Saturday, April 7, 2012

NRC: No timetable for restart at San Onofre

The visit by NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko gives California Senator Diane Feinstein a chance to throw a curve ball in the form of the 50 mile evacuation zone

It was opening day for baseball around the U.S. last week, but at Southern California Edison's San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), it was looking a lot more like an instance of the legend of the Mighty Case striking out.

The utility still does not know what's causing the early and excessive wear on hundreds of steam tubes for the steam generators attached to the twin PWRs.

Worse, the media attention surrounding the visit by the NRC Chairman gave U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif) the chance to scare the wits out out of millions of people within a 50 mile radius of the plant. Meanwhile, Rep. Darrell Issa, who's district includes SONGS, wondered what it would take to turn the plants back on.

In a press conference held late Friday afternoon (April 6), Jaczko said that after the tour of the plant, where both reactors have been shut down since January, he would not put a time table on when the units would be restarted to supply electricity to a power hungry southern California.

Jaczko said he made the long trip to San Onofre to "get to the bottom" of why SONGS is having troubles with new steam generators.  He said the NRC will need technical assurances of the safety of the plant before it will be allowed to restart. The utility will have to show that it knows with certainty what caused the problem with the steam tubes and how to fix them.

SONGS tubes off-key

SONGS managers have said the problems are caused by the tubes vibrating and rubbing against each other and the brackets that hold them in place.  They don't know why or what else is  happening to them inside the steam generators.

What the utility's engineers do know is that the excessive wear is taking place way too early in the life of the 9,700 tubes at each unit which were installed by Mitsubishi as part of a $680 million replacement package in 2009.  The Japanese firm builds similar steam generators for customers world wide so why this particular installation is having these problems is a mystery.

Some possible causes, none of which have been confirmed by SONGS, include vibration, various forms of internal and external corrosion, and cracking and thinning of tubes.  Possible fixes, generically speaking, identified in a nuclear industry technical paper, include  improvements to water chemistry, cleaning the tubes, and plugging the ones that are excessively degraded.

Jaczko added in his remarks Friday that SONGS managers and NRC inspectors have told him that the wear in Unit 2, which was shut down for routine maintenance in January, isn't as severe as Unit 3, which is where the problem was first detected by plant operators.  So far SONGS has plugged 300 tubes in Unit 2.  Of 129 tubes tests, eight tubes in Unit 3 failed pressure tests give rise to a new set of concerns about the durability of the rest of them.

What's in the generators?

Anti-nuclear groups have seized on the problems at SONGS taking two points of attack.  First, Friends of the Earth has been running TV ads in Southern California media markets calling for the San Onofre reactors to be closed for good.  Second, the organization released a report by anti-nuclear whistle blower Arnie Gundersen that claims there were unauthorized design modifications made to the steam generators including the use of a different alloy than for similar units built and installed by Mitsubishi.  The report also alleges that changes were made to the flow rate and that the steam generators have more tubes in them to produce more power.

Jaczko added to speculation about the components in the steam generators by saying at the media conference the steam generators installed at SONGS are unique and were specifically designed for the plant.  He did not elaborate along those lines.  Jaczko said the NRC's engineers will inspect the documentation about what was installed at the plant, but he declined to comment specifically on Gundersen's report.

The NRC public affairs office told this blog in an email in mid-February the agency does not believe the alloy used to make the tubes is the cause of the problem.

SONGS spokesperson Jennifer Manfre said that the utility has complied with NRC regulations and that it has been "transparent" in its communications with the regulatory agency.   At the agency, NRC spokesman Scott Burnell told the news media last week that the agency is aware of the changes SCE made to the steam generators.  Burnell added that the company "showed by analysis that their design was acceptable . . .  [and] would meet our requirements for safe operation."

50 mile hike?

Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.)
While Jaczko was cautiously pointing out the reasons his agency is in no rush to bring the plants back online, despite looming summer heat and prospect of power shortages, U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein took the tour as an opportunity to springboard on something Jaczko did a year ago in the first days of the Fukushima crisis.  On March 16, 2011, Jaczko called for all Americans in Japan to evacuate to a distance of 50 miles from the six heavily damaged nuclear reactors.

The American Nuclear Society (ANS), in its recently published report on the Fukushima crisis, has questioned the technical basis of the 50 mile evacuation order.  Dale Klein, former Chairman of the NRC and co-chairman of the ANS report, said March 8 such efforts do more harm than good since trying to move millions of people in a highly urbanized area would create unparalleled havoc.

As the head of the NRC, Jaczko had no regulatory authority in Japan.  His action outraged the Japanese government which had set up a 13 mile evacuation zone that moved as many as 200,000 people out of their homes.

The normal size of an emergency planning zone (EPZ) for evacuation in the event of an emergency at U.S. nuclear reactors is 10 miles.  So when Jaczko hit the panic button calling for a 50 mile hike, he established a new, informal boundary, with no regulatory authority and a questionable technical basis, that has since been taken up by anti-nuclear groups.  The effort is more about politics than regulation and stands on uncertain footing.

Sen. Feinstein, who's political analysis of all thing atomic has been aided by national anti-nuclear organizations, appears to have joined the chorus calling for a new 50 mile emergency planning zone.

Feinstein said, "Nearly 7.4 million Californians live within 50 miles of San Onofre so it is clear that the generator must stay offline until it is carefully inspected and and safety issue is definitively fixed."

Trying to impose a 50 miles EPZ on existing reactors like San Onofre in California, or Indian Point in New York, could effectively close them which may be the idea Feinstein and her supporters have in mind.

It's a cynical form of drive by politics using the tour of the shut down of San Onofre to promote the anti-nuclear agenda.

A bill comes due one way or the other

U.S. Representative Darrell Issa, in who's district the reactors are located, also took the tour.  He said he hopes at least one of the reactors will be back in operation by summer.

What Issa is likely concerned about is having his constituents blame him for power shortages this summer when there is no electricity to run their air conditioners. After all it is a federal agency that is making the decision about whether to restart the reactors. People hot under the collar, literally and figuratively, have less patience with regulatory caution.

Issa chose to talk about checkbooks rather than condensers.

"We want to make sure we have 100% safety, but we also want to make sure rate payers are getting what they pay for."

What Issa is referring to are the fuel replacement costs that SCE is incurring and will eventually submit to California energy regulatory agencies to recover from its customers.  Repair bills for the steam generators, when they come in, will also figure into the rate proceeding.  A determination of how prudent SCE was with its installation and operation of the steam generators could result in either a big bill for its customers or a river of red ink for the utility.

Turned tables?

Ironically, it was Rep. Issa who led a House Oversight Committee hearing last December looking into the dysfunctional relationships between Jaczko and the four other commissioners. The uproar over a contentious letter the four sent to the White House provided a great exercise of inside-the-beltway smoke and mirrors for the news media. At the end of the day even some of the toughest critics on the committee found no legal basis for removing Jaczko from office.

Issa now finds himself at the other end of the table, so to speak, with Jaczko making a decision, and in an election year, about the future of electricity supply for those millions Californians in his district tagged by Sen. Feinstein.  However, Jaczko is as much in the hot seat with Issa over when the reactors can get back to generating electricity.

Jaczko's problem in deciding if, when, and how to authorize re-start of the reactors isn't going be solved by political calculus.  It's a technical problem and one that doesn't have an answer right now.  If it turns out the issues with tubes at Unit 2 are significantly different, and less serious, than at Unit 3, there could be a separate, but not necessarily earlier, solution there.

The utility still has to make the technical case for safety to the NRC's inspectors.  SONGS spokesperson Jennifer Manfre said in response to Jaczko's visit that the utility welcomed his attention to its problems.

"Safety is where our priority is, and that's where the Chairman's priority is and we're all aligned with that."

It could be a long hot summer for everyone involved with the unplanned outage of the two reactors.

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Japan moves to restart reactors

With 53 of 54 nuclear reactors closed as a result of the Fukushima crisis, the nation's economy is in a dangerous tailspin.  All it will take is closing one more reactor, and the psychological barriers to opening any of them become twice as high.

Yukio Edano, the anti-nuclear
voice in the Japanese cabinet
On Friday April 6 the Bloomberg wire service reported that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda and three of his cabinet ministers, including trade minister Yukio Edano, approved revised safety stadards to serve as a basis for restarting the nation's shuttered nuclear reactors.

The new criteria, based on 30 recommendations from the Japan Nuclear Industrial Safety Agency (JNISA), address key issues including loss of electricity, emergency cooling, and vents to release hydrogen and prevent explosions in the event of an accident.

There are significant differences among Noda's ministers with Edano carrying water for former PM  Naoto Kan. It was Kan who called for ending Japan's reliance on nuclear energy. Edano has similarly called for eventually phasing out 100% of the nation's reactors.

In Noda's corner is Goshi Hoshono who is the PM's point man for managing the Fukushima crisis and cleanup / decommissioning activity.  Hoshono, which is the environmental minister, supports bailing out TEPCO, now to the tune of $22 billion, but at the price of holding the majority equity position to "guide" the company.

The country is split between general population which has lost respect for the authority of the government, at least on nuclear energy matters, and the giant industrial combines that control the nation's economy including steel, automotive, and high tech industries.  They can't run their factories on so-called "renewable" energy sources and have been frank, in a country that isn't known for that quality, about the need to turn the reactors back on.  The 54 reactors supply 30% of the nation's electricity.

Local populations skeptical of restarts

It's a high wire act because on one hand local populations are deeply skeptical of the government on nuclear energy matters, which is a huge change from the nominally consensus seeking and largely homogeneous population.  One the other hand, the economy is headed south with the nation experiencing its first negative balance of payments in three decades. If the nation does not get on a path to restart its reactors, the economic distress will increase quickly this year.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura reportedly said the government can order utilities to restart reactors regardless of local opposition, because obtaining residents' consent is not legally required.  It may come to that if local officials resist too much in seeking local advantage, ask for more than feasible political air cover from the national government, or hold out for larger than acceptable infrastructure commitments in return for giving local consent.

Reactor restarts will leverage economic growth

The first reactors likely to be restarted are the two Ohi units operated by Kansai Electric Power Corp. in Fuki prefecture.  Gaining support from provincial government officials has been assigned to METI chief Edano.  Despite his support for closing the reactors, as Noda's METI chief, his job is to promote the robustness of the economic factors that make it hum and that includes getting the reactors turned back on least in the short-term. However, Edano told the Japan Times April 7 that if local governments can show they can do without the reactors by using other energy sources, he won't approve restarts even if they meet safety requirements.

The new safety guidelines are more extensive than a series of computer simulated "stress tests" designed to find weaknesses in existing reactors.  The new measures are presented as being proactive intended to deal with major natural disasters. Each Japanese utility must draw up an implementation plan for their reactors.

The next step for the Japanese government is to reform the nuclear safety agency which has lost a lot of credibility in the past year.  To achieve true independence, it needs to be brought out from under the cover of the METI agency.  That hasn't happened and accountability for progress is unclear except that META Chief Edano holds the cards there too.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Kudankulam hot start within reach

Tamil Nadu provincial government support pulls the rug out from under protest groups

kudankulam nuclear reactorsThe long running controversy over the start of NPCIL’s Russian-built twin 1,000-MW VVER reactors at Kudankulam, in India, may be coming to an end.

The provincial government of Tamil Nadu, India’s southern-most state, said on March 20 that it was dropping its opposition to hot start and also withdrawing support from local anti-nuclear protests.  The decision follows more than six months of fence sitting despite pleas for support from the protest groups and counter pressure from the central government.

In return for supporting the nuclear plant, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalalitha wants political air cover, and she named as her price the control of distribution of 100 percent of the electrical power from the plant, an unlikely outcome.

Jayalalitha’s demand carries political weight with the locals, however. It helps  preserve her position that is newly energized as a purveyor of political patronage in the form of access to electricity.  The region is ravaged by electricity shortages, so having some to allocate puts the Tamil Nadu government in a much more influential position than hanging with the protest groups.

Read the full story exclusively at ANS Nuclear Cafe online now.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Another blogger for nuclear energy

Digital advocacy for energy density

NGNP Alliance launches blog

ngnp alliance logo1It provides an online forum for fast moving developments in the use of process heat from nuclear reactors in industrial production

Jackson, Miss. – April 2, 2012 – The NGNP Alliance today announced the launch of a new blog It will carry a wide range of news items on nuclear energy topics related to the vision and mission of the alliance.

"The vision of the Alliance is to be a developer of new nuclear technologies to address industry needs for process heat while also releasing it from dependence on fossil fuels," said John Mahoney, Secretary of the Alliance.

Mahoney said the purpose of the blog is to use social media to communicate the Alliance's mission to the media, thought and opinion leaders, elected officials, and the public.

"The blog will foster dialog with stakeholders about the NGNP Alliance's work and its impact on business and society," Mahoney said.

The blog will feature a range of topics including;

  • Blog posts on federal affairs related to nuclear science and technology and especially process heat applications for industry
  • Discussions about industry and public perceptions of nuclear energy
  • Alerts about fast moving news items in the global nuclear energy industry
  • Exclusive content provided by NGNP members for dissemination to the public

The mission of the Next Generation Nuclear Plant Industry Alliance is to commercialize High Temperature Gas-cooled Reactor (HTGR) technology expand the use of clean nuclear energy, and significantly reduce the nation’s dependence on premium fossil fuels.

Contact: Jason Lang
Tel: 814-781-2777

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

NRC sets condiitons for San Onofre restart

It could be a hot summer in Los Angeles and San Diego if the twin reactors aren't back online soon

SONGS - aerial view
Two 1100 MW nuclear reactors at Southern California Edison's San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) are offline until the utility can convince the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that excessive wear on some of the tubes in the steam systems won't make operations unsafe.

The utility, Mitsubishi, which supplied the steam systems, and the NRC are crawling all over them to figure out why there is unusual wear on so many tubes in the steam generators for both reactors.

While they are doing that, state energy officials are making contingency plans to supply replacement power to heavily urbanized southern California as summer heat drives up electricity demand from air conditioning.  SONGS Unit 2 has been out of service since January 9, 2012, for a planned outage and Unit 3 was safety removed from service January 23, 2012, when plant operators detected a leak in one of the tubes.

Problems with the tubes are safety issues for two reasons. First, broken tubes can result in the release of radiation, Second, if too many tubes break, it could compromise cooling of the reactor core.

NRC letter to SCE

On March 27 the NRC issued a letter to Southern California Edison (SCE) spelling out the actions the utility must take to discover the cause of the wear and fix it.  NRC Regional Administrator Elmo E. Collins said in a prepared statement, "Until we are satisfied that has been done, the plant will not be permitted to restart."

For its part SCE, says it has identified two possible sources of excessive wear.  These causes include tubes that are rubbing against adjacent tubes and against support structures.  Vibration may also play a role in causing the unusual wear and tear.  The steam generators were installed in 2009 and show much more wear on nearly 900 tubes (10%) for the steam generator at Unit 3 than is expected given the short time the units have been producing steam.

The NRC is requiring SCE to plug all tubes in the steam generators for Units 2 & 3 for which testing indicates excessive wear relative to industry guidelines. Also, it is requiring SCE to plug tubes likely to experience excessive wear because of their location in the steam generator.

Additionally, the NRC is requiring SCE to figure out the causes of excessive tube-to-tube wear and to provide for a mid-fuel cycle shut down to inspect the tubes. The purpose of the inspection is to insure that tube wear doesn't get to the point where a damaged tube could cause a safety issue.

Some history about steam generator tube wear and tear

In 1995 the Department of Energy published a paper on steam tube problems  Titled, "Steam Generator Degradation and Its Impact on Continued Operation of Pressurized Water Reactors in the U.S," author Kenneth Chuck Wade wrote in the Energy Information Administration Electric Power Monthly for August 1995 that there are eight types of degradation of steam generators.  Causes include vibration, various forms of internal and external corrosion, and cracking and thinning of tubes.

Wade's paper, written more than a decade before Mitsubishi manufactured the San Onofre steam generators, does not take into account the new alloy used by the company to combat corrosion. Also, during the ensuring ten years other forms of wear may have been identified by nuclear utilities and the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI).

What is significant about the paper is that it provides a starting point, or a framework, to think about why wear occurs in steam generators and what utilities have done in the past to deal with the problem.  Also, the paper offers some general advice on how to deal with the problem including improvements to water chemistry, cleaning the tubes, and plugging the ones that are excessively degraded.

Readers wondering what types of factors the teams from SONGS, Mitstubishi, and the NRC are considering to assess the causes of excessive wear, and how to address them, will benefit from a review of the paper despite its age.

Anti-nuclear whistle blower weighs in

A report released March 27, the same day as the NRC letter to SONGS, from Friends of the Earth (FOE) alleges that SCE made extensive changes to the steam generators without notifying the NRC.

Arnie Gundersen, a long time critic of the commercial nuclear energy industry, was hired by FOE to prepare the report. He said in it the tube alloy was changed, support bracing was changed, and more tubes added to the units.  Gundersen alleges these changes took place to increase the amount of steam, and thus power, the reactors could produce to make electricity.

In response Jennifer Manfre, a spokesperson for SONGS, told wire services that SCE has "provided open and transparent information" to the NRC.  At the agency, NRC spokesman Scott Burnell said that the agency is aware of the changes SCE made to the steam generators.  Burnell added that the company "showed by analysis that their design was acceptable . . .  [and] would meet our requirements for safe operation."

Who watches the whistle blowers?

Manfre declined to speak with a nuclear blogger, but did send out a tweet last week asking "who watches the whistle blowers."

Perhaps it would be useful to note here that three nuclear bloggers got together last Saturday (March 31) here in Cleveland, OH, and spent several hours discussing the situation at San Onofre.

The group includes myself at Idaho Samizdat, Will Davis of Atomic Power Review and Leslie Corrice who has a blog and web site Hiroshima Syndrome.  Nuclear bloggers are an independent lot so when three of them team up to follow an issue, it is, as they say, a "critical mass."

SCE may have its reasons for limiting what it says to the news media even in the face of provocative allegations by an anti-nuclear group. Perhaps once the utility has a diagnosis of the causes of the excessive wear of the steam tubes, and a path forward to restart both reactors accepted by the NRC, it will be willing to be more interested in public communication.

Top executives at nuclear utilities, with billions in physical assets to worry about, have an unfortunate tendency to adopt a "bunker mentality" when faced with a combination of technical problems and criticism from a frightened public.

Experts in crisis communication will tell you that just the opposite strategy is the best response. Explaining what you know, and don't know, builds public confidence that the utility and the regulators know what they are doing and serves as a buffer against the most obvious scare tactics of anti-nuclear groups.

As a side note it is possible Ms. Manfre's management is not familiar with the social media infrastructure on the pro-nuclear side of the house? The door is open for a dialog any time.
Hot summer in the city

The problem for southern California is that the shut down of the two reactors leaves a 2,200 MW hole in the electrical grid that will have to be made up by bringing gas plants online, upgrading transmission lines to handle more power, and possibly implementing demand side measures including the possibility of rolling brown outs or worse.

Conceptual diagram of a brownout;
change in amplitude over time
Although no formal definition exists in the power quality lexicon, the term “brownout” is generally used to describe a long-duration under-voltage condition.

These long-duration under-voltage conditions can cause in a transmission and distribution system, damage motors in industrial equipment, create power quality problems for medical equipment in hospitals, such as centralized oxygen systems, and disrupt highway traffic control devices, aviation and ground control electronics at airports, and other major systems that require reliable electrical power to sustain a large urban region.

Meanwhile, another coalition of anti-nuclear groups is seeking to collect 550,000 signatures to put an initiated referendum on the November ballot to close San Onofre and the Diablo Canyon reactors. While the results of the current unplanned outage at SONGS could be a real crisis for southern California, it could also become an object lesson for the rest of the state about where its electricity comes from and what happens when a major power source is lost to the grid.

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Scana steams ahead with NRC licenses

Two new Westinghouse 1100 MW AP1000 nuclear reactors will be build in South Carolina

The U.S Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Friday March 30 voted 4-1 clearing the way for the Office of New Reactors to issue combined construction and operating licenses (COLs) for two new nuclear reactors.

The licenses issued last week are for SCE&G (Scana) and Santee Cooper to build two Westinghouse AP1000s at their V.C. Summer site 26 miles northwest of Columbia, SC.

The applications for the licenses were submitted almost exactly four years ago. Scana told Reuters March 29 it has revised the timelines for completing the reactors delaying the start for the 1st unit a year to 2017 but bringing in the second unit a year earlier in 2018.

Previously, the NRC issued the licenses last December for two similar reactors to be built by Southern at a site in Georgia.  The decision last week by the NRC is a major victory for the U.S. nuclear industry which has struggled to create credible reality out of the vision of a "nuclear renaissance."

Scana has a 55% share of the $10.2 billion in costs and the two reactors. Santee Cooper has the other 45%.  For some time there have been been reports that Duke Energy is interested in buying 500 MW of power generation capacity from Santee Cooper's share of the plants. However, such a deal is unlikely to move forward until Duke completes its planned merger with Progress Energy.

That deal was postponed from last December to this coming July.  It may be postponed again if regulatory agencies at the federal level and in North Carolina do not approve of the market impacts  for the combined firm.  Scana operates in a regulated market which allows the firm to recover the costs of building the reactors as the come in.

No loan guarantee for now

The firm has not aggressively pursued a DOE loan guarantee for the project.  Scana CEO Kevin Marsh told the Wall Street Journal March 30 that the firm has raised $1.2 billion so far to cover the cost of construction or about 11% of the total needed to complete the project.  He expressed confidence that the firm would continue to be successful in going to capital markets without DOE loan guarantees.

However, David Frantz, head of the DOE loan guarantee office said there was always a possibility the firm might change its mind.   And Dennis Pidherney, head of public-power sector for Fitch Ratings, told the WSJ that Scana was just at the start of a long journey to raise the billions is needs to build the reactors.

The long road to a license

The complicated process of applying for the license included the following milestones.
  • The NRC's Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRWS) independently reviewed aspects of the application that deal with safety.  It also reviewed the NRC staff's Final  Safety Evaluation Report (FSER).  The ACRS completed its work in February 2011.
  • The NRC completed its environmental review and issued a final environmental impact statement in April 2011.
  • The NRC issued the Final Safety Evaluation Report (FSER) in August 2011
Separately, the NRC completed the certification of the amended  AP1000 design on December 30, 2011. It is an 1,100 MW unit with advanced passive safety design features that would cool down the reactor after an accident without the need for electricity or human intervention.

The safety review was fraught with controversy some of it brought on by NRC Chairman Jaczko. In May 2011 he took the unusual step of issuing a press release complaining that Westinghouse was not addressing the agency's concerns about the design.  For its part, Westinghouse took the design certification document through 19 versions to satisfy all the regulatory requirements imposed by the agency.

Anti-nuclear groups tried repeatedly to stop the safety certification through various contentions filed with the NRC including a complaint that a terrorist commanded aircraft crashed into the containment structure would cause a catastrophic destruction of the reactor inside.  Tests performed by Westinghouse at Purdue University disproved that theory.  For a physical metaphor of what will really happen to the plane, try crushing an empty 12 oz soda can with your foot.

Jaczko digs in over Fukushima

Ominously, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said in his vote March 30 there could be delays in future licensing actions. He cited the upcoming two license applications for similar AP1000s planned to be built by Progress at a site in Florida. He said he wants the regulatory agency change the method of implementing Fukushima related safety measures. He wants all new reactors to implement the safety changes before they start operation, a process that could take years.

In his vote against the licenses (starts on Pg. 70) for V.C. Summer, he repeated his views first aired in a vote last December against Southern's licenses.  His position is that Southern and Scana, and any other future licensee, comply with all post Fukushima safety standards before they begin operations.  Coincidentally, Progress plans to build the same type and model of reactors as chosen by Southern and Scana.  It isn't clear why Jaczko has singled that project out for additional scrutiny.

However, NRC Commissioner Kristine Svinicki told Platts following the vote that she was "very confident" that the agency has in place the established regulatory processes to implement any new safety measures. She said the NRC has the power to impose new requirements on reactors whenever they may be needed. The other commissioners agreed with her views last December and again this March with the same 4-1 votes for both licensing actions.

The complete text of the NRC Commissoner's votes are online in this lengthy document made available by the agency.  A public link to the document should be available next week in the agency's ADAMS system.

Scana settles with Shaw

The day before the NRC issued the licenses Scana settled with its contractors, including The Shaw Group, over a dispute over payment for $138 million in added construction costs. The increases were tied to differing site conditions, including unexpected rock at the foundation site, and the length of time it took the NRC to issue the licenses. Still, the settlement is $50 million less than previously disclosed by Scana.

About 1,000 workers have already been preparing the site for construction which is expected to employ up to 3,000 people to build the two plants.  Each of the reactors will have a permanent workforce of about 800 people.  This is not a green field site. One reactor was built there in 1984 and continues its operation while construction takes place on the two new units.

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98th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

Nuclear renaissance picks up steam with NRC approval of twin AP1000s at Scana's V C Summer Station

This post is the collective voice of blogs with legendary names which emerge each week to tell the story of nuclear energy.
If you want to hear the voice of the nuclear renaissance, the Carnival of Nuclear Energy Blogs is where to find it.

Past editions have been hosted at Yes Vermont Yankee, Atomic Power Review, ANS Nuclear Cafe, Idaho Samizdat, NEI Nuclear Notes, Next Big Future, and CoolHandNuke, as well as several other popular nuclear energy blogs.

The publication of the Carnival each week is part of a commitment by the leading pro-nuclear bloggers in North America that we will speak with a collective voice on the issue of the value of nuclear energy. While we each have our own points of view, we agree that the promise of peaceful uses of the atom remains viable in our own time and for the future.

If you have a pro-nuclear energy blog, and would like to host an edition of the carnival, please contact Brian Wang at Next Big Future to get on the rotation.

This is a great collaborative effort that deserves your support. Please post a Tweet, a Facebook entry, or a link on your Web site or blog to support the carnival.

This Week's Carnival

Next Big Future - Brian Wang
  • Westinghouse wins with NRC action that gives VC Summers licenses for two reactors. They should be completed by 2017 and 2018.
  • Sanmen Westinghouse AP1000 reactor has been connected to offsite power. On track for 2013 startup. China's other reactors are on track.

NEI Nuclear Notes
  • Associated Press coverage of nuclear issues questioned
  • Arnie Gundersen's claims on radioactivity probed
The Neutron Economy - Steve Skutnik
"The EPA's coal mandate: An opportunity for nuclear, a giveaway for natural gas"
This week, the EPA announced a carbon cap of 1000 lbs CO2 per MWh electricity generated from all new power plants. While such a mandate provides an obvious opportunity for nuclear, upon inspection it looks suspiciously like a giveaway to the natural gas industry.

ANS Nuclear Cafe
 - Meredith Angwin

Successful rally at Vermont Yankee 

Yes Vermont Yankee - Meredith Angwin

Howard Shaffer and Arnie Gundersen debate the Pilgrim plant relicense.  Relicense now or freeze the process until all Fukushima fixes are known and made.

Nuclear Green
- Charles Barton

A Brief History of the Light Water Reacto to Three Mile Island

Idaho Samizdat - Dan Yurman
German utilities retreat from U.K. nuclear new build

Nuke Power Talk
- Gail Marcus

The future of nuclear power; two steps forward, one back

Atomic Power Review
- Will Davis

Will Davis announces four new, and recurring, feature series to begin appearing immediately on Atomic Power Review.  These features will begin to tell the story of the early days of the commercial nuclear energy industry from many angles - thus beginning to give the nuclear energy field something it's never really been allowed to have in the public eye which is a history.

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