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

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Not atomic, but important.

Those of us who spent any time at all in or around the US Navy Nuclear Power Program are quite familiar with the concept that any or every piece of important equipment must have more than one source of supply in order that supply be guaranteed and that problems be minimized with one or another design and that competition exists and so on and so forth. In fact, often you'll find a given piece of equipment replaced with another that works differently, looks a little different but fits the same mounting, has identical connections, and is a "substitute" and not a "twin," per se. We all know this.

Now, if we look at this site, we'll see that the engine program for the next generation all-services fighter aircraft is, very surprisingly, NOT of this character. This site and topic need a lot more press.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

H.B. Robinson 2 fire cause released

A report to the IAEA by Progress Energy, who owns and operates HB Robinson 2 down in South Carolina has appeared which explains the fire incidents I commented on in this blog a while back.

You can find the report easily enough, and the cascade of events is understandable - although the initial assessment of Level 1 has been upgraded retrospectively by the NRC to Level 2 or "Incident." The alarming thing in the whole event chain is the fact that indicating lights for control power to a bus tie breaker "had not been illuminated in months." This isn't burned out bulbs - it's loss of control power. This loss of control power to a breaker made it unable to open on fault and naturally this made the event far worse than it should have been.

While there were other problems encountered it's immediately obvious to me that no one was concerned enough about a potential loss of control power to a breaker. Didn't they have intermittent or no indication of downstream or tailpiece temperature on the pressurizer relief valve at TMI-2 that stuck open? I think they did. These are the sorts of things nuclear energy doesn't need right now. Or ever.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Security problem? Too early to call.

It's early - very early - but this already doesn't look good either from a PR standpoint or from (possibly) a real security standpoint.

Reuters put up this article describing a now-Al-Qaeda affiliated man's work at several different nuclear plants in the US, which was very soon followed by this article with the expected panic element you knew would come in the US media.

While it's very apparent to me that this .. this .. situation, or whatever you might want to call it is very embryonic it's still enough to tarnish the newly-minted shine that the nuclear power industry was given by the new national (read that as 'federal') push for "clean nuclear energy." This is one situation worth keeping tabs on even if purely from a PR standpoint.

Be sure, by the way, to note the breathless, instant, total panic (and the inherent love of that panic) evident in the Op-Ed NY Times piece.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Malaysia might go nuclear.. eventually

Although a number of outlets are reporting that Malaysia is considering the launch of a project to build "small nuclear plants" within a decade or so, only one article reports the fact that they've had a (General Atomics) TRIGA test reactor in operation since 1982 - which I didn't realize. Unfortunately, the vendors mentioned in various articles are NOT from the US as relates to the future power-generating plant contracts.

Nine Mile Point 2 back on the grid

After an impressively short and successful refueling outage, Nine Mile Point 2 is back online. MarketWatch reported yesterday that the plant, a GE BWR-II that first went online in March 1988 and which is rated 3467 MwT returned to providing power for the owners at 6:51 PM yesterday.

Davis-Besse closer to July startup

Power-Gen is reporting in this article that the CRDM nozzle inspection at Davis-Besse is completed and repairs are moving along. The plant is expected to be online in July.