Jordan shortlist down to two

30 April 2012 Jordan’s first nuclear power plant will be supplied by either AtomStroyExport of Russia or the Areva-Mitsubishi Heavy Industries joint venture, Atmea. The past three years have seen the Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) whittle down a list of seven offers from four reactor vendors to the two announced today. Jordanian official news agency Petra reported that the JAEC has decided to continue discussions with AtomStroyExport and the Atmea consortium, describing them as the two suppliers “best qualified” with the technology to best meet Jordan’s requirements and needs. The announcement removes from the running the Enhanced Candu 6 (EC6) design as offered by Candu Energy, the subsidiary of SNC-Lavalin that took on Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd’s reactor business.  Both reactors still under consideration are advanced pressurized water reactors (PWRs) offering enhanced active and passive safety systems. The 1150 MWe Atmea1 represents an evolution of French standard designs, and received preliminary safety approval from French nuclear regulators earlier this year. The AES-92 is a version of the VVER-1000 with enhanced safety and seismic features. Two AES-92 units are under construction at Kudankulam in India, while the closely related AES-91 is under construction at Tianwan in China. Jordan has previously said it intends to start building a 750-1000 MWe nuclear power reactor in 2013 with a view to operation by 2020, followed by a second unit coming on line around 2025. The JAEC will now continue discussions with the two shortlisted suppliers to resolve outstanding technical issues including the site selection process. Earlier in 2012 AtomStroyExport submitted a separate proposal to build four reactors for the country’s second nuclear power plant. At the time the JAEC stressed that its decision on the constructor of its first nuclear power plant would not be influenced by that proposal. Fuente:...
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Security software tie-up for national lab

30 April 2012 The UK’s National Nuclear Laboratory (NNL) has signed a partnership that will see it work with ARES to offer security simulation software to nuclear and other sites in the country. An agreement between NNL and ARES Software was announced last week in London. Having already used ARES’ Avert software to simulate attacks on NNL’s main facility at Sellafield, the lab said it would now work with ARES to offer the product to “nuclear and other key sectors where defence against terrorism or similar threats is a major consideration.” NNL’s application of the software had been the first outside the USA. The Avert software allows organisations to simulate an attack on a protected installation – such as a military facility, an airport or a nuclear plant – and also to model possible responses by security forces and physical protection equipment. The scenario can be visualised from the viewpoint of attackers, defenders or any other perspective including CCTV camera locations.   The software can give quantitative assessments of security performance, which allows various protection and defence strategies to be compared. The lab’s managing director, Paul Howarth, said he was pleased to combine NNL’s nuclear expertise with ARES’s expertise in simulation. President of ARES, Bill Vantine, said “Our mutual vision for securing nuclear facilities is to take a risk-informed approach to decisions regarding security operations and capital expenditure.” He said he looked forward to making this vision “a reality for the benefit of the UK’s nuclear facilities and other key infrastructure.” Fuente:...
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Stress tests on the home straight

27 April 2012 Nuclear operators in Europe have taken “significant steps to improve the safety of their plants” as a result of stress tests, said regulators from the continent in a review of each others’ work on the program. Inspired by the Fukushima accident, the European Commission’s stress tests have examined the fundamental protection of some 147 nuclear reactors in 17 countries, including the non-EU states of Switzerland and Ukraine. The tests focused on external threats such as earthquake, tsunami and extreme weather as well as the loss of safety systems and severe accident management under any circumstances. Their goal was to uncover weaknesses in protection or procedures and identify any ‘cliff-edge’ factors beyond which a serious accident would become unavoidable. Today came a report from the European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG), which detailed how the national regulators had peer reviewed the national reports published in November last year. It said that some aspects of the stress test definition had been interpreted differently, but that “all countries have taken significant steps to improve the safety of their plants, with varying degrees of practical implementation.” The first among its major recommendations was that the Western European Nuclear Regulators Association (WENRA) should tap further expertise in Europe and “develop guidance on natural hazards assessments, including earthquake, flooding and extreme weather conditions, as well as corresponding guidance on the assessment of margins beyond the design basis and cliff-edge effects.” The next recommendation was that countries urgently implement previously agreed measures to ensure containment at nuclear power plants in accident conditions. For light-water cooled reactors these include equipment, procedures and guidelines to depressurize the primary circuit and prevent core melt at high pressure, prevent hydrogen explosions and prevent overpressure of containment. All these are directly related to the severe conditions seen during the accident sequence at Fukushima Daiichi that resulted in significant loss of containment integrity. The third recommendation encouraged operators and regulators to get in place various supportive measures that could help prevent accidents or at least limit their consequences. These include bunkered and mobile equipment for instrumentation and communication, emergency response centres and rescue teams. ENSREG highlighted “the necessity to re-evaluate natural hazards and relevant plant provisions as often as appropriate but at least every ten years.” Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger said, “This extensive report is a major element of our stress tests. Now, we will do additional visits of...
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TVA presses ahead with Watts Bar 2 completion

27 April 2012 Construction of unit 2 at the Watts Bar nuclear power plant will continue after the board of Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) accepted a revised cost estimate. The expected completion date of the project has now slipped to 2015. The construction of Watts Bar 2 started in 1973, but was stopped in 1985 when it was about 55% completed. TVA decided in 2007 to resume the job, expecting it to cost $2.5 billion and to be completed under Bechtel’s management by 2012. However, by August 2011 TVA had taken back control of the work and set a new completion target of 2013. By February 2012, some 81% of the overall project had been done, with instrumentation and electrical work slightly ahead of schedule and mechanical work slightly behind. A revised estimate for the project was announced earlier this month following a seven-month, top-to-bottom analysis and a change of management at the construction site. This included additional funding of $1.5 billion to $2.0 billion, bringing the total cost to complete the reactor between $4.0 billion and $4.5 billion with a likely estimate of $4.2 billion. In addition, the schedule has now been pushed back to late 2015. The TVA board has now approved continuing with construction of Watts Bar 2 in accordance with this revised cost estimate and schedule. TVA president and CEO Tom Kilgore told the board, “TVA expects Watts Bar 2 to be among the best operating and most economical nuclear generating facilities of the 21st century.” He added, “The safe and continuing completion of Watts Bar 2 will help us deliver a balanced mix of energy sources and increase our supply of emission-free electricity.” In addition, the board approved a ten-year, $298 million contract for the construction of a dry cask storage facility for used fuel at Watts Bar, as well as additional dry storage capacity at its Sequoyah and Browns Ferry nuclear power plants. TVA is also planning to complete the partially-built Bellefonte 1 reactor in Alabama although it has said construction at Bellefonte would not begin unit Watts Bar 2 reaches the fuel loading stage. The change in schedule for completing Watts Bar 2 will therefore put back the start of work on Bellefonte 1. Last month TVA announced that it was reducing the number of contractors working on the Bellefonte project as it resets its priorities. Fuente:...
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Construction starts on new Chernobyl cover

26 April 2012 Work to assemble the giant arched structure that will protect the ruined Chernobyl unit 4 and enable its dismantling has officially begun on the 26th anniversary of the accident. President Viktor Yanukovych launches the assembly of the Chernobyl New Safe Confinement After laying flowers at the memorial near the plant’s north gate that commemorates the work of those that took early action during the accident, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych took part in a ceremony to launch the assembly of the New Safe Confinement (NSC) structure. This arched structure – some 108 metres high, 257 metres wide and 150 metres long – will be assembled on concrete rails and slid into place over the broken buildings of Chernobyl 4, which was destroyed by the steam and hydrogen explosions that followed a power excursion in April 1986. Some 20,000 tonnes of steel will be used in the structure’s construction, the first batch of which was delivered to site last month. The hermetically sealed NSC will allow engineers to remotely dismantle the hastily constructed ‘sarcophagus’ that has shielded the remains of the reactor from the weather since the weeks after the accident. The stability of the sarcophagus has developed into one of the major risk factors at the site, and its potential collapse threatens to liberate more radioactive materials. A project to shore up the structure was completed in mid-2008 but the NSC would reduce the consequences of a collapse while also allowing the sarcophagus to be taken apart under controlled conditions. Other objectives for the structure are to generally reduce emissions from the buildings for a design-life of 100 years while at the same time stopping the ingress of water, which increases the risk that nuclear fuels scattered inside the building could potentially see sustained fission reactions. The huge building is meant to enable the eventual removal of materials containing nuclear fuel and accommodate their characterisation, compaction and packing for disposal. This task represents the most important step in eliminating nuclear hazard at the site – and the real start of decommissioning. The NSC will facilitate remote handling of these dangerous materials, using as few personnel as possible. Yanukovych told those gathered at the site, “We are witnesses to a historic event in the transformation of the Object Shelter into an ecologically safe system: the construction of the arch of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant.” He added, “This...
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