes on their respective 26 ft. by 27 ft. side of the playing field. Each RECYCLE RUSH match begins with a 15-second Autonomous Period in which robots operate independently of their drivers. During this period, robots attempt to earn points by moving themselves, their Yellow Totes, and their Recycling Containers into the area between the white scoring platforms, called the Auto Zone.

​Through this initiative, the energy industry has developed a program to encourage students to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by supporting the FIRST Robotics Competition and FIRST Tech Challenge. 

“Helping America’s youth reach their full academic and career potential has been a longstanding priority for the energy industry,” said CEWD Chair and Vice President of People Strategy and Human Resources for Pepco Holdings, Inc. Thomas H. Graham. “This unwavering commitment is reflected in many CEWD programs and partnerships, such as the FIRST Robotics Competitions, which provide students with unique opportunities, mentoring, and motivation as they make their journey from the classroom to the workplace. We are proud to sponsor this tremendous initiative, and wish all of the teams competing in the FIRST World Championship good luck.”  

“CEWD congratulates all of the teams that have made it this far in the FIRST Robotics Competition, and we are especially proud of the four CEWD-sponsored teams advancing to the World Championship. The science, technology, engineering and math skills utilized in these competitions are essential to the work we do to safely and reliably serve our customers, and the utility industry’s ongoing support for FIRST underscores our collective commitment to encouraging students to excel in these areas,” said incoming CEWD Chair and Pacific Gas & Electric Company Executive Vice President of Electric Operations Geisha Williams.

CEWD has provided broad-based support for the FIRST Robotics Competition at the local, regional and national levels. Most notably, four rookie teams sponsored by CEWD are advancing to the World Championship. These four dedicated teams are: Blue Crew, Too, from McComb, Mississippi; MoHawk Elites from Houston, Texas; Da Vinci De Coders, from Farmington Hills, Michigan; and Zorrobots, from Ensenada, Mexico.

In addition to supporting these highly accomplished students, CEWD is sponsoring charging stations, a hands on-exhibit with energy-focused activities, and a first-time-ever robot doctor station that will provide the tools and expertise needed to keep all teams’ robots in the competition.

CEWD member sponsors of the FIRST initiative include: Ameren, Consumers Energy, DTE Energy, Duke Energy, Edison International, Exelon, MidAmerican Energy, National Grid, NextEra Energy, Pacific Gas and Electric, and Southern Company.

CEWD is a non-profit consortium of electric, natural gas, and nuclear utilities and their associations, including EEI and many of its member companies.

SOURCE Edison Electric Institute​

Even small site changes can risk flood safety for nuclear power plants

April 27, 2015

In the years since most U.S. plants were constructed and initially licensed, many site modifications have been made, ones that could compromise flood safety.

HOLDEN, MASSACHUSETTS, USA, April 24, 2015 /EINPresswire.com/ -- After Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi accident, there has been increased awareness and regulatory scrutiny regarding flood protection for U.S. nuclear power facilities. Yet one of the most important lessons learned from recent flooding hazard re-evaluations is that for reasons of security, modernization or convenience, important flood protection mechanisms and infrastructure are often ignored or undermined.

In the years since most U.S. plants were constructed and initially licensed, many site modifications have been made, ones that could compromise flood safety. As plants across the country address the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s 50.54(f) Letter and recommendations of the Near-Term Task Force, experts at Alden Research Laboratory (Alden) recommend looking at several potential trouble spots:

Site Grading and Topography. 
Ideal site grading is designed to elevate the plant’s protected area and drain stormwater surface runoff away from critical locations, but site grading can change with time and ideal is not always possible. To keep flooding protection intact, all re-grading or changes in topography must be reviewed by flooding experts. For example, if a storm drain is no longer at a low point after a grading modification, that drain will no longer perform as designed.

On-Site Storage and Temporary Buildings. 
Placement of any structure— whether temporary or permanent— that may redirect water during a major rain event can have significant implications for flood safety. For example, at one plant, Alden observed box containers placed over a storm drain, which would have prevented the drain from operating properly during a rain or flood event.

Security Barriers. Security additions may change drainage flow. In addition, conservative flooding analysis modeling approaches require that drainage openings be assumed as partially or entirely blocked by debris. Developing a hierarchical hazard analysis in an effort to reduce this conservatism can be costly. When designing and citing new security barriers, such as bullet-resistant enclosures, vehicle and delay barriers, storm drain security mesh or grates, placement should be carefully coordinated between security personnel and flooding experts.

Internal Communication. 
Communication between engineering staff and in-house or contracted flood experts can be lacking. Without specialized hydraulics and hydrology knowledge, generalist engineering staff should not be expected to make educated decisions about how ongoing site modifications or changes in use impact specialized flood protection systems. To ensure safe operation, communication is critical and plant protocol should involve flood protection specialists in all modifications.

About Alden 
Alden (Alden Research Laboratory, Inc.) is an internationally acclaimed leader in solving flow-related engineering and environmental problems. Alden has evaluated storm-related threats for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s requested post-Fukushima flooding hazard re-evaluation. Over more than a century, Alden has provided engineering, field and laboratory technical assessments for all types of power generation facilities and associated regulatory agencies. With laboratories in Massachusetts and Washington and offices across the country, Alden provides energy licensing, compliance, environmental services, physical and computational flow modeling, flow meter calibration, and field services. Founded in 1894, Alden is the longest continuously operating hydraulic laboratory in the United States.

SOURCE EIN Presswire

D&D KM-IT at Waste Management 2015

March 04, 2015

D&D KM-IT at Waste Management 2015 (WM2015) 
 Come learn about new developments and capabilities integrated into the D&D Knowledge Management Information Tool (http://www.dndkm.org) at our booth #733 in the exhibitor hall at Waste Management Conference 2015 in Phoenix, AZ from March 15-19, 2015. We also have a formal presentation in Session 067 on Tuesday, March 17, during the 1:30-5:00 pm session in Room #106B.

Waste Management 2014
Exhibit Hall Reception​

Plan to attend a workshop on D&D KM-IT at our booth #733 on Monday, March 16, at 2:00, where we will conduct a demonstration of the D&D Knowledge Management Information Tool (D&D KM-IT), the web-based knowledge management information tool custom built for the D&D user community.

Come to our "one-on-one" demonstrations of D&D KM-IT being offered at our booth during exhibitor hall hours. The capabilities of the system will be demonstrated, showing the available features and newly added content of the D&D KM-IT, including over 350 newly added robotic technologies. The D&D KM-IT system was developed by Florida International University - Applied Research Center (FIU-ARC) in collaboration with the Department of Energy (DOE HQ).

Adoption of Protective Equipment for Use Inside 242-Z at Hanford’s Plutonium Finishing Plant Closure Project

February 24, 2015
Workers from the Department of Energy’s Idaho and Hanford sites participate in a 2013 information exchange

The Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP) was the primary facility for producing plutonium at Hanford from the 1940s to the 1980s and is nearing the final stages of cleanup, with the cleanup work now transitioning to some of the most complex and hazardous parts of the facility. One of those facilities is the Americium Recovery Facility (242-Z), which is part of PFP. The Americium Recovery Facility was left heavily contaminated following a 1976 accident, in which an ion exchange column tank burst, leaving the room highly contaminated, and few entries occurred over the years.

From 2009-2011, cleanup of the Plutonium Finishing Plant and 242-Z received a boost thanks to funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. CH2M HILL employees entered 242-Z and began large-scale demolition efforts. They removed two of five glove boxes and associated piping. During this time, employees used supplied air systems and conventional personal protective equipment (PPE). High airborne contamination levels and conventional PPE limited stay times. Improved worker protection and increased efficiency for this work was needed.

CH2M HILL assembled a team of PFP employees to research PPE options that would increase safety and efficiency at PFP, specifically inside 242-Z. The team represented a cross-section of PFP employees, including nuclear chemical operators, safety representatives, radiological control technicians, engineers and management. Upon learning of success performing similar high-hazard work at the Department of Energy’s Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project (AMWTP) in Idaho, the team visited that site for a two-day information exchange.

The workers at AMWTP use a respirator called PremAire®, supplied by Mine Safety Appliances, that is fitted with a vortex cooling tube. Employees wear that respirator inside a fully encapsulating suit made by Rich Industries. The equipment offered improved protection from higher chemical and radiological concentrations and reduced heat stress on workers through the use of a vortex cooling tube.

Training And Application

A CH2M HILL employee trains on equipment inside a mockup of the Americium Recovery Facility
(242-Z) at the Hanford Site

PFP employees returned to Hanford, continued to evaluate the equipment and recommended its use inside 242-Z. CH2M HILL management concurred with the workers’ recommendations. In addition to procuring the suits and respirators, management purchased two Kaeser rotary screw breathing air compressors. None of this equipment had been used at Hanford before. Throughout the spring and summer of 2013, PFP workers developed advanced dress/undress training courses and trained coworkers on the equipment inside a full-scale replica of 242-Z, built at the Hanford Site’s HAMMER Training Center.

In September 2014, workers entered 242-Z for the first time since 2011 to begin the final work toward cleaning out that room and preparing it for demolition. Stay times in the area are longer due to the increased protection from the high radiation levels (derived air concentration, or DAC) levels and the lower temperatures within the suit, protecting employees from heat stress. 

MMore information
available at the following links

A CH2M HILL employee wore specialized respiratory equipment and protective suits when entering one of the most hazardous rooms at the Hanford Site in September 2014, increasing protection from high radiation levels and heat stress.

Video: Workers prepare to safely enter one of the most hazardous rooms at the Hanford Site

Lessons Learned/Good Practice: Workers Refine New Equipment and Process Prior to Field Implementation

Kaeser Rotary Screw Air Compressors by Air Systems International

Rich Industries Level B Outer Protective Suits by Rich Industries, Inc.

PremAire® Respirator System by Mine Safety Appliance (MSA)


Energy IG: Hundreds of contaminated, closed nuclear weapons facilities still need cleanup

February 25, 2015

Despite their increasing risk to people and the environment, hundreds of shuttered, contaminated facilities that used to produce nuclear weapons and conduct energy research are still years away from being cleaned up, the Energy Department's watchdog said in a recent report.

The inspector general said there are 234 facilities awaiting deactivation and decommissioning activities. It also identified an additional 140 facilities that will need to be addressed in the future. In the cleanup process, facilities are stabilized to reduce the risks to personnel and then ultimately decontaminated and dismantled.

But, as of last September, the department still hasn't established a schedule to transfer those facilities to its Office of Environmental Management, which has been responsible for cleanup of such facilities since 1989, the IG said in the Jan. 23 report (download pdf report).

Continue reading at http://www.fiercehomelandsecurity.com/story/energy-ig-hundreds-contaminated-closed-nuclear-weapons-facilities-still-nee/2015-01-30​

DoE’s Management of Excess Facilities Still Lacking

February 25, 2015

The Energy Department needs to do more to address potential health hazards to its employees and the public from contaminated facilities that are deteriorating now that they are no longer used, according to an IG report.

The report was a followup to a series of prior audits, including one issued last April, saying a number of National Nuclear Security Administration facilities categorized as excess or in shutdown mode are in poor condition and that the department lacked definitive plans for deactivation and decommissioning them.

The latest review found that “a definitive transfer schedule for the 234 contaminated excess facilities awaiting deactivation and decommissioning activities had not been established; many contaminated excess facilities continue to deteriorate and pose increasing risks to mission, workers, the public, and the environment; and at least 140 additional excess contaminated facilities had been identified” since the first inventory in 2009.

“According to Department officials, budget realities, including resource constraints and the unstable nature of the budget process, were key to the delays in advancing the deactivation and decommissioning program,” it said. The report added, though, that by waiting, the department is allowing the facilities to degrade even more, making remediation more difficult and expensive. It said some already are in such poor condition access by employees is prohibited.

The report stressed that inaction poses risks to health, safety and the environment and recommended that the department create a centralized roster of the facilities with the highest risk and address them in order, rather than relying on different components to identify and address their own facilities at risk.

More in: Federal Manager's Daily Report​

Surveyor robot checks pipework

December 19, 2014

​An inspection of an underground pipe at a US nuclear power plant has been successfully completed using GE Hitachi's Surveyor robot. Previously, such examinations have usually involved excavation work.

Plant inspectors normally use indirect methods to monitor buried pipework, such as running an electric current through them to identify corroded sections or using ultrasound technology to look for cracks because direct monitoring would require digging up the pipes to visually inspect them, which is a costly and time-intensive operation.

GE Hitachi (GEH) has announced its ultrasonic, self-propelled, articulated Surveyor robot has now been used to inspect the structural integrity of a section of underground pipe at the South Texas Project. Although already in use to check pipework in the oil and gas industry, GEH said this inspection marks the first deployment of the robot at a nuclear power plant.

The Surveyor robot - about 1.8 metres long - used a single access point to inspect a 9 metre length of an underground aluminium-bronze alloy service water pipe with a diameter of 15 cm. It first inspected a 3m vertical section before negotiating a 90-degree bend and then inspecting a 6m horizontal section.

Surveyor ultrasonic robot.jpg 
 A technician prepares the Surveyor robot for deployment in an underground pipe at South Texas Project (Image: GEH)​

The Surveyor robot features an umbilical cable which provides power and a live data feed to a control station. GEH says it can be used to inspect filled, partially-filled and drained pipes with a diameter of 15-120 cm.

GEH vice president of asset management services Richard Rossi said, "Underground pipes are a key component of nuclear power plants but are difficult to inspect and sometimes in accessible. This technology enables an entire length of underground pipe to be inspected without the risk and expense of excavation."

The above article was Researched and written by World Nuclear News​
Read original article at http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Surveyor-robot-checks-pipework-1012145.html​​

GE Hitachi Receives Federal Funds To Assess New Nuclear Technology

December 19, 2014

By J​enny Callison,

GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) will perform a comprehensive safety assessment of its PRISM sodium-cooled fast nuclear reactor, thanks to a multi-million-dollar federal investment from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the company announced Thursday.

GEH officials are not sure yet of the exact amount of federal funds allocated to the project, company spokesman Jon Allen said Thursday.

This research investment by the DOE will enable Castle Hayne-based GEH to partner with the Argonne National Laboratory in developing up-to-date risk assessment methodologies for PRISM and then to perform the assessment, according to a news release from the company.

“It’s a regulatory requirement that we run a series of analyses that will demonstrate how PRISM’s safety systems are going to operate and interact in several different scenarios,” Allen said.

The technology on which PRISM is based was developed in the 1980s and, unlike other nuclear reactors, it can use spent nuclear fuel and surplus plutonium to generate electricity. Since the early 1990s, however, no risk assessments have been done on the technology.

Read full article at 


DOE names new Richland operations manager

December 19, 2014

​The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today the selection of Stacy Charboneau as the Manager of the Richland Operations Office (DOE-RL) at the Hanford Site in southwest Washington State. In this role, she will continue cleanup momentum along the Columbia River, help shrink the Department’s active cleanup footprint, and continue safe groundwater remediation and hazardous waste and facilities disposal operations across the Hanford Site. Charboneau has been the Acting Deputy Manager of RL since June 2014.

“Stacy is a talented and seasoned senior executive with tremendous technical and managerial expertise on all aspects of the Hanford cleanup,” said Mark Whitney, Acting Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management. “Her education, technical and programmatic expertise, and past experience make her uniquely qualified to lead the talented workforce responsible for completing the next and critical phase of the important RL cleanup work.”

Charboneau brings more than 20 years of Hanford experience from both RL and the Office of River Protection (DOE-ORP) and holds the highest project management certification level available in the Department.  She has held several key leadership positions, including Acting Deputy Manager and Assistant Manager for Safety and Environment at RL, ORP Deputy Manager and Chief Operating Officer, ORP Tank Farms Project Assistant Manager and RL Deputy Assistant Manager for River Corridor cleanup.  Before joining EM in 1994 as an engineer in the Waste Operations Division, Charboneau worked for the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Keyport, Washington.  

RL is responsible for much of the cleanup of the 586-square-mile Hanford Site. In the first two decades of cleanup, RL has completed eighty percent of the cleanup activities along the Columbia River, moved all of the site’s 2,300 tons of spent nuclear fuel to dry storage away from the river, shipped all of the weapons grade plutonium once stored at the Plutonium Finishing Plant off the site, demolished 838 of 1,661 excess facilities, remediated 1,241 of 2,307 waste sites, placed five former plutonium production reactors in interim safe storage, and treated 11 billion gallons of contaminated groundwater. 

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