APR: your source for nuclear news and analysis since April 16, 2010

Friday, April 18, 2014

Historic Nuclear Ship Savannah Open for Tours May 18

[Press release from N.S. Savannah Association, Inc.]


Historic Ship N.S. Savannah Open for Tours May 18, 2014 in Observance of Maritime Day

N.S. Savannah Association, Inc. 4/17/2014

The unique, nuclear powered ship N.S. Savannah will be opened for tours at her pier in Baltimore, Md. on Sunday, May 18, 2014 as a part of the annual commemoration of Maritime Day. During the hours of 10:00 AM - 3:30 PM, visitors will be offered a rare opportunity to view this beautiful and historic vessel.

“This day pays special tribute to the people who served as merchant mariners in service to their country as well as to the benefits that the maritime industry provides for the United States,” says Bob Moody, President of the N.S. Savannah Association Inc. and former licensed reactor operator on the ship. “We’re pleased that the Port of Baltimore hosts visitors on these occasions, and that the U.S. Maritime Administration opens the ship for the day for tours so that people can see just how unique and beautiful the ship is, inside and out.”

N.S. Savannah Association members will be on board during the weekend, providing information to visitors from a unique perspective - that of having worked on the ship. The Association serves to assist in preservation of the ship, as well as public education about the ship and its history. The ship is owned by the U.S. Maritime Administration.

Maritime Day, declared as a holiday by joint act of Congress in 1933, was set as May 22 as that is the day in 1819 on which the steamer Savannah left on the first successful transatlantic voyage by a steam-powered vessel. In honor of that pioneer, the keel of N.S. Savannah was laid on Maritime Day in 1958.

The ship is located at Canton Marine Terminal Pier 13, 4601 Newgate Avenue, Baltimore, MD 21224.

Media contact:

Will Davis

Communications Director, N.S. Savannah Association


The N.S. Savannah Association's website can be found here:  ns-savannah.org

9:30 AM 4/18/2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

STURGIS to be decommissioned, dismantled

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Nuclear Power Plant "Sturgis" enters the Panama Canal(1968). Records of the Army Signal Corps, RG 111; National Archives and Records Administration - College Park, Md. (Photo by Courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration)

The announcement has been made today that the US Army Corps of Engineers selected CB&I Federal Services to dismantle the nuclear barge STURGIS, the first floating nuclear power plant ever built.   A number of highly informative links follow.

Click here to see the page with today's announcement.

Unlike Navy nuclear ships, the Sturgis will be completely dismantled and the nuclear plant taken apart piece by piece, in a process not unlike that performed at commercial nuclear plants.  This information and much more is available here in the Final Environmental Assessment of the decommissioning of the Sturgis and its Martin-Marietta MH-1A nuclear power plant.

This Army Corps of Engineers page has more data.. and Sturgis videos!

3:00 PM Eastern 3/31/2014

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Nuclear Energy Carnival 200

Believe it or not, it's time for the TWO HUNDREDTH Carnival of Nuclear Energy!  It seems like only yesterday that Carnival 100 was posted.  Since then, we've had additions to the roll of regular contributors as well as losses, but the quality of content has remained top notch.

You'll get to see that quality for yourself after you play the usual game here at Atomic Power Review when there's a Carnival ... you have to guess "What is this?"

You can tell me what this facility is, or else who owned and operated it, or maybe even just where it is.  Or should I say "was"... because this facility is completely decommissioned now and there's no trace of it.  I probably don't need to tell you that this facility does indeed contain a reactor, and it's not just the run of the mill test reactor developing only a few watts of power.  Answer after the Carnival!


ANS Nuclear Cafe - submitted by Paul Bowersox

"Fukushima Three Years Later" by Will Davis

An overview of the situation and developments at Fukushima Daiichi, three years after the Great Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami.  Ongoing recovery efforts in and around the site, safety enhancements for existing reactor fleets, prospects for restarting reactors in Japan.

"Three years of available lessons from Fukushima" by Rod Adams

The events 3 years ago at Fukushima Daiichi offer challenging but necessary lessons about the commercial use of nuclear energy.  A conversation to document some of the lessons from the accident.


The Hiroshima Syndrome - Les Corrice

Fukushima Third Anniversary - The Positive and the Negative.  Les Corrice takes a look at reporting on the third anniversary of the Fukushima Daiichi accident, with an emphasis on who has reported in a positive and in a negative vein.  Corrice examines the common negative themes in reporting; he also notes that there was positive reporting this year whereas last year there was none.


Atomic Insights - Rod Adams

Healthy Doses of Radiation

Doses of radiation that are lower than about 700 mGy/yr are more likely to reduce cancer incidence and increase life span than to decrease it. In other words, moderate radiation doses are good for you in the same way as moderate exercise is good for you.

The basis for this economy-altering assertion is documented in Dr. Jerry Cuttler’s recent paper titled Remedy for Radiation fear — discard the Politicized sciencewhich is available as a pre=press article from Dose Response.

Nader's Nuclear Blind Spot

A Democracy Now segment featuring Ralph Nader and starting with a discussion on climate change rapidly turned into an antinuclear rant. Rod does some fact checking to point out several misinformed statements.


Yes Vermont Yankee - Meredith Angwin

Earthquake Anniversary: Updated and Unplugged

Activists planned to remember the Fukushima meltdowns by "unplugging" nuclear power from the grid.  Actually, they unplugged themselves by turning off lights and not playing video games--for a day.

The Fuel Pools: Opponents Say the Darndest Things!

Local nuclear opponents want all of Vermont Yankee's spent fuel moved to dry cask storage as soon as possible.  However, they said they will sue Entergy if the company uses decommissioning fund money to move fuel from the fuel pool.


4Factor Consulting - Margaret Harding

NRC RIC - Part 1

Margaret attended the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Regulatory Information Conference (RIC) in Washington D.C., and reports here on the speeches of the NRC Chairman and two of its commissioners. 


Next Big Future - Brian Wang

China is back to raising its nuclear energy targets for 2020. Perhaps heading to 70-80GW instead of 58 GW

Japan might restart up to 10 reactors per year. About 35 reactors operational in 2019

Canada's nuclear regulators are performance based instead of the US NRC rules based. The US NRC is based on rules for light water reactors of the late 1960s. Canada could allow the new Terrestrial Energy Molten salt reactor to be operational by 2020.


Canadian Energy Issues - Steve Aplin

Fighting carbon with electricity: bringing the Third Electrification to Ontario

While Paris France chokes on automobile exhaust, Steve Aplin of Canadian Energy Issues wonders how quickly the worldwide automobile fleet could be replaced with all- or partially-electric cars. The quicker that happens, the quicker mankind can shift to a truly sustainable economy. That shift, which Steve calls The Third Electrification, would be as profound and revolutionary as the advent of the electricity grid was in the Twentieth Century.


Nuke Power Talk - Gail Marcus

Technology Risk:  The More Things Change....

Gail Marcus goes down memory lane this week, with a report on Nuke Power Talk on some things that have changed and some things that have stayed the same in the field of risk assessment.


Forbes - Jim Conca

Radioactive Fukushima Waters Arrive At West Coast Of America

Presenters at the annual Ocean Sciences Meeting in Honolulu recently said ocean water containing dissolved radionuclides from Fukushima’s crippled nuclear reactors has reached the west coast of North America. However, levels of radioactivity are so low by the time they leave Japan that there is no concern whatsoever that radioactivity from Fukushima could ever harm America.


The Economics of Nuclear -- a new website by Rick Maltese

The prevailing view by the anti-nuclear crowd is that no energy source sucks up the billions of dollars like the building of nuclear plants. The problem is that intermittent energy sources like wind and solar should not be compared to baseload energy sources like nuclear. Nuclear energy runs 24/7 daily uninterrupted for years at a time. The bright side of nuclear needs to be categorized in a class by itself. 

Non-emitting baseload energy, which of course eliminates coal and natural gas, is becoming more scarce in the US and other countries that favor an "all of the above" energy strategy that inevitably alienates nuclear energy because it supposedly is too expensive. 

The benefits to the environment surpass that of wind and solar by virtue of it's ability to replace dirty baseload energy sources like coal and natural gas. Besides, nuclear plants provide a steady profit after the first ten years especially when competing energy sources are on an equal playing field.


That's it for this week's entries.  All that's left is to tell you what's shown in that photo above.

What you see in the photo is what used to be the NASA Plum Brook Reactor Facility, which was located in Ohio on a reservation about three miles south of Sandusky.  The main feature of the facility was the test reactor, which carried AEC license TR-3, and which was located inside the containment seen near the center of the photo surrounded by various support and administration buildings.  The facility also contained the MUR or Mock Up Reactor, a small zero-power test reactor.

NASA has published an excellent monograph volume on this facility which covers complete history of the site from its days long before nuclear energy, through the reactor facility days in the early 1960's, through early decommissioning activities in 2004.  This is called "NASA's Nuclear Frontier:  The Plum Brook Reactor Facility," by Mark D. Bowles and Robert S. Arrighi, and which was published by NASA as its "Monographs in Aerospace History No. 33" in August 2004 with publication number SP-2004-4533.  The book gives great detail of the test facilities - if anyone interested in test reactors wishes only one book on his or her shelf about test reactors, this would be a top choice.  The photo you saw is from the back cover of this well written book.

The Plum Brook reactor was, quite unusually, entirely designed by staff working for NASA; the company did not purchase an "off the shelf" design of test reactor, nor did it contract to an established vendor for test reactors (such as Westinghouse, ACF, American Standard, etc.)   The reactor had an exceedingly high output for test reactors of the day -- 60 MW -- and required, according to the official NASA monograph a million gallons of water a day which was pumped in from Lake Erie through underground piping.  The vessel for this reactor was shipped in by rail and was manufactured by Struthers-Wells (now a part of Babcock Power) in Pennsylvania.  The fuel, which could be described as generally of MTR type (which is plate type fuel arranged in a stack, with water channel spacing between plates and surrounded by a box structure), and which was enriched to 93% was fabricated by Sylvania-Corning Nuclear Corporation.  According to SYLCOR records in my collection, the company supplied to NASA 270 actual and 27 dummy fuel elements; the material was uranium-aluminum fuel with aluminum clad, with 18 plates per element.  The elements measured 3 inches by 3 inches by 42 inches.

(Interestingly, SYLCOR at this time was offering two kinds of completely standard nuclear fuel in 18 plate 3 by 3 inch design, with either curved or flat fuel plates but with a length of 34-3/8 inches.  The model for the flat design was A-1891-F, while that for the curved was A-1891-C, according to the SYLCOR Standard Fuel guide.  However, SYLCOR frequently manufactured fuel similar to these designs but customized in either element length, or enrichment percentage, or both.  SYLCOR proudly advertised itself as "The World's First Nuclear Fuel Company" and was the first to offer to the trade a line of standard reactor fuel elements.)

The facility was shut down for good and defueled in 1973; decommissioning took many years after this.  Here are some interesting links:

NASA Plum Brook decommissioning plan 1999, from NRC site

NASA Aerospace Frontiers newsletter featuring Plum Brook decommissioning

So Ohio has actually hosted a couple of historic reactors from the early days of nuclear energy - the organic cooled and moderated power reactor at Piqua Ohio, and the Plum Brook reactor we've seen and discussed briefly here.  Let me know in the comments if you guessed what the photo was!

6:30 PM 3/16/2014

Sunday, March 9, 2014

More Nuclear Energy for Mexico?

While keeping up on developments in South Korea, I happened to notice an interesting article in the Korea Times detailing Korea Electric Power Company's desire to expand business in Latin America.  Well down in that article is the following passage:

"... the Mexican government is seeking to build additional nuclear power plants, according to the statement."

The article goes on to note that Mexico's single nuclear plant -- which is a two-unit GE BWR plant known as Laguna Verde (pictured above) generated 3.4 percent of Mexico's total energy in 2012.  According to the KEPCO statement on which the Korea Times article is based, Mexico is studying plans to increase that percentage generated by nuclear to either 12 percent or 28 percent by the 2025-2028 time frame.

The World Nuclear Association page on Mexico notes studies to build gigawatt-class commercial plants, including expansion of the Laguna Verde plant through addition of another two units. 

According to KEPCO, the company has not been presented with any "detailed plans," and therefore is not making any serious efforts itself as yet regarding a future Mexican nuclear build-out.

The two plants at Laguna Verde were all that resulted from an early wide interest in nuclear energy in Mexico; these plants were begun in 1976 and entered service, according to WNA, in 1989 (Unit 1) and 1994 (Unit 2.)  Both have completed extended power uprates; the units were built rated 654 MWe but are today producing 800 MWe net.  An interest in use of nuclear energy for desalination in Mexico began very early, particularly in schemes to prevent use of water from below Mexico City which has resulted in the continuous slow collapse of portions of the city and which was detailed quite well in the book "Water Production Using Nuclear Energy," Roy G. Post and Robert L. Seale, Editors, University of Arizona Press Tucson 1966.  The Texoco Project saw a plan to divert the water supply for Mexico City away from water under the city, to water derived by nuclear powered desalting which was taken from the old dry Lake Texoco in order to prevent the continued and disastrous subsidence of portions of the whole of Mexico City due to removal of the water below it.  It is obvious that the nuclear plant was never built, but water production even today (as evidenced by the WNA article) remains a key considered use for fission energy's concentrated power output and reliability in Mexico.

I will keep my eye open for further developments along these lines.  Clearly, KEPCO and KHNP would like nothing better than another solid export and construction contract beyond that arranged and presently being executed in the UAE, and Mexico would, under the plans being considered, be a major addition.

(Both photos show Central Nuclear Laguna Verde, courtesy CNSNS.)

4:00 PM  3/9/2014

Thursday, February 20, 2014

SCE to Auction Surplus Nuclear Plant Machinery, Equipment

Press release below from Southern California Edison.


Media Contact: Maureen Brown, (626) 302-2255

ROSEMEAD, Calif., Feb. 20, 2014 — Southern California Edison (SCE) announced today that it plans a public auction next month to sell surplus machinery and equipment at the San Onofre nuclear plant, which was permanently retired last year.

SCE has retained MRI Auctions Inc., an industrial machinery auctioneer in Simi Valley, Calif., to facilitate the auction from March 26-28 via live webcast or in person at San Onofre just south of San Clemente.

Surplus inventory and components for sale include large capacity manual and computer numerical control (CNC) machine shops. CNC is a type of programmable automation which uses microcomputers to carry out machining operations. New parts, heavy metal and sheet metal fabrication equipment are among the other items listed for sale. No items for sale were associated with radiological plant operations.

“The sale of such equipment is a standard practice for decommissioning industrial sites such as San Onofre,” said Doug Bauder, SCE vice president of Operational Services. “It’s an efficient way for SCE to reduce inventory and redirect valuable equipment to companies that need it.”

The auction begins at 10 a.m. on March 26 at the Mesa portion of San Onofre on the east side of Interstate 5. Bidders may register on the MRI website, as well as view pictures of the items for sale. Bidders also may inspect the equipment at San Onofre from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. on March 24 and 25. SCE will not disclose the proceeds from the asset sale.

SCE announced June 7 that it would retire San Onofre Units 2 and 3, and begin preparations to decommission the facility. The site workforce has been reduced to 520, a reduction of more than 900 employees. For more information, visit www.songscommunity.com and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

About Southern California Edison
An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 4.9 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.


You can find the page covering the auction at this link.  There is a photo gallery.

6:40 PM 2/20

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Three Blogs Added to my Blog Roll

Just a short note to let my readers know to look at the auto-updating blog roll widget in the right sidebar for three newly added blogs.  The associated websites are below.

CASEnergy Coalition

Nuclear Fuels Reprocessing Coalition

Center for Environment, Commerce & Energy

All of these have very interesting and timely information which I find greatly expands the kind of coverage I offer in that blog roll.  The last listed blog above has a very interesting post made yesterday about the founder of that operation's long and unheralded struggle as a pro-nuclear environmentalist, dating back to well before the current bevy of those so prominently featured in press and film.  Check them out, and bookmark them!  I look forward to some fresh content now and again and these are great additions.

10:50 AM 2/18/2014

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Carnival of Nuclear Energy 195

It's time for the 195th Carnival of Nuclear Energy!  Every week, the Carnival appears at a different blog and showcases the best English-language, pro-nuclear bloggers and authors the world over. 

Before we get to the entries it's customary at Atomic Power Review to have a guessing game.  So, take a look at this photo and tell me ... "What is this?"

You can click on the photo to enlarge it.  The real subject of the photo is the dark object near the center, sitting on what looks like an angle-iron shaped tray or slide.  The object is oblong.  You could also tell me what the photo is generally or even (perhaps) where it was taken.  Or what the machine is that we're looking at.  Yes, of course this is nuclear related, and no, I really don't have a good hint for this one.  The answer, and more, after the Carnival entries!


Nuke Power Talk - Gail Marcus

Nuclear Power and Earthquakes - A Contribution to the Dialogue

With the interest in earthquakes and nuclear power plants being so important, and especially so in the decisions on restarting the shuttered nuclear power plants in Japan, Gail Marcus reports in Nuke Power Talk on a paper analyzing the faults around the Tsuruga plant in Japan. The paper not only explains the geological characteristics at that site, but in so doing, lays out some of the major factors considered in arriving at their conclusion, thus providing a useful tutorial for those of us who need to understand more about earthquakes and how the probability of seismic events is assessed.


Canadian Energy Issues - Steve Aplin

Disbelief, disarray in Ontario anti-nuclear circles as pension fund announces intention to increase share in nuclear power plant

Why did a major pension fund just decide to invest hundreds of millions more dollars into an Ontario nuclear plant? Because that plant, being the biggest clean energy producer in the western hemisphere, makes billions of dollars worth of electricity every year. It does so by selling its electricity at a cheaper price than almost every other source, which makes it an enormously valuable public asset. As Steve Aplin of Canadian Energy Issues points out, this offends supporters of competing electricity sources that are not only more expensive but come with heavy carbon emissions. Well, boo hoo for them.


ANS Nuclear Cafe - submitted by Paul Bowersox

South Korean Nuclear Power - Are the Dark Times Over?

At ANS Cafe, Will Davis examines the recent very public setbacks experienced by the nuclear energy program in South Korea, and takes a look at how the program is coming out of troubling times with a new mindset (and new scrutiny) and is already checking off successes.


Yes Vermont Yankee - Meredith Angwin

Is fracking all it's fracked up to be?

Angwin describes a Dartmouth engineering school seminar which echoes her own conclusion that low prices for shale gas are part of a transient bubble. They are not the new world order.

Gas Pipelines and Fees.  Both are on their way.

Angwin notes Vermont's plans to tax gas pipelines to fill the Clean Energy Development Fund. Vermont Yankee had been forced to pay tens of millions into that fund. Now, the Vermont administration is looking for new sources of funding for their favorite renewable projects.


Atomic Insights - Rod Adams  (guest post by Robert Hargraves)

Alvin Weinberg's Liquid Fuel Reactors

Physicist Alvin Weinberg worked on the Manhattan Project and later co-invented the pressurized water nuclear reactor. As Director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory he led development of liquid fuel reactors, including walk-away-safe liquid fluoride thorium reactors with inexhaustible fuel. Today such cheap, safe, clean energy has the potential to economically displace worldwide coal burning, inspiring many efforts to implement Weinberg’s achievements.


The Hiroshima Syndrome - Leslie Corrice

Is there Fukushima Radiation on the US West Coast?

Les Corrice presents a summary of the contamination issues relative to the North American Pacific Coast.  As of February, 2014, no Fukushima isotopes had been detected.


Forbes - Jim Conca

Obama's Climate Goals Jeopardized by Shutting Working Nuclear Plants

Concern is mounting in the Obama administration over a growing number of nuclear reactors that are being closed prematurely, for no reason other than a failure of the energy market structure in the United States.  These threaten America's ability to achieve any emissions goals in the future.


That's it for this week's entries.  Now all that's left is to let you know what exactly that non-identifiable object was and why it was sitting on that highly obscure contraption.

While looking for something else, I stumbled across this photo in the 1964 edition of the Atomic Energy Commission Annual Report to Congress.  I decided that it would make a fun guessing game photo.  Here is the original caption for the picture:

"EBR-2 Fuel.  The AEC's Experimental Breeder Reactor No. 2 (EBR-2) at the National Reactor Testing Station in Arco, Idaho began producing electric power in August, and during September the first irradiated fuel elements were started through the recycling process in the integrated fuel reprocessing system.  The EBR-2 is the first such fully integrated plant.  Photo, taken through a 5 foot thick radiation proof window in the Fuel Cycle Facility, shows the first uranium ingot (center of photo) ever produced from irradiated fuel by the Argonne National Laboratory-developed pyrometallurgical reprocessing method.  The EBR-2 fuel subassembly from which the ingot was reprocessed had reached an estimated 0.1 atom percent (a/o) burnup and was allowed to cool 30 days before reprocessing.  Such ingots are refabricated into fuel elements and returned to the reactor for further use by remote-control equipment."

So we have here a fairly historic photo, at least in terms of the history of US effort toward construction of breeder reactors and production of fuel through reprocessing. What proved a practical impossibility was finding this photo duplicated elsewhere -- it's not even in the definitive and authoritative volume on the whole EBR-2 program ("The EBR-2 Fuel Cycle Story, Charles E. Stevenson, American Nuclear Society, 1987.)  Reviewing my copy of this book, I found the following photo showing essentially the same device but without the ingot:

This photo can be found on page 91 of "The EBR-2 Fuel Cycle Story" and shows the IRAS device; this stands for Ingot Remover and Sampler.  Starting at the top right arrow and moving clockwise we see the tilting slide tray, the sample shear, sample cans, the can capper and the ingot holder.  The function of the IRAS was to remove uranium ingots from their molds first, then shear off two specially made small protrusions at the base of the ingot (which you can see in the earlier photo.) It also used the "can capper" to place lids on the sample cups into which the protrusions were placed; these sample cups were then placed into the hexagonal aluminum sample can indicated by the bottom arrow.  These sample protrusions were sent to the analytical laboratory; the ingot was then placed into a steel transfer and storage container.  Containers were stored on wall racks in a "critically safe geometry" while waiting to continue on down the fuel fabrication process.

What is fascinating about the whole EBR-2 project is that all of the fuel reprocessing equipment and the reactor itself were contained in the same enclosed facility, seen below in another illustration from "The EBR-2 Fuel Cycle Story."

The EBR's fuel recycling project ended in 1969; the decision had been made to continue metal cooled breeder reactor technology using a different technological path for the fuel cycle (aqueous instead of pyrometallurgical reprocessing) and even that proved stillborn when the Liquid Metal Fast Breeder Reactor Program was cancelled in the early 1980's. 

The EBR-2 (or EBR-II if you'd like) reactor itself continued to operate for other purposes until 1994 when it was shut down for the last time after funding was cut off. 

I do highly recommend this book, still available from the American Nuclear Society, for those interested in the history and in the process itself.  You can also click here to see Argonne National Laboratory's page on fast reactors; scroll down a bit and find the "EBR-II" tab.

That's it for this week's Carnival post.  Thanks for reading!

5:15 PM  2/9/2014

South Korea - Parts investigation expands, fear of DPRK reactor seeded

Two developments regarding nuclear energy and nuclear reactors in South Korea to report in this update....

First, South Korea's nuclear regulator (NSSC) has expanded its investigation into falsified or inadequate certification for nuclear plant parts to include parts made outside South Korea, including such parts made as far back as 2008.  According to reporting by Yonhap News, eight certificates for such imported parts have been found in an initial investigation which will stretch to over 37,000 certificates eventually.  As I've reported here and elsewhere, South Korea will leave no stones unturned in rooting out these problems.  At the moment, the sources of the parts (nations, names of manufacturers) have not been released publicly on the NSSC website.

Second ...  It was reported at the end of January in Jane's Defense Weekly that North Korea had restarted its Yongbyon reactor.  This is not really a surprise, but the Jane's report included an eyebrow raising amount of fear mongering over the design / construction, age, and operation of this particular reactor.  It took a short while, but eventually this report was picked up by news agencies publishing from within South Korea including Business Korea on 6 February and also (by way of editorial) the Korea Herald on 7 February.  The apocalyptic headlines augur disaster on a scale parallel with the Chernobyl accident and, in the body of the Korea Herald op-ed, promise worse things should a theoretical fire at the Yongbyon reactor itself spread to other nuclear related buildings on site.

Does everybody understand that the Yongbyon reactor has a twenty or twenty-five megawatt rating?  Does everybody understand that the rating of the Chernobyl unit which suffered the accident back in '86 was about three thousand two hundred megawatts?  (These are core thermal ratings.)  So the rating of the Yongbyon reactor is six tenths of one percent of that of the RBMK-1000 used at Chernobyl.  I just have to tell you, readers -- that's not going to cause a "disaster on a Chernobyl scale," even if the quite unlikely circumstances the "experts" predict occur, because it's just TOO SMALL.

That plain fact doesn't work well with the apocalyptic message contained in the Jane's report, so I naturally decided to figure out who it was - really - that was saying these things.  I decided to pursue the qualifications ... or motivations ... of one of the listed "experts" who was not in or from the country - Peter Hayes, listed in the Jane's report as being from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology. 

I'm not going to go into detail as to what I found.  Suffice it to say that Hayes is associated with a number of energy policy and nonproliferation interests, including the Nautilus Foundation, which is an organization that seems to believe in the "Nuclear Establishment" belief - this is the belief that all things nuclear are inextricably linked in governments, in policies, in the actual operative sense, and in the mind of people and therefore each and every time nuclear energy comes up in any discussion so must nonproliferation.  Claims made by the contributors to this article - all of them - generally fall flat on technical inspection as related to the scope of any potential accident here when compared with Chernobyl.

Inspection?  Yes.

Too small.  Tiny core inventory compared to RBMK-1000.  Not a realistic comparison.

Further, relating back to the Jane's article, there's no good reason to make any such statement as "it's unclear whether or not Chernobyl experience is taken into account operating the Yongbyon reactor" - a statement made in the Jane's article that's not attributed specifically to any of the named contributors.  If it's unclear, then it's unclear; if you don't know, you don't know.  That doesn't mean it is or isn't.  But the deliberate inference is that it isn't - and that's just a hair away from telling a lie.

South Koreans have far better things to worry about than this when they choose to worry.  One might choose conventional war with North Korea, or else perhaps a nuclear weapons test in North Korea that vents unintentionally to the atmosphere before one chooses a graphite fire at the Yongbyon reactor that somehow spreads to the entire complex.  It's important to understand that while the accident at Chernobyl-4 occurred in April, 1986, Chernobyl-3 right next to it continued operating until the year 2000.  The other units also operated for a number of years after the accident.  The site did not burn down; there's no reason to expect it to.  Neither did anything of the sort happen at Windscale in the UK.  These assertions of a site-clearing fire are essentially without merit.

As readers here know, I've been keeping a close eye on nuclear energy in South Korea for some time now, and have recently published an article on it at the ANS Nuclear Cafe site.  I'll also keep an eye, now that I see developments, on the potential anti-nuclear element spreading in South Korean press.

2:15 PM  2/9/2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

San Onofre Community Engagement Panel to encourage public dialogue

Below is a press release from Southern California Edison.


Media Contact: Maureen Brown, (626) 302-2255

SCE Announces Chairman, Some Members of Community Engagement Panel to Encourage Public Dialogue on San Onofre Nuclear Plant Decommissioning

ROSEMEAD, Calif., Feb. 6, 2014 — Southern California Edison (SCE) announced today that David G. Victor, a University of California, San Diego professor and expert on energy markets, will serve as chairman of a new Community Engagement Panel (CEP) to foster public education and involvement during the decommissioning of the San Onofre nuclear plant.

Victor, 48, a professor of international relations and director of the Laboratory on International Law and Regulation at UC San Diego’s School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, is recognized among energy leaders as a forward-looking voice on critical energy issues, said Ron Litzinger, president of SCE, the majority owner of San Onofre.

“David Victor has the vision, leadership and experience to bring together a diverse group of stakeholders to ensure the San Onofre decommissioning proceeds in a thoughtful and inclusive way,” Litzinger said. “He shares our commitment to leave the community better off given that it has been home to San Onofre for the past 40 years.”

Victor said his work on the board of Electric Power Research Institute and as chairman of EPRI’s Advisory Council for two years helped prepare him for the CEP role.

“To serve a broader public mission, it’s important to solicit views from a wide array of stakeholders,” Victor said. “Because I served in that role at EPRI, I know firsthand the importance of being responsive to diverse voices to ensure broad public interests are served in a major undertaking like decommissioning San Onofre.”

The CEP will serve as a conduit of information between the owners and the public. Organizations and their representatives that have accepted invitations to serve on the CEP include: American Nuclear Society, San Diego Chapter (Edward “Ted” Quinn); Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees (President John Alpay); Dana Point (Mayor Lisa Bartlett); Laborers International Union of North America Local 89 (Valentine “Val” Macedo); Oceanside (City Councilmember Jerome M. “Jerry” Kern); Orange County Coastkeeper (Garry Brown); Orange County Sheriff's Department (Donna Boston); Orange County (Supervisor Pat Bates); Residents Organized for a Safe Environment (Gene Stone); San Clemente (Mayor Tim Brown); San Diego County (Supervisor Bill Horn); San Juan Capistrano (Mayor Sam Allevato); and South Orange County Economic Coalition (Jim Leach).
Organizations that plan to participate and will name a CEP member later are the California State Parks and Camp Pendleton. The owners also are in the process of inviting members to represent academia and environmental research.

Leading the effort for Edison International is Chris Thompson, vice president of Decommissioning. Thompson will oversee the decommissioning process, working closely with Tom Palmisano, SCE vice president and chief nuclear officer. Thompson will place special focus on making sure the company keeps the lines of communication open with the community. Thompson, who joined Edison International last August, previously was chief of staff to Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Last week, the San Onofre co-owners announced the safety, stewardship and engagement guiding principles for San Onofre decommissioning, including creation of the CEP.

SCE intends to complete decommissioning as expeditiously as possible. Litzinger noted the guiding principles call for safely moving San Onofre used nuclear fuel, currently in cooling pools, into dry cask storage as quickly as possible until the federal government, as required, develops a permanent solution.

The CEP will hold public meetings at least quarterly to offer input on key decommissioning issues. These include the timing of transferring used nuclear fuel from pools to dry cask storage and SCE’s blueprint for decommissioning, a detailed document called a Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report to be submitted to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) by mid-year.

Updates about the CEP will be available on www.songscommunity.com, along with information about CEP members and the decommissioning process, including NRC oversight.

The current owners of San Onofre are SCE, San Diego Gas and Electric and the city of Riverside. The city of Anaheim was a previous owner. Current and previous owners are responsible for decommissioning.

SCE announced June 7 that it would retire San Onofre Units 2 and 3, and begin preparations to decommission the facility. The site workforce has been reduced to 520, a reduction of more than 900 employees. For more information about SCE, visit www.songscommunity.com.

About Southern California Edison
An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 4.9 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.



Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Owners of San Onofre Announce Safety, Stewardship and Engagement in Decommissioning

Press release from Southern California Edison below.


Media Contact: Maureen Brown, (626) 302-2255

Co-Owners of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station Announce Safety, Stewardship and Engagement Principles to Guide Plant Decommissioning

ROSEMEAD, Calif., Jan. 31, 2014 — The co-owners of the San Onofre nuclear plant today announced core principles to guide the plant decommissioning, including the commitment to establish an advisory panel to serve as a conduit of information and ideas between the owners and the public.

Ron Litzinger, president of Southern California Edison (SCE), the majority owner of San Onofre, said the safety, stewardship and engagement principles will help the owners balance multiple interests during the long and complex decommissioning process.

“The leaders of the co-owner companies are members of the community and we want to do the right thing for our region,” Litzinger said.

These guiding principles spell out the goals to make the San Onofre decommissioning a model for the industry:

• We commit to safely decommissioning San Onofre.
• We are determined to complete the safe decommissioning of San Onofre as expeditiously and cost efficiently as possible. Our immediate goal is to safely move the power plant’s spent fuel, now cooling in pools, into dry cask storage as quickly and as carefully as we can until the government creates the long-term storage option that it has committed to implement. We will continue to urge the government and other stakeholders to find a solution to provide the timely removal of spent nuclear fuel from the San Onofre site.

• We are committed to leaving the community better off as a result of having been home to San Onofre for 40 years and we will be open to exploring opportunities for doing so with our landlord, the U.S. Navy, and the community.
• Substantial dollars have accumulated in Nuclear Decommissioning Trusts through customer contributions and judicious investing, and the owners recognize their legal responsibility to spend those funds wisely and return any unused monies to ratepayers.

• We want the San Onofre decommissioning process to be managed in an inclusive, forward-thinking and responsible way. In particular, the current and previous owners of San Onofre are committed to creating an advisory Community Engagement Panel (CEP) to bring together diverse stakeholders and open a conduit of information and ideas between the owners and the public. The panel would ensure that all key interests are included and heard: Elected representatives of the surrounding cities and counties, the military, local environmentalists, business, labor, customer interests and academia.

Litzinger noted that more details will be available soon about the Community Engagement Panel.

The current owners of San Onofre are SCE, San Diego Gas and Electric and the city of Riverside. The city of Anaheim is a previous owner. Current and previous owners are responsible for decommissioning.

SCE announced June 7 that it would retire San Onofre Units 2 and 3, and begin preparations to decommission the facility. The site workforce has been reduced to 520, a reduction of more than 900 employees. For more information about SCE, visit www.songscommunity.com.
About Southern California Edison

An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 4.9 million customer accounts in a 50,000-square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.