Saturday, June 11, 2011

Find the future of fission after Fukushima

Young people entering the nuclear energy field retain their idealism about it

haphazardLet’s say that here in June 2011 you are 22 years old and have just graduated from a four-year nuclear engineering program with your B.S. in hand and are looking at the future of the industry. What you want is a job and respect for the work you do.

What you see is a workforce top heavy with people your parents’ age who are about to retire. That’s actually good news because every one of those retirements is a job opening in an otherwise dismal economy.

On the other hand, what you also see is the rickety shape of the industry with aging plants, early closures, and the governors of several states determined to shut down major sources of their electricity supply because it comes from nuclear plants.

The other thing you see is the growing legacy of now three major nuclear accidents affecting public opinion. Finally, what you also get as a 20 something are date nights where your companion for the evening rolls their eyes when you tell them what you plan to do with your life. Hey, whatever happened to plans for a career in something with less excess baggage?

Nukes never walk alone

Does anyone out there care about this? The answer turns out to be yes. An organization called North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NAYGN) has 90 local chapters in North America with 7,000 members. Recently, several people who work with the organization spoke with nuclear bloggers during the monthly conference call with Areva.


First, according to these NAYGN members, young people entering the nuclear energy field remain committed to educating the public about the industry. According to NAYGN, which keeps track of such things, the organization rolled up 84,000 hours of volunteer time of which 36,000 hours were related to communication and outreach about Fukushima.

The group is also running training programs for its members in the soft skills of public speaking, media communication, and dealing with widespread public misperceptions about radiation.

Here we go again

On the other hand, it is completely understandable that young people are frustrated with what the current global leadership of the industry has done to it. The public now looks at nuclear energy and ticks off the three major nuclear accidents – Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima like they were three manifestations of the devil incarnate. Anti-nuclear groups produce an outpouring of online content saying that another “Fukushima” is inevitable and that all nuclear reactors should be closed permanently and right now.

second thoughtsAfter watching what’s happening in Germany and Switzerland, where nukes are being closed despite engineering practices that are among the best in the world, is it any wonder that NAYGN members might be having second thoughts about they chosen field?

So their legitimate question as more news comes out of Fukushima on lessons learned is “how many times does the industry have to make the same mistakes?” By this they are referring to a lack of independence for the nuclear regulatory function and taking probabilistic risk seriously among other things.

The accident that launched 1,000 reports

It may not be immediately reassuring to NAYGN members, but the nuclear industry is pedal to the metal to get on top of what happened at Fukushima and figure out what went wrong, why, and how to prevent another accident like it.

For instance, a report by the government of Japan to the IAEA on lessons learned so far about the Fukushima accident indicates the need for more independence for the nuclear regulatory agency and better emergency preparedness for reactors in earthquake zones.

And that’s not the only effort taking place to figure out what went wrong and how to make sure it doesn’t happen again. The OECD hosted a meeting June 8 of nuclear regulatory agencies among G8 nations. Not surprisingly, the meeting concluded that while technical cooperation was useful, responsibility and accountability for nuclear safety rests with plant operators.

NEI’s Way Forward

In the U.S. the Nuclear Energy Institute and several industry organizations are coordinating their efforts to respond to the Fukushima crisis. What’s driving the effort is a realization that the response of the U.S. industry to the crisis in Fukushima was haphazard and lacked coordination among responding organizations. (NY Times 6/10/11)

A white paper posted on the NEI web site lays out an ambitious agenda for the project. It includes seven “building blocks.”

  1. Maintain focus on excellence in existing plant performance.
  2. Develop and issue lessons learned from Fukushima events.
  3. Improve the effectiveness of U.S. industry response capability to global nuclear events
  4. Develop and implement a strategic communications plan.
  5. Develop and implement the industry’s regulatory response.
  6. Participate and coordinate with international organizations.
  7. Provide technical support and R&D coordination.

Two key goals that drove the design of this “joint leadership model” are to ensure that no gaps exist in response activities and that there is not a duplication of effort among the organizations and companies that comprise the industry, said Tony Pietrangelo, NEI’s senior vice president and chief nuclear officer.

Pietrangelo unveiled the structure at a news conference with Charles Pardee, who chairs the Fukushima Response Steering Committee. Pardee is the chief operating officer for Exelon Generation Co. Other organizations involved in the effort include the Electric Power Research Institute and the Institute for Nuclear Power Operations.

ANS conference sessions on Fukushima

At the American Nuclear Society National Meeting, to be held in Hollywood, FL, June 26-30, there will be two special sessions on Fukushima. The first to be held Monday June 27, which will focus on the latest update and lessons learned in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.

Speakers from industry, government, and Japan will focus on the events sequence, major issues, challenges, media interactions, and lessons learned to date.

The panel moderator will be Joe Colvin (President, American Nuclear Society), and panelists will include:

  • Akira Omoto (Commissioner, Japan Atomic Energy Commission–Japan)
  • Dale Klein (University of Texas, Austin)
  • Michael Weber (U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

A second session Tuesday June 28 will be chaired by former ANS President Andrew Kadak and include a similar list of expert panelists. Topics expected to be addressed include the accident sequence, challenges faced by the operating staff, reactor and fuel damage mechanisms, environmental impacts, and emergency response.

Topics that are likely to be discussed at both sessions include;

  • Boiling water reactor technologies
  • Analyses of how nuclear accidents occur
  • Health effects of radiation exposure
  • Nuclear regulatory issues
  • Risk Communication

Can we talk?

There’s no word yet whether all these studies, panels, and industry teams are going to work together. Tony Kauffman, a media relations specialist at the Nuclear Energy Institute, told this blog he’s not aware of any engagement so far among the different projects. There should be. Otherwise, things will likely continue to be “haphazard.” That’s not going to encourage young people to enter the nuclear energy field nor stay in it.

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Friday, June 10, 2011

NRC IG Report – Jaczko withheld information on Yucca

WSJ cites an “unflattering portrait” of the NRC and its leader

truck stuckThe strange journey of the fate of the troubled Yucca Mountain spend fuel geologic storage site took along bizarre twist this week.

What's new is an NRC Inspector General report that revealed some insights about about NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko and his decision to terminate NRC's review of the license application for the repository

The situation now looks a lot like that of a truck driver who ignored signs about a bridge with low clearance. There are some things you just can’t do, even in Washington, without getting into a tight spot.

The Inspector General of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) released a report to Congress that says NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko “strategically withheld” information from the other NRC commissioners in an effort to advance his agenda to halt work on the project.

According to media summaries of the leaked IG’s review in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, Jaczko issued controversial budget guidance to his staff to stop the work and brushed off complaints from other commissioners about it. The WSJ also spent some time reviewing the IG’s notes on Jaczko’s management style which is harshly described in a review of how well he works with others. Apparently, he does not.

According to the WSJ, the IG report says Mr. Jaczko's colleagues are sometimes "uncertain" whether he keeps them "adequately informed" on policy matters, and portrays the chairman as controlling.

The NRC IG report was posted online by the Republican members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

Jaczko’s political patronage

Jaczko, who got the job as NRC Chairman with the support of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), is widely assumed to have had just one thing on his mind since taking office, and that is to stop the Yucca Mountain project, located in Nevada, from ever getting an NRC license.

Jaczko came to the job with Reid having previously worked for Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass), which is one of the arch druids of the anti-nuclear movement and recently has issued a string of press releases attacking the NRC for alleged lapses in its regulation of the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors.

It is ironic that Jaczko is now on the receiving end of attacks from one of his former political sponsors. Of course, it could just be a side show in the Washington 3-ring circus with hints and winks of who is doing what and why.

Not forthcoming even if he didn’t violate the law

spear carrierThis is an old story in Washington. The IG report now confirms that Jaczko is more or less just another Washington aide who got too zealous in carrying out the wishes of his political patron.

According to the New York Times, Jaczko “was not forthcoming” adds fuel to the fire lit by the GAO that the budget guidance was issued for “political reasons.”

The House Science Committee got its hands on the NRC's review of the Yucca Mountain license and issued a press release pointing out the scientific issues that got trampled by Jaczko's budgetary maneuvers.

"Most noteworthy in this regard is the 695-page Volume III of the NRC’s Safety Evaluation Report (SER). Obtained by the Committee only after repeated demands and over the objections of the NRC Chairman, SER Volume III demonstrates in excruciating detail the level of technical support among NRC and Department of Energy (DOE) experts in favor of the site’s advancement. Overall, the NRC staff review concluded that DOE‘s Yucca Mountain License Application complies with applicable NRC safety requirements necessary for the site to proceed to licensing for construction."

Although the IG report points out Jaczko did not break the law, the media coverage about it will renew Jaczko’s status as a favored dartboard for House Republicans to use to attack the Obama Administration and score points with the nuclear industry.

The seven month long investigation will be the subject of congressional hearings by the House Energy & Commerce Committee next week.

Playing the Washington game

The WSJ reports the IG study paraphrases Mr. Jaczko as having acknowledged to investigators he sometimes uses "forceful management techniques to accomplish his objectives," but also said that such techniques were "necessary to facilitate the work of the commission.

hold your breathTranslating this into plain English, Jaczko played the Washington game of controlling the flow of information about the project and reportedly has a short fuse when it comes to people and things that frustrate his purpose.

In point of fact, given the mission handed to him by Sen. Reid, and the air cover he gets from that patronage, Jaczko may not much care who he offends in achieving his objectives.

The WSJ says the IG report got started when Kenneth Rogers, a former NRC Commissioner, called on the NRC IG to investigate whether Jaczko had broken the law with his budget directive. The IG report says while Jaczko did not violate the law, he “strategically provided” information to the other commissioners and that they failed to fully understand the implications of his actions.

So what does it mean?

Las Vegas Showgirl In the context of how things go wrong in Washington, Jaczko’s alleged misdeeds don’t rank very high. He didn’t jump into the reflecting pool with a stripper, nor did he get caught taking money from others or stealing it. And so far as we know he’s kept his pants on which cannot be said for some in Congress.

Republicans will get a media show out of asking Jaczko to defend his actions and that’s what he’ll do. Will it really change anything about the future of Yucca Mountain? The U.S. will likely remain stuck with managing spent fuel at reactors though perhaps with more dry cask storage as time goes on.

According to CNN, Jaczko said a seven-month probe by the NRC's inspector general determined he acted within his authority in ending licensing studies for the Yucca Mountain nuclear-waste project in Nevada. Investigators found that Jaczko's actions "have been and remain consistent with established law, guidance and my authorities as chairman," Jaczko said in a written statement.

As a leader of a regulatory agency, Jaczko has done little to advance its agenda as an impartial regulator of the nuclear industry. Here he has done real damage. If House Republicans have any sense, this is where they will take their stand. Don’t hold your breath.

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Areva to push spent fuel recycling plans

CEO Jacques Besnainou sees startup of effort by 2015

Jacques Besnainou2The head of the U.S. operation of French state-owned nuclear giant Areva told a breakfast meeting of news reporters hosted by the Energy Daily on June 6 that the solution to the U.S. bottleneck in managing spent nuclear fuel is a recycling center.

Jacques Besnainou, CEO of Areva’s North American operation, (right) said the firm hopes that the legislative, regulatory, and funding mechanisms can be in place by 2015 to start work on an 800 ton/year plan that could cost as much as $25 billion.

He said the the firm is already in discussions with several nuclear utilities about a consortium to develop a plan and design for such a plant. Along with Areva, Besaninou said the group “would advocate more loudly for a recycling center in the U.S.” Areva has a white paper that expands on Besnainou's remarks.

“We’re going to be much more vocal by the end of the year.”

Benefits of recycling

He adds that with the volume reduction of spent fuel that comes from recycling the, need for a permanent geologic repository could be push back by 50 years. Eventually, there would be enough high level waste to require one, but it would be a lot smaller than Yucca Mountain.

whistle Besnainou says he hopes to change the BRC’s mind and that it will leave open options for a recycling facility. He thinks the BRC is whistling in the wind if it assumes any community will accept an interim storage site without the prospect for jobs associated with construction and operation of a reprocessing plant.

Besanainou added that Areva has has talks with communities that might be interested in the plant. In 2007 Areva looked at several sites under the GNEP program which was developed by the Bush Administration but rejected by Congress.

Kicking the can down the road

Besnainou cautioned that the current work of the Department of Energy Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) on spent nuclear fuel is a case of “kicking the can down the road.” In its draft recommendations, the commission has recommended an interim storage site for spent fuel and downplayed the potential for fuel reprocessing. Instead, the BRC called for more federally funded R&D especially on fast reactors which the panel said might not be ready for commercial use for another 40 years.

The commission said in its summary of draft recommendations it sees “no currently available for reasonably foreseeable technology will change the need for interim and long term storage.”

This conservative view, Besaninou said, failed to take advantage of plans the U.S. is already planning to put in place. The first is to create a special government corporation, like TVA, to move management, and funding, of spent fuel out of the Department of Energy. By giving a federal corporation (FedCorp) authority to spend money from the nuclear waste fund, conditions would be favorable to take the next step which is to design and build a reprocessing plant.

A key success factor would be that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission develops a set of safety requirements that could be use to license the site. It is conceivable that under the NRC’s cost recovery rules, FedCorp could pay for development of the safety evaluation report regulations and the review of the facility.

Nonproliferation issues

The Wall Street Journal reported that Edwin Lyman, of the Union of Concerned Scientists, an anti-nuclear group, criticized Besnainou’s proposal. He told the WSJ, “We don’t think there is a technical fix for the proliferation problem.”

The objection is contradicted by the fact that Lyman’s group has also opposed the construction of the MOX fuel facility in South Carolina and has done everything in its power to stop the government from permanently taking 34 tons of weapons grade plutonium out of circulation.

If the reprocessing process doesn’t separate plutonium why would there be a proliferation threat? If the MOX facility removed weapons grade plutonium from the nation’s arsenal, why would a self-described “good science” group oppose it? The UCS position on both counts appears illogical in this light.

Russia updates plutonium program

The Global Security Newswire reported June 7 an update to a U.S.-Russian pact on eliminating stockpiled weapon-usable plutonium has received Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's approval.

The amended version of the 2000 Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement recommits the two countries to each disposing of at least 34 metric tons of excess plutonium -- enough to fuel thousands of nuclear weapons -- beginning in 2018. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed off on the deal in April 2010.

The United States is expected to provide $400 million in assistance for the disposal of surplus Russian plutonium. Moscow would set aside $3.5 billion for the effort.

Area to cut debt, postpone investment

While Areva North American CEO was pushing for a $25 billion investment in fuel recycling, using money from the Waste Fund, back in Paris at the Areva home office executives there were in retrenchment mode. According to a report by the Bloomberg wire service for June 8, Areva may postpone investments, including some in the U.S., to mitigate the effect of the Fukushima crisis in Japan on cash flow and debt.

The firm said it would slow down spending on African uranium mines and possibly delay start of construction of a uranium enrichment plant in Idaho. According to the wire service report, Areva said a previously robust backlog of projects is now less firm with lower targets for revenue, margins, and cash flow.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Tackling TEPCO's water problem

The utility has 15 million gallons of radioactive liquid created by efforts to cool its crippled nuclear reactors

aquariusTEPCO is a bearer of a water problem that sets daunting challenges ahead of its ambitious plan to decommission the Fukushima reactor site. In many ways, getting the millions of gallons of radioactive water out of buildings at the site is a path to getting the decommissioning program in place and working against a predictable schedule.

The basic rule in responding to emergencies involving environmental cleanup is that you can never do just one thing without something else coming up. In the case of TEPCO's three crippled reactors at Fukushima, pouring hundreds of tons a day of water on the leaking units to cool the hot nuclear fuel inside them has resulted in creating a huge volume of radioactive water.

Left uncontrolled the water is seeping into the ground and running off into the sea. Evaporation leaves a residual trail of radioactive debris which will be hard to clean up. The Bloomberg wire service reported June 2 that TEPCO may see radioactive water overflowing the storage it has on-site by early this week resulting in flows of the contamination into the sea. TEPCO has to get control of the water before it makes the situation at Fukushima even worse.

Estimates of the amount of radioactive water that has accumulated since March 11 range from 15-to-28 million gallons. The rate of accumulation of new radioactive water is estimated to be 300-to-500 tons per day or 72,000-to-120,000 gallons per day. In a month the amount of new radioactive water would be to 2.1 million to 3.6 million gallons.

For the purposes of analysis, this blog will use the 15 million gallon figure for the volume that exists so far and an accumulation rate of 300 tons per day.

Water is the biggest challenge at Fukushima

Fukushima workersIn fact, according to a Washington Post report for June 3, uncontrolled radioactive water is the biggest worry at Fukushima.

Lake Barrett, the project manager for cleanup of the heavily damaged Three Mile Island Reactor, told the newspaper continued use of outside water to cool the crippled Fukushima reactors is just making a bigger mess.

Fixing the reactor recirculation systems is taking time and workers are limited in how much time they can spend in certain areas of the plant because of the presence of the radioactive water.

TEPCO has two challenges.

  • First, it must collect the radioactive water from turbine buildings, basements, and other places, and put it in containers to hold it until a treatment system can start operation.
  • Second, the radioactivity must be removed from the water and then safely removed to another location for permanent disposal. Then the cleaned water can be made available to be used to cool the reactors.

In the balance of this blog post I will try to describe the issue ahead using numbers published in the news media. Some of these numbers may turn out to be overtaken by new estimates. TEPCO has been revising information about the scope of the contamination as it discovers new problems. The basic issues of meeting the two challenges noted above remain constant.

Get control of the water

tepco tank According to the Daily Yomiuri and the Associated Press, last week TEPCO started to transport tanks, each with a storage capacity of 120 tons and measuring 15.1 meters long and 3.7 meters in diameter, to Fukushima Prefecture from a tank manufacturer in Kanuma, Tochigi Prefecture. (photo left: TEPCO)

TEPCO plans to deliver a total of 370 tanks -- 170 units with a storage capacity of 120 tons and 200 units with a capacity of 100 tons. The operation is expected to continue until mid-August, according to the utility. So how much water will the tanks hold?

A gallon of water weighs 8.35 pounds. So how much water can TEPCO put in the tanks? It turns out TEPCO will be able to put about half of the 15 million gallons of uncontrolled radioactive water in the tanks. See Table below. If metric measurements are used, then the total is slightly higher.

TEPCO Storage of

Radioactive Water

Nmbr of Capacity Tons
Tanks Tons Storage Gallons
100 100 10,000 2,400,000
170 120 20,400 4,890,000


30,400 7,290,000

One gallon weighs 8.35 lbs

One ton (2,000 lbs) equals 240 gallons

Store once treat once

precipitateThe next step is to develop a treatment system to process the water to get the radioactivity out of it. It turns out Areva, the French state-owned nuclear giant, has such a process which it uses at the La Hague fuel reprocessing plant. Areva is building a similar facility at Fukushima which it expects to start up on June 15.

There are significant challenges facing the Areva project. In a spent fuel reprocessing plant, the nuclear chemistry numbers are well known, predictable, and controlled in small batches and in an established industrial environment. At Fukushima, no one is quite sure what is in the water, and the working conditions are anything but ideal.

Capture the flag

Areva plans to use a coprecipitation process to remove radioactivity like isotopes of cesium and iodine and other radionnuclides that are coming from the water leaking out of the reactor containment buildings. As the water flows down into turbine buildings and other underground vaults, it mixes with seawater used to cool the reactors in the first days of the crisis, mud, industrial debris, etc. This makes for a very different water chemistry than a spent fuel plant. The salt content of the seawater alone may require new thinking about how to make the process work.

Conprecipitation works by a method that could be called "capture the flag." You put in chemicals that will bind to the material you want to remove. At the same time you want the resulting mass to become insoluble which will then precipitate out either by gravity or centrifuge process. Then you can wrap the unwanted and now insoluble material in some other substance, pump it into leakproof containers, and then get rid of it that way.

Areva's plan is to treat contaminated water from reactor cooling systems by adding chemicals that bind to radioactive isotopes and then settle out. In its press statement last April, Areva did not specify the exact technical method it plans to use at Fukushima. There are numerous methods in the technical literature.

According to several media reports, the process it uses at La Hague uses a specific mix of chemicals which capture the radionuclides which are removed from the water as a highly radioactive chemical sludge.

The sludge is mixed with bitumen petroleum product similar to asphalt. That mixture is poured into 55 gal drums, which are sealed and then buried in a special landfill for radioactive materials.

Water quality or mixed nuts?

mixed nutsThe efficiency of coprecipitation of radioactive materials from water depends on what you want to remove and how much of it you can expect to remove given the input chemicals and the amount of radioactivity in the water at the start of the process.

What this means for Areva is that given the difficult mixed nuts quality of the water chemistry at Fukushima, it is unclear how much radioactivity will be removed by the plant. Some is better than none.

Nuclear expert Lake Barrett told the Washington Post that at Fukushima, "you have massive volumes and a very heterogeneous chemistry."

Areva spokesperson Patricia Marie told the newspaper, "Honestly, it is hard to say how it will work."

Video of Areva plant equipment at Fukushima

Some progress is better than none at all

For its part Areva says that is bringing the water treatment process to Japan based on a request from TEPCO. Developed by AREVA and used in the Marcoule and La Hague facilities, the conprecipitation process uses chemical reagents to separate and recover the radioactive elements. AREVA also called on the skills of Veolia Water a multi-national civil engineering firm specializing in water treatment technologies and building facilities that use them.

Areva said in its statement . . .

“The contaminated water must be treated rapidly as it is preventing Tepco from repairing the power plant’s power supply and cooling systems. The unit will sharply reduce the radioactivity levels of the treated water, which could be reused in the power plant’s cooling systems.”

The treatment unit, which will be provided by Veolia Water, can process 50,000 liters (13,200 gallons) of water per hour, Areva Chief Executive Officer Anne Lauvergeon said at an April briefing in Tokyo.

How much how soon?

With an estimated 15 million gallons of water needing treatment, the timeline for optimal performance will be about two months. However, water treatment processes, especially those with a mixed effluent of unknown concentrations of contaminants, don't work a the optimum level right out of the box.

It could take some time for Areva to adjust the system to do its job efficiently. Also, there are the likelihoods of equipment breakdowns and the difficulties that will be encountered if the plant leaks radioactive water itself.

Stocks and flows

TEPCO's on site storage of radioactive water once its its new canisters arrive will be about 7.3 million gallons which means the other 7.6 million gallons will be uncontrolled and the volume will grow with each new day of external cooling until the recirculation systems are restored to service if in fact that is even technically possible.

In terms of stocks and flows, Areva’s plant will have to be reliable for some period of time. TEPCO is reportedly pouring up to 100 tons a day of water (24,000 gallons) on each of the three unstable reactors. With start-up of the new facility scheduled for June 15, and a 50 day or more backlog of water already needing treatment, in another two months, there will be another three-to-six million gallons of water needing treatment. Rainwater and snow melt will add volume what's coming off the reactors.

Measures of real progress

BWR recirculation systemThe water treatment plant is a stop gap action. For real progress to be made, TEPCO must find a way to achieve recirculation of cooling water inside the reactors and contain the leaks. (Reactor recirulation diagram: Nuclear Street)

Removing as much of the initial volume through storage and treatment is a good first step because it will allow plant workers to enter areas that are closed to them now due to the high levels of radioactivity in the water.

Areva will have some steep technical challenges to meet to achieve these results. TEPCO and the Japanese government are betting the ranch that the French nuclear giant can do it.

The other choice is almost unfathomable, and that is to run a pipe from the Fukushima shoreline to the continental shelf and pump the radioactive water into the abyss of the Pacific trench.

This solution seems unlikely as local fishermen and environmental groups are reporting radioactive contamination of fish as much as 12 miles offshore from Fukushima. Adding more radioactive water to the sea for dilution at deep levels might make technical sense, as a last resort. It may not fly in the supercharged political environment that is threatening to claim the political leadership of Japanese PM Naoto Kan.

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Sunday, June 5, 2011

TVA seeks green light to build Bellefonte

The utility plans to invest $4-5 billion to complete the reactor

greenlightOne of the most dramatic resurrections of a stalled nuclear reactor construction project is unfolding in Hollywood, Ala. There the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is getting ready to formally ask its board of directors this August to approve completion of the 1,260 MW PWR plant which halted in the late 1980s.

TVA CEO Tom Kilgore told the news media June 3 Bellefonte Unit 1 could be delivering power to the grid by 2018-2020.

A diverse set of anti-nuclear groups oppose the action citing the damage to four nuclear reactors in Japan. Instead of completing the plant, they want more energy efficiency, solar, wind, and other renewable energy power programs.

TVA started work on two new nuclear reactors at Bellefonte in the mid-70s, but stopped work on both units by the late 1980s as the utility realized the plants would not be needed to meet electricity demand. In 2008 TVA began to look at the question of whether it would be cheaper to complete one or both reactors at Bellefonte rather than build two brand new units.

Read the full story exclusively at CoolHandNuke online now


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