Finnish firms commit to Fennovoima

28 February 2014 Finnish companies have committed to hold just over half of the ownership of Fennovoima, the company proposing to build the Hanhikivi nuclear power plant in Finland. In 2006, a group of Finnish industrial and energy companies interested in participating in a new power plant project founded Voimaosakeyhtiö SF as the main shareholder in Fennovoima. Within a couple of years, over 60 companies had joined and Germany’s EOn had taken a 34% stake in the project. However, in October 2012 EOn withdraw from Fennovoima, with Voimaosakeyhtiö buying its share to take full control. Then, last November, 45 of the Finnish companies with shareholdings in Voimaosakeyhtiö confirmed that they wanted to continue with their involvement in the project. Voimaosakeyhtiö has now announced that 44 of its shareholders had confirmed they will take a combined 50.2% stake in the company. Earlier this month,mining company Talvivaara said that while it continues to support the Fennovoima project, it is not in a position to commit to it financially. However, Voimaosakeyhtiö said that it aims to increase the share held by Finnish firms up to around 66%. The company said that it is in negotiations with potential new owners and that these will be finalized by the end of June. At that time, the final ownership shares of the current owners would be specified. In December 2013, Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom agreed to take a 34% stake in Fennovoima. However, earlier this week, Rosatom head Sergey Kiriyenko said that the company was prepared to increase its stake up to as much as 49%. Fennovoima signed the plant supply contract for Hanhikivi with Rusatom Overseas – Russia’s state nuclear corporation Rosatom’s subsidiary concerned with exports of nuclear power plants. Rosatom has offered to build a plant using a Gidropress-designed AES-2006 VVER that would produce 1200 MWe. Fennovoima said that the complete power plant investment will be confirmed in mid-March. A final decision by the Finnish companies on whether or not to commit to the project is a precursor to the signature of any contracts with reactor supplier Rosatom....
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Commercial operation at Hongyanhe 2

28 February 2014 The second unit at the Hongyanhe plant in Liaoning province in northeast China has entered commercial operation. Two further units at the site are scheduled to begin operating by the end of next year. The 1080 MWe Chinese-designed pressurized water reactor officially entered commercial operation on 25 February, China Power Investment Corp (CPI) announced. The unit is a CPR-1000 pressurized water reactor, on which construction was started in 2008. Hongyanhe 2 reached criticality on 24 October 2013 and was successfully synchronised to the grid on 23 November. Hongyanhe 1, also a 1080 MWe CPR-1000, has been operating on a commercial basis since June 2013. Two further CPR-1000 units are currently being built at Hongyanhe and are expected to start up by the end of 2015. The Hongyanhe plant is the first to be built in the northeast of China. The site incorporates a seawater desalination plant producing 10,080 cubic metres of potable water per day. The plant is owned and operated by Liaoning Hongyanhe Nuclear Power Co, a joint venture in which China General Nuclear Power Co (CGNPC) and China Power Investment Corp (CPI) each hold a 45% stake, with the Dalian Municipal Construction Investment Co holding the remaining 10%....
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Nuclear companies roll out expertise

28 February 2014 Areva Inc and Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL) have announced separate initiatives that will see the companies share technology developed for nuclear energy applications with non-nuclear markets. Areva’s North American subsidiary Areva Inc is offering its automated non-destructive examination (NDE) systems to the US aerospace, steel forging and railway industries through a newly established dedicated organisation, NDE Solutions. Areva already offers NDE services for nuclear power plants, including inspections of steam generators, reactor pressure vessels, internals and reactor vessel heads, using ultrasonic testing systems it has developed to ensure the structural integrity of such components. That technology has been adapted to be used in other safety-critical industries, using robotics to inspect steel and carbon-fibre reinforced plastic components. According to Areva, the NDE technology and systems it is now offering in the USA have already been proven in high-speed rail, steel and aerospace applications in Europe. Heavy water crossover AECL has signed an agreement on the advancement of heavy water (deuterium oxide, or D2O) technology and sales with Ontario company Isowater. The companies have been collaborating since 2009 to demonstrate D2O technology and to sell the product to a growing number of users in the high-tech, life science and environmental sectors. The agreement, described by AECL as a “major milestone” in the collaboration, enables Isowater to market and sell existing D2O inventories to certain non-nuclear markets. At the same time, Isowater will work on advancing new technologies to recycle and upgrade D2O using a refinery system developed in collaboration with AECL. In the longer term, Isowater intends to develop new primary heavy water production systems. AECL president and CEO Robert Walker described the collaboration as a bridge bringing technology that was developed for nuclear markets into the life science and high-tech sectors. Isowater president and CEO Andrew Stuart said the agreement made sufficient inventory available for the company to meet the needs of the growing non-nuclear market for D2O, particularly in scientific research. “In time, we can scale our production to meet the needs of heavy water moderated reactors,” he said....
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WIPP radiation under investigation

27 February 2014 While investigations continue into the source of airborne radiation detected within the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico, initial sample results suggest that 13 workers received external doses. The WIPP plant is owned by the US Department of Energy (DoE) and operated by Nuclear Waste Partnership LLC (NWP). The facility disposes of transuranic waste packages from the US military in an underground salt formation. An underground monitor detected airborne radiation within the plant on 14 February. There were no workers underground at the time but, as a precautionary measure, all those at the surface were checked for external contamination. Filters on the underground plant’s vents removed at least 99.87% of contaminants from the air, but trace amounts of americium and plutonium were subsequently detected by an above-ground sampling station near the plant. The DoE and NWP have now notified 13 workers that they had tested positive for radiological exposure. These workers will be requested to provide additional medical samples to determine the extent of any exposure. The DoE said, “It is premature to speculate on the health effects of these preliminary results, or any treatment that may be needed.” It added that indications suggest that airborne radioactive material “was likely at very low levels.” The department noted that the transuranic radionuclides involved in this event was predominantly americium-241 – a radionuclide used in smoke detectors and a contaminant in nuclear weapons manufacturing. No shipments of waste were scheduled to be delivered to the plant between 14 February and 10 March as the facility had entered an annual maintenance outage. Since the radiological event, only essential staff have been allowed on site. The radiological event occurred just one week after one of the trucks used to haul salt underground at WIPP caught fire, but as yet the two events have not been linked....
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Helical steam generator passes test

27 February 2014 Testing activities have been successfully completed for a first-of-a-kind helical coil steam generator (HCSG) for use in NuScale Power’s small modular reactor (SMR) design. The component, which will convert nuclear heat into process steam in the integral pressurised water reactor, has been tested at SIET SpA’s facilities in Piacenza, Italy. The tests, aimed to help design and test a steam generator stabilisation system, provide data on the full range of operation to benchmark computer codes and models for the HCSG, and to measure steam generator outlet conditions as a function of primary and secondary systems and tube geometry. The performance of the HCSG was tested over the expected range of reactor operating conditions. Pressurised water reactors use steam generators to transfer the heat from the reactor coolant – the primary circuit – to heat water in a secondary circuit to make steam to power the electricity generation turbines. They do this by circulating the reactor coolant through thousands of tubes, typically about 2cm in diameter, which are surrounded by the water of the secondary circuit. In conventional nuclear power plants, steam generators are huge components, typically weighing up to 800 tonnes, with the tubes in either a vertical or horizontal configuration and relying on pumps to keep the coolant circulating. NuScale’s self-contained SMR design houses the reactor core, pressuriser and steam generator inside a single containment vessel. It relies on gravity, not pumps, to circulate the water in the primary circuit up through a riser above the core and down through the HCSG, which as its name suggests contains tubes in a spiral configuration. After passing through the HCSG, the cooled water is pulled down by gravity to the bottom of the reactor pressure vessel where it is drawn through the core again. A single module can generate up to 45 MWe of electricity and is just under 25m in length, 4.6m in diameter and weighing around 450 tonnes. In December 2013, the US Department of Energy selected NuScale’s SMR to receive federal funding for up to half of the cost of developing, licensing and commercialising the reactor, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is currently undertaking pre-application activities in anticipation of a design certification application around the third quarter of 2015. During the testing process, the commission carried out a quality assurance inspection of NuScale’s testing activities at the Italian facilities, which it found to be fully compliant...
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