Core catcher on its way to Belarus 2

31 July 2014 The Volgodonsk branch of AEM-Technology has started preparing the core melt trap, or core catcher, for shipment to the site of the Belarus nuclear power plant, near Ostrovets. A core catcher is a device provided to catch the molten core material – corium – of a nuclear reactor in case of a nuclear meltdown and prevent it from escaping the containment building. In a statement issued July 30, Atomenergomash (AEM) said the core catcher is intended for the second reactor of the plant. AEM-Technology – which fabricated the components – is an affiliate of Atomenergomash. The metal structure is 14 meters high and 6.5 m across. It weighs about 750 tonnes, AEM said. The core catcher for Belarus-1 was delivered to the plant site in October. Construction of unit 2 started early last month, following the pouring of first concrete for the reactor’s basemat. Both units are scheduled to start operation by 2020. The Belarusian nuclear power plant will consist of two power-generating units with the total generating capacity of up to 2400MW (1200MW each). The Russian design AES-2006 has been chosen to build the power plant. The design is fully compliant with international standards and IAEA recommendations. The Russian merged company OAO NIAEP – ZAO Atomstroyexport (ASE) is the general designer and the general contractor for building the power plant. AEM-Technology has also made and delivered core catchers for the first and second units of the Novovoronezh 2 nuclear power plant and for the first unit of the Baltic nuclear power plant....
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Heap leach trials for Olympic Dam

31 July 2014 BHP Billiton has applied for government approval to build a demonstration-scale heap leaching plant at its Olympic Dam mine, as the company looks for more economical ways of expanding the South Australian project. Olympic Dam has been operating as an underground copper and gold mine, with uranium as a significant by-product, since 1988. Environmental approvals were granted for a large-scale expansion to include an open pit adjacent to the existing underground mine workings in 2011, but in mid-2012 the company announced that it was putting the project on hold while it looked into alternative less capital-intensive development options. Heap leaching – a technique of treating crushed ore, usually with acid, over a long period to extract the uranium – is an alternative being considered by BHP Billiton. The company says that laboratory and pilot scale trials of the technique using ore mined underground at the existing operations have shown promising results to date. It has now lodged an application for assessment by the Australian and South Australian governments to construct and operate a demonstration plant on the site. If permission is granted, BHP Billiton expects to start construction of the demonstration plant in the second half of 2015, with a three-year trial period starting in late 2016. Some 36,000 tonnes of ore – about one day’s worth of current mine production – will be used in the trial. The ore will be crushed to gravel-sized particles, placed on the impermeable leach pad and treated with sulphuric acid for 300 days. This is expected to recover most of the uranium and around half of the copper. The uranium would then be removed from the uranium-rich liquid by solvent extraction methods, after which the copper would be removed electrolytically. Depleted ore remaining after the acid treatment would be recovered before being crushed, milled and refined on site. Unlike BHP’s former expansion plans, it would appear that the proposed heap-leaching method would enable all the copper recovery to be carried out on-site, without the need to transport any of the copper concentrate elsewhere for smelting. The original expansion plans had envisaged transporting some of the copper concentrate for smelting overseas, but the presence of uranium in the concentrate would have meant that this would have to be carried out under International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. Olympic Dam currently produces close to 4000 tU3O8 per year and around 180,000 tonnes...
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Spanish regulator sets conditions for Garoña restart

31 July 2014 The operator of Spain’s Garoña nuclear power plant, Nuclenor, has until the end of September to provide a schedule to meet a series of requirements set by the country’s nuclear regulator for its restart. At its meeting on 30 July, the Nuclear Safety Council (Consejo de Seguridad Nuclear, CSN) voted in favour of issuing a complementary technical instruction to Nuclenor on documentation and additional requirements associated with its operating licence renewal application for the Garoña plant. The new technical instruction sets out requirements grouped into eight specific areas. Among these are those associated with the current situation of cessation of operation; those related to long-term operation; and, inspections and tests on the reactor vessel. The CSN has also included design modifications based on lessons learned from the 2011 Fukushima accident and the subsequent European stress tests. The CSN said that a number of these requirements call for an analysis of the results of inspections or the implementation of design modifications before it will allow fuel to be loaded into Garoña. Among the most important requirements is that Nuclenor conducts inspections on the functionality and structural integrity of Garoña’s reactor vessel and its components. The CSN said this is to ensure the vessel has no manufacturing defects similar to those found at two units in Belgium. The operator must also implement a program for inspecting and monitoring penetrations in the lower part of the reactor vessel, where the guide tubes of the control rod drive mechanism are located. To meet post-Fukushima requirements, the CSN has also required Nuclenor to install a filtered venting system in Garoña’s containment, as well as installing a hydrogen recombining system in its reactor building. As with other Spanish nuclear power plants, an alternative emergency management centre must also be established at Garoña. The CSN has also stated that Nuclenor must carry out modifications identified as part of a periodic safety review in 2009 but not implemented due to the plant’s subsequent closure. These include the installation of a system to treat and control radioactive gases within plant areas in the event of an accident; improved independence of equipment and wiring for safety and non-safety system; and improved fire protection systems. The regulator has requested that Nuclenor submits a timetable by 30 September for when it anticipates meeting each of its requirements. Restart effort In September 2012, Nuclenor – a joint venture of Endesa...
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Converdyn down but not out in barter battle

31 July 2014 Converdyn says it will press on with a legal challenge against the Department of Energy (DoE) after a federal judge this week denied a temporary injunction to stop the department’s uranium barter program. Converdyn is the USA’s sole uranium conversion company. Denver, Colorado-based Converdyn – a general partnership between affiliates of Honeywell and General Atomics – filed for the injunction against DoE in June, claiming it is losing $10 million a year in potential revenue. “Converdyn put forth strong arguments and evidence that the DoE’s actions have caused harm to the US conversion industry, contrary to federal law,” Honeywell spokeswoman Nina Krauss told World Nuclear News on 31 July. “While we are disappointed in the judge’s decision to deny a temporary injunction, the hearing was only the first stage of this legal action and we are encouraged that the formal proceedings will be expedited. The company firmly believes the law is on its side in this matter and it will prevail in this legal action,” Krauss said. The federal court decision is good news, however, for Fluor-B&W Portsmouth – DoE’s contractor for the decontamination and decommissioning of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, Ohio. If Federal Judge Reggie Walton had granted an injunction blocking the sale of uranium, the 2000-strong workforce at Piketon would have been cut to about 650 employees, according to a report in Ohio newspaper theChillicothe Gazette. The Piketon plant is authorized by DoE to sell a predetermined portion of the inventory on the open market for use as fuel in nuclear power reactors. The remaining uranium inventory at the Piketon plant generates 70% of the clean-up project’s funding, while the rest comes from federal appropriations. Piketon’s uranium inventory could by depleted by 2016. Walton will issue a formal written opinion within 30 days, outlining in detail the basis for his ruling, Krauss said. In the meantime, the government and Converdyn have begun working on a joint proposed schedule for formal proceedings, with the starting date for those yet to be decided, she said. Illegal Morris Township, New Jersey-based Honeywell argues that, under federal law, DoE is prohibited from making any such transfers unless the secretary of energy determines those transfers will not have an adverse material impact on the US nuclear industry. The act also specifies that DoE must receive fair market value for the material. Converdyn “has repeatedly provided information to DoE demonstrating...
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Licence amendment for Darlington

30 July 2014 The Canadian nuclear regulator has approved a one-year extension to the operating licence of the Darlington nuclear power plant. This will allow extra time for preparation of information by Ontario Power Generation (OPG) in support of its application for a licence extension to 2028. OPG submitted a licence renewal application to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) last December and submitted additional information to support its application in February. Darlington’s current operating licence expires at the end of this year. OPG requested that licence be extended to December 2028 under the same terms and conditions as the current licence. In a letter submitted by OPG with its application, OPG noted that a 14-year licence extension “is a longer licence term than what has traditionally been granted to a Canadian licencee.” The Canadian regulator has usually issued five-year extensions to reactor operating licences. However, the units would be offline for about an eight-year period for a planned refurbishment project. The CNSC announced in March that public hearings to consider the long-term renewal of Darlington’s operating licence, including the proposed refurbishment of all four Darlington units, would be held in November. With the expiry of Darlington’s current operating licence approaching, OPG requested a one-year extension to allow additional time to provide more comprehensive documentation, reflect new CNSC expectations and facilitate public engagement in the upcoming public hearing. The CNSC has now approved that extension and, as a result, has rescheduled the public hearing to the second half of 2015. The regulator noted, “The commission is of the view that the amendment will facilitate a renewal hearing with comprehensive information.” Darlington, on the shore of Lake Ontario, consists of four 881 MWe Candu pressurized heavy water reactors. OPG plans to start work on refurbishing all four units in 2016 with completion scheduled for late 2024. The refurbishment would enable the units to continue operating for a further 25-30 years....
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