Author Archives: Will Davis

Nuclear Energy Blog Carnival 225

ferris wheel 202x201The 225th Nuclear Energy Blog Carnival is being hosted this week right here at the ANS Nuclear Cafe.  Every week, the world’s top pro-nuclear authors and bloggers submit the most popular or most important articles from that week; the selections are then compiled at one of a set of rotating sites and featured as the “Carnival.”  Let’s jump right in to this week’s significant contributions.

Nuke Power Talk – Gail Marcus

A New Path Forward?

At Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus discusses the recent announcement from Loving County, Texas, that they are interested in serving as a host site for the nation’s high-level waste.  This expression of interest is in line with the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Commission, as well as with the experiences of other countries, and could, in time, help pave a new path forward for HLW disposal in the US.

Gail Marcus also published a trio of posts this week at Nuke Power Talk that capture the main points of several articles recently printed in The Guardian in the UK that attempt to explain policymakers to scientists, scientists to policymakers, and the public to both scientists and policymakers.  Particularly in the nuclear area, where the views of the public and of policymakers are so important to the future of the industry, it is worthwhile to think about such things as the different pace, interests, and influences of each of these groups.

Science and Policymaking: Part I

Science and Policymaking: Part II

Science and Policymaking: Part III

———-

Forbes – Jim Conca

Germans Boared with Chernobyl Radiation

While the news media would like Germans to be afraid of wild radioactive boars roaming Saxony, these boars aren’t even mildly radioactive. You’d have to eat 3,000 lbs of this “hot” boar meat to equal a single medical CT scan. Which would make meals pretty boaring.

———-

Atomic Insights – Rod Adams

Is it really necessary to have a deep geologic repository for spent nuclear fuel?

It’s time to give the United States nuclear enterprise permission to quit trying to site a deep geologic repository for used nuclear fuel.

Quoting Chairman Macfarlane: In essence, the GEIS [for continued storage of spent fuel] concludes that unavoidable adverse environmental impacts are “small” for the short-term, long-term, and indefinite time frames for storage of spent nuclear fuel. The proverbial “elephant in the room” is this: if the environmental impacts of storing waste indefinitely on the surface are essentially small, then is it necessary to have a deep geologic disposal option?

Good question. The answer is no.

———-

Yes Vermont Yankee – Meredith Angwin

Another name for methane: the Microgrid for Vermont

Vermont’s major distribution utility is Green Mountain Power, and their CEO just announced a business partnership to build microgrids in Vermont. She hopes the microgrids will ultimately eliminate  the “archaic” grid built with “twigs and twine.”  Actually, the partnership goal is to sell small, gas-fired Stirling engines, called “Smart Solar” engines, and to sell natural gas. Green Mountain Power is a wholly owned subsidiary of Gaz Metro of Quebec. Vermonters should not assume that Gaz Metro has their best interests at heart.

———-

Neutron Bytes – Dan Yurman

Saudis update ambitious nuclear energy plans

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia plans to kick off a much talked about $80 billion program to shift 15% (17 GWe) of its electric generating capacity from fossil fuels to nuclear reactors.

———-

Next Big Future – Brian Wang

Thorium Isotope Breeder Proposed by Maglich, who has constructed four Migma Colliding Ion Beam fusion systems (with explanatory video and text)

Fusion isotope breeders can work with thorium molten salt reactors for nonproliferation

$10 trillion would be needed to rebuild the electric grid to support large additions of solar and wind generating sources

John Kutsch gives an informative energy rant; a second video debunks Dr. Helen Caldicott.

———-

Atomic Power Review – Will Davis

APR+ Design Certification Received

While the rest of the world watched for further hints of when a new boiling water reactor type might get through the type approval process in the USA, a different type of reactor received design certification in South Korea.  Details on this announcement and the APR+ in this post.

———-

ANS Nuclear Cafe - submitted by Paul Bowersox

ANS Winter Meeting – What’s In It For You?

Will Davis presents an appeal to those who have not yet committed to attending the ANS Winter Meeting in California.  There are many good reasons to attend if you can find the means – here are just a few worth considering.

———-

That’s it for this week’s entries.  THANK YOU to all the authors and submitters!

ANS Winter Meeting, November 9-13: What’s In It For You?

by Will Davis

I’d like to take this opportunity to ask you a question: Have you considered attending the American Nuclear Society’s Winter Meeting yet? Before you answer, I’d like to give you a few compelling reasons to do so from my own personal experience.

ANS_2-1205-2 attendees 200x133•  People  At ANS National meetings—at all ANS meetings, really, but especially at the two major national meetings each year—you’ll get a chance to meet and speak with people from every corner of the industry, and from a number of eras as well. People you have perhaps only e-mailed, and people who rarely use e-mail—they will be there. This is a prime opportunity to meet folks you’ve always wanted to meet. “But, what will that get me?” you say.

ANS_2-1206-student poster 200x132•  Networking  There is no end to the networking opportunities that happen around these meetings—before sessions, at lunch, and all evening afterward. Industry groups, regulatory groups, universities… they’re all present. Most folks find their schedules so packed with these meetups that by the time the actual meeting week arrives, there’s precious little other time undesignated. The number of things that can happen as a result of these networks is practically unlimited. The inspired atmosphere of the meetings makes great things happen—I’ve seen it.

•  Learning  To pick a particular topic, I can honestly say that in discussions both in person and on the internet about the Fukushima Daiichi accident, I have been consistently better equipped than even some other nuclear advocates as a direct result of having attended the ANS Winter Meeting in San Diego a couple years back. Personnel from TEPCO, other Japanese utilities, national and world regulatory bodies, universities, and laboratories around the world convened for a three-day Fukushima Daiichi sub-topical that provided an incredible level of detail and examination of the accidents. The same experience could not be had anywhere unless one went to Japan. I have considered this, and other ANS meeting topicals, to be invaluable. Again, only one possible example of what can happen for you if you attend these meetings.

Winter Meet 2013  ANS_2-1067 200x132•  Working  You can certainly make the case that your employer might well find you to be a more valuable employee after you’ve attended one of these meetings. The opportunities to grow and learn as a person and as an employee, and thus bring the benefits of those increased skills back to your employer, are never greater than at an ANS meeting. The technical papers presented, and opportunities to find out about new methods, or new programs, are a fertile field for growth. For those looking for employment in a nuclear-related field—what better environment in which to find out what’s hot, what’s available, and make that best first impression?

1117ZZ_0014CS 200x133I am sincerely hoping that folks who hadn’t thought about attending will reconsider after having read what I have to say. I think that the ANS national meeting experience is invaluable. I’ve tried over these years to relate it to everyone I can, so that the opportunities made possible by this ANS membership benefit are seized by everyone who can attend.

Yes, there will be a number of presentations honoring those who have earned high awards from ANS. There will be plenaries, and perhaps a formal dinner or two. Those have a rightful place at such meetings and I personally enjoy all of them. But I must say that I find the advantages of the additional aspects I’ve described above to be the best reasons to attend; I hope you’ll consider it.

2014 winter meeting front cover 200x258

__________________________

SavannahWillinControlRoomWill Davis is the Communications Director for the N/S Savannah Association, Inc. where he also serves as historian, newsletter editor and member of the board of directors. Davis has recently been engaged by the Global America Business Institute as a consultant.  He is also a consultant to, and writer for, the American Nuclear Society; an active ANS member, he is serving on the ANS Communications Committee 2013–2016. In addition, he is a contributing author for Fuel Cycle Week, and writes his own popular blog Atomic Power Review. Davis is a former US Navy reactor operator, qualified on S8G and S5W plants.

Nuclear Energy Blog Carnival 224

ferris wheel 202x201The 224th edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers and Authors has been posted at Things Worse Than Nuclear Power.  Click here to see this latest installment in a long running tradition among pro-nuclear authors and bloggers.

Each week, a new edition of the Carnival is hosted at one of the top English-language nuclear blogs. This rotating feature of nuclear “posts of the week” represents the dedication of those who are working toward a future of energy abundance, improved health, and broadened security through nuclear science and technology.

Past editions of the carnival have been hosted at Yes Vermont Yankee, Atomic Power Review, ANS Nuclear Cafe, NEI Nuclear Notes, Next Big Future, Atomic Insights, Hiroshima Syndrome, Things Worse Than Nuclear Power, EntrepreNuke, Thorium MSR and Deregulate the Atom.

This is a great collaborative effort that deserves your support.  If you have a pro-nuclear energy blog and would like to host an edition of the carnival, please contact Brain Wang at Next Big Future to get on the rotation.

Nuclear Energy Blog Carnival 223

ferris wheel 202x201The 223rd edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers has been posted at Next Big Future.  You can click here to access this latest post in a long running tradition among pro-nuclear authors and bloggers.

Each week, a new edition of the Carnival is hosted at one of the top English-language nuclear blogs. This rotating feature of nuclear “posts of the week” represents the dedication of those who are working toward a future of energy abundance, improved health, and broadened security through nuclear science and technology.

Past editions of the carnival have been hosted at Yes Vermont Yankee, Atomic Power Review, ANS Nuclear Cafe, NEI Nuclear Notes, Next Big Future, Atomic Insights, Hiroshima Syndrome, Things Worse Than Nuclear Power, EntrepreNuke, Thorium MSR and Deregulate the Atom.

This is a great collaborative effort that deserves your support.  If you have a pro-nuclear energy blog and would like to host an edition of the carnival, please contact Brain Wang at Next Big Future to get on the rotation.

Nuclear Energy Blog Carnival 222

ferris wheel 202x201The 222nd edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers and Authors has been posted at Atomic Insights.  You can click here to access the latest installment in a long running tradition among pro-nuclear authors and bloggers.

Each week, a new edition of the Carnival is hosted at one of the top English-language nuclear blogs. This rotating feature of nuclear “posts of the week” represents the dedication of those who are working toward a future of energy abundance, improved health, and broadened security through nuclear science and technology.

Past editions of the carnival have been hosted at Yes Vermont Yankee, Atomic Power Review, ANS Nuclear Cafe, NEI Nuclear Notes, Next Big Future, Atomic Insights, Hiroshima Syndrome, Things Worse Than Nuclear Power, EntrepreNuke, Thorium MSR and Deregulate the Atom.

This is a great collaborative effort that deserves your support.  If you have a pro-nuclear energy blog and would like to host an edition of the carnival, please contact Brain Wang at Next Big Future to get on the rotation.

The Final Entrant – Last Nuclear Utility in Japan Applies for Restart

Shika NPP Unit 2.  Courtesy Hokuriku Electric Power Co.

Shika NPP Unit 2. Courtesy Hokuriku Electric Power Co.

by Will Davis

Yesterday, the saga of nuclear energy in post-Fukushima Japan reached an important milestone as the final utility that owns nuclear power plants in that country applied to the regulator for restart, in an event that snuck under the radar of most news venues.

Hokuriku Electric Power Company yesterday submitted its application to have Shika Nuclear Power Plant Unit 2 examined by the Nuclear Regulation Authority under the revised guidelines for nuclear plant safety. Hokuriku owns only one nuclear power station, Shika, which has two units; Unit 1 is a BWR-5, while Unit 2 is an ABWR that went into commercial operation in March 2006. This application for Unit 2 means a number of things; it marks the end of the final holdout, if you will, by a nuclear utility; it shows that all utilities with nuclear plants will attempt to restart at least one unit; and it answers the question once and for all whether the Japanese utilities unanimously want to continue to include nuclear in their fuel mixes for the future.

Hokuriku has stated that work at the site (which mirrors heavy site work underway at most nuclear plants in post-Fukushima Japan) is not yet complete and that it does not have a specific restart date for this nuclear plant.

Shika Unit 2 had some press before this; this plant, along with Chubu Electric Power Company’s Hamaoka Unit 5, made some notoriety in 2006 when both were shut down for some time due to turbine generator problems. Hamaoka-5 shut down first in June 2006, actually on a turbine trip due to high vibration; this was quickly discovered to be a result of broken blades in the “B” or center (of three) of the low pressure turbines on its Hitachi TC6F-52 turbine generator. Because Shika Unit 2 had the same model turbine generator, it was ordered shut down in July 2006 for inspection; this revealed similar, if not as extensive, damage.

Hitachi paid for repairs to the Hamaoka and Shika turbine generators; the Hamaoka unit was back on-line in February 2007, eight months after the event. Shika Unit 2 however was saddled with a reduced power rating, and was also delayed in its restart while NISA (the former nuclear regulator) dealt with systemic problems at the site. Shika Unit 2 finally restarted in June 2008, rated at 1108 MWe instead of its original designed 1358 MWe. Hokuriku detailed plans to modify the turbine in 2010 and return the plant to its original full rating, but the only increase allowed was to 1206 MWe, which is where the official plant rating lies at the moment according to Nuclear Regulation Authority records. Hitachi has since modified its designs to eliminate the problems that originally caused these failures, which have not recurred in any other Hitachi turbine generators.

The restart applications, as they came

It is now appropriate to briefly detail the nuclear plant restart applications in a neat bunch as we find ourselves at a convenient historical point from which to look back.

The initial applications for restart actually came in a rush; on July 8, 2013, four utilities applied for restart examination for no fewer than 10 reactors at five sites. Quite interestingly, all of these were Mitsubishi pressurized water reactors); their ages varied, with commercial operation starting dates ranging from 1984 to 2009, in two, three, and four loop configurations. These were Hokkaido Electric Power’s Tomari NPP Units 1, 2 and 3; Kansai Electric Power’s Ohi NPP Units 3 and 4 and Takahama NPP Units 3 and 4; Shikoku Electric Power’s Ikata Unit 3; and Kyushu Electric Power’s Sendai Units 1 and 2.

Just four days later on July 12, 2013, Kyushu Electric Power also applied for its Genkai NPP Units 3 and 4. These are also Mitsubishi PWR plants.

As had long been expected, on September 27, 2013, Tokyo Electric Power applied to restart two units at its massive Kashiwazaki-Kariwa NPP—and these, Units 6 and 7, were the first boiling water reactors of any kind to apply to restart. These units are Hitachi-GE-Toshiba ABWRs, and are the newest TEPCO nuclear units.

Chugoku Electric Power applied to restart Shimane NPP Unit 2, a Hitachi BWR-5, on December 25, 2013. Two days later on December 27th, Tohoku Electric Power applied to restart Onagawa NPP Unit 2—another BWR-5, but of Toshiba heritage.

The first application of 2014 was February 14, when Chubu Electric Power applied to restart Hamaoka Unit 4, a Toshiba-Hitachi BWR-5.

Japan Atomic Power Company (JAPC) applied to restart its Tokai Daini NPP, a GE BWR-5, on May 20, 2014. With a commercial operation date in November 1978, this is by far the oldest reactor applied for restart in Japan; the next closest date is Sendai Unit 1, commercially operational in 1984.

It was June before another application was made; on the 10th, Tohoku Electric Power applied to restart Higashidori 1, a BWR-5 of rather recent vintage, having entered commercial service in 2005.

And, of course, as we now know Shika Unit 2 applied yesterday (August 12, 2014,) marking only the third ABWR to apply for restart.

In total, the restart applications include 12 Mitsubishi PWRs, three ABWRs, and a total of five BWR-5 reactors of various heritage, making 20 reactors overall.

Hamaoka NPP: Courtesy Chubu Electric Power Co.

Hamaoka NPP: Courtesy Chubu Electric Power Co.

Kashiwazaki-Kariwa (TEPCO, two units applied), Tomari (Hokkaido, three units), Shika (Hokuriku, one unit applied), Shimane (Chugoku, one unit applied), Ikata (Shikoku, one unit applied), Takahama and Oi (both Kansai, four units total), and Genkai and Sendai (both Kyushu, four units applied) are on the West coast of Japan or on coasts facing west, making a total of 16 of the 20 units that are not subjected to future tsunami from the same fault that triggered the Great East Japan/Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. The majority of these 16 units (12) are the Mitsubishi PWR units; three more of these 16 units are the ABWRs applied for restart.

The results of these restart applications are, of course, expected to be an exceedingly mixed bag. Anti-nuclear court rulings, mistrust among prefectural governments, environmental groups, and anti-nuclear activists are already having a major impact on the processes to restart the nuclear plants. It is certain that we will look back on this historical point as a mere footnote; the hard work of both preparing the plants for future events and regaining the public trust all lies mainly ahead, and it is likely to take many years to bottle those results as conveniently as we bottle the applications here.

For more information:

Japanese Utilities Lining Up to Restart Reactors

Preparing to Restart:  Tsunami Safety Measures at Japanese Nuclear Power Plants

Japan’s Nuclear Restarts:  Abe says “Will See To It;” Courts Differ; Plants Prepare

________________________

WillDavisNewBioPicWill Davis is the Communications Director for the N/S Savannah Association, Inc. where he also serves as historian, newsletter editor and member of the board of directors. Davis has recently been engaged by the Global America Business Institute as a consultant.  He is also a consultant to, and writer for, the American Nuclear Society; an active ANS member, he is serving on the ANS Communications Committee 2013–2016. In addition, he is a contributing author for Fuel Cycle Week, and writes his own popular blog Atomic Power Review. Davis is a former US Navy reactor operator, qualified on S8G and S5W plants.

Nuclear Energy Blog Carnival 221

ferris wheel 202x201It’s time for the 221st edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers and Authors.  This event circulates among the top pro-nuclear blogs, and each week highlights those items submitted to the host as most important or most timely.  Of course, every week, there is a post made right here at ANS Nuclear Cafe to direct you to the Carnival – but on a rotating basis we host it here, and this week is one of those occasions.  Let’s go in!

Forbes – Jim Conca

Extinction by Traditional Chinese Medicine

An epidemic of poaching is sweeping over Africa, paid for by Chinese and other Asians, fueled by the growing energy production from coal.  Caught up in this frenzy of rituals are animals like the rhinoceros, which may not be long for the world.

———-

Nuke Power Talk – Gail Marcus

Energy Policy and Disruption: Managing Change

This week, Gail Marcus follows up on a previous post about the impacts of the evolution of energy technologies and takes the discussion a few steps further.  In addition to the always present tendency to protect existing jobs, she points to a study by the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) that shows that mining and related activities are a significant part of the economies of several states in the US.  She notes that this fact creates an additional dimension to the problem – it’s not just replacing one job with another one if the jobs are in different places – and comments on how states might proactively face such changes.

———-

NewsOK – Robert Hayes

Radioactive Materials in the Oilfield

Oilfield work involves long hours and back-breaking work.  It also involves radioactive material in many ways, including natural radioactivity and man-made radionuclides used in a number of specific ways.

———-

Yes Vermont Yankee – Meredith Angwin / guest post by George Coppenrath

New England Energy: What were they thinking?

George Coppenrath, a Vermont state senator who served on the Natural Resources and Energy Committee, wrote this guest post.  He wonders what Vermont energy planners were thinking; did they think that closing Vermont Yankee would push energy production to wind and solar?  Did they think natural gas would be inexpensive forever? It looks like they were wrong.

———-

NEI Nuclear Notes – submitted by Eric McErlain (various authors)

US Technology Exports and Africa:  A delegation from Niger, South Africa and Namibia visited NEI on August 7th to see how peaceful commercial nuclear technology could be exported to those countries.

In a Pit in a Nuclear Free Vermont:  A series of bad choices when it comes to energy policy has led Vermont down a blind alley.

Transatomic Power snags $2 million Investment:  The Founders Fund, a group that provided seed money for Facebook and other Silicon Valley start-ups, has made a $2 million investment in Transatomic Power.

What It Takes to Become an Operations Shift Manager:  Megan Wilson at PG&E talks about what it takes to move up the ladder at California’s only nuclear plant.

———-

Next Big Future – Brian Wang

India needs to expand nuclear; HTGR in works

India needs to both expand its power system to serve 300 million people, as well as move away from coal fired generation assets.  Nuclear power would, potentially, grow 15 times faster here than other assets.  Also, a piece on shared development of HTGR’s between Japan and Indonesia.

Cameco on track; Cameco’s production target not impacted by process changes.

———-

Atomic Insights – Rod Adams (guest post by Bill Sacks / Greg Myerson)

Why Does Conventional Wisdom Ignore Hormesis?

In light of repeated assertions that all ionizing radiation is harmful no matter how high or how low the dose, the existence of a beneficial health effect may be surprising.  But nearly a century of laboratory experimentation and epidemiological observation of both humans and animals supports the protective response region and contradicts the conventional wisdom.  Why then does the concept that all ionizing radiation is harmful hang on with such tenacity, and how did it gain a foothold against all evidence to the contrary?

———-

The Hiroshima Syndrome – Les Corrice

Did Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 have a “melt through?”

TEPCO says the Unit 3 core may have completely melted and most of it might be embedded in the basemat under the reactor.  The company cautions that their analysis “entails some degree of uncertainty.”  Their degree of uncertainty might be substantial.

———-

Canadian Energy Issues – Steve Aplin

Fighting darkness and steel with carbide, and carbon with nuclear energy; Canada’s revolutionary past, present and future

What does calcium carbide have to do with nuclear energy?  Steve Aplin of Canadian Energy Issues remembers his spelunking days and their connection to the Second Industrial Revolution.

———-

That’s it for this week’s entries!  Thanks to all of our submitters, and authors.

Japan Nuclear Restarts: Abe Says “Will See To It,” Courts Differ, Plants Prepare

By Will Davis

HamaokaChubuElectric“I will see to it by some means or other. I will properly deal with it.” So go the reported words of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe regarding the restart of nuclear power plants in Japan, as printed recently in the Japanese press. At the present time, while the Japanese government and courts seem to be at odds on restarting plants—with the public left in the middle—those at the nuclear plants themselves must count on eventual approval to restart and must ensure required measures are completed properly. Those preparing for restart continue to work toward that end while facing an improving, but not yet by any means certain, situation in the public and legal arenas.

Abe says yes, court says no

Those wishing for nuclear plant restarts in Japan, and especially power companies and large manufacturers (which consider their businesses in great peril), were bolstered by the continued support for nuclear restarts expressed by Abe, although it’s now becoming clear that a one-man fight isn’t what lies ahead. Abe’s recent statement, specifically about Sendai Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), comes on the heels of a public presentation to the Prime Minister of produce from the governor of Fukushima Prefecture—a sure sign that life indeed continues in the prefecture. That rosy picture of recovery stands opposed by courts, however.

Just last May, the Fukui Court issued an order to Kansai Electric barring the restart of reactors at the Oi NPP. The language of the order has more recently been translated into English, and the finding is troubling—the court basically saying that no person or establishment is capable of predicting the maximum severity and effect of prospective natural disasters; and that since the people of Japan generally derive their welfare and well-being from the land, it can be ruled illegal to operate nuclear plants that could in theory lead to the loss of the land and well-being of the people.

Residents in the immediate vicinity of Sendai NPP in Kagoshima Prefecture were this week issued iodine pills as part of a disaster preparedness plan, along with access to pharmacists who could answer questions, according to NHK World. One resident interviewed said that he indeed felt better because of this “ounce of prevention” approach. In some regions, public opinion appears to sway toward the return of nuclear energy, as utilities and prefectural governments make advance preparations and keep the public “in the loop.”

Preparing by building and training

KashiwazakiKariwaAs scenes of quite public debate continue, the utilities meanwhile have long recognized the need to restart their nuclear plants, if at all possible, to begin to recoup some of the massive losses they’re incurring—as a result of having to buy large amounts of fossil fuel and having to build temporary fossil-fired power plants to make up for the loss of generation from nuclear plants. And lest there be any doubt, overall power generation is still far, far short of what it had been with all nuclear plants available.

Some plants have experienced setbacks. This week, Shikoku Electric Power Company announed that its Ikata NPP would delay restarting by up to a year because its on-site emergency control center didn’t meet required revised seismic standards.

Others continue apace. We’ve reported here on the massive amount of time and money that Tokyo Electric Power Company (owner of Fukushima Daiichi) has put into its Kashiwazaki–Kariwa nuclear plant on the opposite coast of Japan; these safety measures continue with further massive construction. A recently published video displays the continued wide effort underway to meet all the required precautions and standards, and is worth viewing in its entirety for anyone interested in the preparations at nuclear plants in Japan:

Click here to watch the TEPCO Kashiwazaki-Kariwa video

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) released a report stating that the triggering event for the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident was in fact the tsunami, and not the earthquake itself, lending support to safety actions taken at Kashiwazaki–Kariwa and other nuclear plant sites around Japan (including Chubu Electric’s Hamaoka NPP and Kyushu Electric Power’s Genkai and Sendai NPP’s) in the sense that the majority of expenditure lies in prevention of damaging effects from tsunami. A previous Japanese government panel had implicated the quake as the cause, but the NRA’s investigation has resulted in little or no evidence that the quake itself caused any damage to the plants that would have led to core melt. For example, the summary of the NRA report states that any small leaks caused by the quake would not have caused a threat to core integrity within 10 hours, and that there were no detectable signs of any serious breach of primary plant integrity during the time between the quake and the arrival of the tsunami.

It seems assured now—given the work required, the recent court position, and the overall sensitivity of the issue—that none of the nuclear plants in Japan will restart before autumn. As that original hope slips, the public and industry continue to forge a new understanding of the importance of safety in the Japanese nuclear power industry.

For more information:

Hamaoka NPP – 19 minute video of preparations, training entitled “Amassing Our Full Strength in Pursuit of Greater Safety

Nuclear Regulation Authority (Japan) – Overview of Regulatory Requirements

New Regulatory Requirements for Light Water Nuclear Plants (Earthquakes and Tsunami.)  Nuclear Regulation Agency

_______________________

SavannahWillinControlRoomWill Davis is the Communications Director for the N/S Savannah Association, Inc. where he also serves as historian and as a member of the board of directors. Davis has recently been engaged by the Global America Business Institute as a consultant.  He is also a consultant to, and writer for, the American Nuclear Society; an active ANS member, he is serving on the ANS Communications Committee 2013–2016. In addition, he is a contributing author for Fuel Cycle Week, and writes his own popular blog Atomic Power Review. Davis is a former US Navy reactor operator, qualified on S8G and S5W plants.

Nuclear Energy Blog Carnival 219

ferris wheel 202x201The 219th edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers and Authors has been posted at The Hiroshima Syndrome.  You can click here to access this latest installment of a long running tradition among pro-nuclear authors and bloggers.

Each week, a new edition of the Carnival is hosted at one of the top English-language nuclear blogs. This rotating feature of nuclear “posts of the week” represents the dedication of those who are working toward a future of energy abundance, improved health, and broadened security through nuclear science and technology.

Past editions of the carnival have been hosted at Yes Vermont Yankee, Atomic Power Review, ANS Nuclear Cafe, NEI Nuclear Notes, Next Big Future, Atomic Insights, Hiroshima Syndrome, Things Worse Than Nuclear Power, EntrepreNuke, Thorium MSR and Deregulate the Atom.

This is a great collaborative effort that deserves your support.  If you have a pro-nuclear energy blog and would like to host an edition of the carnival, please contact Brain Wang at Next Big Future to get on the rotation.

Nuclear Energy Blog Carnival 218

ferris wheel 202x201The 218th Nuclear Energy Blog Carnival has been posted at Yes Vermont Yankee.  You can click here to access this latest installment in a long running tradition  among pro-nuclear authors and bloggers.

Each week, a new edition of the Carnival is hosted at one of the top English-language nuclear blogs. This rotating feature of nuclear “posts of the week” represents the dedication of those who are working toward a future of energy abundance, improved health, and broadened security through nuclear science and technology.

Past editions of the carnival have been hosted at Yes Vermont Yankee, Atomic Power Review, ANS Nuclear Cafe, NEI Nuclear Notes, Next Big Future, Atomic Insights, Hiroshima Syndrome, Things Worse Than Nuclear Power, EntrepreNuke, Thorium MSR and Deregulate the Atom.

This is a great collaborative effort that deserves your support.  If you have a pro-nuclear energy blog and would like to host an edition of the carnival, please contact Brain Wang at Next Big Future to get on the rotation.

Nuclear Energy Blog Carnival 217

ferris wheel 202x201The 217th edition of the Nuclear Blog and Author Carnival has been posted at Next Big Future.  You can click here to access this latest installment in a long running tradition among the world’s top pro-nuclear authors and bloggers.

Each week, a new edition of the Carnival is hosted at one of the top English-language nuclear blogs. This rotating feature of nuclear “posts of the week” represents the dedication of those who are working toward a future of energy abundance, improved health, and broadened security through nuclear science and technology.

Past editions of the carnival have been hosted at Yes Vermont Yankee, Atomic Power Review, ANS Nuclear Cafe, NEI Nuclear Notes, Next Big Future, Atomic Insights, Hiroshima Syndrome, Things Worse Than Nuclear Power, EntrepreNuke, Thorium MSR and Deregulate the Atom.

This is a great collaborative effort that deserves your support.  If you have a pro-nuclear energy blog and would like to host an edition of the carnival, please contact Brain Wang at Next Big Future to get on the rotation.

Nuclear Energy in Japan Steps into the Chasm

by Will Davis

Recent developments in Japan concerning the Fukushima Daiichi plant recovery specifically, and nuclear energy generally, have not been exceedingly positive. The difficult recovery efforts at the crippled nuclear plant are not all proceeding smoothly; delays and technical problems continue to abound and confound. Meanwhile, on a broader scale, the national pullback from nuclear may be even more serious and have longer term effects than anyone realizes.

Fukushima Daiichi Units 5 and 6, courtesy TEPCO

Fukushima Daiichi Units 5 and 6, courtesy TEPCO

Fukushima Daiichi—Where is the ice wall?

Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) reported that efforts to block the flow of water through below-grade piping conduits have failed, largely because the currents in these conduits are fast enough that the water cannot freeze. Sealing these “trenches”—a separate issue from the “ice wall” discussed below—is a major part of the contaminated water mitigation process; it is what will, ultimately, prevent contaminated water that is inside the nuclear plant buildings (reactor buildings and turbine buildings) from getting out into the general grounds near the plants. At this writing, no solution has been devised, although TEPCO hopes to better control the currents and/or add more coolant pipes if needed.

Similarly, TEPCO also repeatedly delayed the expected completion date for the “frozen earth” ice wall that will surround Units 1 through 4 underground, which will prevent groundwater from intruding into the buildings. Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) has publicly expressed concern over the delay in this process, urging TEPCO to attack the problem with utmost vigor. According to reporting from NHK (Japan’s national public broadcasting organization), the NRA has urged TEPCO to come up with definite steps by the end of July to ensure a timely completion of the ice wall.

Click here to see a video covering the ice wall verification test

TEPCO continues to have the “to be expected” occasional system problem here and there, but since the general public’s attitude toward TEPCO is definitely not one of trust and understanding, all events make for wide and negative press. Early this week, TEPCO temporarily lost cooling to the spent fuel pool at Unit 5 on the Fukushima Daiichi site. To make matters worse in the public eye, original statements made to NHK/NHK World (which have now been removed from their sites) indicated that TEPCO had no clue when cooling could be restored, and that the pool would hit its operating temperature limit in a few weeks.

The truth of the matter is that the very next day, the residual heat removal system was placed in service to restore spent fuel pool cooling. But the shaky initial message had already gone out, with a seemingly powerless undertone that certainly didn’t underscore the ability of those at site to deal with the situations they encounter (TEPCO has since released a detailed account of this incident).

On the positive side, as of this writing 1188 out of the 1533 fuel elements in the spent fuel pool at Unit 4 have been transferred to the site’s common fuel pool. Future operations will see some of this fuel also transferred to the Unit 5 spent fuel pool.

Fukushima Daiichi site common spent fuel pool; courtesy TEPCO

Fukushima Daiichi site common spent fuel pool; courtesy TEPCO

Restarting plants might be slow

In a completely separate development, a Fukui court has blocked the restart of two units at Kansai Electric Power Company’s Ohi Nuclear Power Plant, citing in part that the plant had operated from July 2012 to September 2013 without incorporating new or revised safety standards. What relevance this has to the restarting of a plant now completely meeting the revised NRA standards is unclear, but the precedent is set: Courts are ready and willing to act to counter the Japanese government’s mission to restore the Japanese economy by restarting nuclear plants.

Eventually, it does seem certain that many of the nuclear plants in Japan will restart, as the need becomes increasingly critical to improve Japan’s import-export ratio and drive down the cost of energy. The Japanese government, the utilities, and most major corporations (and their lobbying groups) have expressed the desire to restart the plants; at the same time, however, local and highly vocal groups are speaking out and taking legal action.

Separately, Japan’s NRA has publicly made some severe comments after finding a number of inadequacies in early applications to restart plants submitted by a number of owner-operators. According to the NRA, further requests for information and clarification will be necessary—driving the potential restart dates for even the earliest expected plant restart (Sendai) beyond the high demand period of the summer heat. Sendai is still expected to be the first to restart, though—perhaps as soon as the autumn months.

Conceptual illustration, Ohma Nuclear Power Plant; courtesy J-Power

Conceptual illustration, Ohma Nuclear Power Plant; courtesy J-Power

The “chasm”

At the tip of Aomori Prefecture lies the site of what is now the only nuclear power plant actively under construction in Japan—the Ohma Nuclear Plant, owned by Electric Power Development Company, Ltd., commonly known as “J-Power.”

That’s right—this is the only nuclear plant in Japan actively under construction. After the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, all nuclear plant construction was effectively halted in Japan. Of the three that were under construction, two were deferred indefinitely; of the 12 announced or proposed, all were deferred indefinitely or cancelled.

The plant near Ohma—an Hitachi advanced boiling water reactor—has been “on the drawing boards” for many years and was several times deferred. First planned in the early 1980s (the site survey was accomplished in 1983), the plant’s site preparation didn’t begin until 2008, with actual plant construction beginning in 2010, but suspended from the time of the 2011 quake until October 2012 when it was resumed. As might have been expected, anti-nuclear opponents have taken the Fukui court finding as a precedent and have now acted to block completion of the Ohma nuclear plant as well. It appears an extended court battle may now be in the offing.

This portends a “nuclear chasm,” similar to what we now face in the United States. The cessation of new nuclear plant orders in the U.S. in 1978, coupled with a flood of nuclear plant cancellations that followed, means there will come a time when nuclear plants in the United States are shutting down and decommissioning—even including life extensions—faster than new nuclear plants come on-line.  The nuclear industry has long known this would occur; but it is being accelerated in some quarters by economic conditions (e.g., Kewaunee) or unanticipated material conditions (e.g., Crystal River, San Onofre-2 and -3.)

The result in the case of Japan will be that there too will come a time when, assuming that many plants restart, there will be no new plants in the wings to take the place of the older plants when they shut down. The present social environment in Japan now approaches the atmosphere in the United States during the 1970s and ’80s, with continuous anti-nuclear “environmentalist” opposition that can kill a nuclear energy project. This does not bode well for a nation that imports more than two-thirds of its energy needs; it requires a careful and sober analysis of the nation’s energy needs—and the place that nuclear power plays in those needs—now before the chasm cannot be escaped. Japan, unlike the United States, cannot fall back on indigenous coal or gas—it has neither.

The actions of the Japanese utilities lately have done little to steer away from the road to the chasm; harsh words from the NRA about inadequacies in the initial round of restart applications bears witness to this. Public trust is key, and if it is perceived that utilities wish to simply “slide by and play along” until they get their nuclear plants back—they won’t get them back.

Time will tell what plays out for Japan’s nuclear energy enterprise, but at the moment a great deal of work needs to be done to swing the course away from an abyss.

___________________

SavannahWillinControlRoomWill Davis is the Communications Director for the N/S Savannah Association, Inc. where he also serves as historian and as a member of the board of directors. Davis has recently been engaged by the Global America Business Institute as a consultant.  He is also a consultant to, and writer for, the American Nuclear Society; an active ANS member, he is serving on the ANS Communications Committee 2013–2016. In addition, he is a contributing author for Fuel Cycle Week, and writes his own popular blog Atomic Power Review. Davis is a former US Navy reactor operator, qualified on S8G and S5W plants.

Nuclear Energy Blogger Carnival 215

ferris wheel 202x201The 215th edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers and Authors has been posted at The Hiroshima Syndrome.  You can click here to access this latest installment of a long running tradition among pro-nuclear authors and bloggers.

Each week, a new edition of the Carnival is hosted at one of the top English-language nuclear blogs. This rotating feature of nuclear “posts of the week” represents the dedication of those who are working toward a future of energy abundance, improved health, and broadened security through nuclear science and technology.

Past editions of the carnival have been hosted at Yes Vermont Yankee, Atomic Power Review, ANS Nuclear Cafe, NEI Nuclear Notes, Next Big Future, Atomic Insights, Hiroshima Syndrome, Things Worse Than Nuclear Power, EntrepreNuke, Thorium MSR and Deregulate the Atom.

This is a great collaborative effort that deserves your support.  If you have a pro-nuclear energy blog and would like to host an edition of the carnival, please contact Brain Wang at Next Big Future to get on the rotation.

Nuclear Power Uprates: What, how, when, and will there be more?

Calvert Cliffs Plant; two unit nuclear generating station.  Baltimore Gas and Electric Company brochure, October 1980.

Calvert Cliffs Plant; two unit nuclear generating station. Baltimore Gas and Electric Company brochure, October 1980.

By Will Davis

I received an email this morning (in the midst of my daily avalanche of promotional emails) with a link to a brief story about uprating of nuclear plants worldwide (in other words, increasing the power output of an already-built plant)—what had been done, how many were planned, and so forth. I wondered to myself just how many nuclear plants in the United States had been uprated, and when they started—and given the recent hullabaloo over the recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency CO2 emission policy, it seems like (in addition to discussing small modular reactors) we might also want to toss the uprate card back on the table. Instead of flat or only slightly rising demand for electricity, we may face a steady lowering of generating capacity as plants that are high CO2 emitters (and thus violators) get shut down. Sure, renewables will play a part, and so will increased efficiency, but having more power is better than having less, or too little. I found no quick and easy reference for the kind of analysis I wanted, so I took a little time and did it myself.

Uprate? You can do that? How?

Power Meters NS Savannah 2Yes, uprates can be done—and it’s been happening for a long time. In nuclear power we talk about three kinds of uprates, or increases in power outputs, for the power plants. Very briefly, these are as follows, in increasing order of the amount of power gained:

  • MUR or “Measurement Uncertainty Recapture”: Think about this as saying that we’re going to put more accurate instruments into a plant, and thus will be able to develop a very slightly (maybe 1 percent or so) higher power now that we’re more certain of the exact parameters. Originally, it turns out, the instruments built for nuclear plants years back were quite accurate—so that these types of uprates are typically small. For all you “car nuts” out there, think “police speedometer.” (Do they even sell “police package” cars any more? My father had a Caprice LTZ… but I digress.)
  • “Stretch”: This uprate uses the installed equipment to a higher degree of its maximum capability. These are a few to several percent power increases.
  • “Extended Power Uprate”: This is the “biggie.” This is a major job, including replacement and upgrading of the turbine generator, perhaps other plant systems too such as pumps; it’s a major investment and involves a lot of complicated and heavy work. The payoff, though, is that the return on the investment is earlier, and thus the profit comes earlier, than building any kind of new power plant.

Now, the nuclear industry has for some years, in a dearth of construction of new plants, been pointing out that, “Yes, while we’re not building new plants, we’ve had lots and lots of uprates of existing plants—so that we’ve added capacity equal to a number of completely new nuclear plants.”

That’s exactly correct. Over the years since uprates began (in the present sense—more on that later) U.S. nuclear plants have added 6908 MWe of generating capacity (a figure I got by adding up NEI’s graphical figures found here.) If we think about that in terms of the nuclear plants being built brand new today, which are nominally 1000-MWe plants, that’s almost seven new nuclear plants’ worth of power—but at a fraction of the overall cost, because no new siting or major construction was required.

Uprating isn’t new

Calvert Cliffs from landThe first uprate as we now know them was performed at Calvert Cliffs (photo seen at the top of this article and here at left), and actually occurred right after the plant was completed. Originally these two Combustion Engineering pressurized water reactors were rated at 2560 MWt/810 MWe for Unit 1 and 2560 MWt/825 MWe for Unit 2; the units entered commercial operation May 8, 1975, and April 1, 1977, respectively. In 1976, before the second unit came on line, Baltimore Gas and Electric had applied to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to increase the ratings of both units to 2700 MWt as a “stretch uprate,” which was permitted (after careful analysis) in 1977.

This began a long period of what were mainly stretch uprates; the first extended uprates in the late 1990s did not exceed in percent power some of the stretch uprates of earlier years. Large uprates began after the turn of the century with some as high as 15 percent to 20 percent.

I mentioned that there was a “present sense” of uprates—which began in 1977. There was a time during the early years of operation of nuclear plants that provisional licenses at lower-than-designed power ratings were issued. Plants “tested out” at these provisional ratings, then later were re-licensed to increase power to the full designed level. One of my previous articles for the ANS Nuclear Cafe, describing Pathfinder Atomic Power Plant, mentioned (for the first time anywhere) that the plant originally tested at a provisional power rating, as one example. This was occurring in the 1960s.

So the natural question—really an aside, but worth asking—is this: “What was the first uprate?” My answer has to be N.S. Savannah, 1964. The ship was originally given an operational limit of 69 MWt, so that the original actual core thermal limit of 74 MWt would not be exceeded. It was found very early in her operation that this was not enough power to allow for full propulsion capability (not just her rated continuous 20,000 shaft horse power/SHP but her overload of 22,000 SHP) and full hotel loads. Babcock & Wilcox performed extensive analysis to allow raising the core operational limit to 80 MWt, which was done when the ship returned to service with American Export Isbrandtsen Lines. Some equipment modification was performed concurrently, but no major modifications were required—thus, this would have been a “stretch” uprate.

What now?

I was quite surprised, looking at the tables of nuclear plants, to see that there was really no tabulation of how many had received uprates—so I printed a list and laboriously marked off all the uprates at still-operating plants. Here are my totals by NRC regions.

In Region I, 7 of 26 total reactors have received extended power uprates; 17 have had stretch uprates and 16 have had MUR uprates. (Yes, some have had one, two, or all three at one reactor over the years.) Wow, I thought, that leaves a lot of uprating, even if only potentially likely.

In Region 2, 8 of 32 have received extended power uprates, 22 have received stretch uprates, and 15 have had MURs.

In Region 3, 9 of 23 have received extended power uprates, 9 have received stretch uprates, and 8 have had MURs.

In Region 4, 3 of 19 have received extended power uprates, 11 have received stretch uprates, and 8 have had MURs.

Looking at these figures, there’s a LOT of capacity theoretically left in U.S. nuclear plants in terms of uprates—even though they’ve dropped off in recent times. Only 27 of 100 US reactors have received extended uprates. Way back in 2003, the last time everyone was all agog over nuclear plants because of lowering carbon limits, the Nuclear Energy Institute predicted that U.S. nuclear plants could theoretically add over 10,000 MWe without building any new plants—and of that, about 6500–8500 MWe could come from uprates. (That’s on top of the 6908 MWe already added since 1977 by uprates, by the way.) Considering the totals we’ve just seen as to how many plants have not had the largest type of uprate, and seeing how many could still receive stretch uprates, that figure might roughly hold.

(Note: Yes, I’m aware that some plants included in the total uprates since 1977 have shut down and, yes, I’m aware that not every nuclear plant in the United States is in a location where uprating makes economic sense. Or hasn’t until now.)

I think that as we enter into discussions about the EPA regulations, carbon emissions, and nuclear energy, we should talk about nuclear plants in multiple senses—yes, adding small modular reactors into the mix makes good sense and,,yes, completing selected unfinished nuclear plants makes good sense in other spots. But now, we might wish to inject uprating more nuclear plants into the mix; perhaps we might see some reconsideration beyond the very few current plans for uprates (the NRC expects ZERO extended or stretch uprate applications from now through at least 2017), depending on how the carbon limits, and penalties, play out.

_________________

Note: Uprates for other reactors have been applied for and are in process; Peach Bottom-2 and -3 have extended power uprates planned by the NRC for final approval in September of this year; the only other extended power uprates, for Browns Ferry-1, -2, and -3 are however all on hold. Similarly, MURs for Oconee-1, -2, and -3 are all on hold, and in the last two years a number of planned uprate projects have been cancelled or deferred, such as at Limerick and La Salle.

Further note, just for “nukes”: Yes, for all you sharp-eyed older folks out there, those are indeed Westinghouse KX-24 Hi-Shock meters you saw above, for the power range NIs on SAVANNAH. Her control panel is a mix of these, GE DB40 meters, and Bailey vertical or edge type meters.

___________________

SavannahWillinControlRoomWill Davis is the Communications Director for the N/S Savannah Association, Inc. where he also serves as historian and as a member of the board of directors. Davis has recently been engaged by the Global America Business Institute as a consultant.  He is also a consultant to, and writer for, the American Nuclear Society; an active ANS member, he is serving on the ANS Communications Committee 2013–2016. In addition, he is a contributing author for Fuel Cycle Week, and writes his own popular blog Atomic Power Review. Davis is a former US Navy reactor operator, qualified on S8G and S5W plants.

Nuclear Energy Blogger Carnival 214

ferriswheel 201x268The 214th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers has been posted at Atomic Power Review.  You can click here to access this latest edition of a long-standing tradition.

Each week, a new edition of the Carnival is hosted at one of the top English-language nuclear blogs. This rotating feature of nuclear “posts of the week” represents the dedication of those who are working toward a future of energy abundance, improved health, and broadened security through nuclear science and technology.

Past editions of the carnival have been hosted at Yes Vermont Yankee, Atomic Power Review, ANS Nuclear Cafe, NEI Nuclear Notes, Next Big Future, Atomic Insights, Hiroshima Syndrome, Things Worse Than Nuclear Power, EntrepreNuke, Thorium MSR and Deregulate the Atom.

This is a great collaborative effort that deserves your support.  If you have a pro-nuclear energy blog and would like to host an edition of the carnival, please contact Brain Wang at Next Big Future to get on the rotation.