Category Archives: News

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.

Columbia Generating Station Sets New Generation Record

By Laura Scheele

Ratepayers in the Pacific Northwest have reason to celebrate the dedicated employees of Energy Northwest’s 1170-megawatt Columbia Generating Station:  The Northwest’s sole nuclear energy facility generated a record 9.7 million megawatt hours of electricity during the fiscal year that ended Monday, June 30—eclipsing a previous record of 9.5 million megawatt hours in fiscal year 2006.

This generation mark has been set with safety and efficiency, as well as adherence to the core principles of the organization’s Excellence Model. The Columbia Generating Station has operated more than 4.5 years without an unplanned shutdown, and Energy Northwest has surpassed 14 million work-hours without lost time due to injury.

“This performance is a testament to the organization’s alignment to the Excellence Model and commitment to fixing plant equipment and demonstrating the right behaviors,” said Brad Sawatzke, vice president of nuclear generation, in a message to employees. “Most importantly, the team reached this milestone while performing safely in the areas of nuclear, radiological, industrial and environmental safety.”

In a broader context, the 100 commercial nuclear energy reactors operating in the United States have continued to maintain their overall share of U.S. electricity generation through great improvements in efficiency and performance over recent decades, as well as massive additional capacity added through power uprates—for more on uprates in detail see Nuclear power uprates: what, how, when, and will there be more? at ANS Nuclear Cafe.

For more on the story see Energy Northwest near Richland sets new megawatt record. For more on Columbia Generating Station at ANS Nuclear Cafe see this Nuclear Matinee double-feature from February of this year.

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About Energy Northwest 
Energy Northwest develops, owns, and operates a diverse mix of electricity generating resources, including hydro, solar, and wind projects—and Columbia Generating Station (pictured above), the Northwest’s only nuclear power plant. These projects provide enough reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible energy to power more than a million homes each year, and that carbon-free electricity is provided at the cost of generation.

As a Washington state, not-for-profit joint operating agency, Energy Northwest comprises 27 public power member utilities from across the state serving more than 1.5 million ratepayers. The agency continually explores new generation projects to meet its members’ needs.
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laura-scheeleLaura Scheele is a Senior Public Affairs Analyst and Member Relations Manager at Energy Northwest, a not-for-profit joint operating agency headquartered in Richland, Washington. She is an active board member of the ANS Eastern Washington Local Section.

 

Nuclear professionals: Establish standing now to improve operational radiation limits

By Rod Adams

On August 3, 2014, the window will close on a rare opportunity to use the political process to strongly support the use of science to establish radiation protection regulations. Though it is not terribly difficult for existing light water reactors and fuel cycle facilities to meet the existing limits from 40 CFR 190 regarding doses to the general public and annual release rate limits for specific isotopes, there is no scientific basis for the current limits. If they are maintained, it would hinder the deployment of many potentially valuable technologies that could help humanity achieve a growing level of prosperity while achieving substantial reductions in air pollution and persistent greenhouse gases like CO2.

In January 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to solicit comments from the general public and affected stakeholders about 40 CFR 190, Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations.

The ANPR page has links to summary webinars provided to the public during the spring of 2014, including presentation slides, presentation audio, and questions and answers. This is an important opportunity for members of the public, nuclear energy professionals, nuclear technical societies, and companies involved in various aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle to provide comments about the current regulations and recommendations for improvements. Providing comments now, in the information-gathering phase of a potential rulemaking process, is a critical component of establishing standing to continue participating in the process.

us epa logo no text 214x201It also avoids a situation where an onerous rule could be issued and enforced under the regulator’s principle that “we provided an opportunity for comment, but no one complained then.”

The existing version of 40 CFR 190—issued on January 13, 1977, during the last week of the Gerald Ford administration—established a limit of 0.25 mSv/year whole body dose and 0.75 mSv/year to the thyroid for any member of the general public from radiation coming from any part of the nuclear fuel cycle, with the exception of uranium mining and long-term waste disposal. Those two activities are covered under different regulations. Naturally occurring radioactive material is not covered by 40 CFR 190, nor are exposures from medical procedures.

40 CFR 190 also specifies annual emissions limits for the entire fuel cycle for three specific radionuclides for each gigawatt-year of nuclear generated electricity: krypton-85 (50,000 curies), iodine-129 (5 millicuries), and Pu-239 and other alpha emitters with longer than one year half-life (0.5 millicuries).

It is important to clarify the way that the U.S. federal government assigns responsibilities for radiation protection standards. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has the responsibility for regulating individual facilities and for establishing radiation protection standards for workers, but the EPA has a role and an office of radiation protection as well.

The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 initially assigned all regulation relating to nuclear energy and radiation to the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC). However, as part of the President’s Reorganization Plan No. 3 of October 1970, President Nixon transferred responsibility for establishing generally applicable environmental radiation protection standards from the AEC to the newly formed EPA:

…to the extent that such functions of the Commission consist of establishing generally applicable environmental standards for the protection of the general environment from radioactive material. As used herein, standards mean limits on radiation exposures or levels or concentrations or quantities of radioactive material, in the general environment outside the boundaries of locations under the control of persons possessing or using radioactive material.

(Final Environmental Impact Statement, Environmental Radiation Protection Requirements for Normal Operations of Activities in the Uranium Fuel Cycle, p. 18.)

Before the transfer of environmental radiation responsibilities from the AEC to the EPA, and until the EPA issued the new rule in 1977, the annual radiation dose limit for a member of the general public from nuclear fuel cycle operations was 5 mSv—20 times higher than the EPA’s limit.

The AEC had conservatively assigned a limit of 1/10th of the 50 mSv/year applied to occupational radiation workers, which it had, in turn, conservatively chosen to provide a high level of worker protection from the potential negative health effects of atomic radiation.

The AEC’s occupational limit of 50 mSv was less than 1/10th of the previously applied “tolerance dose” of 2 mSv/day, which worked out to an annual limit of approximately 700 mSv/year. That daily limit recognized the observed effect that damage resulting from radiation doses was routinely repaired by normal physiological healing mechanisms.

Aside: After more than 100 years of human experience working with radiation and radioactive materials, there is still no data that prove negative health effects for people whose exposures have been maintained within the above tolerance dose, initially established for radiology workers in 1934. End Aside.

From the 1934 tolerance dose to the EPA limit specified in 1977 (and still in effect), requirements were tightened by a factor of 2800. The claimed basis for that large conservatism was a lack of data at low doses, leading to uncertainty about radiation health effects on humans. Based on reports from the National Academy of Sciences subcommittee on the Biological Effect of Ionizing Radiation (BEIR), the EPA rule writers simply assumed that every dose of radiation was hazardous to human health.

The EPA used that assumption to justify setting limits that were quite low, but could be met by the existing technology if it was maintained in a like-new condition for its entire operating life. Since the rule writers assumed that they were establishing a standard that would protect the public from an actual harm, they did not worry about the amount of effort that would be expended in surveys and monitoring to prove compliance. As gleaned from the public webinar questions and answers, EPA representatives do not even ask about compliance costs, because they are only given the responsibility of establishing the general rule; the NRC is responsible for inspections and monitoring enforcement of the standard.

The primary measured human health effects used by the BEIR committee in formulating their regulatory recommendations were determined based on epidemiological studies of atomic bomb survivors. That unique population was exposed to almost instantaneous doses greater than 100 mSv. Based on their interpretation of data from the Life Span Study of atomic bomb victims, which supported a linear relationship between dose and effect in the dose regions available, the BEIR committee recommended a conservative assumption that the linear relationship continued all the way down to a zero dose, zero effect origin.

For the radionuclide emissions limits, the EPA chose numbers that stretch the linear no-threshold dose assumption by applying it to extremely small doses spread to a very large population.

The Kr-85 standard is illustrative of this stretching. It took several hours of digging through the 240-page final environmental impact statement and the nearly 400-page collection of comments and responses to determine exactly what dose the EPA was seeking to limit decades ago, and how much it thought the industry should spend to achieve that protection.

The EPA determined that allowing the industry to continue its then-established practice of venting Kr-85 and allowing that inert gas to disperse posed an unacceptable risk to the world’s population.

It calculated that if no effort was made to contain Kr-85, and the U.S. industry grew to a projected 1000 GW of electricity production by 2000, an industry with full recycling would release enough radioactive Kr-85 gas to cause about 100 cases of cancer each year.

The EPA’s calculation was based on a world population of 5 billion people exposed to an average of 0.0004 mSv/year per individual.

At the time that this analysis was performed, the Barnwell nuclear fuel reprocessing facility was under construction and nearly complete. It had not been designed to contain Kr-85. The facility owners provided an estimate to the EPA that retrofitting a cryogenic capture and storage capability for Kr-85 would cost $44.6 million.

The EPA finessed this exceedingly large cost for tiny assumed benefit by saying that the estimated cost for the Barnwell facility was not representative of what it would cost other facilities that were designed to optimize the cost of Kr-85 capture. It based that assertion on the fact that Exxon Nuclear Fuels was in a conceptual design phase for a reprocessing facility and had determined that it might be able to include Kr-85 capture for less than half of the Barnwell estimate.

GE, the company that built the Midwest Fuel Recovery Plant in Morris, Illinois, provided several comments to the EPA, including one about the low cost-benefit ratio of attempting to impose controls on Kr-85:

Comment: The model used to determine the total population dose should have a cutoff point (generally considered to be less than 0.01 mSv/year) below which the radiation dose to individuals is small enough to be ignored.

In particular, holdup of krypton-85 is not justified since the average total body dose rate by the year 2000 is expected to be only 0.0004 mSv/year.

Response: Radiation doses caused by man’s activities are additive to the natural radiation background of about 0.8-1.0 mSv/year [note: the generally accepted range of background radiation in the mid 1970s, as indicated by other parts of the documents was 0.6 - 3.0 mSv/yr] whole-body dose to which everyone is exposed. It is extremely unlikely that there is an abrupt discontinuity in the dose-effect relationship, whatever its shape or slope. at the dose level represented by the natural background that would be required to justify a conclusion that some small additional radiation dose caused by man’s activities can be considered harmless and may be reasonably ignored.

For this reason, it is appropriate to sum small doses delivered to large population groups to determine the integrated population dose. The integrated population dose may then be used to calculate potential health effects to assist in making judgements on the risk resulting from radioactive effluent releases from uranium fuel cycle facilities, and the reasonableness of costs that would be incurred to mitigate this risk.

Existing Kr-85 rules are thus based on collective doses, and a calculation of risks, that is now specifically discouraged by both national (NCRP) and international (ICRP) radiation protection bodies. It is also based on the assumption of a full-recycle fuel system and 10 times as much nuclear power generating capacity as exists in the United States today.

Since the level specified is applied to the entire nuclear fuel cycle industry in the United States, the 40 CFR 190 ANPR asks the public to comment about the implications of attempting to apply limits to individual facilities. This portion of the discussion is important for molten salt reactor technology that does not include fuel cladding to seal fission product gases, and for fuel cycles that envision on-site recycling using a technology like pyroprocessing instead of transporting used fuel to a centralized facility for recycling.

There are many more facets of the existing rule that are worthy of comment, but one more worth particular attention is the concluding paragraph from the underlying policy for radiation protection, which is found on the last page of the final environmental impact statement:

The linear hypothesis by itself precludes the development of acceptable levels of risk based solely on health considerations. Therefore, in establishing radiation protection positions, the Agency will weigh not only the health impact, but also social, economic, and other considerations associated with the activities addressed.

In 1977, there was no consideration given to the fact that any power that was not generated using a uranium or thorium fuel cycle had a good chance of being generated by a power source producing a much higher level of carbon dioxide. In fact, the EPA in 1977 had not even begun to consider that CO2 was a problem. That “other consideration” must now play a role in any future decision-making about radiation limits or emission limits for radioactive noble gases.

If EPA bureaucrats are constrained to use the recommendations of a duly constituted body of scientists as the basis for writing its regulations, the least they could do before rewriting the rules is to ask the scientific community to determine if the linear no-threshold (LNT) dose response model is still valid. The last BEIR committee report is now close to 10 years old. The studies on which it was based were conducted during an era in which it was nearly impossible to conduct detailed studies of DNA, but that limitation has now been overcome by advances in biotechnology. There is also a well-developed community of specialists in dose response studies that have produced a growing body of evidence supporting the conclusion that the LNT is not “conservative”—it is simply incorrect.

Note: Dose rates from the original documents have been converted into SI units.

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Adams

Adams

Rod Adams is a nuclear advocate with extensive small nuclear plant operating experience. Adams is a former engineer officer, USS Von Steuben. He is the host and producer of The Atomic Show Podcast. Adams has been an ANS member since 2005. He writes about nuclear technology at his own blog, Atomic Insights.

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.

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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.

Nuclear Energy Blogger and Author Carnival 213

ferris wheel 202x201It’s time for the 213th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers and Authors, hosted this week right here at the ANS Nuclear Cafe.  It’s a big week for ANS, with the Annual Meeting going on in Reno… so without any further remarks we’ll dive right in!

 

NewsOK / Robert Bruce Hayes

Beware of Junk Science  -  Robert Hayes reminds us that it’s possible to become afraid of something we don’t really understand, based upon selected facts we’re told to cloud or steer an issue.

———-

Atomic Insights – Rod Adams

Radiation Health Effects for Medical Doctors

Misinformation about radiation health effects does not just affect the nuclear industry and dramatically increase the costs associated with all nuclear energy technologies. It is also having a deleterious effect on the beneficial use of radiation and radioactive materials in medical diagnosis and treatment.


Throughout their training programs, medical doctors have been taught to do everything they can to minimize radiation exposure. This message has become so intense in recent decades that many medical professionals shy away from ordering tests that would help them do their jobs better and provide better patient outcomes.

Atomic Show #216 – Just The Fracks, Ma’am

Greg Kozera is President of the Virginia Oil and Gas Association and is the author of a recently released book entitled “Just the Fracks, Ma’am; The Truth About Hydrofracking and the Next Great American Boom.”  Kozera and Rod Adams discuss energy options, the value of natural gas as a feedstock for material production, and the actions of certain members of the natural gas industry to discourage competitors like coal and nuclear.

———-

Nuke Power Talk / Gail Marcus

Nuclear Engineering Students Among “Most Impressive” at MIT

Gail Marcus was pleased and proud to discover that three nuclear engineering students were profiled in a group of only fourteen students identified as among the most outstanding at MIT last year.  She notes in Nuke Power Talk that this is an impressively high percentage in an already elite group, and she considers this a very positive sign for the future of the nuclear industry.

———-

Forbes / Jim Conca

EPA Hits Nuclear Industry with Kryptonite

EPA’s latest proposed emissions rule for nuclear power plants focuses on a non-issue that has never been a problem; Kr-85.  Kr-85 is a noble gas that cannot react with anything, can’t form chemical compounds or even individual molecules, and can’t enter biological pathways.  Kr-85 can’t do anything but dissipate immediately upon leaving the reactor.

Why on Earth is China Nervous about Plutonium in Japan?

China is nervous about Japan making atomic weapons and has complained to the International Atomic Energy Agency that Japan has over 1,400 pounds of plutonium that it did not report.  This is actually amusing since this Pu cannot be made into weapons.  Also funny is China’s faked outrage.

 

———-

Next Big Future / Brian Wang

China could complete 9 nuclear reactors in the next 7 months

By the end of 2014, the number of reactors in the country is expected
reach 30, bringing the total nuclear capacity to around 27 GWe. In
2015, capacity should reach 36 GWe, as a further eight reactors are
brought online. 18 units are expected to start up within the next two
years, taking nuclear capacity close to the projected 40 GWe figure.

———-

ANS Nuclear Cafe – submitted by Paul Bowersox

Spent Fuel Pool Fire Risk Drops to Zero Months After Shutdown

Rod Adams addresses the real issues that concern operation and maintenance of spent fuel pools at nuclear power plants in this thorough article.  The constant effort on the part of some anti-nuclear activists to make spent fuel pools into a looming threat is dispatched in detail; the realities are presented so that actual risk may be perceived, and once understood, placed in perspective.

Pathfinder – A Path Not Taken

Will Davis presents a history of one of the most unusual commercial nuclear power plants ever built – a boiling water reactor capable of producing highly superheated steam.  The reasons for its failure are explored, as is some not-before-seen history.  For those interested in placing SMR’s at existing power plant sites, this post might be quite interesting – and important.

———-

That’s it for this week’s posts.  Thanks to all of our contributors!

Pathfinder: A Path Not Taken

Pathfinder Atomic Power Plant.  Press photo, Will Davis collection.

Pathfinder Atomic Power Plant. Press photo, Will Davis collection.

by Will Davis

The recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announcement of policy regarding carbon emissions from power plants has triggered a renewed interest in nuclear energy over the past few weeks; along with this of course comes a focus on small modular reactors (SMRs) and their availability for replacing existing fossil-fueled plants or facilities. We have discussed this topic here at ANS Nuclear Cafe before, in terms of the possibility of adding an SMR onto an existing facility—see “The Hook-Ons.”

A major potential stopper in the concept of adding a reactor to an existing generating plant is this: Water-cooled nuclear reactors cannot produce superheated steam—that is, steam that has been boiled from water and that is then heated up even further before being used to run an engine or turbine. Superheating the steam requires more energy (from whatever the fuel source is), but, importantly, drives the efficiency of the power plant up quite a bit overall. Water-cooled plants can’t do this because of the limits of boiling water using either the reactor directly or due to the limits of boiling some water using other water (the pressurized water concept). Yes, some water-cooled reactors do achieve a tiny bit of superheat—but not enough so that the steam plant they’re supplying can be designed for high temperature, dry, superheated steam (“dry steam” has no entrained water droplets). Why is this a problem? Because for many years fossil-fired generating plants have been designed for superheated steam in order to drive up efficiency.

So, one would need to add a superheater fired by fossil fuel (as was done at some early nuclear plants) or else replace the entire power plant (turbine and all) with an SMR nuclear plant, possibly reusing the electric and water infrastructure. It’s a major consideration.

In the early days of atomic energy, the idea of developing a water–cooled reactor that actually could superheat steam (thus avoiding this conundrum) was tossed around quite a lot—the potential advantages were great, but the technical barriers were also enormous. Fuel temperature was the major consideration, because the fuel had to exist in a steam environment that reactor designers normally avoided. However, one reactor was actually built and operated here in the United States that attempted to do just this. The power plant in question was Northern States Power Company’s (NSP) Pathfinder Atomic Power Plant (named after early explorer John C. Fremont, known by Indians as “the path finder”) near Sioux Falls, South Dakota—one of two commercial reactor plants designed by the Allis-Chalmers (A-C) Manufacturing Company.* It is also, unfortunately, possibly the least successful commercial power reactor built in the United States. Pathfinder represents the first, and last, time on U.S. soil that a water–cooled, superheated steam reactor was built for commercial power.

Pathfinder under construction.  Photo - The Atomic Energy Deskbook.

Pathfinder under construction. Photo – The Atomic Energy Deskbook.

Pathfinder was originally contracted in 1957, with A-C acting as the prime contractor; the architect-engineer (Pioneer Service & Engineering Co.) and constructor (Fegles Construction Co. and Power Service Corporation) were responsible to A-C under the arrangement, not to the plant’s owner, NSP. The financing arrangement was typical for early reactors of the day: NSP funded most of the cost (eventually over $30 million) with a consortium of utilities contributing another $3.65 million for R&D costs. The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) contributed another $8 million for R&D and also waived fuel costs for the first five years (a value estimated initially at about $1.8 million)—both under the third round of the Power Demonstration Reactor Program.

As initially conceived, the plant that became Pathfinder was to be a controlled recirculation, direct cycle boiling water reactor—and was referred to frequently in early literature as the CRBR or Controlled Circulation Boiling water Reactor. In 1958 however, A-C began to redesign the plant to remove its original superheater (which would have been fired either on oil or coal—this had not yet been decided) and develop an integrated steam superheater in the actual reactor itself. This would employ a “two region” core—one section of the core would, first, heat up and boil the water; the steam from this section would then reverse course and head down through a central superheating core (of wholly different construction) and then exit the reactor. Below, we see a flow diagram showing the steam system as the plant was redesigned.

Pathfinder flow diagram.  Nuclear Reactor Plant Data, Volume 1 - Power Reactors.  ASME 1959

Pathfinder flow diagram. Nuclear Reactor Plant Data, Volume 1 – Power Reactors. ASME 1959

Construction and testing of Pathfinder proved exceedingly difficult and protracted—in part, no doubt, because of the groundbreaking design of the reactor itself, but also because of the complicated control and indication systems required for the plant. Without getting into deep technical detail, this plant’s control system was made highly complicated by the need to incorporate many automatic protections for the superheater itself, as well as protections against rapid changes in flow or power. It also seems clear in retrospect that A-C’s relatively small and new Atomic Energy Division was in well over its head.

Construction of the plant began in July 1959; at that time, the reactor was expected to attain criticality in May 1962 with full commercial operation expected sometime in the fall of 1962. In fact, construction of the plant was completed in summer of 1962 but the control rod drives and vessel internals were not shipped to the site until October. After this, a drawn-out period of contesting with the AEC over the plant protection and control systems ensued so that the AEC did not even issue a low power operating license to NSP until March 1964; the reactor was made critical on March 24, 1964.

 Pathfinder Core A

Above: A look directly downward at the Pathfinder reactor core. The boiling elements around the exterior of the core surround the superheater at center. This view is only inside the core shroud; outside of this, but of course inside the reactor vessel, were a large number of submerged steam separators—designed to remove entrained steam from water being carried down to the recirculating pumps. Source: Northern States Power Company—Pathfinder Atomic Power Plant Operations Manual, Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company/Atomic Energy Division, Preliminary, December 1961, Will Davis collection.

All of 1965 and 1966 were taken up with low power testing of the reactor and adjustment and modification of varied instrumentation and systems. NSP declared the plant to be in commercial operation August 1, 1966, but in fact the plant was not ready for sustained operation. Finally, in early 1967, the plant briefly achieved 90-percent power; the stage was set for the full power test. Further control problems delayed the test, but it was finally conducted in September—the plant, according to NSP, ran at its full rated power for 30 minutes, and was then to be inspected. This led to the lore about the reactor only ever achieving rated power for a half hour—and this is true, but only to an extent. The truth is below.

The Pathfinder reactor as actually built was designed to develop 203 MWt; the boiler section contributing 164 MWt and the superheater 39 MWt. The turbine generator was rated 66 MWe gross, with a net output of 61.8 MWe. However, the official NSP history states that the full power run of the plant was done at 58 MWe—obviously not the full rating. Only after examining the actual reactor plant manuals do we discover that the initial testing of the plant was planned for a lower superheat temperature (725 °F instead of 825 °F—see the flow diagram) and for a boiler power of 157.4 MWt/superheater power of 31.5 MWt. This was slated to develop (according to the manual) 62.5 MWe gross and 58.5 MWe net. Thus, the storied “only ran at full power for 30 minutes” is actually “only ran at its reduced, initial operation parameters for 30 minutes.” The reactor never did achieve its designed operating full power of 203 MWt.

Pathfinder Core BLeft, side view of the Pathfinder core. The boiler elements were constructed with low enriched uranium, but the superheater elements (originally planned for about 20% enrichment) were actually constructed with 93% enriched uranium. The reactor had both boiler and superheater control rods—but the superheater rods did not move on a scram; instead, they moved in at normal speed on “runback.” The superheater had to have steam flow in order to maintain cooling—and this led to much further complication on loss of steam flow (turbine trip, etc.) to ensure steam still flowed through the superheater long enough to cool it safely.

After the full power run was completed, the reactor was disassembled partly for examination and removal of some poison shims. Alarmingly, it was seen that the bottom ends of the steam separators around the reactor core had suffered “gross failure,” and the superheater elements’ seven and a half thousandths of an inch thick cladding was suffering high erosion. Further, during the shutdown the main condenser tubes had leaked, and some contamination had spread to the secondary plant. NSP had seen enough; in November, just two months after the 30-minute full power test (which came about five years after originally planned) it decided to shut down the plant permanently and decommission the reactor.

Statements by NSP officials in the company’s official history place most of the blame for the failure of the plant on the incorporation of the superheater, saying that it was the expense of including this design that doomed the plant. One wonders if the tipping point, indeed, had been the decision almost a decade earlier to “grab the brass ring,” and go for superheating in the reactor itself. What’s clear is that this was the only time this was attempted on U.S. soil in a commercial power reactor (another quite different boiler-superheater reactor was operated briefly in Puerto Rico, under AEC auspices and designed by General Nuclear Engineering/Combustion Engineering, and also led to no further progress).

Pathfinder post card, Will Davis collection.

Pathfinder post card, Will Davis collection.

The Pathfinder plant was written off by NSP in 1968; it was converted to a fossil fired peaker plant known as Pathfinder Peaking Plant. The isolated nuclear steam supply system was placed in SAFSTOR until 1991–1992 when decommissioning was performed; the peaking plant operated until summer 2000 when the cooling tower collapsed during severe weather. At that time, the plant’s owner, which by this time was Xcel Energy, decided to completely decommission the entire former Pathfinder plant. The Angus Anson Generating Station is immediately adjacent to the former Pathfinder site.

The silver lining of this whole affair? Well, for superheating reactors there was none. But for NSP, there was—company officials directly credit their long experience with Pathfinder as having contributed materially to their nuclear staff, their nuclear safety culture, and their successful construction and operation of Monticello and Prairie Island nuclear stations with little problem. In that sense, Pathfinder actually did live up to its name.

We find ourselves, today, far removed from Pathfinder, and the other nuclear superheating experiments (principally the ESADA superheat reactor, BORAX-V and BONUS in Puerto Rico) and so it’s no surprise that they’re largely forgotten. What we glean from learning about them is that the seemingly perfect direct match of a superheated steam producing reactor and an already built steam plant can’t be achieved, at least not with water-cooled reactors as are employed at the vast majority of the world’s nuclear generating stations today and as are planned under the Department of Energy’s SMR program as presently envisioned—although other programs exist to develop, for example, high temperature gas cooled reactors. This will be important to explain to the general public, who may either wish to see a wide deployment of nuclear energy to replace GHG-emitting sources, or on the other hand may be afraid of nuclear energy and thus could be desirous of more, and better, information.

*  The other was Dairyland Power Co-Operative’s Genoa No. 2 unit, known better in nuclear circles as the LaCrosse Boiling Water Reactor. A third reactor, the Elk River Reactor, fell under A-C’s control when ACF Industries sold its nuclear business to A-C in 1959. As a matter of interest, A-C also bought most of ALCO Products’ nuclear business in 1962. A-C announced it was exiting the nuclear business (except for providing support to projects still underway) on March 25, 1966, citing serious doubt that it would become profitable in the foreseeable future.

______________________

Sources:

• Northern States Power Company—Pathfinder Atomic Power Plant Operating Manual, Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Company 1961 (multiple volumes)

• “The Energy to Make Things Better”—An Illustrated History of Northern States Power Company.  Northern States Power Company, 1999.

• Nuclear Reactor Plant Data, Volume 1—Power Reactors, 1959.  American Society of Mechanical Engineers. McGraw-Hill, New York, 1959.

• Pathfinder Decommissioning Plan, Xcel Energy, February 2004.

(All items above in Will Davis collection; many thanks to Ray Dennis.)

———-

For more information:

Pathfinder was partially funded by the AEC under the Power Demonstration Reactor Program. Read about that program here.

The recent EPA announcement stirred a fury of attention for nuclear power. The path forward is not something that can be immediately established, and doesn’t include a whole lot of easy answers. Read about the path forward here.

______________________

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 210

ferris wheel 202x201The 210th Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers and Authors has been posted at Atomic Power Review.  You can click here to access this latest entry in a long running tradition among the top English language pro-nuclear bloggers and authors.

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.

ANS Historic Landmark N.S. SAVANNAH Hosts Gala Weekend

NS Savannah, Baltimore, May 17, 2014

NS Savannah, Baltimore, May 17, 2014

by Will Davis

The weekend of May 17–18, 2014, saw a beehive of activity on board the beautiful nuclear powered ship N.S. Savannah, docked now in Baltimore. The ship was being prepared on May 18  for open public touring—a rare event indeed for this ship that is still a Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensed facility—in commemoration of National Maritime Day (which actually is May 22.) To this end, the ship was abuzz with workers from the U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) and its ever-present Ship’s Master, Erhard Koehler, as well as workers from other organizations and, of course, the N.S. Savannah Association (NSSA), which works with MARAD to preserve and restore the ship.

SavannahANSPlaqueThe ship was designated as a Nuclear Historic Landmark by the American Nuclear Society in 1991 while a part of the small fleet at Patriots Point Naval Museum, Charleston, S.C. Since that time, the ship has moved to a number of locations (including for some time the James River Reserve Fleet) before finally ending up at the pier in Baltimore where she now sits, being actively repaired and restored by MARAD and NSSA with an eventual view towards completion of the nuclear decommissioning of the ship in 2031. This process will only remove and dispose of such parts of the power plant as are necessary (for example, the reactor vessel) while keeping the rest of the ship intact.

SavannahCaptainStateroom

Captain’s Stateroom, N.S. Savannah. This stateroom was restored using funds obtained by the N.S. Savannah Association, and had been in serious disrepair for many years.

The condition of the ship improves quite steadily as time goes on. This doesn’t just mean paint where it’s needed and cleaning often; it means active restoration of the many and varied spaces on the ship, slowly over time—even as preparations continue for the decommissioning work. One notable status change for one of the spaces on the ship came when Erhard Koehler designated passenger stateroom A17 as the new on board office space for the N.S. Savannah Association.

SavannahNSSAleadersA17Here, we see NSSA Chairman Jay Tarzia (right) and NSSA President Bob Moody (left) in former passenger stateroom A17 on board the ship. NSSA operates the gift shop on board (located in the original ship’s store) and so must store items on board the ship to replenish stock; A17 serves that purpose. In addition, materials donated to NSSA on board the ship are kept here as well as other items owned by the association either for preservation or operation of displays or sales. As can be seen at the edge of the photo, the original lamps are still in place in A17 (as is the original sleeper couch.) A17 was a three-person stateroom.

SavannahNSSAofficeA17

Much original decor remains in stateroom A17. The two headboards of the passenger bunks (now gone) are visible, as is the nightstand between the bunks. The stand features a pull out drawer and underside rack. Above this can be seen a gold control box; this box has buttons to select from the four-track on board music system, a volume control, and a steward call button. Many of these throughout the ship still have power.

Some staterooms on board the ship have been completely restored and are on the tour route, as seen here.  The room dividers are of many different styles.

Some staterooms on board the ship have been completely restored and are on the tour route, as seen here. The room dividers are of many different styles.

Some spaces on the ship are partially restored, with the rest being original.  The main dining room is one such example - the carpet is original.  NSSA has found the manufacturer and is in the process of determining if exact replacement can be found or made.

Some spaces on the ship are partially restored, with the rest being original. The main dining room is one such example – the carpet is original. NSSA has found the manufacturer and is in the process of determining if exact replacement can be found or made.

The ship was in a complete state of readiness by the time tours began at 10 AM on Sunday. Visitors received a safety briefing on the pier prior to being allowed access to the ship; while on board, visitors were permitted to tour freely and were assisted by personnel from various organizations, including MARAD and NSSA.

On Sunday, select groups of passengers were taken to the control room by NSSA Event Coordinator Bucky Owens - himself a former reactor operator on the ship.  These spaces are not normally toured by the public.  This photo (actually taken May 17) shows the vertical portion of the reactor control section of the console.

On Sunday, select groups of passengers were taken to the control room by NSSA Event Coordinator Bucky Owens – himself a former reactor operator on the ship. These spaces are not normally toured by the public. This photo (taken May 17) shows the vertical portion of the reactor control section of the console.

SavannahNIcabinetDIt may be a surprise to those interested to learn that much of the instrumentation and control equipment remains intact; this is located aft of the control room and is in spaces not visible from the viewing gallery around the engine room.

At left, we see a nuclear instrument cabinet manufactured by Westinghouse. Westinghouse provided the nuclear instrumentation for the ship, as well as the reactor protection equipment, under contract to Babcock & Wilcox (which built the nuclear steam supply system.) This equipment uses magnetic amplifiers—a term rapidly losing its significance in a generation that is seeing not only digital microprocessor equipment but flat screen type displays as well.

SavannahSTBDsteamfeedflowAlso found aft of the control room are a large number of Bailey Meter Co. recorders, such as the one seen at left. These can track one, two, or more parameters on a single circular chart using different colored ink markers; this example, which measures starboard steam generator steam flow and feed flow, used red for steam flow and blue for feed flow. The last time the reactor was operated was November 1970, when the ship was moved to Galveston for defueling, and the partially visible date on this chart correlates. Dozens of blanks for these Bailey Meter Co. fluid indicators were found intact in the I&C (instrumentation and control) work shop on the ship.

A number of ceremonies occurred on Sunday on the ship including the official MARAD National Maritime Day Observance Ceremony (in which NSSA’s Christie Moody participated) as well as a ceremony in the Eisenhower Room dedicating a plaque to the late NSSA founding member Wayne Britz, in which NSSA’s President Bob Moody and board of directors member Bruce Muntz, as well as MARAD’s Erhard Koehler, delivered speeches and comments.

SavannahTopside

Sunday’s open house also featured a large number of pier displays and activities, including remote-controlled boats, a model of the first working steam-propelled boat (with a grasshopper–style steam engine), and many display tents. Hundreds of local citizens, Naval cadets, and officers and sailors toured the ship on Sunday.

The weekend was considered a complete success by all involved, and once again the N.S. Savannah was able to show her distinctive and unique beauty.

For more information:

Click here to see the article we did last year, showing many more spaces inside the ship including the dining room, the bridge, the engine room, and more.

Click here to access the site for the N.S. Savannah Association – donating here is the only way the general public can help save this ship.. for now!

Footnote….

SavannahWillandRod

It’s pretty unusual to find more than one nuclear blogger in one spot, but on Sunday we nearly reached critical mass. On the left, Will Davis, in uniform as Ship’s Docent and NSSA Communications Director; on the right, Rod Adams. This was taken in the Veranda; the colored wine rack behind the bar represents the Trilinear Chart of the Nuclides. Photo courtesy Rod Adams.

____________________________________

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. 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, is secretary of the board of directors of PopAtomic Studios, and writes his own popular blog Atomic Power Review. Davis is a former US Navy reactor operator, qualified on S8G and S5W plants.

Florida ANS Students Steal Show at Turkey Point Siting Hearing

Florida governor Rick Scott and his cabinet met on May 13 for the final state-level site selection determination for new AP1000 nuclear reactors planned to be built at the Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station in southern Florida. The hearing was well-attended by opponents and supporters.

In attendance were the Energy Information Center “student army”—including nine nuclear engineering students from the University of Florida who spoke in favor of the plant. They are all members of the American Nuclear Society’s Student Section at the university. The students are Madison Martin, Jitesh Kuntawala, Patrick Moo, Joseph Cashwell, Logan Blohm, Lucianne Behar, Hernan Godoy, Jonathan Rosales, and Nicolas Silva.

“They were very effective,” said Jerry Paul, director of the Energy Information Center. “In fact, they somewhat stole the show. I counted six times when another speaker (including the governor) made reference to them.”

The students stood as a group and provided testimony in support of the new reactors. Most moving to the audience were the following comments:

“Our generation is the future of clean energy and the future of our economy. New nuclear energy supply is essential to both… nuclear energy means jobs… This is attractive to students who graduate college and look for jobs that can help them get a start (especially those of us who have student loans to pay off!). These nuclear plants represent the future employment of engineers like us.”

UF students with Attorney General Pam Bondi, Governor Rick Scott, Commissioner Adam Putnam, CFP Jeff Atwater

UF students with Attorney General Pam Bondi, Governor Rick Scott, Commissioner Adam Putnam, and CFO Jeff Atwater

The governor and cabinet ultimately voted unanimously to approve the site selection for the reactors.

Congratulations to these fine students on a job well done.

Students Capitol 5-13-14 ac 270x360

UF students with Jerry Paul

World Nuclear News has more on the story today: Turkey Point expansion gets Florida state approval.

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jerry paul 2 100x124Jerry Paul is a nuclear engineer, attorney, and former member of the Florida legislature. He was principal deputy administrator of the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration and was the Distinguished Fellow for Energy Policy at the University of Tennessee Howard Baker Center for Public Policy. He is director of the Energy Information Center.

Nuclear Energy Blogger Carnival 208

ferriswheel 201x268It’s time for the 208th Carnival of Nuclear Energy, and ANS Nuclear Cafe is proud to host the event!

Every week, the top English-language pro-nuclear bloggers and authors get together to present their top stories of that week.  That means that by following the Carnival wherever it goes, you can stay on top of the most important stories, issues and concerns.  Let’s see this week’s!

Forbes – Jim Conca

Nuclear Waste Leak Traced To…  Kitty Litter?

The recent news of a radioactive waste incident at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant has now been tempered by the revelation that an attempt to “go green” may have been responsible for the leak.  Jim Conca explains.

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Next Big Future – Brian Wang

Nuclear power makes up 60% of the power that does not emit carbon dioxide

http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/05/nuclear-power-in-us-makes-up-60-of.html

Time, Distance and Shielding - Radiation protection factors of
buildings are like the SPF of sunscreen

http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/05/time-distance-and-shielding-and.html

Help fund this project and have a chance to shock the world with
massively lower energy costs.

http://nextbigfuture.com/2014/05/this-project-could-reduce-energy-costs.html

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The Hiroshima Syndrome - Les Corrice

The “Fall Back” for Japan’s Press on a Slow Fukushima News Week

It’s been a relatively slow week for negative Fukushima news reporting. But, the Press can always fall back on the exploitation of the angry…the frightened…the uncertain…the doubtful. The Japan Times has done just that.

http://www.hiroshimasyndrome.com/fukushima-commentary.html

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ANS Nuclear Cafe

Save Vermont Yankee – If Not You, Who?  If Not Now, When?

There is a safe, reliable, 650 MWe power plant with a low, predictable fuel cost – pending closing in Vermont.  Recently extensively refurbished, in a region with very tight generating capacity.  Licensed to operate through 2032.  Rod Adams notes that mothballing a plant like this seems insane, and asks if there’s a way to prevent it.

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Yes Vermont Yankee – Meredith Angwin

With Vermont Yankee scheduled to close, Meredith Angwin at Yes Vermont Yankee has two posts about a possible employee buyout.  Such a buyout was proposed by Rod Adams. In Saving Vermont Yankee: Rod Adams Moves Forward,
http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2014/05/saving-vermont-yankee-rod-adams-moves.html#.U20CjSiTT9Q, Angwin has an upbeat description of Adams work and plans for such a buyout.
In Employee Ownership
http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2014/05/employee-ownership.html#.U20C6SiTT9Q Angwin describes the financial and political issues that oppose such a plan.   The truth is probably somewhere between these two posts!

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Atomic Insights – Rod Adams

B&W mPower cover story about lack of interest is bogus

During a call with investors, Jim Ferland, the company CEO announced that spending on the mPower reactor development project would be slashed by approximately 75%. The official explanation was that the company had failed in its effort to find major investors. The underlying impression given, perhaps purposely, was that SMRs were not attracting customer interest and were thus just an expensive distraction to keep nuclear-focused development teams busy.

That cover story leaves out a lot of details. Rod Adams fills in some of the missing details of a developing story.

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Nuke Power Talk – Gail Marcus

Food Irradiation

Gail Marcus provides some updates on the food irradiation issue at Nuke Power Talk.  She makes note of both the good news (the recent approval for the irradiation of crustaceans), and the bad news (the length of time it took to obtain that approval and the continuing opposition to food irradiation).  She also draws analogies with the acceptance of pasteurization of milk a century ago, and shares her discovery of a retail source for irradiated ground beef.

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That’s it for this week’s Carnival.  Thanks to all of our contributors!

Nuclear Energy Blogger Carnival 207

ferris wheel 202x201The 207th Carnival of Nuclear Energy has been posted at Next Big Future.  You can click here to access this latest post in a long running tradition among the top English language pro-nuclear bloggers and authors.

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.