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D&D Industry News

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

Sale of Vermont Yankee plant could be good news

November 28, 2016

“Cautiously optimistic” is an overused term that covers a wide swath of expected outcomes. It’s often used by officials asked for comment — from politicians to law enforcement to doctors to sports coaches — as a way of saying: “I hope so.”


Sometimes, however, it’s the only term that seems to apply. Such is the case with last week’s announcement that Entergy plans to sell the shuttered Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to a firm that says it will fast-track the decommissioning and cleanup of the site.


It’s easy to see why Entergy would do the deal — selling the site for a song, and with it the liabilities, both legal and practical, of restoring the property to usable condition. For NorthStar Group Services Inc. and its partners, the deal is a nine-figure gamble that the decommissioning can be done for far less than the $1.24 billion Entergy had projected. If it can do so, the company stands to make a bundle.


For those who have long opposed the nuclear plant’s presence on the banks of the Connecticut River or who are simply eager to see the site redeveloped, news of the planned sale is reason for optimism that the project will be completed decades faster than was previously scheduled. NorthStar says it wants to step up the movement of spent nuclear fuel from the plant’s cooling pool to steel-and-concrete casks elsewhere on the site, and begin tearing down and removing contaminated material from the plant. Its timetable calls for the project to be done by 2030.


Entergy has gone back and forth on a timetable for the decommissioning, at one time saying it would be done in the same time frame, but then falling back to settle upon the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s SAFESTOR option, which would see the site all but abandoned — except for security — for up to 60 years before the actual work begins.


Having the work completed 45 or so years sooner is a happy thought. Thus, the optimism, among those hoping to see some future economic benefit from the site and those just hoping the radioactive material goes away sooner.


But it’s tempered by the idea the job is being undertaken with a financial bottom line as the primary motivation and questions about whether NorthStar is up to the task; it has not decommissioned a nuclear plant before. Presumably, the NRC and Vermont’s Public Service Board will hold whoever is liable for the decommissioning to the appropriate standards to ensure the dismantling and disposal of Vermont Yankee and its waste is done safely and completely.

In fact, the idea of selling off a closed plant for dismantling by someone other than the operator is an entirely new concept. There is one case in Illinois, the Zion Nuclear Power Station, in which the operator has contracted out the decommissioning and cleanup. But Commonwealth Edison, which owns the Zion plant, will retain the site when the work is done, along with the high-level radioactive waste that can’t be moved.


It’s important to realize that such waste — mainly the plant’s spent nuclear fuel — won’t leave the site in Vernon, either, until the U.S. Department of Energy has a place to store it. So, the entire site may not be developable in our lifetimes.


As for the lower-level waste, however, there, NorthStar has an advantage over Entergy. One of its partners, Texas-based Waste Control Specialists, already has its own low-level waste site, meaning it can take the waste without having to pay for that service. Proof that nuclear waste disposal is a small world: The firm dismantling the Zion plant, EnergySolutions, is trying to buy Waste Control Specialists, something the U.S. Department of Justice is trying to block, saying it would create a monopoly situation. EnergySolutions has also been the firm trucking radioactive groundwater from the Vermont Yankee site, another tie.


One question the deal raises is whether there’s enough money in the decommissioning fund already — it’s been pegged at about $575 million — to get the job done. Entergy’s rationale for using SAFESTOR was based, in part, on the decades-long waiting period allowing the fund to grow, through investment, so it would be large enough to do the job. But of course, during that period, costs would likely also be growing.


Another question is how much of the unused decommissioning trust fund would become profit for NorthStar? Entergy has put nothing into that fund — it’s all money from ratepayers. So presumably, any unused portion should return to them.


The actual paperwork for the deal has yet to be submitted. When it is, some of the potential issues may become clear. In the meantime, we remain cautious about the proposal.

Read the full article at  http://www.sentinelsource.com/opinion/editorial/sale-of-vermont-yankee-plant-could-be-good-news/article_826f145b-0880-5f34-acf3-4986ca07cf0f.html​

US Nuclear Corp Rolls Out Radiation Detection Drones

November 10, 2016

​The concept of drones may send a mixed message to the public, but it is likely that domestic uses of drones outnumbers military deployments. From agricultural and forest management concerns to Hollywood movie making, drones are proving,in a gadget-oriented world, to be an irresistible addition to many activities.

And now commercial drone creator FlyCam UAV, which specializes in drones for work in television and feature films, has teamed up with US Nuclear Corp to create drones that detect particles that contain alpha, beta, gamma and neutron radiation. The uses, the companies say, include detection of leaks from nuclear power plants and chemical analysis of smoke plumes above industrial accidents or residential fire scenes. The latter is possible, as the drones for radiation detection include a gas collection option that tests for the presence of chlorine, biological particulates and aerosols, such as anthrax and nerve gas.

The fully outfitted detection drone is suitable for radiological, chemical and biological detection missions, the companies said. Future upgrades for the DroneSensor package will also detect methane and diesel fumes.


The Cypher 6 is a commercial grade hexacopter and the NEO an all-weather commercial co-axial oxtocopter that has a 19 pound payload and can fly up to 30 minutes. Because of its design, the NEO is able to fly in rain and wind gusts up to 35 knots, says US Nuclear.

The DroneRad with the Cypher 6 and NEO UAV configurations acquires and relays data to the operator in real-time. The data can be tagged with GPS coordinates and stored on-board for post-flight download and viewing or it can transmit data to a base station wirelessly for live monitoring. The data, the companies said, consists of a series of measurements of radioactive intensity tagged with GPS data for color coded display on a map. The data can be displayed as a full gamma spectrum, allowing for the identification of radioactive isotopes​​.

Deflector plate removal from inside the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo at Sellafield.

October 25, 2016

​Engineers at the west Cumbrian site have begun to remove six deflector plates inside the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo (PFCS).

This is one of the oldest and most dangerous buildings at Sellafield and the work has started after a year of training, development and trials.

These six plates were originally used to deflect magnox swarf waste, pile fuel cladding and other toxic waste tipped into the building during the Cold War.

They need to be removed so the waste can be lifted out and put into a safer place when retrievals start in 2020.

Gary Snow, who is in charge of the PFCS programme, said: “Removing the plates inside the silo is like keyhole surgery, but on an industrial scale.”

The plates will be carefully cut, using long-reach cutting tools, into 150 pieces through small engineered openings in the side of the building, which has led to the project being dubbed a “metal jigsaw”.

The operators can only see what they are doing using cameras as there is no human access inside the silo.

Mr Snow said: “Each of the deflector plates is about the size of a small car and welded firmly in a place.

“The engineers and operators are faced with the challenge of cutting up this metal jigsaw while also safely maintaining the silo’s sensitive atmosphere which contains argon, an inert gas, to eradicate the risk of fire.”

Using traditional equipment to cut the metal could create sparks so the cutting is done with an innovative abrasive jet, blasting a mixture of water and finely ground stone at the speed of sound to cut through the steel.

This is as an extra safety layer because sparks would not be able to ignite in the argon atmosphere.

After being cut into pieces, the plates will then fall into the silo.

These will then be retrieved, along with the rest of the building’s contents.

Mr Snow also said: “It’s a unique and complex engineering challenge but we have the right people and technology to safely make this key step forward in the decommissioning journey of the building.”

Read the full article at:


Engineering firm rises to hazardous Sellafield challenge

October 25, 2016

​A NUCLEAR engineering company has helped in a major decommissioning project.


James Fisher Nuclear started deflector plate removal on the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo at Sellafield.

The cutting work is being carried out on one of the oldest and most dangerous buildings on the site.

The plates were originally used to deflect magnox swarf, pile fuel cladding and other toxic waste tipped into the building during the Cold War.

They need to be removed so the waste can be lifted out and put into a safer place when retrievals start in 2020.

Shepley Engineers Ltd is also helping in the work. Both firms are part of the Cumbria Nuclear Solutions consortium.

It was awarded the first phase of the contract in 2012 and would eventually see old steelwork removed in preparation for waste retrieval work.

James Fisher Nuclear used a full-scale mock-up of the silo at its Egremont facility where staff from the firm and Sellafield worked together to tackle the project.

It allowed them to design and manufacture the equipment and processes to carry out them job.

Graham Parker, of James Fisher Nuclear, said: “The first phase of the project to remove debris from on top of the plates went like clockwork because of the preparatory work in the full-scale mock-up of the silo."

Using traditional equipment to cut the metal could create sparks so the cutting is done with an innovative abrasive jet, blasting a mixture of water and finely ground stone at the speed of sound to cut through the steel.

The plates will be carefully cut, using long-reach cutting tools, into 150 pieces through small engineered openings in the side of the building, which has led to the project being dubbed a "metal jigsaw".

The operators can only see what they are doing using cameras as there is no human access inside the silo.

Gary Snow, head of the pile fuel programme, added: “It’s a highly unique and complex engineering challenge, but we have the right people and the right technology to safely make this key step forward in the decommissioning journey of the building.”

Read the full article at:


Twenty Years of Preparations to Culminate in Plutonium Finishing Plant Demolition

October 25, 2016

​RICHLAND, Wash. – Demolition of the Hanford Site’s Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP) is scheduled to begin within weeks, capping years of challenging preparatory work.

EM’s Richland Operations Office and contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CH2M) will conduct demolition slowly and methodically, with numerous controls and extensive monitoring in place to ensure employee and environmental safety. 

“Today, we’re near the end of a 20-year remediation project to prepare the facility for safe demolition,” EM Federal Project Director Tom Teynor said. “The start of its demolition will represent a huge step forward for the Department, plant workers, the community, and stakeholders, as well as the agencies we’ve worked with to get to this point.”

PFP Sections_700 pixels_0.jpg

Crews recently opened portions of the Plutonium Reclamation Facility (PRF) roof for a crane to remove eight glove boxes from the upper three floors (see a time lapse video here). Crews had already cleaned, decontaminated and prepared the glove boxes for removal. Heavy equipment will demolish PRF after those hazards are removed. 

“We will move forward through demolition with our continued focus on safety and each other, our continued cooperation, our teamwork and our skillful approach to every task,” said Tom Bratvold, CH2M’s vice president of the PFP Closure Project. “If we aren’t sure we can do it safely, we won’t do it.” 

PRF is the first of four main PFP facilities to be demolished. Next is the Americium Recovery Facility, nicknamed the “McCluskey Room” after a 1976 explosion that severely injured Harold McCluskey, who was working inside. Using personal protective equipment, CH2M employees have already prepared that building for demolition.

Demolition of the main processing and ventilation facilities is expected to begin in early 2017. Crews have prepared the main building, which is the largest of the four, by removing (or prepared to remove during demolition) about 75 percent of contaminated process vacuum piping and 65 percent of the contaminated ventilation duct. Workers are removing asbestos, contaminated piping and filter boxes from the ventilation building.

All demolition is scheduled for completion in summer 2017.

Read the full article at:


Entergy wins $34.5 million from feds in court ruling in nuclear waste case

October 25, 2016

​The U.S. Court of Federal Claims on Oct. 13 awarded $34.5 million to Entergy Nuclear Indian Point 2 LLC over a claim about the federal government collecting fees for yet-unbuilt nuclear waste disposal facilities.

This round two spent nuclear fuel case was before the court following the partial breach by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) of the 1983 Standard Contract for Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel. Entergy Nuclear Indian Point 2 sought damages for the period Aug. 31, 2008, through June 30, 2013. Entergy claimed a total of $35,650,752 in damages, of which $7,847,288 was in dispute.

The disputed items are as follows: increased security costs ($2,355,777); North Anna-type fuel repairs ($1,599,939); PCI Services welding delay costs ($1,421,601); Part 171 Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) fees ($879,112); fuel characterization and debris removal costs ($626,823); Indian Point 1 cask loading and demobilization costs ($430,838); Holtec expediting fees and interest ($167,513); repairs made to a fuel handling machine and overhead crane ($134,529); Part 170 NRC fees ($71,186); costs associated with Manafort Brothers services ($67,784); and costs associated with the removal of contaminated soil ($33,988).

The court on Oct. 13 granted all of Entergy’s claims except for Part 171 NRC fees, the repairs to a fuel handling machine and overhead crane, and the Holtec expediting fees. In addition, the government sought a $223,545 reduction in damages for delays caused by Holtec rust issues. This proposed reduction was denied. In total, the court awarded damages to Entergy of $34,469,598.

Indian Point is a three-reactor nuclear plant located about 25 miles north of New York City on the Hudson River. Indian Point Unit 1 began commercial operations in September 1962, and was permanently shut down in October 1974. Indian Point Unit 2 began commercial operation in August 1974 and remains in operation. Only Indian Point Units 1 and 2 are involved in this case. Entergy owns both of these units.

Claims associated with Indian Point 3 were brought in a separate case at this court in August 2015.

Read the full article at:


Finland to share repository know-how with Czech Republic

October 25, 2016

​Finnish waste management company Posiva will share its experience and know-how of developing a repository for used nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste with the Czech Republic's Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (SÚRAO) through a four-year service contract.

Under the contract - worth €2.75 million ($3.03 million) - the services will be provided by Posiva subsidiary Posiva Solutions, together with Finnish engineering company Saanio and Riekkola Oy. Other suppliers in the project will be SKB International and Geological Survey of Finland.

The service contract follows the signing of a memorandum of cooperation between SÚRAO and Posiva in November 2015. That agreement covered the site selection process, the fulfilment of the relevant legislative and legal requirements and cooperation in the design, construction and operation of a future deep geological repository.

The site for Posiva's repository at Eurajoki near Olkiluoto was selected in 2000. The Finnish parliament approved the decision-in-principle on the repository project the following year. Posiva, jointly owned by Finnish nuclear utilities Fortum and Teollisuuden Voima Oyj, submitted its construction licence application to the Ministry of Employment and the Economy in December 2013. The government granted a construction licence for the project last November. Construction work on the repository is expected to start this year, with operations beginning in 2023.

Posiva launched Posiva Solutions in June. The new business, it said, will "focus on the marketing of the know-how accumulated from the design, research and development efforts in the final disposal of used nuclear fuel, as well as on associated consulting services".

Posiva Solutions managing director Mika Pohjonen said, "This contract is a significant step in utilizing Finnish nuclear waste management expertise globally. Commercial exploitation of Posiva's experience gained in the Onkalo project is well under way." He added, "Earlier this year, we received assignments from several countries and also from Finland."

Czech repository

The Czech environment ministry issued a licence to SÚRAO in October 2014 to conduct only the initial stage of geological investigation work at seven candidate sites for a national repository for high-level radioactive waste. This involves the taking of surface and near-surface measurements and rock soundings, data collection and gathering of rock samples using non-invasive methods.

"We in the Czech Republic are now in the first phase of our geological investigation on seven preselected sites," said SÚRAO director Jiří Slovák. "By 2025, we should select the final locality for our deep geological repository (DGR)."

Referring to the contract with Posiva, he added, "We are looking forward to a fruitful cooperation with the Finnish experts. We expect advisory work mainly in updating our siting strategy, developing our disposal concept and DGR design and in improving the safety case of the disposal concept. Furthermore, we are looking forward to getting support in the environmental impact assessments and in facilitating communication with our stakeholders and increasing DGR acceptability."

The candidate sites include: Horka (Budišov) and Hrádek (Rohozná), both in the Vysočina region; Čihadlo (Lodhéřov) and Magdaléna (Božejovice) in the South Bohemia region; Březový potok (Pačejov) in Plzeň region; and Čertovka (Lubenec) in the Plzeň and Ústí-nad-Labem regions. A former military area at Boletice in South Bohemia region is also under consideration.

Construction of the Czech repository - to be built to a depth of some 500 metres - is envisaged to begin around 2050, with the facility put into operation in 2065.

Read the full article at:


At the EXPO - check out the BROKK hands on Demo! Come experience advances in robotic demolition!

October 25, 2016

​Do not miss the experience of  the industry leader, innovative robotic demolition technologies: Live demo!

BROKK powerful remotely operated machines are the nuclear industry standard for safe remote operations.

For over 40 years, BROKK equipment has been used successfully, worldwide, for the most challenging applications at nuclear facilities.

The BROKK “family” of 10 Machine sizes allows a vast range of tools and attachments to be remotely deployed.

Ruggedized, heavy duty, industrial robotics is the sole focus for BROKK, we have now deployed more than 8,000 machines in the most hazardous work environments. With innovative features such as our remote tool change interface a single BROKK machine can deploy multiple high productivity tools/attachments to complete a variety of tasks in complete safety.

BROKK also provides full engineering and technical support from our dedicated highly experienced staff to ensure that our customer project goals are effectively completed.

At the 2016 EWOC – IT Expo, Brokk will be demonstrating the B120D Machine; this is the newest machine to be added to the Brokk family. It is the world’s smallest Diesel Powered Demolition Robot and completely wireless.

For information contact:               Tony Marlow, VP Nuclear & Military,            Tel: (505) 699 8923, email :  tony@brokkinc.com  Web : www.brokk.com/us

EWOC-IT2016 EXPO will be held on October 14, 2016, 10am-5pm; at the Environmental Dimensions facility: EWOC, 930 Perimeter Road, Oak Ridge, TN 37931 (brigby@edi-nm.com)

Read the full article at:


US wants to build Idaho facility for warships' nuclear waste

October 25, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — The Navy and U.S. Department of Energy want to build a $1.6 billion facility at a nuclear site in eastern Idaho that would handle fuel waste from the nation's fleet of nuclear-powered warships through at least 2060.

The new facility is needed to keep nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines deployed, according to an environmental impact statement made public Friday. It would be built at the Energy Department's 890-square-mile site, which includes the Idaho National Laboratory, considered the nation's primary lab for nuclear research.

The government also looked at two other alternatives: continuing to use outdated facilities at the site or overhauling them. The effect to the environment would be small for all three options, the document concluded.

The federal government bringing nuclear waste into Idaho has been a touchy subject, but state officials supported the new building.

"We would prefer to see a state-of-the-art facility if they're going to continue to bring in spent fuel," said Susan Burke, Idaho National Laboratory oversight coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Quality.

The Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, a joint Navy and Energy Department organization, has been sending spent Navy fuel to the Idaho site since 1957, the document said. It's transported by rail from shipyards.

Program officials didn't immediately provide comment to The Associated Press on Monday.

Barring protests, a document approving the plan could be issued early next month. Officials say site preparation would likely begin in 2017, with the facility becoming operational in the early 2020s.

"The facility would be designed with the flexibility to integrate future identified mission needs," the environmental impact statement says.

It notes that a new building is needed to handle a new type of spent-fuel shipping container, which is not possible at the current facility. The Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, when it becomes operational, will use the new container, as will nuclear-powered submarines under construction, officials said.

The container requires a larger pool with a different configuration to submerge the fuel waste so it cools before going into dry storage.

The existing pools have not been upgraded to seismic standards, should there be an earthquake, but the new facility would meet them, the document said.

Nuclear waste coming into Idaho spawned lawsuits when state leaders in the late 1980s and early 1990s thought the site was becoming a nuclear waste repository.

The lawsuits culminated in a 1995 agreement, then a 2008 addendum, limiting such shipments and requiring most nuclear waste be removed from the federal site by 2035. The deal applies to the Navy's spent nuclear fuel.

That means the fuel waste will come to the new facility after 2035 but it will only remain for the six years it takes to cool in pools, Burke said. After that, it's required to be put in dry storage and taken out of Idaho.

The document released Friday said the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program is committed to complying with the agreement.

Read the full article at:


Feds seek balance in converting Cold War plutonium trigger plant west of Denver to wildlife haven

October 25, 2016

​ROCKY FLATS NATIONAL WILDLIFE REFUGE — The Cold War-era Rocky Flats nuclear weapons factory, long reviled as a source of plutonium dust, is becoming more of a haven for wildlife.

A bear raised three cubs. Mountain lion tracks can be seen. A bull moose recently wandered across the 6,000-acre prairie and wetland refuge. A herd of elk, numbering 130 last year, grew to 150.

This week, the feds are launching a planning process to allow for more people.

“A wildlife refuge is not a park,” Rocky Flats manager Dave Lucas said, but the government in four “sharing sessions” seeks ideas for future trials for hiking, cycling and horse-riding where hundreds of military-industrial structures once stood.

Denver-based U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials say they’ve secured $20 million to implement this long-envisioned transformation, which also will include a visitor center hub. There, the feds said, they hope to tell the Rocky Flats story of evolution from American Indian hunting grounds through the Cold War military activities that ruined the environment and workers’ health to the current open oasis amid dust-churning monster house development.

“Places like this produce such an array of benefits to us as humans,” Lucas said Tuesday after rattling across the land in a government van to a derelict ranch inhabited by a large owl. “It is a value to have wildlife and wild places in our lives. A child’s immune system will develop better with exposure to dirt and nature,” Lucas said. “It’s important that children spend time in nature. … We are proposing to open in early 2018.”

Rocky Flats is the last of the major military sites around metro Denver that the government has converted since the collapse in the 1990s of the Soviet Union. Developers took hold of the Lowry and Fitzsimmons bases for housing, commerce and medical facilities. The Rocky Mountain Arsenal northeast of Denver became a 16,000-acre wildlife refuge, with a growing bison herd, which this year drew 330,000 visitors.

Now Rocky Flats, under a federal law passed in 2001, is on that same course. Land deals in recent years, and the apparent end of litigation with surrounding suburbs over roadways, has cleared the way for work on relatively undisturbed wildlife habitat that extends into mountain foothills. This “connectivity” favors a rare diversity of species.

Federal biologists have identified 632 plants. They recently used recorders to document six kinds of bats. Cattails proliferate along water seeps beneath alluvial rocks. Rattlers and bullsnakes abound. Birds include meadowlarks, lark buntings, sparrows and various mouse-hunting raptors.

As at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, Rocky Flats includes a 1,037-acre core area, under Department of Energy control, where people aren’t permitted and land-use restrictions prohibit digging.

Plutonium-tainted and other radioactive waste was buried at Rocky Flats, causing an environmental disaster. A cleanup done by Army and DOE contractors cost taxpayers more than $6 billion before it was done around 2005.

“Downwind of the plant there’s residual contamination,” Lucas said. “Plutonium is one of the contaminants, but it is at levels that were determined to be acceptable.”

And water sampling continues along with five-year reviews to protect public health.

The Fish and Wildlife planners staging the sharing sessions, which start Thursday at the Parkview Swim and Fitness Club, 19865 W. 94th Ave., say they are prepared to discuss plutonium and other worries, which a couple years ago blocked proposed controlled fires designed to boost prairie health. But the feds’ focus this fall is developing a consensus plan, to be unveiled by spring, laying out priorities for roughly 20 miles of trails, access roads and the visitor hub.

The fenced, off-limits area, and carefully managed wetlands along Woman, Walnut and Rock creeks, probably will serve primary purposes of helping elk and other animals survive, federal officials said, especially as Candelas developers push ahead with construction of hundreds of new houses.

“It will be a balancing act,” Lucas said. “We are eager. We are sincere. If people want to be involved, they will have to show up.”

Read the full article at:


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