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D&D Industry News

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

Roof failure was at a one-of-a-kind Hanford tunnel system

June 27, 2017

​The tunnel found Tuesday with a partially collapsed roof was unusual even for Hanford.

The nuclear reservation near Richland produced plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program from World War II through the Cold War by irradiating uranium fuel and then using huge chemical processing plants to extract the plutonium.

PUREX was the last of five processing plants built. They were sometimes called canyons because they were long and narrow buildings with high ceilings.

Irradiated uranium was brought to the massive PUREX plant by rail, but the railroad tracks also had a second use.

A 500-foot-long extension of the rail line was built to access a novel disposal system for large pieces of highly radioactive equipment.

Two tunnels were built to store the waste.

A remotely controlled electric engine pushed railroad cars loaded with highly contaminated items from the plant into the tunnels, according to a Hanford risk review prepared in 2015 by the Consortium for Risk Evaluation and Stakeholder Participation, or CRESP.

Purex-cutaway (2).jpg 
 The tunnel where the breach was discovered Tuesday is the oldest of the two.

It is 360 feet long and was built using primarily creosoted timbers arranged side by side. The Department of Energy said concrete also was used.
Then it was covered with about eight feet of soil. It’s 22 feet high and 19 feet wide, according to Heart of America Northwest, a Seattle-based Hanford watchdog group.
Between June 1960 and January 1965, eight rail cars loaded with radioactive waste were pushed into the tunnel.
A second, stronger waste tunnel was built in 1964 with internal steel I-beams attached to reinforced concrete arches. It has a steel liner.
The second tunnel is 1,700 feet long and holds 28 rail cars of equipment, although it was built for 40.
The last rail car apparently was pushed inside in the early 1990s.
Between 1995 and 1997, water-filled doors of both tunnels and the outer PUREX railroad tunnel door were sealed, according to the CRESP report. Water can serve as a shield against radiation.
Last year a new legal deadline was set, requiring DOE to decide what process it would use to assess the integrity of the tunnels by September of this year.
The cleanup of the tunnels is part of central Hanford work that is required to be finished by 2042.
Those deadlines were among Tri-Party Agreement deadlines for central Hanford revised in 2016, as work had fallen behind schedule there because efforts and budget were focused on cleaning up contamination nearer the Columbia River.

Read the full article at:


European Nuclear Decommissioning Cost Estimation Whitepaper

June 27, 2017

European Nuclear Decommissioning Cost Estimation Whitepaper
This whitepaper will provide you with the latest expert opinion on the vital challenges and opportunities currently being faced within the decommissioning cost estimation field.
  • Hear about new approaches to effectively and consistently estimate nuclear power plant retirement costs to deal with and reduce cost uncertainties
  • Compare current decommissioning work within the NDA estate with the plans for near term future decommissioning work in the UK to reduce the knowledge gap and facilitate learning between organisations
  • Better understand the key drivers for cost-estimates and learn how these can be optimally analysed to ensure cost-effectiveness
To see where crucial opportunities lie ahead download the report now >>>>

This is just some of what you’ll receive in your market report: 
  • Unique expert insight from BKW, OECD NEA and Enkom Consulting on the work being conducted in this expanding market
  • Updates on the key opportunities within the European decommissioning cost estimation field
  • A look into the challenges being faced in both the decommissioning and waste management markets, and the most important factors in ensuring safe and efficient decommissioning
Fill in your details on the right to get a copy of this exclusive market report >>>>

If you have any questions it would be great to hear from you.


Charlotte Howlett
Senior Project Manager
Nuclear Energy Insider
+44 (0) 20 7375 7182
chowlett@nuclearenergyinsider.com ​

European Nuclear Decommissioning & Waste Management Infographic

June 27, 2017

This infographic will provide you with the latest expert opinion on the vital challenges and opportunities currently being faced within the decommissioning and waste management field.

>>> Directly download your free infographic here >>>
  • Hear about the key statistics in the European nuclear decommissioning field to understand the growth in the market and the contribution of nuclear to the EU economy
  • Compare the different reasons for shutdown to understand the drivers behind this growth
  • Learn which region has largest decommissioning and waste management market size to learn where to focus your business-expansion efforts
To see where crucial opportunities lie ahead download the report now >>>

If you have any questions it would be great to hear from you.

Kind regards,

Nuclear Energy Insider is a trading name of FC Business Intelligence Ltd.
Registered in England and Wales no.4388971. Registered address 7-9 Fashion Street, London, E1 6PX, UK | Terms and conditions
Charlotte Howlett
Senior Project Manager
Nuclear Energy Insider
+44 (0) 20 7375 7182
chowlett@nuclearenergyinsider.com ​

World's first waste repository build contracts confirm cost, schedule targets

June 27, 2017

​Early construction deals for Finland’s final waste repository indicate costs meet expectations but commodity price rises remain a risk over the long term, Sami Hautakangas, Head of Spent Fuel & Disposal Services at Fortum, co-owner of repository developer Posiva, said.

In December 2016, Posiva began construction on a 6,500-tonne final waste repository, the world's first permanent underground nuclear waste storage facility, on Olkiluoto island, Finland.

Finland's government awarded a construction permit for the project in November 2015 and a year later Finland’s Nuclear Safety Authority authorized works to begin. The facility is expected to be operational by 2024.

The final disposal facility will consist of an above-ground encapsulation plant, where spent fuel will be dried and packed into final disposal canisters made of copper and cast-iron, and a repository consisting of a network of tunnels deep inside the bedrock.

Posiva, which is jointly-owned by nuclear utilities Fortum and TVO, is to execute repository excavation work in a series of eight phases, which will allow investments to be broken down into portions over time and provide new site data to aid subsequent construction decisions.

Many first-of-a-kind nuclear new build and decommissioning projects have seen project schedules slip and cost estimates balloon from initial estimates.

Posiva's construction phase procurement costs indicate the developer’s original cost estimate and schedule is "more or less in the right place," Sami Hautakangas, Head of Spent Fuel & Disposal Services at Fortum, told the Future of Nuclear Decommissioning & Waste Management Europe webinar on April 13.

Going forward, the cost of key materials-- such as copper and bentonite-- will remain a project risk due to the long timelines involved, Hautakangas noted.

"There are risks, but at the moment it seems that when it comes to the construction itself, it seems to be nicely [within] budget and timetable," he said.

Tunnel vision

In December, Posiva signed a 20 million-euro ($21.3 million) contract with contractor YIT to commence construction of the first excavation tunnels. The contract with YIT covers the excavation of the first central tunnels and vehicle access tunnels and this phase is expected to take around two and a half years to complete.

Posiva has calculated it will require 137 disposal tunnels to accommodate current spent nuclear fuel projections, equating to 42 kilometres of tunnels within an area of 2 to 3 square kilometres. An estimated 2,800 final disposal canisters will be required.

Posiva has already drilled down some 455 metres to the final disposal level. Since 2004, the developer has been collecting scientific data on the bedrock from its Onkalo underground research network facility, consisting of tunnels and shafts leading down to the final disposal level.

Data from the tunnels was used in the construction licence application submitted in 2012 and approved by the government in 2015. The Onkalo network has also allowed the developers to improve excavation techniques and final disposal techniques in real-life conditions.

New types of machinery and equipment have been developed to carry out the excavation and placement of disposal canisters. These include specialised boring rigs, canister hole boring devices, bentonite buffer installation devices, as well as canister installation and tunnel backfilling vehicles.

Read the full article at:


A year in review – nuclear decommissioning & used fuel

June 27, 2017

​A new administration, changing decommissioning models and a potential restart for Yucca Mountain; the US nuclear industry has seen radical change take place over the last 12 months.

Nuclear Energy Insider has updated its annual decommissioning and used fuel ‘market map’ to bring you a comprehensive overview of all the disruptions that have taken place in the last year.

Access the complimentary market map here

You will receive:

Insight into evolving decommissioning models: Understand the different decommissioning models being employed by utility companies and the benefits and challenges associated with each

Yucca Mountain and Consolidated Interim Storage (CIS) updates: Assess what the recent Yucca news means for CIS and read up on how CIS applications have progressed in the last 12 months

Decommissioning and used fuel market overviews: Review the last 12 months of plant shutdowns, licence transfers, contracts awarded and more and what the next 12 months might bring for the industry

Do let me know if you have any feedback.

Many thanks,


Ben Moss

Senior Industry Analyst

Nuclear Energy Insider

+44 (0)207 375 7537

BMoss@nuclearenergyinsider.com ​

DOE-EM Science of Safety Robotics Challenge

May 05, 2017

During the week of August 22nd, 2016, over 150 technologists, stakeholders, and Department of Energy, Office of Environmental Management workers, met at DOE’s Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Ohio, for the EM Science of Safety Robotics Challenge.​​


How Does The Navy Dismantle Its First Nuclear Aircraft Carrier?

April 21, 2017

​The Navy is having a hard time figuring out how to dispose of its first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

The USS Enterprise (CVN 65), also known as the “Big E,” was decommissioned at Newport News Shipbuilding on Feb. 3 after 55 years of service. Now, the question is: What is the Navy supposed to do with it?

The Navy has been trying to come up with an answer since 2012, when the ship returned to its home port Naval Base Norfolk for the last time, reports DOD Buzz.

Initially, the Navy planned to have the ship towed to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Bremerton, Wash., where the reactors would be removed and the rest of the ship would be recycled, but officials realized the ship is more than the workforce at the shipyard can handle.

The next move was to solicit bids from private commercial recycling operations to properly and effectively dispose of the aircraft carrier’s non-nuclear components, but officials from the Naval Sea Systems Command announced Monday it was canceling its request.

“The Navy has identified that it requires more information to determine the approach for the disposal of CVN 65, including the reactor plans, that is more technically executable, environmentally responsible and is an effective utilization of Navy resources,” explained NAVSEA spokesman William Couch, adding the Navy will be “taking no action at this time.”

Radioactivity, which is still a factor even after defueling, makes disposal difficult, but there are several options on the table right now.

The Navy could turn the USS Enterprise over to a commercial company for partial or full recycling. The former would involve the disposal of the non-nuclear components; the latter, however, would require the dismantling of the eight defueled reactor plants.

Another option is to place the carrier in “intermediate-term storage for a number of years” and put off recycling the ship. The Navy is still searching for a suitable location.

Environmental impact studies are being carried out for the various options.

“The Navy is taking these steps to ensure CVN 65 is recycled in a cost-effective and environmentally responsible manner,” Couch said. “Given the complexities of the issues involved in recycling CVN 65, the Navy remains committed to a fully open and public process for conducting the first-ever disposal of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.”

The USS Enterprise is a ship in a class of its own. It completed its last deployment in 2012 after sailing 81,000 miles over a 238-day deployment to the Persian Gulf.

Read the full article at:


US operator contracts out decom work to speed progress, prioritize consumers

April 21, 2017

Dairyland Power Cooperative (DPC) has transferred control of its 50 MW La Crosse boiling water reactor (LACBWR) to EnergySolutions to complete decommissioning by 2020 and focus its resources on energy supply.

While a surge in U.S. plant closures has led to calls for changes to exemption regulations for post-shutdown operations, DPC is moving ahead with the decommissioning of its LACBWR plant to optimize costs and accelerate the removal of radiological risks.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved June 1 the license transfer of LACBWR to LaCrosseSolutions, a subsidiary of ES. The license termination plan was submitted to the NRC on June 27 and NRC expects to give its approval by late 2017.

Dairyland Power Cooperative (DPC) had planned to complete decommissioning of LACBWR by end 2025, excluding the Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI), but that timeframe was shortened by five years by handing over the license to EnergySolutions (ES). The transfer allowed DPC to focus on its operational energy portfolio.​

​DPC shut down LACBWR in April 1987 after 20 years of operations, placing it in safe storage (SAFSTOR) and obtaining a Possession-Only License (POL) from the NRC in August the same year.

In September 2012, the used nuclear fuel was transferred to an ISFSI at a standalone facility at the south end of the power plant site. The spent fuel assemblies from the reactor are stored in five dry casks within the ISFSI.

Speaking to Nuclear Energy Insider, Cheryl Olson, ISFSI Manager at DPC, said other utilities transitioning from operations to decommissioning could learn from decommissioning work already completed at LACBWR.

“Although there are nuances to each facility, it is largely the same process,” she said.

Dismantling activities have been taking place at the site since 1996 and while DPC has gained experience in early stage decommissioning work including transfer of spent fuel to the ISFSI, it has chosen to focus on its core business of energy supply, Olson said.

Transferring decommissioning work to ES would propel the project “to the finish line,” she said.​

Read the full article at:


OECD expands decommissioning cost benchmarks ahead of closure surge

April 21, 2017

The OECD's Nuclear Energy Agency wants to improve the accuracy of decommissioning cost estimates to optimize spending plans and improve forecasts on fund returns, agency experts told Nuclear Energy Insider.

nternational Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) data show close to 150 reactors have ceased operating and up to 200 additional reactors are set to go offline in the next two decades. Most of these plants are in Europe, which has an aging fleet and where changes to government energy policy, higher safety requirements and wholesale price pressures have prompted a spate of early closures.

The number of European nuclear power plants in decommissioning is expected to rise from 76 in 2015 to around 110 in 2020, Jorg Klasen, Director Nuclear Decommissioning Services at German operator EnBW Kernkraft, said in May 2016.

Globally, only 16 reactors have so far completed decommissioning and the majority of these were in the U.S, OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) said in its 2016 report, “Costs of Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants.”

The OECD-NEA highlighted the lack of actual cost data currently available for decommissioning planners. OECD-NEA analyzed data from a number of member countries with the aim of improving the benchmarking of decommissioning cost estimations against actual cost data.

Read the full article at:

http://analysis.nuclearenergyinsider.com/oecd-expands-decommissioning-cost-benchmarks-ahead-closure-surge ​

HomeNew BuildSupply ChainSmall Modular ReactorsOperations & MaintenanceDecommissioningWaste Management California's $4 billion SONGS project set to test decom efficiency gains

April 21, 2017

​The EnergySolutions-AECOM contractor partnership can use time-saving learnings from earlier projects like Zion in Illinois to help boost confidence in cost forecasts and new build assumptions, industry experts said.

In December, SONGS Decommissioning Solutions, a joint venture between EnergySolutions and AECOM, won the contract to decommission Southern California Edison’s (SCE’s) SONGS nuclear power plant in California.

The estimated cost of the decommissioning project is $4.4 billion and this covers dismantling, spent fuel management, radiological decommissioning and restoration of the site within 20 years.

The site houses three reactors. In June 2013, SCE announced it would retire the 1.1 GW San Onofre Units 2 and 3 earlier than planned and began the preparations to decommission the facility. The 436 MW Unit 1 was shut down in 1992 and placed in SAFSTOR until the shut down of Units 2 and 3.

The reactors are situated on an 84-acre site, under a lease agreement with the U.S. Department of the Navy which is due to expire in 2024.

The decommissioning of SONGS represents "one of the largest and most technically complex projects in the country," Michael S. Burke, AECOM CEO, said in a company statement.

SCE expects dismantling to take around 10 years and the major dismantling is not scheduled to start until 2018 at the earliest, when state regulators are expected to complete an environmental review required under the California Environmental Quality Act.

EnergySolutions will bring experience gained on ongoing U.S. decommissioning projects. The company currently operates 50% of active commercial decommissioning sites and it recently announced its $1 billion Zion decommissioning project is on budget and “several years” ahead of the original ten-year schedule.

The successful delivery of the SONGS decommissioning project would further build confidence in decommissioning cost estimates and practices.

A well-managed project would also support future investments in nuclear new build projects as investors are scrutinising the unfolding contractual and regulatory arrangements for decommissioning, Bruce Lacy, president of Lacy Consulting Group LLC, told Nuclear Energy Insider.

“The industry can show that decommissioning is not a problem, that it’s manageable. In 15 years we can have a track record of success that will support [Nuclear New Build], with SONGS as part of that track record,” he said.

Read the full article at:


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