After a one-two punch of an earthquake and a hurricane, some news almost slipped away
China Completes Post-Fukushima Safety Tests
11 Aug (NucNet): China has completed safety inspections of its nuclear power plants, raising the possibility that work could resume on an ambitious reactor building program that was suspended in the wake of the March 2011 accident at Fukushima-Daiichi in Japan.
According to a notice published on the website of the China Nuclear Energy Association (CNEA) today, safety inspectors completed a tour of the country's existing reactors and nuclear construction sites on 5 August 2011.
Ling Ao Unit 2 RPV, Photo: World Nuclear News
The CNEA said inspections had been carried out by a team of 50 experts and in line with International Atomic Energy Agency safety standards.
Particular attention had been paid to “serious accident prevention and mitigation” including the possibility of flooding and seismic activity.
China suspended all new reactor approvals and ordered a halt to the construction of nuclear facilities on 16 March 2011, five days after the Fukushima-Daiichi accident.
China has 14 nuclear units in commercial operation and 27 under construction.
On 7 August 2011, the second unit at phase two of the Lingao nuclear power plant in southern China began commercial operation.
The Lingao site is about one kilometre northeast of the Guangdong nuclear site, also known as Daya Bay, with which it shares a number of facilities.
China Guangdong Nuclear Power Company said the total combined gross capacity of the two plants is now 6,108 MW (5,764 MW net), jointly making Lingao-Guangdong the largest nuclear plant site in China.
Saskatchewan And Hitachi In Research Agreements For Small Reactor Technologies
26 Aug (NucNet): Canada’s Saskatchewan province has signed two nuclear research and development agreements with Hitachi-GE, GEH and Hitachi to include work on the design and feasibility of small reactor technologies.
Some 10 million Canadian dollars of funding (about 10 million US dollars; 7 million euro) for two memoranda of understanding (MOUs) relating to the project were announced yesterday by Saskatchewan innovation minister Rob Norris, Hiroto Uozumi, president of Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy Ltd., and Taiji Yoshida, general manger of Hitachi Ltd.
The MOUs will facilitate and support research collaborations in nuclear medicine, materials science, nuclear safety and small reactor design.
Mr Norris said the move followed an announcement earlier this year of a new research Center for nuclear medicine and materials science at the University of Saskatchewan. “Today, I'm pleased to announce a new partnership with Hitachi Ltd., Hitachi-GE Nuclear Energy Ltd. (Hitachi-GE), GE-Hitachi Nuclear Energy Americas LLC (GEH), and Global Nuclear Fuel - Americas LLC (GNF-A), to further establish Saskatchewan as a leader in nuclear science and medicine.”
Nuclear safety will be another major research priority as Hitachi and Innovation Saskatchewan, a special operating agency of the province, consider research proposals pursuant to the MOUs. Mr Norris said another area of interest to Saskatchewan, Hitachi-GE, GEH and GNF-A is research into the reclamation of unused uranium fuel rods.
Under the MOUs, Innovation Saskatchewan will also work with Hitachi-GE, GEH and GNF-A on research into the design and feasibility of small reactor technologies although Mr Norris said any decision on whether to pursue nuclear power in Saskatchewan was “still many years away”.
Nuclear Energy Will Be ‘Locomotive’ To Drive India’s Development, Says PM
Manmohan Singh said yesterday he remained convinced that nuclear would play an "important role in our quest for a clean and environmentally friendly energy mix".
Speaking at the country’s Saha Institute of Nuclear Physics in Kolkata, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary, Mr Singh added: "We are in the process of expanding our civil nuclear energy program. Even as we do so, we have to ensure that the use of nuclear energy in India meets the highest safety standards. This is a matter on which there can be no compromise."
According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, India has 20 nuclear power plant units in commercial operation and five units under construction.
Earlier this year, India’s government said it planned to create an "independent and autonomous" body, to be known as the Nuclear Regulatory Authority of India, to subsume the country’s existing regulator, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.
‘Megatons To Megawatts’ Program Nears Conversion Goal
25 Aug (NucNet): USEC said yesterday that some 425 metric tonnes of highly-enriched uranium (HEU) has now been converted into fuel for US commercial nuclear power plants under the US-Russia ‘megatons to megawatts’ program.
USEC said the HEU was equivalent to eliminating 17,000 nuclear warheads.
Megatons to megawatts is a 20-year commercially financed government-industry partnership under which 500 metric tonnes of Russian weapons-grade uranium is being down blended to low enriched uranium for use as commercial reactor fuel.
USEC president and chief executive officer John Welch said: “Under this program, we have built a strong long-term relationship with our Russian partners, which we expect to continue through our new enrichment supply contract starting in 2013 after the megatons to megawatts program is successfully finished.”
USEC, as executive agent for the US government, and Techsnabexport, acting for the Russian government, implement the program, which is on track to complete the down blending of the equivalent of 20,000 nuclear warheads into nuclear fuel by the end of 2013.
Details of the initiative are on USEC’s website: http://www.usec.com
USEC Still Waits For Decision On Enrichment Plant Loan Guarantee
19 Aug (NucNet): USEC has amended an existing agreement with investors Toshiba and Babcock & Wilcox concerning plans to build the American Centrifuge uranium enrichment plant in Ohio.
The move allows USEC more time to obtain a commitment from the US Department of Energy (DOE) for a 2 billion US dollars (USD) (1.3 billion euro) loan guarantee to build the plant.
The existing agreement was valid until the end of July 2011, but has now been extended until 30 September 2011, USEC said on 15 August 2011.
USEC said the amended agreement provides time for it to finalize “a conditional commitment” with the DOE for the loan guarantee to support the construction of the centrifuge plant and “finalize the second phase of Toshiba and B&W’s investment in USEC”.
Japan To Continue With Plans For Two Units In Vietnam
12 Aug (NucNet): Japan will continue with plans to support Vietnam by building two nuclear reactor units in the country.
The decision was confirmed after a meeting of Japan’s state secretary for foreign affairs, Chiaki Takahashi, and Vietnamese deputy prime minister Hoang Trung Hai in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi on Thursday.
The governments of the two countries reached an agreement in October 2010 for Japan to build two reactor units with the first beginning commercial operation by 2021.
Vietnam’s initial nuclear plans are for four nuclear units in the southeastern province of Ninh Thuan.
An agreement has already been signed with Russia to build the first two units, with Japan scheduled to build the second two.
The agreement with Russia provides for the construction on a turnkey basis of two nuclear units, each of 1,000 megawatts.
According to the Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF), Vietnam plans to build 14 units by 2030 to meet the country's growing demand for electricity.
Japan’s prime minister Naoto Kan has called for Japan to reduce its dependence on nuclear power generation.
But Japan's government has decided to honour contracts for nuclear plants that have already been signed or are under negotiation, JAIF said.
Japan Confirms Plans For New Nuclear Regulator
15 Aug (NucNet): The Japanese government has announced plans to create a new nuclear safety agency under the Environment Ministry.
This will free the country’s national regulator – the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, or NISA – from the influence of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).
The plans call for the new agency to be established in April 2012 by integrating NISA and the Cabinet Office’s Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC).
The decision to separate NISA from METI was first proposed in a 750-page report into the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear accident published in June 2011, three months after the accident.
The report said it was unclear at the time of the accident exactly who had ultimate authority for nuclear safety. NISA is the regulator, but it is a division of METI. That means NISA – which supervises the safety of nuclear energy – is overseen by the ministry that promotes nuclear energy.
To make the new agency independent from METI, the government said it would be established under the Environment Ministry, which does not have close ties to nuclear energy companies.
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