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

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers No. 124

Atomic Power Review is proud to present the 124th Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers.  This rotating event, appearing at the best pro-nuclear blogs every week, showcases selected entries from those blogs and allows anyone interested to see just what was on the minds of those behind the blogs during the past week.

Followers of the Carnival are all too well aware that entry to the event when hosted here is predicated upon the requirement that those who enter take a look at some photograph or drawing and try to guess what it is they've seen before leaving the park, as it were.  Today is no different.  So, What is this?

Whatever this is, it's clearly heavy and is being lowered into its intended position by a crane; a worker guides it at the bottom of the photo.   Here's a hint:  It's metal!   Now that I've practically given the answer away, let's get to this week's Carnival entries.


Nuke Power Talk / Gail Marcus

Nuclear Power and Costs

At Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus takes a look at some of the confusing, contradictory statements that are often made comparing the costs of nuclear power to the costs of other forms of electricity generation. In particular, she singles out one argument that maintaining nuclear power at 15 to 20% of the total energy mix in Japan would actually have a marginally higher cost than phasing it out completely, and goes through some of the issues that she believes make that argument questionable.
Meredith Angwin, who normally blogs at Yes! Vermont Yankee, presents a piece she wrote which actually appeared at the ANS Nuclear Cafe site.
In this post at ANS Nuclear Cafe, Meredith Angwin writes about lessons learned from pro-nuclear activism in Vermont. The main lesson to support nuclear energy is: Just Show Up. When you do show up at a hearing: bring a friend, maybe bring a prop (tritium-containing exit sign) and try to have some cookies.
Two posts this week are forwarded from ANS Nuclear Cafe by ANS' own intrepid Paul Bowersox:
The National Nuclear Security Administration (U.S. Department of
Energy) recently hosted a public meeting in Chattanooga, Tenn.,
concerning its Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement on the
disposition of surplus weapons-grade plutonium as mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel
for use in power reactors.

Laura Scheele reports on how American Nuclear Society members fulfilled
the mission set forth in the ANS Position Statement on MOX fuel: to
inform the public and media about the nonproliferation benefits of the
MOX fuel program.

It’s also the story of how ANS Student Members answered a Call to
Action and contributed, in large numbers, to the success of this event
for the Society in an arena where nuclear opponents had monopolized the
public discussion about nuclear energy.
Art Wharton considers the most recent American Nuclear Society Position
Statement, which advocates global expansion of nuclear energy through
increasing exports of U.S. nuclear goods and services.

It’s logical that ANS would want U.S. nuclear technology to increase
in the global market, but the position statement does not come from a
market-driven angle - it is noted as a non-proliferation measure.

Nonproliferation advantages, as well as promoting the influence of the
United States in regard to the safety and security of global nuclear
development, are among Mr. Wharton's key considerations…
Atomic Insights / Rod Adams
Rod Adams was not happy to learn that on Saturday, September 22, Allison Macfarlane, the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and William Magwood, one of the four Commissioners who serve with Dr. Macfarlane on the five member Commission, held a private meeting with six representatives of groups that oppose the use of nuclear energy.
Next Big Future / Brian Wang
Transatomic Power is trying to develop a “Waste Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor.” Dewan and Massie’s design is fuel-agnostic in the sense that it can run on either uranium or thorium; as the name implies, its signal feature is that it can consume spent fuel from conventional light-water reactors.
Shanghai Securities News said China's Ministry of Environmental Protection had already started accelerating the approval process for the nuclear sector. The second phase of the Sino-Russian Tianwan nuclear project in Jiangsu province on the eastern coast was certain to start construction in December.
GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy’s (GEH) Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) today announced receipt of its license from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to build a groundbreaking laser enrichment facility on the 1,600-acre site of the company’s global headquarters in Wilmington, N.C. It could be 2 to 15 times more energy efficient than centrifuge and gas diffusion enrichment.
Kalinin 4 was completed on schedule (after the 2007 restart of construction) and for 7 billion rubles ($240 million) less than the 76 billion rubles ($2.4 billion) allocated to the project.Kalinin 4 is a 950 MWe V-320 model VVER-1000 - the same as unit 3, which was approved in 1985 and eventually completed in 2004. Units 1 and 2 at the site are V-338 model VVER-1000s which began commercial operation in 1985 and 1987, respectively. The Kalinin plant is situated in the western Tver region near the town of Udomlya.
{APR note:  Lots of good news this week in the nuclear field from Next Big Future; note also that Kalinin-4 was UNDER budget.}
We have fewer site submissions than usual this week, but having a number of submissions from two big hitter sites means that there is plenty to read.  Once again, I'm very impressed by the scope of the (very large) nuclear industry that's covered by the range of submitted posts; there is something in there for everyone.
Figured out what that photo was yet? 
The photo you saw earlier is found in IDO-16520, "Test Reactors - Meeting for Industry" which includes papers submitted for a May, 1959 symposium at NRTS Idaho Falls.  This volume is one of many old and rare books in my collection.
The photo shows the reactor vessel for the SPERT-II test reactor facility being lowered into position.  According to the excellent INL History "Proving the Principle," this vessel was 24.5 feet high.  The SPERT acronym stood for "Special Power Excursion Reactor Test."  The SPERT-I reactor was open to atmosphere and was used for transient (even violent transient) testing.  According to the Atomic Energy Deskbook (Hogerton, 1963) SPERT-II:
"..is a closed-tank reactor which can be operated with light or heavy water at pressures up to 300 psi and at temperatures up to 400F.  It was placed in operation in 1959 (APR note- this contradicts INL data showing March, 1960) and is used mainly to study the effect of various moderator and reflector conditions on reactor performance."
Further, from "Boiling Water Reactors" (Kramer / AEC 1958) on the SPERT-II as part of the overall SPERT program we find the following:
"SPERT-II is an intermediate pressure facility providing considerable flexibility in pressure, temperature, and flow.  The system is designed primarily to permit selection of various moderator and reflector materials, principally heavy and light water.  Both up and down controlled flow is provided for.  The facility is relatively complex and much less flexible than SPERT-I in regard to design modification, static measurements, and instrument installation."
As we might imagine, as a part of the whole SPERT series, this reactor's function was to test transient behavior.  As we also might imagine, the information contained in the above two sources does not really tell the whole picture.  Suffice it to say that the SPERT-II reactor tested various coolant, core and reflector combinations in transient conditions to explore effects on fuel and material; it also supported research involving neutron lifetime.
According to "Proving the Principle," the SPERT-II reactor only operated through October 1964.  The reactor and associated equipment were dismantled and removed, and the site used for other purposes.  Below, a photo from The Atomic Energy Deskbook of SPERT-II.
This photo shows the SPERT-II reactor vessel installed as it appeared during the period of plant operation and testing.  The SPERT-II facility was conceptually designed and operated by Phillips Petroleum Company for the AEC.  Detailed design (according to IDO-16888, "SPERT-II Reactor Facility", Phillips Petroleum Company ) for SPERT-II was carried out by Stearns-Roger Manufacturing Company as architect-engineer, with Paul Hardeman, Inc. acting as construction contractor.
That concludes this week's Carnival!  Make sure to continue to visit the blogs during the week for up to date news and analysis.
11:30 AM Eastern 9/30/2012

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Sylcor Western Office 5

It's time to get back to Jim V. and his efforts with Sylvania-Corning's attempt to open a Western office.  Be sure to check our previous installments for all the details until now.

We last noted that Sylcor had instituted a commission program for its sales managers in 1958, in installment 3 of this series.  Picking up that timeline of archived papers where we left it, we next find Jim launching what would become a brief, separate but yet not separate consulting job with Spanish concerns. In May, 1958, Jim traveled to Spain essentially on Sylcor's money but acting as a separately contracted consultant, for the purpose of conducting a survey to determine what of the general manufacturing industry in Spain was capable of entering nuclear plant manufacturing contracts.  Jim did this "farmed out" as a consultant to Internuclear Company, who paid him directly in part and paid Sylvania-Corning Nuclear directly in part.  Naturally, one must imagine that Jim was the right man for this job, having traveled to and evaluated many different vendors' plants during his time at Westinghouse, and writing detailed reports and recommendations on his findings. 

 On July 18, 1958, he sent a letter to Tecnatom in Madrid, Spain with the Sylcor publication "Bibliography on Solid Fuel Elements" and noted that Sylcor had recently been awarded a contract to produce the fuel for the Enrico Fermi Atomic Power Plant in Monroe, Michigan, which was a sodium cooled fast breeder and which had fuel quite unlike that produced in standard types by Sylcor.  This order was a major coup for Sylcor - and would be one of very few large power reactor contracts the company would get.

On July 23, 1958, Jim wrote to his friend Gerald Keen.  He mentions a general business upturn on the West Coast.  Of his new employer, Jim says:

"Sylcor is going great guns; I have certainly joined a progressive organization.  During the first six months of this year, we have been fortunate in obtaining 48 percent of the total available commercial business in this field.  Our backlog is well over three million dollars, and we anticipate that a little hard work is going to result in a substantial increase in this backlog within the next few months."


We now present a very intimate look inside the early nuclear fuel business through a very provocative letter written to Dr. Lee Davenport, President of Sylvania-Corning Nuclear by Jim V.  There is much sordid account in this letter, and at this present date (2012) I have absolutely no idea how much of this letter is true, false, founded or unfounded.  What is important here to us in our look at Sylcor is NOT the business-politics controversy at M&C (a direct Sylcor competitor) we're about to uncover, but rather what Jim tells Davenport about the implications it carries for Sylcor.  Also important are Jim's assessments of Sylcor's safety controls.  I hope no one alive today, or related to the principals mentioned in this letter, is offended - no harm is meant or wished by publication of this letter.

This letter is dated August 21, 1958 and is reproduced in entirety.

Dear Lee:

In the course of the past few weeks, the sordid story of what transpired at Metals and Controls has gradually been unfolded to me.  The manner in which the situation apparently developed is such that I felt you should be informed.

The following information is hearsay!

The major items of information were given me by an official of the Atomic Energy Commission.  The inside facts are purported to have come from an executive in a competing company.  We both know this man, and his integrity is unimpeachable.  Further, he is a close personal associate of the principals.

Rathbun Willard, Chairman of the Board of Metals and Controls, is in his late 70's; as a philanthropic gesture, he disposed of certain blocks of stock as outright gifts to various educational institutions.  His legal advisers apparently did not take adequate steps to insure retention of the proxy vote on these shares.  One of the colleges to whom such shares were given is purported to be Northeastern University.

The story has it that Jerry Ottmar, President of Metals and Controls Nuclear Company, was not on the best of terms with Carroll Wilson, President of the parent corporation, ex-Admiral, and close associate of Rickover.  Working through friendly interests at Northeastern, Wilson obtained the proxy votes held by that college, which together with other proxy and personally held stock, gave him a sizable vote for control of the Corporation.  Wilson also called a special meeting of the Board of Directors at a time when Mr. Willard was in Europe.  Mr. Willard's attorneys attempted to forestall the meeting to defer action on the proposed agenda until Willard could return.

The meeting was deliberately called at such a time because Mr. Willard has a known phobia against air travel.  Mr. Willard's attorneys were unsuccessful in their attempt to delay the meeting.  Despite his phobia, Mr. Willard made immediate arrangements to return by air.  The meeting was held on a Saturday; Mr. Willard was unable to return until Sunday.

The following action is reported to have taken place at the meeting:  Mr. Wilson presented to the assembled Board of Directors, minus Mr. Willard, documentary evidence charging Ottmar with mal-administration.  By a unanimous vote of the assembled Directors, Ottmar was removed from office, and Carroll Wilson assumed the Presidency of both companies.

Ottmar has not given up, and upon Willard's return, the entire mess resolved into a free-for-all in which both Wilson and Willard resigned.  Wilson has been named Chairman of an advisory committee, and George L. Williams, Treasurer, has become acting President of both firms until such time as the issues can be resolved. 

Up to this point, the situation would appear to be typical of the machinations frequently found in the internal politics of American Corporations.  The following facts, and I use the word advisedly, since they came to me from the person who is purported to have taken the action, seemed to be worthy of your careful consideration.  The documentary evidence presented to the Board by Wilson is claimed to have emanated from the Idaho Operations Office of the Atomic Energy Commission.  They were reported to be letters expressing dissatisfaction with criticality control, production control, and health physics administration at M&C.  The Commission deplored the lack of concern and attention by Jerry Ottmar on such matters which they maintained to be a major responsibility of his position.  It is claimed that these letters were intended to correct a situation rather than to cause personal discomfiture to Mr. Ottmar.  Wilson probably played the part of an opportunist in using them as he did.  The Commission's attitude is that they do not feel sorry for Mr. Ottmar since they held him responsible for what they considered to be extremely lax and ultimately dangerous handling of the uranium administrative problems, including as the officer expressed to me, one instance of subcriticality, in which criticality was averted only by alert action on the part of the AEC.

Another source has been quoted to me as saying that, "The Admiral (Rickover) is not displeased."

I am fairly familiar with the production setup at M&C, having administered the production phase in the Core Contract Group at Bettis.  The M&C system was not exemplary; but, I believe, and please forgive me for the remark, was superior to Sylcor's.  The AEC has the prerogative to issue a cease operation order on any organization which it feels is not operating in the best interests of safety.  Several such orders have already been issued.  I am concerned that, with the influx of more and more orders, we may find Sylcor operations have extended beyond the system of controls that have worked so well in the past.  The AEC's attitude, should Sylcor become involved in any unfortunate incident, would undoubtedly be conditioned by a reflection of the fact that the worst commercial accident to date happened at Bayside {a Sylcor facility}.  Certain of our contacts in the west have not let me forget this fact.  Perhaps my concern is groundless.  Certainly you have every right to tell me to stick to marketing and refrain from comments on operations many miles removed from my sphere of action.

However, the potential load of ETR {Engineering Test Reactor, which Sylcor was making elements for} combined with the Fermi elements presents a new production situation at Sylcor.  ETR is under Commission Administration by the same organization which spearheaded the internal situation at M&C, and I felt that it would be unwise if I did not immediately bring this story to your attention.

Because of the personalities involved, many of whom have been associates in the past, I would appreciate your confidence with respect to the disclosure of the contents of this letter.  I informed Stan Roboff  that I was writing you concerning the M&C situation, and he requested a copy promising not to reveal its contents and further agreeing to destroy the copy after reading.  I have a profound distaste for gossip and/or gossipers.  Since what I have said represents hearsay, I may have placed myself in a position of repeating gossip.  The potential significance of the hearsay appeared to me to be so important to you and to Sylcor that I can but trust you will receive its repetition as evidence of good judgment.  If not, I can but ask your indulgence in view of my good intentions."

The important points

Jim has made a large number of implications in this letter to the President of Sylcor, among which are the following:

-Should Rickover deem an operation unsafe, and likely to tarnish the reputation of nuclear energy in the US or the reputation of the AEC, he has many friends and many ways to shut the operation down or at least get it out of AEC direct contracting.

-Sylcor's operation is in part now, due to the ETR contract, directly under supervision of the same people whose information was (probably inappropriately) used in the corporate management coup at Metals & Controls.  One might say that "the spotlight is on."

-Sylcor presently has enough work in progress to tax its safety controls to the point that in Jim's view they may be inadequate.  With the spotlight on, the company may be in serious jeopardy should something happen like had happened at Bayside. (This was a thorium explosion incident in 1956.)

-Davenport is in essentially the most vulnerable position as President of Sylvania-Corning Nuclear as evidenced by the corporate actions that transpired at M&C.

What is also clear is that Jim, ever the salesman, was telling friends and customers only some of the story ("Going great guns," "taken 48 percent of the available business") while the reality of the situation was that Sylcor might actually have been overtaxed by contracts for specialty fuels that could risk its entire business outlook -- a business outlook that already included many contacts in his region who apparently continued to bring up the Bayside incident.  The development of the M&C situation with its complex business, AEC and apparently Rickover-affiliated actions was too much for Jim to sit on without warning the highest levels of Sylcor.  Jim also apparently had doubts about what safety infrastructure Sylcor did have, saying right out that Metals & Controls had a superior setup.  This certainly presents a sobering view of Sylcor's business, and a glimpse into how the AEC and Rickover were permeating every fissure of most of the early nuclear power era.

In our next installment, we'll see a letter to Jim from Lee Davenport, President of Sylvania-Corning Nuclear.  We'll also look further under the advertising and claims made to customers to see what really was going on with Sylcor's business.


Missed the earlier parts?  Here are links:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

2:15 PM Eastern 9/22/2012

Three Mile Island Unit 1 shutdown: Details

There is a fair amount of press this morning being given to the September 20th shutdown at Three Mile Island Unit 1, so I'll cover the known details here.

Briefly, there's no risk to the public - or anyone at the plant, for that matter.  The shutdown was automatic, due to an equipment failure.  Let's look at the NRC Event Notification:



"On September 20th at 1416 EDT, Three Mile Island automatically tripped due to a flux to flow imbalance as a result of a trip of the 'C' reactor coolant pump. The cause of the trip of the 'C' reactor coolant pump is still under investigation.

"The electrical grid is stable and unit 1 is being supplied by offsite power. All control rods have fully inserted. Decay heat is being removed by main feedwater flow to both steam generators that are exhausting via the normal main condenser cooling loop under manual control. Preliminary evaluation indicates that all plant systems functioned normally following the reactor trip, except for automatic operation of turbine bypass valve control due to failure of the automatic control function to control precisely at setpoint. Three Mile Island remains stable in hot shutdown mode while conducting the post trip review. No radioactive releases were experienced as a result of this event.

"This event is reportable under 10 CFR 50.72(b)(2)(iv)(B), Reactor Protection System (RPS) actuation, and under 10 CFR 50.72 (b)(2)(xi) due to an information release to local officials. Both are four hour reports.

"The licensee notified the NRC Resident Inspector."

The licensee has notified the state and local governments, and will be making a media release.


As promised, the licensee, Exelon Nuclear, did make a press release, the content of which is below.



Londonderry Township, PA– Three Mile Island Generating Station automatically shut down at 2:20 p.m. EDT today. The plant responded as designed and remains in normal shutdown condition while operators investigate the cause of the shutdown.

During the shutdown, steam was released into the atmosphere, creating a loud noise heard by nearby residents.

TMI uses state-of-the-art equipment to continuously monitor plant systems and conditions. The plant is designed to automatically shut down when necessary. The automatic shutdown presents no risks to public health or safety.

Three Mile Island is located about 12 miles south of Harrisburg, Pa. The plant can generate 852 megawatts of carbon free power - enough electricity for about 800,000 homes. Electric customers will not be affected.


Looking at the reports, it's clear that the following events happened; the plant was on the grid at 100% power when one of the four reactor coolant pumps tripped, for reasons not yet known or explained.  When this happened, the automatic protective action of a reactor scram resulted; at this time, the turbine also tripped.  Because of a failure in the steam plant (outside the reactor building, not a part of the reactor plant itself) which caused the bypasses around the now-isolated turbine generator not to work properly, the steam generators (part of the reactor plant, inside the reactor building) built up pressure and the safety (or, relief) valves lifted to vent off the pressure.  This was the source of the "loud noise" reported by Exelon's press release.  The exact failure is more detailed in the NRC Event Notification, which does not mention lifting of the secondary reliefs.

Equipment failures like this do happen from time to time with all kinds of equipment, of course - not just nuclear power plants.  It's just far less often with nuclear plants because of the rigid scrutiny given to everything involved.  We're now waiting to find out why the coolant pump tripped, and that could be any number of things (mechanical failure of the pump, shorts in the wiring, a failed breaker or controller) so speculation at this point is rather a simplistic paper troubleshooting exercise for us on the outside until Exelon or the NRC release further details.  A second problem, which I was discussing with @Atomikrabbit yesterday, is that secondary plant issue that led to lifting of the reliefs.

Again, the only reason I'm reporting on this at Atomic Power Review is the fact that this morning I can see that there are almost 200 stories on this event, and it's important to get details out with credible speculation -- and ONLY credible speculation.

8:20 AM Eastern 9/22/2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Nuclear Electricity Project - Kenya

The Kenyan NUCLEAR ELECTRICITY PROJECT has launched its multi-faceted online presence to educate and inform the public about the project underway to bring this nation reliable electric power.  The Kenyan NEP Facebook page gives the following brief description of the program:

"Nuclear Electricity Project was founded in 2010 by the government of Kenya under the Ministry of Energy through the Energy Act Sessional Paper No. 4. Its vision is to provide affordable, reliable, safe and secure nuclear electricity for Kenyans."

I myself was very impressed with the presentations and statements made at the 2012 ANS Annual Meeting by another nation just launching a nuclear power program - the UAE - although they're much further along; at that time I decided to begin to follow news of all the nations investigating initial studies for nuclear power generation.  I believe it is telling that the Kenyan government wishes to do something that established nuclear power nations like Japan, Germany and Switzerland are backing away from; that is, provide its people with reliable 24 hour electric power to allow for better hospitals, better industry, better jobs and income, and a better way of life.

Here are the links to various media outlets of the Kenyan Nuclear Electricity Project:

Nuclear Electricity Project - This is the main site of the project, still under construction.

Nuclear Project Kenya Facebook page - Official NEP FB site.  News and updates.

Nuclear Project Kenya YouTube - Official video site for the NEP.

Nuclear Kenya / Twitter - Look for @nuclearkenya

There are two informative, introductory videos on the Nuclear Electricity Project's video channel as its launch videos.  APR's YouTube Channel has favorited one of these and will continue to follow the videos.

Congratulations are in order to the Kenyan program for making sure that its public information and outreach is up and running at the start of the project; this will help ensure transparency and understanding.

11:36 AM Eastern 9/18/2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

South Korea's Nuclear Energy Program: A Primer

South Korea (Republic of Korea) - Nuclear Energy Program

Above, the Republic of Korea's six-unit Yonggwang Nuclear Station.

South Korea's nuclear energy program has both a varied history and a confusing (at least, for Westerners) structure; in order to properly assess this ambitious nation's program it is helpful to develop a clear and uncomplicated presentation on the program's history, status and goals.

There is a need, for clarity, to omit some facts from this presentation; if everything were included, it would run for a week continuously. Atomic Power Review will give the important entities, developments and historical highlights so that readers will be conversant on an above average scale with the South Korean nuclear program should they read this entire post.

In particular, APR is focusing on the increasing effort by South Korea (officially the Republic of Korea, or ROK) to export its nuclear power plant technology. The construction of a nuclear power station for the United Arab Emirates is at this point the ROK's highest achievement in that field; as a result, APR will focus on PWR development in the ROK (since it is Korean PWR plants which will be built there) and omit CANDU construction which the ROK has apparently ceased.

ROK Republic of Korea - Nuclear Energy Entities

We will briefly discuss entities involved with nuclear energy in the ROK.

KEPCO - Korea Electric Power Corporation: The only utility company in the ROK.

KHNP - Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. Ltd.: Involved with construction and operation of nuclear power plants. Oversees all aspects of nuclear plant construction; co-ordinates the other project contractors. Operates nuclear power plants. Essentially acts functionally as owner-operator, but with some embedded A/E functions.

KEPCO E&C - KEPCO Engineering & Construction Co., Inc.: This firm has two functions; first, it designs the NSSS or Nuclear Steam Supply Systems for nuclear power plants - in other words, the primary reactor plant. Second, it is also essentially what we in the USA would call an A/E or architect-engineer firm. Early work by this firm to build nuclear plants was in cooperation with Bechtel. Later worked with Sargent & Lundy. Formerly known as KOPEC.

KEPCO NF - Korea Nuclear Fuel Co., Ltd.: Design and fabrication of nuclear fuel

KEPCO KPS - Korea Plant Service & Engineering Co., Ltd.: Power plant maintenance service & engineering

KAERI - Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute: A group with a long history, dating back to 1959. Provides R&D on nuclear projects of all kinds; relationship to the power reactor industry is focused on safety research and fuel development. Undertook project to develop capability to produce all nuclear fuel inside ROK; in the case of PWR type fuel, worked with KWU of Germany.

KINGS - Kepco International Nuclear Graduate School: An intensive educational program to fill the world's need for highly skilled, competent leaders, project planners and engineers in the field of nuclear plant technology.

All of the above entities are closely interrelated and even use variations of the same corporate logo on their websites and published materials.

GABI - Global America Business Institute: This US firm is actually an authorized external representative for two Korean entities; for KAERI, and for the Korean Nuclear Society.

DOOSAN HEAVY INDUSTRIES: ROK corporation that actually manufactures the primary reactor plant, and the turbine-generator as well.

KHNP has certified a number of ROK companies to fabricate parts for various parts of nuclear power plants and the BOP or Balance Of Plant which aren't mentioned. Also, external firms can and do get orders for ROK-built nuclear plants. For example, Westinghouse will provide some major components to the UAE build.

The above likely covers all of the entities involved with the construction and operation of ROK nuclear plants that you're likely to hear about in the press or even in inside-industry circles. It is important to understand that some of the entities have changed names over time, and that some functions have moved from one entity to another over time. We've omitted all of the ROK Rad Health entities and oversight entities for brevity.

A brief history of nuclear energy in the ROK

Let's now take a look at a very brief timeline covering major developments in the ROK's nuclear energy history.

It could be said that the country's history comprised four phases: Nuclear aspirations, wherein it desired to have nuclear energy in the future; a turn-key period wherein fixed contract turn-key plants were built by foreign firms; a cooperative phase which was integral with the ROK desire to obtain technology transfer and become technology dependent; and finally the phase we are in now, where the ROK is fully capable of constructing the entire plant itself, and has full capability to develop advanced generations of nuclear plant designs.

Here is a brief timeline obtained from printed materials distributed by GABI and by KAERI at the recent ANS 2012 Annual Meeting, supplemented by details from printed materials by KINGS and from the APR research library.

1957 ROK becomes a member of the IAEA

1959 Predecessor of KAERI established

1962 ROK operates its first reasearch reactor

1971 Construction starts on ROK's first commercial nuclear station

1980's Construction on nuclear plants continues and includes increasing involvement of Korean based firms

1987 ROK signs a ten-year agreement with Combustion Engineering to transfer technology to Korea

1990's Additional reactors are built at varied plant sites mostly with local design and technology

2008 ROK unveils its National Energy Basic Plan which increases the percentage of electrcity in the country generated by nuclear power to a target of 59% by 2030

2009 ROK consortium wins contract worth $20 billion to build a nuclear generating station in the United Arab Emirates (UAE.) Beats bids from USA, Japan, France.

Let's look at some details on the initial foray into atomic science in the ROK. We'll use the APR library; you can see the end of this article for a complete list of reference materials consulted for this project.

Agreement for Cooperation: The ROK entered into an Agreement for Cooperation with the United States in February, 1961. This agreement was limited in scope to atomic research only and expired five years from the signing date. The agreement was amended at some point after signing, possibly to allow transfer of special nuclear material as required by our next point below.

Research Reactor: The research reactor mentioned in the brief timeline was a General Atomics Triga Mk II and was located at the headquarters of what is now KAERI, in Seoul. This reactor was rated 100 KWt. The AEC's Research Reactor Grants program contributed $350,000 toward this project's costs.

The Republic of Korea essentially went a decade between the construction of this foreign-built research reactor and the launch of the project to construct its first nuclear generating station. Now, we'll look at the progression of events concerning PWR nuclear plant construction and operation in the ROK.

PWR Plant Developments in the ROK

In 1972, construction began on the first nuclear power station in the ROK. This unit became known as Kori-1. This plant is a Westinghouse "turn key project" two-loop PWR rated 576 MWe net; this was the smallest standardized Westinghouse plant at that time. It is of interest to note that when General Atomics supplied the KAERI Triga II reactor for research in 1961, the entire electric generating capacity of the ROK was roughly 500 MW, which is less than the output of Kori-1 as built beginning a decade later. Kori-1 first achieved criticality in 1977, launching the nuclear electric generating era in the ROK.

In that same year, 1977, construction began at Kori of a second Westinghouse PWR to become Kori-2. This was also a turn-key contract plant rated 637 MWe.

According to an article published some time back by the Korea Herald, the decision was made in April 1978 to embark upon a massive program in the ROK to both spread the use of nuclear energy as a generating source and, perhaps more significantly, to initiate a process that would result in having a completely standardized ROK-built nuclear power plant design in production.

Kori-3 was begun in 1979, and Kori-4 in 1980; these were further Westinghouse PWR plants, but were in the 1000 MWe class. These plants were not turn-key plants, but rather were built more like US plants at that time with separate component bids and contractors, and included the first coordination of nuclear plant projects by Korean entities. However, this did not result in any nuclear technology transfer.

Further plants built under the above arrangement included Yonggwang 1 and 2, both Westinghouse PWR plants rated roughly 950 MWe; construction started on these in 1981.

Above, map included in GABI brochure on history of Korean nuclear plants. As with all photos this page, click to enlarge. Nuclear stations including the name "shin" are essentially second near-by but not contiguous sites to earlier ones.

In August 1982, the government of the ROK established a new plan for the long-term supply of electric power to a growing ROK both for industrial and residential use. Under this new plan, nuclear energy was to continue to play an ever-expanding role but now it was required that technology transfer had to be included in new projects in order for bids to be accepted.

Prior to the actual request for bids under this program, Framatome of France began construction of two units simultaneously at the new Ulchin nuclear station. Both were begun in 1983 and both were PWR's rated roughly 940 MWe.

In October 1985 KEPCO issued its invitation to bid on the new construction program with technology transfer; bids were received from Westinghouse, from Combustion Engineering, from Framatome and from AECL Canada. Under the agreement, whoever won the contract would assist in construction of two further units at the Yonggwang site, which would essentially be the prototypes for the planned standardized ROK nuclear power plant as initially outlined by the requirement of 1978.

Combustion Engineering (actually, ABB-CE at that point) won the bidding and a contract for Yonggwang 3 and 4 was signed in April 1987. The contractual requirement was for Unit 3 to be online in 1995 and Unit 4 in 1996. Construction of Unit 3 began in 1989 and that of Unit 4 followed the next year.

Yonggwang 3 and 4 are considered by the Korean nuclear industry to be the prototypes of the present power plant lines, or the "Reference Design." The NSSS of these plants is a downscaled version of the Combustion Engineering System 80 plant; the only completed CE80 plants are the three at Palo Verde; the turbine generator is a GE product, based on that provided for Perry; construction of the plants was assisted by Sargent & Lundy, using as references Yonggwang 1 and 2, as well as Byron and Braidwood in the United States.

Above, Palo Verde (three CE80 units) while under construction, 1983.

Some 193 patents and 4500 separate documents were transferred to Korea from ABB-CE as part of the technology transfer in order to develop indigenous nuclear generating station abilities on all fronts, from design and construction to operation and maintenance.

In May 1987 - only a month after the contract award was announced, with no designs or hardware in hand - the ROK launched a study into the feasibility of designing and constructing what would become the standardized ROK nuclear plant, at that time known somewhat generally as the KSNPP or Korean Standardized Nuclear Power Plant (sometimes, just "KSNP.") The decision was made to essentially directly transfer knowledge from the Yonggwang 3 and 4 project to this new effort as it came in, but also to incorporate all lessons learned and developments in real time. This effort was to lead to construction of Ulchin 3 and 4 next to the two Framatome plants that were more than half finished at the time.

Into the effort to develop this design went new analytical codes, lessons learned from construction (and eventually, operation) of Yonggwang 3 and 4, data and lessons learned from the TMI accident, information obtained as a result of consultation with EPRI, various design improvements and updated building codes. All of this work resulted in what was originally known as the KSNPP but which is now generally known as the OPR1000, or the Optimized Power Reactor, 1000 MWe class.

Yonggwang 3 and 4, the reference ABB-CE plants first started up in 1994 and 1995. Construction on the first two OPR-1000 units as Ulchin 3 and 4 finally in 1993, and these plants were first started up in 1997 and 1998.

KHNP began to replicate the OPR1000 design in further projects: Construction of Yonggwang 5 and 6 began in 1997, while construction on Ulchin 5 and 6 began in 1999-2000.

Above, Ulchin Nuclear Station. Furthest from the camera are the two Framatome PWR units; nearer are the four OPR1000 plants.

After the design of the above round of plants was finalized, around January 1998, the ROK began a program to take all lessons learned from operating plants and those under construction to further improve the standard plant design. KHNC and KOPEC worked for four years to both improve safety and cut construction and operating costs, and a wide range of revisions to design was developed. This design is what is known as the "Improved OPR1000."

Construction of the first I-OPR1000 plants was begun with Shin-Kori 1 and 2 in 2006 and 2007 (construction start dates) and continued with Shin-Wolsong 1 and 2 in 2007 and 2008. These four plants are the ultimate direct development of the original plan for a standardized Korean nuclear plant.

Further developments - increased output, increased safety

In 1992, the ROK initiated a design program called the KNGR Project, for "Korean Next Generation Reactor," to determine what the next design for a standardized power plant would be. Three rounds of work carried out through 2001 resulted in the selection of a very large, two loop PWR in the 1400 MWe class with greatly enhanced safety features as the candidate. This design became known as the APR1400 or "Advanced Power Reactor, 1400 MWe class" and was granted Design Approval from the ROK government May 7, 2002.

APR1400 construction began with Shin-Kori 3 and 4 in 2008 and 2009; it continued with Shin-Ulchin 1 and 2 whose construction is just underway. Also under construction in the United Arab Emirates is a four-unit nuclear station using the APR1400 design referred to as the BNPP or Barakah Nuclear Power Plant. Planned but not underway yet at the Shin-Kori site are two further units, to be Shin-Kori 5 and 6. Shin-Kori 3 is expected to be on line in commercial service in September 2013 followed by Shin-Kori 4 one year later. Shin-Ulchin 1 and 2 are expected online in 2017 and 2018; no dates are set for Shin-Kori 5 and 6.

The ROK has almost completely established itself as a supplier of complete nuclear generating stations; figures from KAERI indicate that averaged though the various myriad power plant systems of the most recent plants built, an average of 95% of the materials were manufactured in Korea.


The above article was constructed using printed reference material from the following: Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute (KAERI); KEPCO International Nuclear Graduate School (KINGS); Global America Business Institute. Also consulted were internet materials developed and published by KEPCO and KHNP, and the KAERI Nuclear Training Center. Details of the progression of the ROK program were obtained from an article published in 2010 by the Korea Herald. "The Atomic Energy Deskbook," John F. Hogerton, 1963 provided details of the initial Korean agreement with the USAEC and the TRIGA reactor. Also consulted was "Systems Summary of a Westinghouse Pressurized Water Reactor Nuclear Power Plant," Westinghouse Electric, 1971. The WNA website was used for construction start date and criticality dates for some plants mentioned in the article. The article above is entirely a new construct which, except for some dates as mentioned obtained from WNA is entirely sourced from official Korean industrial materials or the Korean press. Illustrations from KEPCO or KAERI related websites except that of Palo Verde, which is in the APR collection.

Above, dated but nevertheless interesting illustration of the Kori nuclear power complex. Original Kori nuclear station is at bottom, containing (to the left) the two original Westinghouse "turn-key" plants Kori-1 and -2, and next to them the larger Kori-3 and -4 plants built slightly later on a component contract basis. In this outdated picture, Shin-Kori 1 and 2 (which are now completed) i-OPR1000 plants are under construction, with the sites for APR1400 plants Shin-Kori 3,4,5 and 6 identified. Both the KINGS and the Kori Nuclear Power Education Institute are also parts of this complex. Illustration from KINGS brochure.

6:00 PM Eastern Sunday 9/9/2012

Export-Import Bank provides funding for UAE nuclear program; supports US jobs in the process

Below is a press release from the Export-Import Bank of the United States.


Ex-Im Approves $2 Billion in Financing for Nuclear Power Plant in U.A.E.

Media Contact: Lawton King (202-565-3200)

Ex-Im Approves $2 Billion in Financing for Nuclear Power Plant in U.A.E.; Project will Support 5,000 U.S. Jobs in 17 States

Washington, D.C. – In a decision that will support thousands of American jobs, the board of the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank) has authorized a $2 billion direct loan to the Barakah One Company of the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.) to underwrite the export of American equipment and service-expertise for the construction of a nuclear power plant in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, U.A.E.

According to estimates derived from U.S. Census Bureau statistics, the line of credit will support approximately 5,000 American jobs across 17 states.

The transaction will finance the construction of the first nuclear power plant on the Arabian Peninsula, which upon completion will number among the the largest nuclear-generating facilities in the world. Additionally, the loan ranks as Ex-Im Bank's largest transaction in the U.A.E. to date and counts as Ex-Im Bank's first greenfield nuclear-plant financing since the late 1990s.

"The 5,000 American jobs figure speaks volumes about the importance of the transaction to the U.S. economy," said Ex-Im Bank Chairman and President Fred P. Hochberg. "But in addition to bolstering American jobs, Ex-Im Bank will make history by backing the construction of the first nuclear power plant on the Arabian Peninsula."

The National Security Council and the Departments of State and Energy all support the transaction. Moreover, the U.S. and U.A.E. co-signed "U.S. – U.A.E. 123 Agreement for Peaceful Civilian Nuclear Energy Cooperation" in 2009 and the "Arrangement Between the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of the U.S. and the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation of the United Arab Emirates For the Exchange of Technical Information and Cooperation in Nuclear Safety and Security Matters" in 2010.

Barakah One Company plans to erect four nuclear reactor power-generating units on a coastal strip along the Arabian Gulf approximately 220 kilometers from the city of Abu Dhabi, a site chosen in light of seismic, socio-economic, and environmental factors. The reactors, supplied by the Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) and based on the state-of-the-art APR 1400 design, will come online at one-year intervals effective 2017 and yield an aggregate capacity of 5,600 megawatts gross electricity.

Westinghouse Electric Company LLC, a Pittsburgh, Pa.-based group company of Toshiba Corporation, is the largest exporter involved in the transaction and will provide the reactor coolant pumps, reactor components, controls, engineering services, and training. Employing approximately 9,000 people in the United States, the company retails fuel, technology, plant design, and equipment to customers in the nuclear power industry. Westinghouse nuclear power plants are currently under construction in China and the United States, among others.

"Westinghouse is delighted that the financing for Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation four-unit Barakah project has been approved by the Bank's Board of Directors, and we remain dedicated to ensuring an effective implementation of the project and related loan," said Ric Perez, the president and chief operating officer of Westinghouse Electric Company. "This work will create and sustain U.S. jobs in California, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas and other states home to Westinghouse sub-suppliers. Within Westinghouse alone, the Barakah project will allow us to maintain about 600 U.S. jobs. In addition, the Bank's support will sustain hundreds of well-paying jobs at Westinghouse's U.S. sub-suppliers and indirect jobs in the service industry."

Ex-Im Bank, in conjunction with various U.S. and U.A.E. governmental agencies, has conducted a detailed and extensive risk assessment of the project. The U.A.E. invited the Integrated Regulatory Review Service of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to examine the nation's nuclear regulatory framework. Likewise, the Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation of the U.A.E. established an internal task force to address the safety implications and lessons-learned of the Fukushima accident and to establish a process of outreach to the IAEA and other nuclear regulatory bodies throughout the world.

Along the same lines, the U.A.E. has entered into a number of important treaties and conventions pertaining to the nuclear sector and has signed bilateral agreements on the same subject with the U.S., Korea, France, and Japan, among others.

As of the end of FY 2011, the U.A.E. accounted for approximately $3.7 billion of the Bank's worldwide credit exposure, and in the same year the Bank approved a total of $415 million in authorizations to support American exports bound for the country.

About Ex-Im Bank:

Ex-Im Bank is an independent federal agency that helps create and maintain U.S. jobs by filling gaps in private export financing at no cost to American taxpayers. In the past five years, Ex-Im Bank has earned for U.S. taxpayers $1.9 billion above the cost of operations. The Bank provides a variety of financing mechanisms, including working capital guarantees, export-credit insurance, and financing to help foreign buyers purchase U.S. goods and services.

Ex-Im Bank approved $32.7 billion in total authorizations in FY 2011 -- an all-time Ex-Im record. This total includes more than $6 billion directly supporting small-business export sales -- also an Ex-Im record. Ex-Im Bank's total authorizations are supporting an estimated $41 billion in U.S. export sales and approximately 290,000 American jobs in communities across the country. For more information, visit www.exim.gov.


5:15 PM Eastern 9/9/2012

Friday, September 7, 2012



The story of Sylvania-Corning Nuclear's attempt to open a Western Region office, told though original papers and company documents. Make sure to check out the previous installments: Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

In our last installment, we showed Sylcor's developments in aluminum, plate type nuclear fuel elements. It is clear from the many varied papers in the Vadeboncoeur collection here at APR that Sylcor's management believed, at least through the 1950's, that this kind of fuel would be a major part of the early overall nuclear fuel business. A number of early test / research reactors used MTR type fuel elements, as they were then known, or close copies. Sylcor decided that its position in the business could be bolstered not by standing ready to manufacture any variant required of this type of element (whether the variations were size related or enrichment related) but rather by offering completely standardized fuel elements and assemblies.

The Sylcor Standard Fuel handbook shows four varieties of completely standardized fuel elements having been available; these are described by their Sylcor fuel element type numbers and basic characteristics and are in the order found in the handbook:

A-1091-C Ten curved plates per assembly
A-1891-C Eighteen curved plates per assembly
A-1091-F Ten flat plates per assembly
A-1891-F Eighteen flat plates per assembly

All elements were uranium-aluminum alloy encased in aluminum clad; enrichment of uranium for all was 90%.

All of the mechanical drawings in the Standard Fuel book are dated January, 1959 so we may assume that this program did not begin until roughly that date.

Above, from Sylcor Standard Fuel book; mechanical drawing of A-1091-C fuel element, first page. This book - and these drawings - have not seen the light of day in many years, so I did not make too serious of an attempt to flatten them out, much less separate them from the book for scanning.

Above, first page of Specifications for A-1091-C fuel elements.

At this time (as we will see when we get back directly to Jim V's personal history) Sylcor was both doing business in these MTR type elements and other kinds of elements, as well as trying to get into all sorts of other materials businesses (beryllium for the nuclear weapons business seemed important, among many other things.) As time progressed, Sylcor further attempted to streamline the fuel cycle by providing an innovative arrangement for the time, considering the regulatory environment in which the AEC owned all special nuclear material, no matter where it was.

Sylcor added what it called its Package Plan to the Standard Fuel program; with the Package Plan, Sylcor obtained all the necessary permits from the AEC as well as the special nuclear materials, with the end user of the fuel elements only being required to obtain an AEC permit for the amount of special nuclear material to be contained in the sum total of supplied fuel elements. This may seem a bit vague in today's world - so let's read, from the Sylcor "Terms and Conditions of Sale / Background and Explanation" handbook, which contains both a full Sylcor blank contract and full explanation for each provision of the contract, the background information on the Package Plan:

"Although the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 went a long way in promoting a climate for the development of private enterprise in the atomic energy field, the Act nevertheless maintained the requirements for detailed supervision and control by the Atomic Energy Commission over our industry. These controls and supervision are no less present with respect to the fabrication and supply of fuel elements than they are with respect to the operation of a nuclear reactor. Thus, for example, all special nuclear material (i.e., generally speaking, plutonium and enriched uranium) is owned by and must be obtained from the government. To receive and use this special nuclear material a license from the Atomic Energy Commission is required. In addition, an allocation must be obtained from the Commission for specified amounts of such material and undertakings must be entered into to accept financial responsibility for the material authorized to be received. Until very recently, it had been the custom in the industry, bred in part of necessity, for the customer to obtain all of the necessary allocations and materials for the fabrication of fuel elements. Assuming that the fuel element fabricator had obtained a material license from the Commission, he then fabricated fuel elements from the materials furnished by the purchaser pursuant to the purchaser's allocation. Frequently, the purchaser continued to be financially responsible, in whole or in part, for the fissionable materials including process losses, scrap recovery costs, use charges and overage requirements. This procedure obviously imposed many serious burdens on the purchaser and created major problems of timing and coordination both for the purchaser and the seller. In order to simplify the purchaser's problem and expedite the fabrication and supply of fuel elements, Sylcor has developed a package fuel plan under which we agree to take care of all of the necessary details, permits, allocations, licenses and to otherwise undertake all obligations relating to the fabrication and supply of fuel elements to a customer up to the time that the fuel element is delivered complete at the customer's door. Under this plan, we request only that you, our customer, obtain prior to delivery of the fuel elements an allocation to which any special nuclear material used in the fabrication of the fuel elements may be transferred at or prior to the time of their delivery to you. As of the time that this booklet was written, this condition appeared to be necessary to enable us to use our own allocation for other customers. If applicable regulations should be revised in this respect we will modify these provisions accordingly. In addition, of course, you are expected to obtain such permits and licenses as may be necessary for you to legally receive delivery of the fuel elements. We believe that you will agree that it is necessary that you also accept financial responsibility for special nuclear materials in the fuel elements once they have been delivered to you."

The next paragraph of the manual simply covers how the above information relates to each varied clause in the draft contract which is contained in the front of the manual. Special discussion is given, however, to something that had apparently already become a problem for Sylcor -- regulatory log jam or else customer inattention preventing proper licensing on time so that Sylcor could actually ship out the fuel elements it had fabricated. "Storage- Article V" of the draft contract covers this provision, but the descriptive text covering this provision from the "Background / Explanation" section of the book is far more descriptive:

"Sylcor is not in the storage or warehousing business. We neither have the facilities nor the personnel to take care of extensive or prolonged storage. However, in circumstances such as those posed in the preceding paragraph we may have no alternative but to store some or all of the items you have ordered. Furthermore, we recognize that unforeseeable circumstances may require you to postpone delivery of some or all of these items. Circumstances permitting, we will attempt to accommodate you in such event by temporarily storing such items. However, since such storage will either be at your request or due to other circumstances beyond our control we feel that it is only fair that you agree to pay to us the contract price for all items stored as if they had been delivered to you. We will agree to bear all risks of damage to or loss of any of the stored items which against standard Nuclear Energy Physical Damage insurance is available to us. In view of the relatively high cost of insurance to cover these risks together with the cost of maintenance of appropriate facilities and personnel a storage charge is provided for in Article V in addition to provision for reimbursement to us of all AEC use charges on any special nuclear material contained in any of the stored items. Finally, it will be necessary for Sylcor to inspect all items which are stored more than thirty (30) days, in order to ascertain whether any change has taken place in the items during the period of storage and whether they otherwise conform to warranty. A charge is provided to Article V to cover the costs of such inspection."

One has to wonder, given the clarity of the preceding explanation, whether Sylcor not only had problems with ordered fuel elements backing up at its facilities but also with payment for those elements already fabricated. This may seem trivial at this point, but later we will see that costs for Sylcor were not what they should have been.

This "Terms and Conditions of Sale" handbook seems not to have been intended for wide distribution to all prospective customers. Inside the front, paper clipped to the first page is a letter to Jim from his boss, Stan Roboff. The brochure was to be sent only to firms that had standing relationships with Sylcor; the letter says in part

"I would suggest that we limit distribution at this time to those companies and people with whom we have established a regular working relationship, so that each of these organizations will be aware of our attempt to ease and simplify our business relationships. The brochure should not be sent, as yet, to any of the companies with which we do business, or quote to, on a sporadic basis, since it is planned to enclose the "Terms and Conditions of Sale" brochure with our quotations in the future."

Roboff goes on to indicate that good examples of Sylcor standing relationships were AMF Atomics, Curtiss-Wright, and Atomics International. Others who had similar relationships were to receive the brochure.

Now that we've looked at the products of Sylcor and some of the sales provisions and details at the time Jim joined up and which developed shortly thereafter, it's time to get back to the details of Jim's personal journey with Sylcor. And that starts next time, in installment five.

Above, Sylcor fuel element display. This display was often photographed for inclusion in Sylcor sales materials. Note that the Brookhaven elements do not have curved extensions; this is the second of two illustrations that ever show Brookhaven elements of this style. (See previous installment for details.)

8:00 AM Eastern 9/7/2012