New nuclear in South Korea

31 July 2012 South Korea’s nuclear energy program continues apace, with first concrete being poured for unit 1 of the Shin Ulchin plant, while unit 1 at the Shin Wolsong plant has entered commercial operation. A ceremony was held on 21 July to mark the pouring of first concrete at Shin Ulchin 1, marking the official start of construction of the Korean-designed Advanced Pressurised Reactor-1400 (APR-1400), Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) announced. Groundbreaking for the first two units at the site took place in early May. First concrete for unit 2 is set to follow in about a year. Government approval for the 7 trillion won ($6.2 billion) project to build Shin Ulchin units 1 and 2 was given in April 2009. Major contracts related to the plant’s construction were signed in March 2010, with detailed site studies starting the following month. The reactor ipressure vessel is scheduled to be installed in unit 1 in June 2014. Unit 1 is expected to be completed in April 2017, with unit 2 expected to be finished in April 2018. South Korea has worked hard to develop an independent nuclear industry since its first three commercial units were built as turnkey projects by Westinghouse and AECL in the late 1970s and early 1980s. From those beginnings, through an extended technology transfer program with Combustion Engineering (which became part of Westinghouse), came the development of the OPR 1000 and then the APR-1400. The Shin Ulchin units are the second pair of APR-1400s to be built – two are already under construction at Shin Kori – but will be the first to be virtually free of intellectual property content from Westinghouse. Commercial operation Meanwhile, unit 1 at the Shin Wolsong plant has entered commercial operation, KHNP announced. It comes within days of Shin-Kori 2 starting commercial service. The Shin Wolsong 1 OPR-1000 unit, construction of which began in November 2007, started up and was connected to the grid in January 2012. The final stages of commissioning tests began on 24 June. A ‘performance guarantee test’ confirmed that the unit generates its designed output. KHNP subsequently received approval from the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission for the reactor to enter full-scale commercial operation. Its sister unit, Shin Wolsong 2, is expected to start up next month and enter commercial operation in January 2013. South Korea now has 23 nuclear power reactors in commercial operation with a combined generating...
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31 July 2012 The Chicago Bridge & Iron Company (CB&I) is to acquire Shaw Group in a transaction worth an estimated $3 billion. CB&I Shaw will become one of the world’s largest energy industry engineering and construction companies. The transaction brings together energy services company Shaw with global engineering, procurement and construction company CB&I. According to CB&I, combining the two firms will create one of the world’s “most complete energy focused technology, engineering, procurement, fabrication, construction, maintenance, and associated services companies,” able to handle the largest of energy infrastructure projects. CB&I will acquire Shaw for $46 per share in cash and stock, with Shaw’s shareholders receiving $41 in cash and $5 in equity per share. The acquisition has already been unanimously approved by the boards of directors of both companies but is still subject to approval by regulators and shareholders. It is expected to close early next year. CB&I president and CEO Philip Asherman said the transaction would enable the company, which has up to now specialised in oil and gas projects, to become fully diversified across the entire energy sector. “We will have the capabilities and the expertise to provide our clients with the full range of solutions, wherever they are in the world.” Shaw president, chairman and CEO JM Bernhard Junior expressed his pride in the company he co-founded in 1986. Shaw’s position within the power, environmental and infrastructure industries would complement CB&I’s current business, he said. “While Shaw has been growing in our business and has many opportunities ahead of us, we believe this transaction is in the best interest of and creates significant value for our shareholders, our employees and our customers,” he said. Shaw has engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contracts for planned new reactors at Summer, Vogtle and Levy in the USA, in a consortium with Westinghouse. The company’s nuclear credentials also include extensive contracts for uprate work at US nuclear power plants. Shaw acquired 20% of Westinghouse in 2006 but last year announced that it would be selling its stake back to Toshiba as part of a bid to reduce debt and its foreign exchange exposure. Fuente:...
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Ownership restricts EnBW's complaint

31 July 2012 EnBW has made clear that it supports the legal action made by other utilities against Germany’s nuclear policy but that it is unable to contest the matter due to being publicly owned. All of Germany’s large power companies – EOn, RWE, Vattenfall and EnBW – use nuclear power as part of their generation mix, and all were impacted by the country’s reaction to the Fukushima accident in March last year. A previously negotiated amendment to the Atomic Energy Act that would ‘extend’ the operation of certain reactors was unilaterally revised, although corresponding fuel taxes were maintained. Eight reactors were also ordered to close immediately, despite assurances from the Reactor Safety Commission that safety requirements were met even in the light of the Fukushima accident. EOn and RWE contested the fuel tax in local courts, and the revision to the Atomic Energy Act in the constitutional court on the basis of confiscation of their property – generating rights and the use of legally operating plant. Based in Sweden, Vattenfall has taken up the matter with International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. They have all said they expect full compensation, which could reach several billion euros when the costs of early decommissioning and cancelled contracts are added to lost income from generation. For its part EnBW detailed some of the costs of the policy last year and contested the fuel tax, but has refused to join the constitutional action on the shutdowns. Yesterday it explained its position: After “intense legal scrutiny and consideration” it decided not to make a constitutional complaint. This was “based primarily on the fact that EnBW is over 98% owned by the public.” A constitutional complaint would be simply inadmissable, it said, although it remains confident the courts will find in favour of EOn and RWE. Two 46.55% blocks of EnBW shares reside with publicly owned holding groups, one of which is controlled by the the state of Baden-Württenberg – itself governed by a coalition of Social Democrats and Greens. This portion had previously been owned by EDF, but was sold for €4.67 billion ($5.74 billion) in December 2010. Fuente:...
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Hamaoka work to take one year longer

30 July 2012 Work to bolster tsunami and flood protection at the Hamaoka nuclear power plant in Japan will not be completed until the end of 2013, Chubu Electric Power Company has announced. The plant will remain offline until it has strengthened its sea defences. In May 2011, two months after a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, then-prime minister Naoto Kan personally decided that the Hamaoka plant would have to shut until it had bolstered sea defences. He said this was out of respect for public opinion in the context of Hamaoka’s position on the southern Tokai coast in one of the country’s regions of highest seismic activity. Kan said that analysis from earthquake experts under the Ministry of Education predicted an 87% chance of a magnitude 8 earthquake in the region within 30 years and the risk of a major tsunami. Chubu complied with Kan’s request, shutting down Hamaoka units 4 and 5, and not restarting unit 3 which was already offline for regular inspections. Units 1 and 2 have already been permanently shut down. In July 2011, Chubu detailed the steps it would take to raise tsunami and flooding protection for the plant. Behind a 60 metre row of sand dunes measuring between ten and 15 metres high above sea level, the company is erecting a new breakwater wall to reach 18 metres above sea level. On the main plant site, measures are being taken to mitigate general serious flooding as well as for the possibility that a tsunami could overwhelm the breakwater. They include the waterproofing of diesel generator rooms and seawater pumps, as well as the installation of pumps in the building basements. Grid connections are being doubled up, with another set of diesel generators complete with long-term fuel supply being installed on high ground behind the main plant buildings. Chubu originally expected to complete the work by December 2012. The utility has now announced that, although most of the work will be completed by the end of 2012 as planned, revisions to its work plan will mean that some measures will not be in place until a year later. Flood prevention measures – including construction of the sea wall and waterproofing the outer doors of buildings – “continue to progress according to the original schedule,” Chubu said. However, revisions announced in March 2012 following the analysis of new earthquake...
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Regulator warns of design vulnerability

30 July 2012 Nuclear regulators have instructed licensees of US nuclear power plants to provide information about the designs of their electric power systems after an incident earlier this year revealed a potential weak spot. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has alerted all licensees to a “potential design vulnerability” which it says could affect the operation of key safety equipment in the event of problems with off-site power. The flaw was revealed in a 30 January incident at Exelon’s Byron 2, when the unit automatically shut down because of unbalanced voltage entering the onsite power distribution system from the transmission network. Plant operators had to manually trip the necessary circuits to isolate the degraded external power source and switch to emergency power, because the protection scheme for the plant’s electric power system was not designed to do this automatically. Plants require reliable off-site and on-site power systems with sufficient capability and capacity to operate safety-related systems, and the NRC says that the degraded off-site power source could potentially have damaged the plant’s emergency core cooling system. The NRC formally informed US licensees of the Byron event in March, and has now requested licensees provide information on their electric systems designs. The order applies to all the 104 currently operating commercial power reactors in the USA, and also to the four combined construction and operation licences issued for new reactors earlier this year. Licensees have 90 days to comply with the NRC’s request. Fuente:...
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