TVA to test MOX fuel
The Tennessee Valley Authority will consider using MOX fuel in its Sequoyah and Browns Ferry plants. The National Nuclear Security Administration announced today that it has signed an interagency agreement with TVA to evaluate the use of mixed oxide (MOX) fuel.
TVA will have to submit a license change for the plant to the NRC to carry out the work. The agreement is the next step is the implementation of the government’s efforts to burn plutonium from surplus nuclear weapons in commercial nuclear power plants. NNSA says the MOX fuel will be as cheap or cheaper than conventional nuclear fuel.
“The MOX program is an important example of this administration’s commitment to irreversibly disposing of surplus nuclear weapons material in a way that realizes the energy value of the material and advances our nuclear nonproliferation agenda,” National Nuclear Security Administration Deputy Administrator Ken Baker said. (press release)
The MOX fuel plant being built at Savannah River, SC, will convert 34 tons of the stuff to MOX fuel. It is expected to be operational in 2016. The plant is being built by a partnership of The Shaw Group and Areva.
The paradox of anti-nuclear sentiments is that green groups appear to have a reflex opposition to anything nuclear even if it means ridding the world of nuclear weapons materials.
“This sends the wrong signal around the world and creates a potentially dangerous and risky program at these TVA plants,” said Tom Clements, the Southeastern Nuclear Campaign Coordinator for Friends of the Earth.
Around the world nearly three dozen nuclear reactors already burn MOX fuel with 20 of the reactors in France, ten in Germany, and others in Japan.
MOX Fuel Approved For Japan’s Fukushima-Daiichi-3
22 Feb (NucNet) The governor of Japan’s Fukushima prefecture is to approve the use of mixed oxide (MOX) fuel at the Fukushima-Daiichi-3 nuclear unit, owned and operated the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO).
Governor Yuhei Sato said at the Fukushima Prefectural Assembly on Feb 16 that he intended to approve the use of MOX fuel at the boiling water reactor (BWR) unit, paving the way for the program to continue after a nearly decade-long hiatus. In Japan local governments have de facto veto power over start-up of nuclear power stations.
The action will bring to a close a decade old black mark on the industry. The Japanese government granted approval in 1999 to change the reactor installation, but the program was suspended in 2002 after the utility was found to have falsified records at the plant, which has six BWR units.
Build breeders - Blees
The United States has the technology and fuel to provide electrical power for a thousand years, but lacks the political will to build nuclear breeder reactors,
Leonard J. Koch, an engineer who worked on a breeder reactor at Argonne National Lab, said breeder reactors are more efficient because they consume uranium and spent nuclear fuel, thus extending the fuel supply and significantly eliminating the disposal problem.
The speakers noted that the Obama Administration has awarded $8.5 billion in loan guarantees for a nuclear plant in Georgia. However, they added it is aimed at conventional LWR reactors. The issues that are still open are long-term fuel supply and waste disposal.
Koch said the problem is that power companies are afraid of the uncertainties of developing breeder reactors, and stockholders will not back such projects. Koch and Blees said President Carter stopped breeder reactor development in the 1970s and President Clinton followed suit in the 1990s.
Blees said breeder reactors are being built by France, Russia, China and India, and those countries are seeking to create a consortium, along with the U.S., to build breeder reactors.
Favoring Nuclear ‘Does Not Mean Being Against Renewables’
15 Feb (NucNet) The nuclear industry must make it clear to the public that it is possible to be in favor of nuclear energy while also supporting wind power and carbon capture and storage, a conference heard today.
Environmentalist Stephen Tindale (left) told PIME (the conference on Public Information Materials Exchange) in Budapest that the industry has made a mistake in sending out the message that you have to support one or the other.
Mr Tindale, former head of Greenpeace UK and co-founder of the website Climate Answers said the industry also needed to be more transparent about the cost of nuclear energy.
“The fact is that people distrust the industry, not the technology,” he said. “We need to be open about the full cost of nuclear, including construction, generation, decommissioning, waste and insurance.”
He said environmentalists were shifting to nuclear energy because of concern about climate change. “Nuclear is not zero carbon, but it is low,” he said. “It produces about 10% (lifecycle) of the CO2 of old coal power stations.”
Mr Tindale told NucNet in an interview in October 2009 that people need to stop arguing about which is the best of the low-carbon options and accept that we need to pursue all of them, including nuclear, and pay for all of them, and that it won’t be cheap.
Sweden plans for 10 new reactors
19 Feb (NucNet) The Swedish government has put forward a draft law that would allow the construction of 10 new nuclear units in the country to replace existing units as they are shut down.
The proposed law scraps a previous ban against building new nuclear reactor units, revoking a 1980 referendum decision to phase out nuclear energy.
Any new reactors would be built on the three current nuclear plant sites in Sweden, which has 10 reactor units in commercial operation.
It would be up to the power companies to decide on the size of the new reactors. The draft law does not put any limit on the size.
The draft law also proposes quadrupling the sum owners of nuclear reactors should pay in damages in case of an accident.
At present reactor owners are obliged to cover costs of up to 3 billion kronor (about 415 million US dollars, 233 million euro), but the sum would be increased to 12 billion kronor, according to the government's proposal.
The government said reactor owners should sign up to a mutual insurance system, noting that this is in place in other countries.
The measure could become law on 1 August 2010, although the energy spokesman for the opposition Social Democratic Party said yesterday that the red-green coalition – the Social Democratic Party, Left Party and the Green Party – still wants to phase out nuclear power and if it wins a September 2010 general election would abolish the new law.
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