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D&D Industry News

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

German Minister Urges Belgium To Shut Down Reactors For ‘Further Investigation’

April 26, 2016

Germany’s environment minister has asked Belgium to take its Tihange-2 and Doel-3 pressurised water reactor (PWR) units offline for further investigations into their safety, the German federal ministry for the environment, nature conservation, building and nuclear safety (BMUB) said in a statement.

doel_social media pic.jpg.png
The statement came after the German Reactor Safety Commission (Reaktorsicherheitskommission, or RSK) – an independent expert group of the BMUB – said it could not confirm that the two PWRs are safe. RSK said this was the result of discussions with Belgian nuclear safety experts. 

According to the minister, Barbara Hendricks, taking the reactors offline would be a “strong sign of precaution” and would show that Belgium “takes the worries of its German neighbour seriously”. 
A newly formed Belgian-German bilateral expert group met on 5 and 6 April to discuss the issue of hydrogen flakes found in the wall material of the Tihange-2 and Doel-3 reactor pressure vessels (RPVs), the BMUB said. 
Tihange-2 and Doel-3 were shut down in 2012 after the RPV flaws were discovered. In June 2013 the units were restarted, but were shut down again in March 2014 after unexpected results from additional tests.
In May 2015, operator Electrabel postponed the restart of the units following an announcement by the Belgian Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (Fanc) that it would take “several months” to analyse the safety case put forward by Electrabel related to the hydrogen flakes.

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EnergySolutions Signs Japan Commercial Nuclear Reactor Decommissioning Agreement

April 26, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY, UT--(Marketwired - Apr 20, 2016) - EnergySolutions, Inc. has signed a collaborative agreement with The Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC) for the decommissioning of commercial light water Nuclear Power Plants in Japan. 

In announcing this agreement, Ken Robuck, President of EnergySolutions' Disposal and Decommissioning Business noted, "This is a tremendous opportunity for our company to provide our Decommissioning and Decontamination (D&D) experience and capabilities in Japan. Our primary goal is to support the Japanese nuclear industry in achieving safe and efficient decommissioning projects."

As part of this agreement, EnergySolutions will share its D&D experience and capabilities with JAPC for use at the Tsuruga Unit 1. To ensure successful implementation of this agreement, JAPC personnel will participate in the D&D project currently being performed at the Zion Nuclear Power Station located north of Chicago, Illinois and managed by EnergySolutions. Subsequently, EnergySolutions employees will join the JAPC Tsuruga Unit 1 project team in Japan to support effective knowledge transfer and implementation of the EnergySolutions D&D experience.

"This is a significant step in applying our decommissioning experience to support a growing international nuclear decommissioning market," stated David Lockwood, CEO of EnergySolutions. "EnergySolutions is the leader in U.S. Decommissioning and we believe this partnership with JAPC will further strengthen our capabilities on an international level."

EnergySolutions offers customers a full range of integrated services and solutions, including nuclear operations, characterization, decommissioning, decontamination, site closure, transportation, nuclear materials management, processing, recycling, and disposition of nuclear waste, and research and engineering services across the nuclear fuel cycle.

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Olkiluoto 1 reactor shuts down due to faulty fuel rods

April 26, 2016

The nuclear power plant's operator, TVO, says the small leak does not pose a threat to the public or staff.


One unit of Olkiluoto nuclear power plant on Finland's west coast is being shut down due to a slight radioactive leak into the container water. Its owner, Teollisuuden Voima (TVO), says there is no health or environmental risk.

Some employees' radiation exposure levels for this year will have to be adjusted though. 

Faulty fuel rods were discovered at the Olkiluoto 1 unit in Eurajoki, western Finland, which dates back to 1978.

The facility's electrical production manager, Mikko Kosonen, describes the situation as unfortunate but not serious.

"There have been about 40 similar situations since the reactor began operations," he says – or an average of nearly once a year.

The unit will be offline for about a week beginning on Monday.

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Holographic 3D for nuclear training

March 30, 2016

A system installed at the training centre of Russia's Novovoronezh nuclear power plant is giving workers a new perspective on the VVER-1200 design. The new 3D holographic display technology could grow to be more widely applied in nuclear power training.

The two nuclear reactors under construction at Novovoronezh Phase II are the first of the VVER-1200 design which Rosatom hopes will form the basis of a new standardised fleet for Russia. Accordingly, the site hosts a centre where future plant workers, as well as Rosatom's overseas customers, are trained in the construction, operation and maintenance of the design.


 Holographic 3D.jpg
According to the blog Publication.ru, this effort is being complemented by new technology in the shape of NettleBox systems that display highly realistic 3D models described as 'virtual holograms' because of the convincing way they penetrate space behind and in front of the screen. The technology comes from a start-up called Nettle, which is based in the Skolkovo innovation cluster near Moscow that supports new technology in the fields of IT, biomed, energy, space and nuclear.​
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Vt. Fears Covering Nuclear Cost

March 30, 2016

Vernon — The federal government’s “woefully inadequate” financial regulations could leave states like Vermont with big bills and massive cleanups long after a nuclear plant closes, state officials argue in newly released documents.​

Vermont — with backing from Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York — is lobbying for the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission to tighten its financial rules and broaden its cost projections for decommissioning nuclear plants.

The states contend such changes are especially important for plants like Vermont Yankee that owners are putting into a period of dormancy, dubbed SAFSTOR, that can last up to 60 years. The risks of unexpected problems and skyrocketing costs, officials say, are much greater at SAFSTOR plants.

“Decommissioning cost estimates truly are ‘estimates.’ They are by no means guarantees,” state officials wrote. “If a significant and unexpected decommissioning cost increase occurs at any merchant generator facility, it is unclear where the extra money will come from. That is a risk that the states should not have to face.”

The NRC is embarking on a yearslong process for revamping its decommissioning rules. That’s welcome news for Vermont, where officials have complained that states and host communities don’t have enough say in such matters.

Based on their experiences since Vermont Yankee ceased producing power in December 2014, state officials are pushing for a variety of changes. The state’s congressional delegation also has chimed in with similar concerns.

March 18 was the deadline for initial public comments on NRC rule-making. A federal website shows that more than 100 comments were submitted; governmental entities and interest groups weighed in, along with the nuclear industry and licensees like Vermont Yankee owner Entergy.

The push for a more “meaningful role” for states and localities is not a new theme in the decommissioning debate. But in written comments sent March 18 to the NRC, Vermont officials — along with the three other states’ attorneys general — placed new emphasis on the economic risks of nuclear cleanup.​

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Radiation-detecting drone developed

March 30, 2016

Spanish firm Escuadrone has developed what it claims is the world's first drone equipped with a system for detecting radioactivity. The drone can be used in the management of nuclear-related emergencies, it says.

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The radiation-detecting drone

The mini-aircraft is equipped with probes for detecting alpha, beta and gamma radiation. Huesca-based Escuadrone said the technology has already been successfully used on ground equipment employed following the March 2011 accident at Japan's Fukushima Daiichi plant.

The drone features a system capable of transmitting real-time readings and images anywhere in the world using technology and a number of "military security-level" encryption protocols, the company said. The Apodaca drone is equipped with a powerful engine system which, combined with its large wing area, offers flight times up to 90 minutes, according to Escuadrone.

When used in conjunction with fixed detectors installed on the ground, the drone can be used to establish a neural network of sensors which can completely monitor the most critical areas. Through this network, Escuadrone says, the sensors can trace security perimeters for the protection of populated areas and emergency teams on the ground, which is an "invaluable assistance" when making operational decisions during disasters.​

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DOE Selects Carnegie Mellon to Run Traineeship in Robotics

March 30, 2016

Washington D.C.-The Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) has selected Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pittsburgh, PA for award consideration of a cooperative agreement to run a university traineeship in Robotics. The 5-year cooperative agreement valued at up to $3M, will train graduate students in specific disciplines aligned with DOE science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce needs in the area of Robotics, particularly as they apply to the mission of EM. CMU was selected following a competitive process.

The award will support the training of the next generation of STEM professionals who will accomplish complex scientific and technical work supported by DOE and carried out by the DOE laboratories, colleges and universities, and the private sector. It will establish a DOE-sponsored University-led traineeship as a mechanism for graduate-level training critical to DOE mission-driven workforce needs, accomplished through a focused academic graduate program that delivers unique, innovative curriculum, coupled with a rigorous thesis/dissertation research requirements in Robotics.

This program will strategically address identified STEM workforce training needs in the area of Robotics as they apply to environmental remediation; radioactive waste retrieval, treatment, processing, storage, transportation, and disposal; stewardship of spent nuclear fuel and special nuclear materials; nuclear facility and infrastructure operations, maintenance and sustainment; facility/infrastructure deactivation and decommissioning; occupational (worker) safety; industrial and nuclear facility safety; and other activities related to the handling and management of high-hazard, high-consequence materials and waste.

The CMU Robotics Traineeship program will significantly advance the program objectives because it has a well-established Robotics Institute for graduate students as well as an established program aimed at younger students to encourage an interest in STEM, particularly in Robotics. In carrying out this work, CMU will team with two DOE National Laboratories: Savannah River National Laboratory in Aiken, SC and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, WA.

The mission of the Office of Environmental Management is to complete the safe cleanup of the environmental legacy brought about from five decades of nuclear weapons development and government-sponsored nuclear energy research.​

Contaminated water from nuke plant sent to Tennessee

March 14, 2016

BRATTLEBORO, Vt.  — Tens of thousands of gallons of water lightly contaminated with radiation is being trucked to Tennessee, as Entergy Nuclear continues to try to get to the bottom of a leakage problem at Vermont Yankee’s turbine building.

Entergy officials gave the media a briefing this week on decommissioning issues at Vermont Yankee, including last week’s announcement that 97 employees would lose their jobs in about two months.

Joe Lynch, government affairs manager for Entergy, said water started seeping into the turbine building shortly after Yankee shut down at the end of December 2014.

Lynch said the building has a basement about 30 feet deep, and groundwater has been seeping into the building, sometimes as much as 2,500 gallons a day.

He estimated the current seepage at 1,000 gallons a day, but said the water seepage fluctuates and can follow precipitation levels.

Lynch said that Entergy has stored the water, which becomes contaminated once it enters the building. It is contaminated with tritium, but he said it was at extremely low levels.

But he said Entergy was committed to not discharging the water into the Connecticut River, and thus was shipping it to a special firm in Tennessee for treatment and discharge.

“It’s near clean water,” he said. “It’s almost pure water.”

He said that the company has eliminated the open portable swimming pools that it had initially used to store the water, and was now pumping the contaminated water via sump pumps into “flak tanks,” stainless steel tanks.​

Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant as seen from the air. 

All the swimming pools, which were derided by Vermont  House Speaker Shap Smith as “kiddie pools,” have been emptied, Lynch said. The company now has three 20,000­gallon tanks for storage, he said.

The costs will come out of the decommissioning trust fund, he said.

He said the company plans to drill interceptor wells to capture the water before it reaches the turbine building.

The company is also doing its best to plug any cracks in the turbine building foundation, Lynch said.

He said when the plant was in operation, the heat in the building, which he described as a “steam environment,” evaporated the water. He said groundwater is 18 to 20 feet below the surface.

He said the first shipment of 5,000 gallons of water left for Tennessee two weeks ago, and two additional 5,000-gallon shipments will leave this week.

“We’ll eventually ramp up to 20,000 gallons a week,” he said.

Lynch and Michael McKenney, director of emergency planning, outlined the changes that will start in about a month: elimination of the 10­mile emergency planning zone, layoffs of 97 people and closure of the company’s headquarters in Brattleboro, and transferring responsibilities to the Vernon facility.

McKenney said 23 of the 37 sirens in the towns in the 10-mile emergency zone will be dismantled after April 19. But he said some towns, including Vernon, have requested that the sirens remain. The sirens will not be connected to Vermont Yankee, he said, but can be used by the towns for other warnings.

He said the 6,000 tone-alert radios, which were distributed to residents outside of the sirens’ reach, don’t need to be returned.

“They’re a handy weather radio,” he said.

Read the full article at:


DOE spending $28M to cut risks at Y-12, ORNL

March 14, 2016

​​OAK RIDGE - The U.S. Department of Energy is spending $28 million this year to reduce the risks at several old facilities at Y-12 and Oak Ridge National Laboratory until enough money is available to tear them down and complete the cleanup.

The special fund was part of a congressionally approved "plus-up" in funding for the cleanup effort in Fiscal Year 2016.

DOE is attacking one of its biggest concerns in Oak Ridge: excess facilities that are rapidly deteriorating but not yet scheduled to demolition. In some instances, it could be decades before enough the federal agency has enough money to get rid of the crumbling and contaminated sites once and for all.

Most of the work is designed to prevent the spread of radioactive materials, but one project at Y-12 - repairing the roof and other tasks at the Alpha-4 building - will help address the plant's legacy of mercury pollution.

"The roof is deteriorating, and we have some water intrusion," Sue Cange, DOE's cleanup manager in Oak Ridge, said in a telephone interview. Water can affect the overall stability of the building, and that's an issue, she said.

Alpha-4 was one of the original Y-12 facilities built during World War II for enriching uranium, but it was converted in the 1950s for lithium production to support development of hydrogen bombs. Vast tons of mercury were used in the COLEX processes for lithium separation. The upcoming project will evaluate the condition of some of the COLEX equipment located outside the Alpha-4 building and - if there is sufficient funding DOE may remove the exterior equipment and dispose of it, Cange said.

An undated exterior view of the Homogeneous Reactor Experiment - also known as Building 7500 - at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The research reactor operated in the 1950s, and DOE is planning to do some stabilization work this year to reduce risks until the reactor can be demolished and cleaned up in the future.

"I will say we're concerned with the structural integrity of the equipment," she said.

Although there is COLEX equipment inside and outside of Alpha-5, only the outdoor equipment is part of the upcoming project.

Cange said DOE's cleanup contractor, URS-CH2M Oak Ridge, is handling most of work on excess facilities. On the Alpha-4 roof repairs, however, the agency will share a subcontractor that Y-12 has already hired for roof work at two other buildings.

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Kurion System Gives Nuclear Site Operators ‘New Tool’ to Manage Tritium

March 09, 2016

Nuclear waste cleanup firm Kurion today announced it has completed construction and testing of a prototype system that removes tritium from contaminated water.

Kurion says the Modular Detritiation System (MDS) is a cost-effective system to manage tritium and eliminate Water treatment systems at nuclear sites remove many contaminating isotopes, leaving tritium, a form of hydrogen that becomes part of the water molecule itself, forming tritiated water. As a result, tritiated water has traditionally been difficult and expensive to treat and can spread easily if it escapes into the environment.

Kurion says its prototype MDS offers operators of nuclear sites a new tool for managing tritium, including the ability to reduce or recycle their water to eliminate the need to release tritiated water into the environment.

The MDS has completed a cold and hot commissioning phase.

The company says its system is the world’s first to process large volumes of light water across a range of concentrations to remove tritium contamination and allows for the recycling or clean release of reactor cooling water for light water reactors.

The industrial process of removing tritium from water has historically focused on cleaning highly contaminated “heavy water” for recycling back into nuclear reactors. However, this technology is expensive for use with light water reactors. The Kurion MDS builds upon heavy water systems and makes advances in throughput and efficiency for light water detritiation.

The new system will use a full-scale catalytic exchange column.

Kurion says it is currently in discussions with a number of customers in the US and abroad to introduce its mature MDS technology. Interest ranges across both operating and decommissioning plants.

Earlier this month Veolia, the Paris-based waste and water giant, bought Kurion for $350 million.

The new business will target the nuclear sector — facilities and research centers that are in operation or being decommissioned — as well as to the oil industry and the pharmaceuticals industry.​

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