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D&D Industry News

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

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:


Cyber risk must be managed, says World Energy Council

October 25, 2016

Cyber risk presents a "unique concern" in the energy sector because an attack on energy infrastructure has the potential "to cross from the cyber realm to the physical world", says a new report by The World Energy Council. The report - titled The road to resilience: Managing cyber risks - says a cyber-attack could cause, for instance, a "massive operational failure of an energy asset".


"Large centralised infrastructures are especially at risk due to the potential 'domino effect' damage that an attack on a nuclear, coal, or oil plant could cause," according to the report.

It gives two examples of cyber-attacks on the nuclear power industry - 'Slammer' in the USA in 2003 and hacking in South Korea in 2014-2015.

The fastest computer worm in history, Slammer infected the computer systems at the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant near Oak Harbor, Ohio, disabling a safety monitoring system for five hours. The reactor had been offline for nearly a year before its Slammer infection.


Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Company suffered a series of hacking attacks aimed at causing nuclear reactors to malfunction, the report says. The attacks only succeeded in leaking non-classified documents, it added.


The report in the third in a series about Financing Resilient Energy Infrastructure and investigates how cyber risks can best be managed, "taking into account the changing nature of the energy industry and energy infrastructure".


Actions are recommended for decision makers and stakeholders to improve the sector's response to rising cyber threats, as part of a wider move toward greater resilience.


"Increased digitisation leads to more efficiency and opportunities for grid and pipeline management and exploration and production activities. Yet, at the same time energy assets become more vulnerable to cyber-attacks, in particular due to the automation of Industrial Control Systems (ICS)," the report says. "Attacks on ICSs could lead to loss of control of key equipment, with potential machinery breakdown, fire, explosion or injuries."


The World Energy Council describes itself as "the principal impartial network of leaders and practitioners promoting an affordable, stable and environmentally sensitive energy system for the greatest benefit of all". Formed in 1923, it is the UN-accredited global energy body, with more than 3000 member organisations in over 90 countries and drawn from governments, private and state corporations, academia, NGOs and energy-related stakeholders.


Ali Akbar Salehi, Iranian vice-president and chairman of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told delegates at the International Atomic Energy Agency's 60th General Conference in Vienna last week that cyber-attack is "one of the most wretched instances of nuclear sabotage". He said the 'Stuxnet' virus attacks against nuclear and other civil facilities in Iran had been a "vivid example" of this.

Read the full article at:


Keyhole surgery' for Sellafield waste retrieval

October 25, 2016

A complex remote cutting job is underway at Sellafield to enable the removal of cladding waste from an outdated silo. Engineers are using an innovative jet to remove plates of steel while maintaining an inert atmosphere important for safety.


The work is taking place at the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo, which contains cladding materials removed from fuel assemblies used in some of the UK's earliest reactors at Windscale and Chapelcross. Irradiated cladding had to be removed before used fuel assemblies could be reprocessed to recover the uranium and plutonium they contained for the purposes of the joint power and weapons nuclear program run by the UK in the 1950s and 1960s.


The concrete silo is based on facilities normally used to keep grain and was in operation from 1952 to 1964 with some other additions up to 1968. Since then it has remained in the status of 'care and maintenance', benefiting in later years from the removal of redundant structures for better seismic safety and the injection of inert argon gas to its six storage chambers. Now, the UK is determined to clean-up legacy nuclear facilities such as this. 


To remove the fuel cladding and dismantle the silo, engineers must first remove large metal deflector plates which served to ensure cladding waste was properly directed into the storage chambers when deposited from the transfer tunnel that originally ran along the top of the silo.


Gary Snow, head of the Pile Fuel Cladding Silo program, 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 the inert gas argon to eradicate the risk of fire." 

After making openings in the building's walls, engineers are cutting each of the six deflector plates into approximately 150 pieces each. They decided to use a cutting jet of water and finely ground stone "as an extra safety layer, even though any sparks would not be able to ignite in the argon atmosphere", said Sellafield Ltd.


"Removing the plates inside the silo is like keyhole surgery, but on an industrial scale," said Snow.

After cutting, the pieces of steel will fall into the storage chambers to be removed along with the cladding when that process begins, scheduled for 2020.


Snow said: "Sellafield Ltd, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the nuclear regulators all have an understanding and acceptance that the retrievals process does involve the potential for small increases in risk, which we ensure are managed and mitigated, but it is more acceptable than the risk of leaving the waste in there any longer."​

Read the full article at:


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