New licence for Chernobyl used fuel facility

28 March 2013 Ukraine’s nuclear regulator has issued a new licence for the construction and commissioning of a facility to store used nuclear fuel at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The interim storage facility, ISF-2, is already under construction and will be used to condition and store used fuel assemblies from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. The new licence supersedes the facility’s existing licence, and will enable work to move on to include construction and pre-commissioning activities as well as supporting the process to obtain the permit needed for the facility to eventually be commissioned. Construction of the facility, which is being built by Holtec International and funded by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), is scheduled for completion in 2015. Used fuel from Chernobyl units 1-3 has up to now been stored in pools at the reactors as well as in an existing interim storage facility, ISF-1. When completed, ISF-2 will provide long-term dry storage for the more than 20,000 fuel assemblies from the plant’s operating life....
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Putin offers help to South African nuclear industry

28 March 2013 Russia is offering to help South Africa to develop its own nuclear industry from resource production to power plant design and manufacture, Vladimir Putin has told South African president Jacob Zuma. Putin’s remarks were made during bilateral talks held by the two leaders in advance of the two-day BRICS summit of the leading emerging economies (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) held in Durban. The two leaders signed a joint declaration of a strategic partnership between the two countries, and witnessed the signing of a package of bilateral documents on cooperation in various fields, including a cooperation agreement on energy. “We have enormous potential for developing cooperation in the energy sector, first and foremost in nuclear energy,” Putin told the press after the talks. He said that Russia was offering help to South Africa not just in building individual nuclear units using “cutting-edge technology” but also in developing the country’s nuclear industry as a whole, from resource production, through the construction of nuclear power plants and research reactors, to designing and manufacturing South Africa’s own nuclear power equipment. “Naturally, all this involves credit assistance from the Russian side and training of specialists,” he added. Putin’s promise comes days after South African vice president Kgalema Motlanthe spoke of South Africa’s needs to develop a comprehensive nuclear program in a keynote speech to to the Nuclear Africa 2013 conference. Motlanthe described nuclear power as ideal for South Africa, providing the capability to spread large-scale electricity production around the country: at present, most of South Africa’s coal-fired generation capacity is clustered in the north-eastern part of the country, necessitating long-distance transmission. “It has become crystal clear that coal is not the long-term solution for our energy needs,” he said. South Africa must aim to become “globally competitive” in designing, manufacturing and deploying state-of-the-art nuclear energy systems, the vice-president noted. South Africa has two 900 MWe nuclear reactors at Koeberg, currently producing around 5% of its electricity. Government plans foresee at least 9600 MWe of new nuclear capacity by 2030....
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Tohoku scraps plan for Namie-Odaka plant

28 March 2013 Long-standing plans for the construction of a new nuclear power plant in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture have been dropped by utility Tohoku Electric Power Company. The Namie-Odaka plant was first proposed some 45 years ago. Tohoku originally launched plans in 1968 for a large power reactor for the town of Namie, near Minamisoma city, about 15 kilometres north of the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Under the latest plan, construction of an 825 MWe boiling water reactor had been set to begin in 2017, with operation to start in 2023. However, the utility has now stated that it has abandoned the plan to build the plant as local opposition and the condition of the local environment had put the project in “a very difficult situation.” Following the nuclear accident at the nearby Fukushima Daiichi plant – the result of the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck the region on 11 March 2011 – the prefectural government said it would end its dependence on nuclear energy. Both the town council of Namie and the city council of Minamisoma have called for plans for the Namie-Odaka plant to be scrapped. In addition, the proposed site for the plant lies within the 20 kilometre evacuation zone around the damaged Fukushima Daiichi plant, although local residents are now permitted to visit the area. Tohoku noted that it had not completed the purchase of land for the proposed plant. “It is not appropriate to continue to promote the location as it is,” the company conceded. Tohoku said that, as a result, it has excluded the planned plant from its supply plan for 2013. Tohoku said it will book a one-time charge of some Y18 billion ($190 million) for the year ending 31 March 2014 due to the cancellation of the Namie-Odaka plant. The utility expects to report a loss of Y105 billion ($1.1 billion) for the current financial year. Tohoku has three units at its Onagawa plant in Miyagi Prefecture which automatically shut down during the March 2011 earthquake. These have been ordered to remain off-line by the government. Meanwhile, in Aomori Prefecture, the company’s Higashidori 1 has not operated since it shut down in February 2011 for periodic inspections. In its supply plan, Tohoku said that it had yet to determine whether its plan to construct a second unit at the Higashidori site would go ahead. A 2km-long seawall is being built to...
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Small fast reactor simulator commissioned

27 March 2013 A training simulator for the SVBR-100 metal-cooled integral fast reactor being developed in Russia has entered operation. A pilot unit is scheduled to start up in 2017. The simulator was supplied to AKME-Engineering – a joint stock company set up by Rosatom in 2009 to develop and commercialise the SVBR-100 – by Experimental Research and Methodological Centre “Simulation System.” The simulator is an interactive model of an SVBR-100 power unit, which includes the reactor core, the primary and secondary circuits of the reactor module, the turbine generator and associated control equipment. AKME-Engineering director general Vladimir Petrochenko said, “The simulator is designated for the exploration and demonstration of the concept, dynamic modes and various transient processes during the SVBR-100 power unit operation. The second function of the software is to train the personnel of ACME-Engineering as the operating company for the SVBR-100 project.” He added, “We are also planning to update the simulator using data deriving from the extension of the thorough technical study of the SVBR-100 project.” Petrochenko noted that the simulator “is not only a product display and training bench that allows the visual monitoring of physical processes and trying different operational modes, but it is also the virtual prototype of the SVBR-100 power unit.” Reactor concept The 100 MWe SVBR-100 is an integral reactor design, in which all the primary circuit – the reactor core itself as well as steam generators and associated equipment such as main circulating pumps – sits inside a pool of lead-bismuth coolant in a single vessel. The module would be factory-built and could be shipped by rail, road or water to its destination, where multiple modules could be installed depending on local needs. The output from the multi-function reactor could be used to supply heat, industrial steam and water desalination as well as electricity generation. The SVBR-100 concept has already been used on seven Russian Alfa-class nuclear submarines as well as in experimental installations on land. However, the commercial power reactor would be adapted to operate with various forms of nuclear fuel including uranium-plutonium mixed oxide (MOX) and nitride fuels. Using uranium oxide fuel enriched up to 16.8% the reactor would be able to operate for 7-8 years between refuelling. When operating with MOX, it would be able to operate within a self-supported closed fuel cycle. According to AKME-Engineering, the pilot unit is scheduled to begin operating in 2017...
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South Korean nuclear policy unchanged

27 March 2013 The new South Korean government of Park Geun-hye looks unlikely to waver from its predecessor’s staunch support for the country’s nuclear energy program. Park, who took office on 25 February, has not explained in detail how she will run her country’s nuclear energy industry. However, judging by recent general comments by the president and her officials, analysts predict her nuclear energy policy will be almost identical to that of her predecessor Lee Myung-bak, who served as president for five years. Like Lee, Park is expected to promote domestic nuclear power plant development and reactor exports, such as the historic $20 billion deal signed in December 2009, under the Lee administration, with the United Arab Emirates for the supply of four reactors. This order marked the first time South Korea beat rival offers from other countries to export nuclear reactors. Sheen Seongho, an associate professor at Seoul National University and an expert on South Korean nuclear issues, says official statements – such as the policy road map outlining the Park administration’s key goals that her presidential transition team announced last month – show “she plans to continue Mr Lee’s vigorous support for South Korea’s atomic energy sector.” The 140 policy tasks contained in the road map include “boosting reactor exports, an objective the Lee administration shared, and introducing more stringent nuclear power plant safeguards in South Korea, a continuation of a policy Mr Lee adopted after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster,” said Sheen. “I think her support for South Korea’s atomic energy program will be even stronger than Mr Lee’s; having majored in electronic engineering in college, she’ll likely take a greater, personal interest in science-related policies,” he added. Public resistance Park Hi-chun, an economics professor at Inha University who has advised the Korean government on nuclear energy policy, said Fukushima’s public relations legacy meant there was no room for error: “Atomic safety concerns foreign suppliers of South Korea’s nuclear parts and countries [that] Seoul hopes to export reactors to, as well as local environmentalists and residents who protest against and oppose construction of additional reactors here.” According to Park Hi-chun, “Despite stiff resistance to building more nuclear power plants in South Korea after Fukushima, Ms Park wants to overcome that and install more reactors. This was Mr Lee’s stance also.” South Korea currently operates 23 reactors that provide 30% of its electricity. Park’s road map tasks also...
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