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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NEI: "Nuclear Energy Facilities Prove Resilience" (Press Release)

Press release from the Nuclear Energy Institute:


Nuclear Energy Institute FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

  • Contact:202.739.8000
  • For Release:October 30, 2012
Nuclear Energy Facilities Prove Resilience During Hurricane Sandy
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Thirty-four nuclear energy facilities in the path of Hurricane Sandy have responded well and safely to this powerful storm, demonstrating their resilience against severe natural forces.
Careful planning and comprehensive preparations days in advance of the storm paid off at all of the facilities, which were prepared to take the steps necessary to maintain safety against high winds, record flooding and disturbances on the regional electric grid. Highly trained reactor operators and emergency response personnel stationed at the plants throughout the storm were able to take actions beyond their usual duties to protect the power plants and communities that surround them. As Hurricane Sandy moves beyond the mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states after knocking out electricity to seven million customers in 13 states, nuclear facility operators are conducting thorough inspections to ensure that all systems and equipment are ready to maintain the facilities in a safe condition.
Of the 34 nuclear facilities from South Carolina to Vermont in Hurricane Sandy’s path, 24 continued to operate safely and generate electricity throughout the event. Seven were already shut down for refueling or inspection, and three in New Jersey or New York safely shut down, as designed, because of storm conditions or grid disturbances. Inspectors from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have been stationed at each nuclear energy facility to oversee preparation for and recovery from the storm.
“Hurricane Sandy once again demonstrates the robust construction of nuclear energy facilities, which are built to withstand extreme flooding and hurricane-force winds that are beyond that historically reported for each area,” said Marvin S. Fertel, president and chief executive officer at the Nuclear Energy Institute. “Beyond the physical strength of these nuclear power plants, the professional crews that operate and maintain them take exacting precautions as significant storms approach. They also coordinate with local, state and federal emergency response officials. 
“Our facilities’ ability to weather the strongest Atlantic tropical storm on record is due to rigorous precautions taken in advance of the storm. In the days prior to Sandy storming the Atlantic coast, nuclear plant operators took a series of actions outlined in their emergency preparedness plans,” Fertel said. “These include securing or moving any equipment that could possibly become airborne due to high winds and verifying that weather-tight doors and water intakes are prepared. Each plant site also has numerous emergency backup diesel generators that are tested and ready to provide electricity for critical operations if electric power from the grid is lost.”
As a precaution, a reactor will be shut down at least two hours before the onset of hurricane-force winds at the site, typically between 70 and 75 miles per hour. If there is a loss of off-site power during or following a hurricane, reactors automatically shut down as a precaution and the emergency backup diesel generators will begin operating to provide electrical power to plant safety systems.
“Actions taken by companies operating reactors in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast once again demonstrate that nuclear energy facilities are well protected against extreme natural events,” Fertel said.
In 2011, 24 reactors at 15 facilities from North Carolina to New England safely withstood Hurricane Irene, a category 3 hurricane. In 2005, Entergy safely shut down Waterford 3 in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina, a category 5 hurricane, knocked out off-site power and damaged the regional electrical infrastructure. Florida Power & Light in 2004 safely shut down St. Lucie 1 and 2 in Florida after Hurricane Jeanne caused a loss of off-site power.
During Hurricane Sandy, Exelon Corp.’s Oyster Creek reactor in New Jersey, which was shut down before the storm for a refueling outage, declared an alert on Oct. 29. The alert, the second lowest of four Nuclear Regulatory Commission action levels, was in response to high water levels at the facility’s cooling water intake structure. Exelon is in the process of restoring off-site power to the facility. Until then, Oyster Creek is being safely powered by backup diesel-driven electrical generators that have fuel to power the reactor’s safety systems for more than two weeks. The plant’s reactor and used fuel storage pool have ample water supplies for cooling.
The following is a summary of U.S. nuclear power plant performance during Hurricane Sandy (as of 11 a.m. Oct 30).
North Carolina:
Brunswick 1 and 2—continued operating at 100 percent power.
Surry 1 and 2—continued operating at 100 percent power
North Anna 1 and 2—continued operating at 100 percent power.
Calvert Cliffs 1 and 2—continued operating at 100 percent power.
New Jersey:
Oyster Creek—shut down for refueling outage; alert declared Oct. 29 due to high water level at water intake structure
Hope Creek 1—continued operating at 100 percent power
Salem 1—manual safe shut down from 100 percent power on Oct. 30 due to high water level at water intake structure
Salem 2—shut down for refueling outage.
Peach Bottom 2 and 3—continued operating at 100 percent power
Three Mile Island 1—continued operating at 100 percent power
Limerick 1 and 2—safely reduced power from 100 percent to 50 percent and 22 percent respectively on Oct. 30 due to storm effects and at the request of the regional electric grid operator
Beaver Valley 1—continued operating at 100 percent power
Beaver Valley 2—shut down for refueling outage
Susquehanna 1—shut down for turbine inspection
Susquehanna 2—continued operating at 75 percent power.
Perry 1—safely reduced power from 100 percent to 91 percent on Oct. 30 at the request of the regional electric grid operator
Davis-Besse—continued operating at 100 percent power.
New York:
Indian Point 2—continued operating at 100 percent power
Indian Point 3—manual safe shut down from 100 percent power on Oct. 30 due to an electric grid disruption
Ginna—shut down for refueling outage
Fitzpatrick—continued operating at 100 percent power
Nine Mile Point 1—manual safe shut down from 100 percent power on Oct. 29 due to an electric grid disruption
Nine Mile Point 2—continued operating at 100 percent power.
Millstone 2—shut down for refueling outage
Millstone 3—safely reduced power from 100 percent to 75 percent on Oct. 29 at the request of the electric grid operator.
Pilgrim 1—continued operating at 100 percent power.
New Hampshire:
Seabrook 1—shut down for refueling outage, but safely restarted Oct. 30 and is at 20 percent power.
Vermont Yankee—safely reduced power from 100 percent to 90 percent on Oct. 30 at the request of the regional electric grid operator.
Nuclear power plants operating in 31 states provide electricity to one of every five U.S. homes and businesses. Nuclear energy produces more electricity than any other source in Connecticut, Illinois, New Hampshire, New Jersey, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia.
Nuclear energy facilities are designed to withstand natural occurrences greater than those encountered in the regions where they are located. They are built to withstand floods, earthquakes and high winds, and have numerous safety systems that will operate and safely shut the reactor down in the event of a loss of off-site power.
U.S. nuclear energy facilities have a long history of successfully and safely responding to natural challenges.
1:55 PM Eastern 10/30/2012

SITREP on Nuclear Plants - 1 PM 10/30

Several links to pass along with this update..

-NRC has issued a fresh press release, which includes little different information that we've already presented and / or linked here.  Click here to see it.

-The folks behind ANS Nuclear Cafe have compiled a massive Hurricane Sandy / Nuclear Plant resource, with updates and links galore.  This should be the first stop for anyone trying to get a handle on the situation; click here to see it.

-There are some stories circulating (mostly on anti-nuclear news "services") about the Oyster Creek nuclear plant.  We took care of the myths being spread already with a special article I wrote for ANS Nuclear Cafe last evening.  Click here to read it.

All nuclear plants are in a safe condition at this time in the storm affected areas.

12:55 PM Eastern 10/30/2012

Entergy's Northeast Nuclear Plants Safely Weather Hurricane Sandy

Below is a press release from Entergy Nuclear.


October 30, 2012

For Immediate Release
Jerry Nappi
Indian Point Energy Center
(914) 254-7132
Carol Wightman
Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station
(508) 830-8280
Jim Sinclair
Vermont Yankee | James A. FitzPatrick
(802) 275-2360
Entergy’s Northeast Nuclear Plants Safely Weather Hurricane Sandy

New Orleans, La. – With the brunt of Hurricane Sandy now past the eastern seaboard, Entergy’s Indian Point Energy Center and James A. FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in New York, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station in Massachusetts and Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vermont have all safely weathered the storm.
Indian Point 2, FitzPatrick and Pilgrim remained at full power while Vermont Yankee reduced power to 88 percent at the request of ISO New England to help maintain grid stability. Indian Point 3 automatically shut down at 10:41 p.m. Monday as a result of an electrical grid disturbance.
“Nuclear plants are built to exceed the most severe natural forces historically reported for their geographic area,” said John Herron, president and CEO of Entergy Nuclear. “And we saw evidence of that again with Hurricane Sandy.”
Entergy Nuclear plants began preparations for the storm last week, coordinating activities with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, independent system operators and various state and local government officials.
Critical Entergy Nuclear staff remained dedicated at each site, ready to respond to potential weather impacts.
In addition to the nuclear plant staff sequestered at Indian Point, FitzPatrick, Pilgrim and Vermont Yankee, the company’s utilities in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas sent more than 850 highly-experienced restoration workers and support personnel to the region impacted by the hurricane. They include scouts, who assess damage when safe to do so after the storm, and tool workers who will help rebuild the electrical system. Entergy will also provide some customer service representatives to remotely answer customer calls from affected areas.
Entergy Corporation is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including more than 10,000 megawatts of nuclear power, making it one of the nation’s leading nuclear generators. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.8 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $11 billion and approximately 15,000 employees.
9:55 AM Eastern 10/30/2012

7:45 AM Nuclear Plant SITREP - Hurricane Sandy

Updates on new information since last night:

-Indian Point Unit 3 has been shut down due to grid issues; Unit 2 remains at full power.

UPDATE at 8 AM -- According to Indian Point's Facebook page, "The disturbance originated in electrical equipment external to Indian Point that is part of the electrical grid. The disturbance meant that Indian Point 3 had no connection to send its electricity to the grid, so the generator automatically shut down since it had nowhere to send the power, Nappi {a spokesman} said."  (It sounds to me as if Unit 3 experienced a load reject and shut down automatically.)  Click here to see the article quoted by Indian Point's Facebook page.

-Salem Unit 1 has been shut down.  Click here for press release.

-Nine Mile Point Unit 1 suffered a load reject last evening at 9 PM when switchyard damage occurred and shut down; Unit 2 remains at full power.  Click here for an article with CENG quotes. (Updated 8:45 AM)

-Limerick has reduced power; Reuters has reported 91 percent output.  (8:45 AM - NRC morning update shows Limerick Unit 1 at 48 percent power and Unit 2 at 27 percent power.)  A number of the plants on line this morning are well below 100% output.

-Oyster Creek, shut down for refueling, is on the diesels (offsite power having been disrupted) with over two weeks worth of diesel fuel on hand.

No safety issues have been announced at any nuclear plant as a result of the storm.  Plants not mentioned are operating as they were before the storm (if on line, then on line; if shut down, then still shut down.)

More information as it becomes available.

7:45 AM Eastern 10/30/2012  -- Updated as needed.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hurricane Sandy update -- 11:00 PM Eastern 10/29

Ten minutes ago, the Indian Point twitter account reported that Indian Point, Vermont Yankee and Pilgrim were all still on line producing power.

NRC reports that no nuclear plants have yet shut down due to the storm.

Oyster Creek:

-Oyster Creek has declared, this evening, an Unusual Event (at about 7 PM) and then an Alert (at about 8:45 PM) due to rising water levels in the plant intake structure.  The plant is shut down for refueling.  Click here to see the most recent NRC release on this event.

-False allegations about Oyster Creek's ability to cool the spent fuel pool in the event of LOOP (Loss Of Offsite Power) are circulating on the usual anti-nuclear websites.  Click here to see my article on the ANS Nuclear Cafe that shows Oyster Creek's readiness, with redundant cooling systems, redundant backup power generating systems and robust plant design.

11:05 PM Eastern 10/29/2012

Hurricane Sandy - Preparation at Nuclear Power Plants

Below is a link to an NRC document covering which nuclear stations are expected to be affected by Hurricane Sandy, all of which are receiving added oversight.

NRC Prepared for Approach of Hurricane Sandy

Here are some other press releases and relevant links:

Entergy Nuclear press release

Dominion Energy's STORM CENTER page

NEI page on how nuclear plants survive severe weather such as hurricanes

11:00 AM Eastern 10/29/2012

Sunday, October 28, 2012

128th Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers

Atomic Power Review is proud to host the 128th edition of the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers - that weekly event which focuses attention on the most important blog posts from the English-language nuclear blogosphere. 

I think everyone knows by now that there's an entry fee of sorts -- and here it is!  What is this?

Click the photo to enlarge it.  The answer will be provided after the Carnival entries -- so here we go!


The Hiroshima Syndrome - Leslie Corrice

Earthquake Phobia Threatens Japan's Electrical Infrastructure

The majority of the currently-idled Japanese nukes are ready to produce the electricity which would alleviate the nation's current electrical shortage. The energy supply situation in Japan is critical, but it seems the majority of the country’s news outlets and politicians don’t really care. They would rather dwell on fear concerning exaggerated assumptions of earthquake impacts on operating nukes. Will the Japanese people ever be made aware of what’s really the case? And, if they are made aware, when will they say “Enough!!” and demand rational recovery from the very real tsunami-spawned, politically-exacerbated economic disaster ravaging Japan?


Meredith Angwin submits two posts this week; one at her own Yes Vermont Yankee site, and one at the ANS Nuclear Cafe.

ANS:  Mind the gap - Vermont's energy supply

There's a 30% gap in Vermont's "committed resources" for electricity because Vermont utilities no longer have contracts with Vermont Yankee. Angwin looks at the probable future price of gas and electricity. She concludes that it would be better for the ratepayers if that gap were still filled by Vermont Yankee.

YVY:  Federal Court Dismisses Vermont Yankee tax case

At Yes Vermont Yankee, Meredith Angwin notes that a federal judge dismissed Vermont Yankee's lawsuit which objected to a sudden change in their generation tax, moving the tax from five million to thirteen million over the course of one year. Angwin includes quotes from a key legislator, who says that the legislature wants to shut down Vermont Yankee, but the tax rise is not intended to inhibit Vermont Yankee operations.


Next Big Future - Brian Wang

Updated list of new Nuclear reactors expected to start operation from 2013 through 2017

All 20 Canadian nuclear reactors are in operation.


Paul Bowersox submits the following on behalf of the ANS Nuclear Cafe:

Update on Nuclear Waste Confidence Court Ruling

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission will not issue new nuclear plant licenses or life extensions until it addresses issues raised by a federal appeals court concerning long-term spent nuclear fuel storage. Jim Hopf at the ANS Nuclear Cafe brings an update and perspective on the impact of the NRC licensing suspension.


I submit my own piece this week which appeared at the ANS Nuclear Cafe:

MTR - Gone now, but not forgotten

Will Davis viewed an INL video this week that raised his attention part way through; the decommissioning of the MTR was the subject of that short clip.  At ANS Nuclear Cafe, he presents much more video of the decom process as well as historic illustrations and details.


Atomic Insights- Rod Adams

Why do nuclear energy developers ask for predictable market prices?

The competitive problem is that “the market” generally favors sprinters when the real economy would do better if the energy market was set up to favor ultra marathoners who could keep steadily moving forward long after the sprinters have given up and faded out of the race. Because of the focus on short term profits and daily market swings, investors often make decisions based on rapid capital movements.
In the energy business, a short-term market construct favors fuels like natural gas that can be used in cheap machines, especially when the fuels are sold by very large entities with at least one related and highly profitable product, like crude oil. Those entities can afford to establish low market prices that last just long enough to drive out the competition. Price wars have served the petroleum industry well for more than a century; they remain an effective tool for the dominant market players.


Nuke Power Talk - Gail Marcus

Good news in the Nuclear Energy Industry

At Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus reports on a number of "good news" items that have been reported
recently, both in the US and around the world.
That's it for this week's Carnival submissions. 
And now - what was that we saw above?
The illustration at the head of this edition of the Carnival is taken from a small PR folder from GE titled "The Seawolf Story."  On that folder's title page:  "This brochure commemorates the significant achievement of the personnel of the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in bringing to a successful conclusion the production of a nuclear power plant for the submarine Seawolf."
On the fifth page of the brochure we find the "What is this?" illustration, with the following information:  "HULL SKIDDING.  In the early morning of March 20, 1954, the prototype power plant of the Seawolf was "launched" into its location at the 225 ft. steel sphere located at the West Milton site of the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory.  Here tests were made to further determine the feasibility of using liquid metal as the reactor coolant for shipboard use, and to provide technical and operating information, later to be used in the design, fabrication and operation of the Seawolf's reactor and power plant."
The power plant was constructed inside of the simulated submarine pressure hull, which itself was then moved into the spherical containment.
The color illustration shown earlier is from a Bechtel Corporation ad that shows the full exterior of the 225 foot diameter steel vapor containment build to house the Seawolf prototype then known as the SIR or Submarine Intermediate Reactor, later known as the S1G prototype.
On July 18, 1955, a ceremony was held at the SIR plant to celebrate the first sale of electricity commercially from this plant to the local grid.  According to a speech given by AEC Chariman Lewis L. Strauss and which is reproduced in the Atoms for Peace Handbook, the plant could deliver up to 10 megawatts of power to the local grid. 
Certainly, though, all was not well.  The SIR prototype developed leaks in its superheaters early, and in the same month as the ceremony mentioned above, also developed leaks in its main steam generators (US Submarines Since 1945; Dr. Norman Friedman, US Naval Institute Press, 1994.)  According to Friedman, the leaks were fixed by January 1956.
The USS Seawolf, according to testimony given by Admiral Rickover to Congress in March, 1957, developed leaks in both her steam generators and superheaters.  The first leak was detected when Seawolf went to full power in dockside testing in August 1956; that "took us 3 months working 24 hours a day to locate and correct the leak," according to Rickover.  Seawolf eventually developed further leaks in both the superheaters and main steam generators so that for final acceptance trials she had, according to Rickover, lost about 10 percent equivalent total power from plugging of leaking heat exchanger tubes and also lost all of her superheaters (they were bypassed) which reduced power another 10 percent.  "With the reduced power," he noted, "she makes about 90 percent speed."
(Above comments from USGPO publication - Naval Reactor Program and Shippingport Project / Hearings before the Subcommittees of the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy - Congress of the United States - March 7 and April 12, 1957.  Friedman, in 'US Submarines since 1945,' duplicates essentially the statements of Rickover.)
The USS Seawolf had her reactor replaced with the S2Wa plant during shipyard availability that lasted from December 1958 through September 1960 (Friedman,) and according to Rickover's testimony, plans were already being laid to remove the SIR from the sphere at West Milton, New York and replace it with a further prototype - these events spelling the end of the liquid-metal-cooled reactor in the US Navy Nuclear Propulsion Program.
3:10 PM Eastern 10/28/2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

SCE repairs hydrogen leak at San Onofre

Below is a press release from Southern California Edison, courtesy Jennifer Manfre.

Southern California Edison Repairs Small Hydrogen Leak

ROSEMEAD, Calif., Oct. 22, 2012 — Southern California Edison (SCE) repaired a small pipe fitting at its shut down San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station after routine maintenance found a small hydrogen leak in the pipe, which is located in the non-nuclear side of the plant.

The leak did not pose a safety risk to workers or the public. The leak was in a Unit 2 pipe fitting near the turbine building.

SCE submitted an event report Sunday to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The utility also notified the California Emergency Management Agency and the San Diego Department of Environmental Health. The repairs were completed by 3 p.m. Monday.

Hydrogen, a flammable gas, is lighter than air, so it rises into the air and dissipates. Given the air flow around the pipe, the hydrogen did not accumulate at unsafe levels.

The pipe maintenance is unrelated to required equipment testing that began last week using a temporary boiler to produce steam in the non-nuclear portions of Unit 2.

Both units of the San Onofre plant are currently safely shut down. Unit 2 was taken out of service Jan. 9 for a planned outage. Unit 3 was safely taken offline Jan. 31 after station operators detected a leak in a steam generator tube.

For updates, please visit www.SONGScommunity.com, or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SCE_SONGS and on www.facebook.com/SCE. The San Onofre plant is jointly owned by SCE (78.21 percent), San Diego Gas & Electric (20 percent) and the city of Riverside (1.79 percent).

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.

7:40 AM Eastern 10/23/2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

SCE conducting testing at San Onofre

There appears to be a growing amount of anti-nuclear press being given to the work processes underway at SCE's San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.  While it's fun to be scared, it's a lot more responsible to be informed.  Here is an Edison International press release on just what is going on at San Onofre.


Southern California Edison Conducts Required Testing of Equipment

Media Contact: Media Relations, (626) 302-2255

Rosemead, Calif., Oct. 19, 2012 — Southern California Edison (SCE) has begun required equipment testing using a temporary boiler to produce steam required in the non-nuclear portions of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. This testing is not part of a plant restart.
The current testing is required for Unit 2 upgrades completed this past January, which included installing a new reactor vessel head. During this testing, steam might be visible on the west side of the plant. The temporary boiler is being run on diesel fuel.
The testing is anticipated to last about seven days. During this period, the reactor cooling water system will pump water through its normal flow path. The pumping energy will heat up and pressurize the reactor water to normal levels.
These conditions are necessary to conduct the planned testing of the new equipment. In accordance with the requirements of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Confirmatory Action Letter, the reactor will remain shut down and the steam generators will not be producing steam to run the power plant.
Both units of the San Onofre plant are currently safely shut down. Unit 2 was taken out of service Jan. 9 for a planned outage. Unit 3 was safely taken offline Jan. 31 after station operators detected a leak in a steam generator tube.
SCE submitted its response to the NRC’s Confirmatory Action Letter on Oct. 4, along with its restart plan for Unit 2. Unit 2 cannot be restarted until all plans have been approved by the NRC and will remain shut down until the NRC is satisfied that it is safe to operate. Unit 3 remains safely shut down for continued inspections, analysis and testing.
For updates, please visit www.SONGScommunity.com, or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SCE_SONGS and on www.facebook.com/SCE.


The press release above pretty well lays out the facts.

----  I have seen some supposed "insider," or "whistleblower" reports hitting the anti-nuke wires, which are purported to be made by someone inside the plant indicating that SCE intends to restart San Onofre at the earliest possible date.  Those who have been following either Atomic Power Review for a long time, or the ANS Nuclear Cafe blog for a long time, are all too well aware of the fact that the plants at San Onofre cannot and will not restart their reactors until the NRC has fully been made comfortable with, and signed off on, all remedial procedures.

What SCE is doing right now is applying essentially an external heat source to heat up and pressurize the water in the plant on the primary side.  The reactor is shut down.  This testing must be done to confirm that the newly applied reactor vessel head does not leak.  Of course, there is no threat to anyone on site or off site from any source, for any reason, during this pressurized testing. 

None of the dynamics that were in play causing the steam generator tube leaks during normal, steaming plant operation with the reactors at power are at play during this testing.  This testing is much more like a hydrostatic test on a coal or oil fired boiler than anything else.  And, as has been said, it's a required type of test.

8:00 PM Eastern 10/22/2012

Dominion to shut, decommission Kewaunee

Fresh press release from Dominion:


Dominion To Close, Decommission Kewaunee Power Station

- Decision tied to lack of economies of scale, low Midwest power prices

- Focus to remain on safety during remaining operation and after shutdown

- Dominion to take a one-time after-tax charge of $281 million in 2012 third quarter

Oct 22, 2012
RICHMOND, Va., Oct. 22, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Dominion (NYSE: D) today said it plans to close and decommission its Kewaunee Power Station in Carlton, Wis., after the company was unable to find a buyer for the 556-megawatt nuclear facility. Pending a grid reliability review by the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO), the station is expected to cease power production in the second quarter of 2013 and move to safe shutdown.
Dominion announced in April 2011 that it would seek to sell Kewaunee as part of a regular review of its portfolio of assets to determine which assets fit strategically and support its objectives to improve return on invested capital and shareholder value. The company was unable to find a buyer for the facility.
"This was an extremely difficult decision, especially in light of how well the station is running and the dedication of the employees," said Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion chairman, president and CEO. "This decision was based purely on economics. Dominion was not able to move forward with our plan to grow our nuclear fleet in the Midwest to take advantage of economies of scale. In addition, Kewaunee's power purchase agreements are ending at a time of projected low wholesale electricity prices in the region. The combination of these factors makes it uneconomic for Kewaunee to continue operations."
Farrell said the company's top priority will be a continued focus on safety.
"We intend to take all steps necessary to ensure the protection of the public, employees and the environment during the remaining period of power generation, as the station is shut down, and throughout the decommissioning process," Farrell said. "We will be vigilant, and we plan to make sure the facility has the resources it needs."
The station will remain under the oversight of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) throughout the decommissioning process.
Following station shutdown, Dominion plans to meet its obligations to the two utilities that purchase Kewaunee's generation through market purchases until the power purchase agreements expire in December 2013.
"One thing that should be perfectly clear is that the employees of Kewaunee have been doing an outstanding job, and this decision is in no way a reflection on them," Farrell said. "I want to thank them for all they have done, and Dominion will work to make the transition as smooth as possible for them and their communities. I also want to thank Governor Walker and other elected officials for their help and support since we purchased the station back in 2005. We regret leaving the positive business environment the State of Wisconsin provides."
Dominion plans to recognize an after-tax charge of $281 million in the third quarter of 2012 related to the closing and decommissioning of the station. The one-time charge will be excluded from operating earnings.
Dominion uses operating earnings as the primary performance measurement of its earnings guidance and results for public communications with analysts and investors. Dominion also uses operating earnings internally for budgeting, for reporting to the board of directors, for the company's incentive compensation plans, and for its targeted dividend payouts and other purposes. Dominion management believes operating earnings provide a more meaningful representation of the company's fundamental earnings power.
Kewaunee's decommissioning trust is currently fully funded, and the company believes that the amounts available in the trust plus expected earnings will be sufficient to cover all decommissioning costs expected to be incurred after the station closes.
Kewaunee Power Station, located on Lake Michigan about 35 miles southeast of Green Bay, began commercial operation in 1974. It has one Westinghouse pressurized water reactor. Dominion acquired the station in July 2005. In February 2011, the NRC renewed the station's operating license for an additional 20 years, until 2033.
Farrell said Dominion still firmly believes that nuclear energy must play an important part in the nation's energy future.
"History has proven that nuclear energy is a major reason the United States enjoys one of the most reliable, least expensive and cleanest electric grids in the world," he said. "The situation Dominion faces at Kewaunee is the result of circumstances unique to the station and do not reflect the nuclear industry in general. The nation will be hard-pressed to meet its energy needs, let alone do so in a secure and affordable manner, without a robust and growing nuclear energy program."
Dominion is one of the nation's largest producers and transporters of energy, with a portfolio of approximately 27,400 megawatts of generation, 11,000 miles of natural gas transmission, gathering and storage pipeline and 6,300 miles of electric transmission lines. Dominion operates the nation's largest natural gas storage system with 947 billion cubic feet of storage capacity and serves retail energy customers in 15 states. For more information about Dominion, visit the company's website at www.dom.com.
This news release includes certain "forward-looking information." Examples include information as to our expectations, beliefs, plans, goals, objectives and future financial or other performance or assumptions concerning matters discussed in this release. Factors that could cause actual results to differ from those in the forward-looking statements may accompany the statements themselves. In addition, our business is influenced by many factors that are difficult to predict, involve uncertainties that may materially affect actual results and are often beyond our ability to control or estimate precisely, such as fluctuations in the value of assets held in our decommissioning trusts, the risk associated with the operation of nuclear facilities, fluctuations in energy-related commodity prices, additional competition in electric markets in which our merchant generation facilities operate and state and federal legislative and regulatory developments. We have identified and will in the future identify a number of these factors in our SEC Reports on Forms 10-K and 10-Q. We refer you to those discussions for further information. Any forward-looking statement speaks only as of the date on which it is made, and we undertake no obligation to update any forward-looking statement to reflect events or circumstances after the date on which it is made.
SOURCE Dominion
For further information: Media: Jim Norvelle, +1-804-771-6115, jim.norvelle@dom.com, or Chet Wade, +1-804-771-6115, chet.wade@dom.com; Analysts: Tom Hamlin, +1-804-819-2154, thomas.e.hamlin@dom.com, or Nathan Frost, +1-804-819-2187, nathan.j.frost@dom.com
9:52 AM Eastern 10/22/2012

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

INL Press Release- New Video on Waste

Below is a press release from Idaho National Laboratory, courtesy Nicole Stricker.


INL Media Advisory
Oct. 17, 2012

Nicole Stricker, 208-526-5955, nicole.stricker@inl.gov
Ethan Huffman, 208-526-0660, ethan.huffman@inl.gov

New video explains waste and research materials at INL Site

IDAHO FALLS — A new video helps demystify waste and nuclear research materials at the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho site. The video is being shared with Idahoans via news media, public websites and online forums.

The long history and complex nature of work at DOE's Idaho site has left many confused about the nature, source and amount of radioactive waste and nuclear materials there. To help explain, Idaho National Laboratory produced a new 6-minute video that provides simple explanations and clarifies differences between liquid radioactive waste, buried waste and used nuclear fuel.

INL hopes the video will help inform Idahoans who want to participate in conversations about cleanup progress at the Site, INL's nuclear energy mission and other discussions led by Idaho's Leadership in Nuclear Energy Commission chartered by Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter.

The video is available at www.inl.gov or INL's YouTube and Facebook pages, which are all linked from the bottom of INL's home page. News media also can download a high-definition version from INL's ShareFile site by calling the media contacts above.

INL is one of the DOE's 10 multiprogram national laboratories. The laboratory performs work in each of DOE's strategic goal areas: energy, national security, science and environment. INL is the nation's leading center for nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory is the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance.

Subscribe to RSS feeds for INL news and feature stories at www.inl.gov. Follow @INL on Twitter or visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/IdahoNationalLaboratory.


Click here to see the new video on the INL YouTube channel.

3:45 PM Eastern 10/17/2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Toshiba to buy Shaw Group's holdings in Westinghouse

Toshiba press release 10 OCT:


Toshiba to Acquire Shaw Group's Stake in Westinghouse
10 Oct, 2012

TOKYO—Toshiba Corporation (Tokyo: 6502) today announced it has received notice from The Shaw Group Inc. stating that Nuclear Energy Holdings, Shaw Group's special purpose subsidiary, exercised its put option and will sell the 20% holding in Westinghouse Electric Company that it owns.
The put option was exercised automatically on October 6, 2012 under the terms of the put option agreement, for cash settlement 90 days thereafter, in January 2013. Toshiba will purchase the shares at a price of approximately 125 billion yen by immediately available cash and/or loans.

Westinghouse is currently constructing four AP1000® nuclear reactors in the U.S. and a further four in China, and has been successful in actively promoting and expanding its business, and establishing business operations in the U.S., Asia, Europe and Middle East, since its acquisition by Toshiba. Westinghouse aims to continue growing its business value, through the further expansion of its global sales volume.
Toshiba has received interest from potential partners, regarding the acquisition of a stake in Westinghouse, and is open to talks on the condition that Toshiba retains a majority stake, can expect to share long term business prospects and strategies with partners, and secure positive synergies. Toshiba expects such participation of third-party partners will contribute to the reinforcing of Westinghouse's business and to the sustaining of the financial position of Toshiba, following the acquisition of Shaw Group's stake in Westinghouse.
Shaw Group is working with Westinghouse on the AP1000 projects in the U.S. and China, and has already agreed to see all currently outstanding orders through to a successful completion. After Shaw Group's exercise of the put option, Toshiba will select future plant engineering partners on a project-by-project basis.


Wall Street Journal report on Toshiba buying Shaw's Westinghouse holdings

Japan Daily Press report on Toshiba buying Shaw's Westinghouse holdings

Toshiba's stock price is down following the announcement; MarketWatch listed Toshiba and Shaw as "stocks to watch" for the day (click here.)

10:30 AM Eastern 10/10/12

Thursday, October 4, 2012

New October 4 press release: SCE on San Onofre Unit 2 restart

Below is a press release from Southern California Edison:


Media Contact: Media Relations (626) 302-2255
Investor Relations Contact: Scott Cunningham (626) 302-2540

Southern California Edison Submits Response to Confirmatory Action Letter and Unit 2 Restart Plans to Nuclear Regulatory Commission

ROSEMEAD, Calif. (Oct. 4, 2012) — Southern California Edison (SCE) has submitted its response to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Confirmatory Action Letter, along with its restart plan for Unit 2 of its San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. The response, the restart plan and supporting analyses can be read at www.SONGScommunity.com. The unit cannot be restarted until all plans have been approved by the NRC.

“Safety is our top priority, and after conducting more than 170,000 inspections to understand and prevent the problem, and confirming the corrective actions we have taken to solve the problem with the top experts from around the world, we have concluded that Unit 2 at San Onofre can be operated safely and within industry norms,” said Ron Litzinger, president of SCE. “When implemented, this plan will get San Onofre Unit 2 back to providing reliable and clean energy to Southern Californians.”

The response and restart plans are being submitted simultaneously to provide the NRC with all the relevant information needed to evaluate the full spectrum of repairs, corrective actions and additional safety measures proposed for restart and safe operations at the plant. Unit 3 will remain offline while the utility continues to study the potential solutions that are unique to that unit.

The response to the NRC covers the causes of the tube wear, repairs and corrective actions required for the Unit 2 steam generators, actions to prevent the extensive tube-to-tube wear observed in Unit 3, and inspection and safe operation protocols.

• SCE determined the tube-to-tube wear in the Unit 3 steam generators was caused by a phenomenon called fluid elastic instability, a combination of high-steam velocity and low-moisture conditions in specific locations of the tube bundles and ineffective tube supports in the same locations.
• The high-steam velocity and low-moisture conditions existed in Unit 2 and hence Unit 2 was susceptible to the same vibration-causing environment. However, of the almost 20,000 tubes in Unit 2, all except two are known to have been effectively supported throughout its 21-month operating period.
• SCE will operate Unit 2 at 70 percent power, which will prevent the vibration-causing environment by decreasing steam velocity and increasing moisture content. The 70 percent power level will result in steam velocities and moisture content consistent with those that the industry has successfully operated under for many years.
• SCE has chosen a conservative operating period of five months. SCE will shut down Unit 2 after five months for inspection of the steam generator tubes to ensure the continued structural integrity of the tubes, to measure tube wear and to confirm that the solutions are working. The five-month operating period affords an additional safety margin beyond the analysis provided by the independent experts.
• SCE has plugged six tubes in Unit 2 indicating wear with greater than 35 percent through wall depth and preventively plugged more than 500 other tubes. Steam generators are built with an allowance of extra tubes so that tubes may be taken out of service for a variety of reasons, including wear, and only 2.6 percent of the total tubes in Unit 2 have been plugged.

The restart plan covers the above repairs, corrective actions and operating parameters, and also includes additional monitoring, detection and response activities. Three independent experts in steam generators have performed analyses that validate the safety of the restart and operations plans.

Proposed additional monitoring, detection and response activities include:

• Installation of early warning monitors that can detect extremely small tube leaks faster;
• Enhanced sensitivity of vibration monitors;
• Additional monitoring and analysis systems; and
• Enhanced operator training to respond to extremely small tube leaks.

SCE anticipates discussing its Confirmatory Action Letter response with the NRC in a public format.

Unit 2 was taken out of service Jan. 9, 2012, for a planned outage. Unit 3 was safely taken offline Jan. 31, 2012, after station operators detected a small leak in a steam generator tube. Unit 3 remains safely shut down for continued inspections, analysis and testing.

For updates, please visit www.SONGScommunity.com, or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/SCE_SONGS and on www.facebook.com/SCE.

The San Onofre plant is jointly owned by SCE (78.21 percent), San Diego Gas & Electric (20 percent) and the city of Riverside (1.79 percent).

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.



Click here to read a press release from SCE which APR carried on July 19, 2012; details the NRC's statements about 50.59 requirements.  Link to CAL and NRC report.

Click here to read a very popular APR post on steam generator design and construction; includes a number of historical and comparative details.

Click here to read Meredith Angwin's April 2012 guest post on APR which details her experience at EPRI concerning steam generator design, manufacture, testing, and problem solving.

10:55 AM Eastern 10/4/2012