Plans for new UK plants progress

28 October 2011 The head of EDF Energy said that, although significant progress has been made, it is too early to say when construction of its new UK reactors is likely to start. Meanwhile, Horizon has completed the purchase of land next to the existing Wylfa plant. Vincent de Rivaz, CEO of EDF Energy, said in a statement to the Nuclear Development Forum (NDF) that the company expects to submit its 30,000-page planning application to the Infrastructure Planning Commission (IPC) by the end of the month. “Soon the IPC will begin its assessment of our application. It will be a massive task – to assess the first new nuclear project in order to deliver authorisation in one year.” At a 17 March 2011 meeting of the NDF, just days after the Fukushima nuclear accident in Japan, de Rivaz said that “events there would require us to adjust our timetable.” He said that the accident had a direct impact on the government’s facilitative actions: “The National Policy Statement was validated later than originally expected. The Generic Design Assessment has been amended so that the lessons from Fukushima can be incorporated.” However, he noted that “there are other factors to take into account when we talk about an adjusted timetable.” He stressed that “an adjusted timetable has never meant a suspended timetable … the project continues. It is on track.” EDF Energy will “begin significant work to prepare the site in the spring,” de Rivaz said. “My major target for now is the Final Investment Decision at the end of next year,” he said. To take that decision, de Rivaz noted, it is imperative that “transitional arrangements for the Contract for Difference are in place; arrangements for the funded decommissioning plan are set; and, we have a high level of confidence in the cost and timetable for construction.” He said, “Beyond the Final Investment Decision (FID) there will be the question of when we can start main construction, and beyond that, of when we can expect to complete construction.” However, de Rivaz said, “I will not give a firm and final completion date at this stage. At the moment of the FID, I expect to be able to do so.” He added, “Our development consent application will include an indicative timetable. This provides the basis for our planning assessments. It will be published soon when the Development Consent Order (DCO) application is validated...
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Moves to strengthen WANO

28 October 2011 The members of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) have unanimously approved a series of recommendations aimed at making it “more effective, credible, efficient and visible.” At the eleventh WANO biennial general meeting – held in Shenzhen, China on 25 October – some 600 participants pledged their support for the recommendations developed by the WANO Post-Fukushima Commission. The Commission, which was established in the immediate aftermath of the accidents at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, was charged with determining what changes WANO should implement based on the lessons learned from the event to help prevent or mitigate a similar occurrence in the future, and to close the gaps in WANO performance. The Commission – comprising 14 CEOs and senior executives from utilities worldwide – put forward five recommendations for discussion by the WANO governing board in advance of the general meeting. The recommendations were approved by the board in a meeting on 23 October. These included expanding the scope of WANO’s activities; developing a world-wide integrated event response strategy; improving WANO’s credibility, including important changes to WANO’s peer review process; improving visibility; and improving the quality of all WANO products and services. Peer reviews – in-depth and objective analysis of plant operations by an independent team of nuclear experts drawn from other members’ plants – lie at the heart of WANO’s programs. WANO said that it will expand the scope of its peer reviews and other programs. This includes adding emergency preparedness and severe accident management to its existing activities. The organization said that it “will not reduce its emphasis on accident prevention, but will simply add to its scope of activities in recognition of the fact that an accident in the future is possible, however remote.” It aims to strengthen its peer review activities by increasing their frequency and conducting a corporate peer review at each member utility within the next six years. WANO will also conduct self assessments at its London head office and at each of its four regional offices (in Atlanta, Moscow, Paris and Tokyo) to improve the “quality and consistency” of its activities and services. These reviews are likely to take place every four years. The organization said that it will seek additional experienced staff in all of its offices in order to meet its aims. WANO said that it will also put into place an internal emergency response procedure that...
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Chalk River licensed for five more years

28 October 2011 The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) announced on 27 October its decision to renew the operating licence of the Chalk River Laboratory for another five years. The new expiry date is 31 October 2016. Operated by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), Chalk River Laboratory is a national hub of nuclear research and development, and is home to the National Research Universal (NRU) reactor which provides 40% of the world’s supply of the medical isotope molybdenum-99. The 54-year-old reactor suffered serious problems in 2009 which saw it shut down for 15 months, causing widespread concern over the availability of the isotope. While in principle the decision allows for an extension to the life of NRU, operation remains contingent on the results of licensed safety requirements, one such being a reactor vessel inspection report CNSC expects to receive from AECL by February 2012. The renewal decision also incorporates the authorisation of activities related to the Dedicated Isotope Facility – two MAPLE class reactors which were originally constructed to replace NRU, but abandoned in 2008 after major technical problems were encountered during commissioning. In making the decision, the CNSC took into account opinions presented during two public hearings; one held in Ottawa in June, the other in Chalk River in October. Fuente:...
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Update issued on UK GDA progress

27 October 2011 UK regulators continue to anticipate issuing interim approvals by the end of the year, according to the latest quarterly report on the progress of the UK’s Generic Design Assessment (GDA) for the AP1000 and UK EPR reactors. The GDA is being carried out by the country’s nuclear regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR), and the UK Environment Agency (EA). In July, the two bodies completed their initial assessment of the safety cases for the two reactor designs and published a list of issues that still needed resolving, and the so-called resolution plans submitted by Areva and EDF for the EPR and by Westinghouse for the AP1000.   The GDA process allows the generic safety, security and environmental aspects of new nuclear reactor designs to be assessed before applications are made for licences and permits to build the reactor on a particular site. As the GDA only needs to be undertaken once for each design, it should speed up the subsequent site-licensing and consents process, together with providing more certainty to investors at an earlier stage.   The newly published quarterly progress report covering the period to 30 September notes that the only resolution plans that are still to be agreed are those needed to address issues from the nuclear accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan earlier this year. The recent publication of UK chief nuclear inspector Mike Weightman’s final report on Fukushima means that the companies should now be able to make progress on developing those plans, the ONR and EA say. If the two agencies find those plans to be “credible”, they will consider providing an interim Design Acceptance Confirmation (DAC) and interim Statement of Design Acceptability (SoDA) for each design. “We expect to be in a position to do this by the end of 2011,” the latest report states.   For each design, an interim DAC would be issued by the ONR and would reference a full suite of technical assessment reports published at the same time. The interim SoDA would be published by the EA and would reference a full suite of final assessment reports, also published in parallel.   No nuclear island safety-related construction work can begin until the GDA process is completed and a final DAC and SoDA is issued. Once the ONR has completed its technical assessment reports and the interim DAC and SoDA decisions have been...
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Decision soon on Grand Canyon mining ban

27 October 2011 The US Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has released the final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on its proposed withdrawal of 1 million acres (404,600 hectares) of federal lands near the Grand Canyon National Park from hard rock mining claims for 20-years. The BLM said that a withdrawal would prevent individuals and companies from staking new mining claims; however, currently approved operations could continue and new operations could be approved on valid existing mining claims. Up to 11 uranium mines could be operational over the next 20 years under the proposal, including the four mines currently approved. BLM director Bob Abbey said, “Uranium remains an important part of our nation’s comprehensive energy resources, but it is appropriate to pause, identify what the predicted level of mining and its impacts on the Grand Canyon would be.” He added that the proposed land withdrawal would “allow for cautious, continued development with strong oversight that could help us fill critical gaps in our knowledge about water quality and environmental impacts of uranium mining in the area.” A final decision will be issued by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar after 30 days. On 12 October, twelve lawmakers including Republican Senators John McCain of Arizona, and Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee of Utah, introduced a bill to prevent the Interior Department from imposing the ban. McCain claimed, “The Department’s proposed mining withdrawal would kill hundreds of potential jobs to ‘save’ the Grand Canyon from the same form of uranium mining that conservation groups once supported.” Fuente:...
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