July 16, 2015
While the United States is working to get four new nuclear units up-and-running in Georgia and South Carolina, it is also partnering with China and Canada to operate some highly advanced next-generation nuclear plants.
“Molten salt reactors” that burn “thorium” are not only safer but they also create less radioactive waste than uranium. As for China, its next-generation 100 megawatt smaller plant could be operational within a decade. Similarly, the national labs here are partnering with a Canadian firm to build such a modular reactor — an effort that is expected to produce an engineering design in a few years, and a commercial reactor in 10 years.
“While simple black and white statements about thorium versus uranium are the easiest point to get across, the real story is about a particular type of reactor, called molten salt reactors whose main feature is a liquid fuel form which gives outstanding potential benefits in safety, fuel economy and waste issues,” says David LeBlanc, an expert with Terrestrial Energy in Canada, which is working with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee on its project.
“Molten salt reactors are all-liquid fuel, or ‘pre-melted,’ which offers great potential for reactor safety and cost innovation,” adds LeBlanc, in prior email exchanges. “They do not need to keep coolant flowing to the reactor because the fuel itself is the coolant.”
By contrast, solid-fuel reactors burning uranium are now prevalent. Once uranium is used, it becomes highly radioactive. That waste is then cooled in spent fuel pools before it is stored in above-ground, concrete-encased steel caskets. As the world learned from both Ukraine’s Chernobyl and Japan’s Fukushima accidents in 1986 and 2011, respectively, that spent fuel could escape and do irreparable harm.
In this Monday, June 29, 2015 handout photo made available by the Ukrainian Emergency Situations Ministry press service on Tuesday, June 30, 2015, an aerial view of a forest fire is seen in the Chernobyl area, Ukraine. Fire has engulfed a large section of the exclusion zone around the destroyed Chernobyl plant in Ukraine, Ukrainian authorities said on Tuesday. It was unclear if the blaze has hit parts of the zone heavily contaminated by radiation from the 1986 reactor explosion and fire. (AP Photo/Ukrainian Emergency Situations Ministry Press Service handout photo via AP)
Thorium’s proponents point out that molten salt reactors that burn that fuel won’t “meltdown” because, unlike today’s high-pressured units, they are low-pressured and won’t vaporize. It is also far more abundant in nature than uranium.
China has the most aggressive research program into molten salt reactors and thorium. But so do India and Canada. In China’s case, it is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to try and commercialize this technology for two different plants using molten-salts.
Continue Reading at : http://www.forbes.com/sites/kensilverstein/2015/07/14/are-there-safer-ways-to-produce-nuclear-energy/2/
Source: AP / Forbes, Ken Silverstein Contributor
July 16, 2015
President Barack Obama, standing with Vice President Joe Biden, delivers remarks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 14, 2015, after an Iran deal is reached.
VIENNA (AP) — Iran, the United States and other world powers struck a historic deal Tuesday to curb Iranian nuclear programs and ease fears of a nuclear-armed Iran threatening the volatile Middle East. In exchange, Iran will get billions of dollars in relief from crushing international sanctions.
The accord, reached after long, fractious negotiations, marks a dramatic break from decades of animosity between the United States and Iran, countries that have labeled each other the "leading state sponsor of terrorism" and "the Great Satan."
"This deal offers an opportunity to move in a new direction," President Barack Obama declared at the White House in remarks that were carried live on Iranian state television. "We should seize it."
In Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said "a new chapter" had begun in his nation's relations with the world. He maintained that Iran had never sought to build a bomb, an assertion the U.S. and its partners have long disputed.
Beyond the hopeful proclamations from the U.S., Iran and other parties to the talks, there is deep skepticism of the deal among U.S. lawmakers and Iranian hardliners. Obama's most pressing task will be holding off efforts by Congress to levy new sanctions on Iran or block his ability to suspend existing ones.
Continue Reading at http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/18-day-negotiation-yields-landmark-iran-nuclear-accord/ar-AAcUja5?ocid=HPCDHP
Source: Associated Press writers Bradley Klapper and Julie Pace in Washington contributed
June 24, 2015
Russia and Saudi Arabia have announced an agreement that allows for cooperation in the use of nuclear energy for producing electricity in the country that is famous for its oil exports capacity.
In yet another signal that the Middle East is concerned about the longevity of its oil export business and is growing as a nuclear power market, the two countries signed the agreements in Russia at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum that allow for construction of nuclear power reactors, which would be a first for Saudi Arabia, and for various supportive endeavors, such as transportation and use of nuclear fuel, handling of radioactive waste, production of radioisotopes and nuclear energy applications in medicine, industry and agriculture.
"It is planned to exchange of experts, scientific and technological information, organization of seminars, symposiums, cooperation in the preparation of scientific and technical personnel. All this became possible for the first time in the history of Russian-Saudi relations," it was announced in a joint statement.
The document was signed by the general director of the state corporation ROSATOM Sergey Kiriyenko and president of the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE) Hashim Abdullah Yamani.
But the big prize for Russia is the potential for as much as $80 billion in nuclear construction build projects in the foreseeable future – and perhaps more. Last week, In 2012, Saudi Arabia made known its intention to develop nuclear power capacity of 17GW by 2032, while building up a solar power capacity by 41GW.
Last week, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said Saudi Arabia had plans to build “more than one reactor,” at least. “It is possible that we will build 16 reactors,” he said.
June 11, 2015
The nuclear expertise of Germany's Jülich Research Centre (Forschungszentrum Jülich) and the Experimental Reactor Consortium GmbH (Arbeitsgemeinschaft Versuchsreaktor, AVR) are to be combined into a new enterprise.
Under the plan, the nuclear services division of the Jülich Research Centre will be merged with AVR. The material testing and analytical laboratory divisions of Jülich will continue to be operated by the research centre.
The new enterprise will fall under the umbrella of Energiewerke Nord GmbH (EWN) and will have the German federal ministry of finance as a shareholder.
In a statement, the Jülich Research Centre said, "The aim of the new company is for Jülich to focus on nuclear power, to maintain and expand in order to contribute expertise and experience towards Germany's safe exit from nuclear energy. AVR and the research centre will provide their comprehensive core technical expertise to the new company, which is required for the expert handling of nuclear liabilities."
The new organization - which will have some 300 employees - will comprise a full range of expertise in nuclear decommissioning, dismantling and waste disposal gained at Jülich over the past five decades.
The supervisory boards of EWN, AVR and the Jülich Research Centre have approved the agreements on creating the new organization. However, before the treaties creating the new company can be signed, approval is required from the federal ministry of finance and the cabinet of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
EWN is wholly-owned by the German government and is responsible for the decommissioning of publicly-owned nuclear facilities and for managing the resulting radioactive wastes. In addition to decommissioning the Greifswald nuclear power plant and the Rheinsberg experimental reactor in eastern Germany following the country's reunification, EWN is also involved in decommissioning the AVR reactor, which is adjacent to the research centre at Jülich. AVR GmbH has operated as a subsidiary of EWN since 2003.
The AVR reactor was a prototype pebble bed reactor constructed in the 1960s to demonstrate the feasibility and viability of a gas-cooled, graphite-moderated high temperature reactor. It was shut down in 1988 after 20 years of operation.
The Jülich Research Centre comprises nine research institutes with 51 sub-institutes working in the areas of energy and climate research, bio- and geosciences, medicine and neuroscience, complex systems, simulation science and nanotechnology.
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.
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
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.
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
March 04, 2015
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).
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.
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)
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