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Showing posts from August, 2011

North Anna, Paducah, Japan

Just to cross a T from last week’s earthquake:Dominion, the plant's operator, notified the NRC Friday that its analysis of ground shaking showed the quake could have exceeded its design parameters. An independent analysis by the government also had determined that was likely.Oh?But since nuclear power plants are built with margins of safety beyond the maximum expected shaking, the damage detected so far has been minimal.Oh! The NRC had already sent a seismic expert and a structural expert out to the facility, in addition to its inspector onsite.Let’s keep on eye on this one and see how it shakes out. ---The Paducah (Ken.) Sun looks at both North Anna and Nebraska’s Fort Calhoun (which found itself in the middle of a swollen Missouri River during much of the summer) and notes that both came through their respective bouts with mother nature unscathed. Conclusion:With debate growing more intense over the safety of nuclear power as part of the U.S. energy picture, these two unplanned …

Wednesday Update

From NEI’s Japan micro-site:TEPCO Guidelines Outline Compensation for AccidentIndustry/Regulatory/Political Issues• Tokyo Electric Power Co. has set guidelines to pay travel, lodging and other expenses for people displaced after the Fukushima Daiichi accident. The company is offering reimbursement for medical fees for injuries and illnesses caused by the government-ordered evacuation of the area surrounding the facility. TEPCO also will cover lost income—small businesses will be paid for lost business and farmers compensated for lost crops. The company will provide compensation for mental distress caused by the accident on a per-month basis.• Early-harvest rice from Fukushima Prefecture has cleared radiation testing, and farmers are shipping to market. This variety of rice accounts for only a small portion of the crop; other varieties will be tested later.Plant Status• TEPCO has found evidence of five active fault lines near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. The governmen…

Monday Update

From NEI’s Japan micro-site:Noda Chosen to Replace Kan as Prime MinisterIndustry/Regulatory/Political IssuesThe ruling Democratic Party of Japan has chosen Finance Minister Yoshihiko Noda to be its new party leader. The election paves the way for Noda to replace Naoto Kan as the country’s sixth prime minister in five years. The BBC reports that Noda wants Japan’s nuclear reactors restarted and has not backed Kan’s call for a nuclear-free Japan. The Japanese cabinet is expected to resign in the next few days, after which the parliament will elect the new prime minister. Last week, Kan announced his intention to resign as prime minister.Nuclear accident response will be one of the important new roles of the nuclear regulatory body slated to replace Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency. A nuclear training academy will be established to train staff for the new Nuclear Safety Agency, including designated “emergency specialists.” The new agency, to be part of the Ministry of Environ…

The Rain Was Ending, And Light

So how was your weekend? I had some flickering lights but they stayed on, and I woke up Sunday without all the clocks blinking 12. But that’s just a matter of geography. Irene was a very potent storm. The Associated Press reports that 3 million people are without electricity and that 35 people lost their lives. The first number will dwindle away, the second will stubbornly persist. Irene’s legacy.And the nuclear energy fleet? Let’s see:North Carolina:
Brunswick 1 and 2 – temporarily reduced power output to 65 percent of electric generating capacity.Virginia:
Surry 1 and 2 – continued operating at 100 percent powerMaryland:
Calvert Cliffs 1 – automatically and safely shut down, as designed, when a large piece of aluminum siding struck a transformer late Saturday; the power station immediately declared an unusual event, the lowest of four emergency classifications, and exited the unusual event Sunday morning; the reactor is still off-line.
Calvert Cliffs 2 – continued operating at 100 p…

Here Comes Irene

The east coast hasn’t had an easy time of it lately, has it? While the earthquake earlier this week caused no casualties and little property damage, the same likely cannot be said of the approaching hurricane Irene – if it maintains its present course and intensity. After all, things that haven’t happened might indeed not happen. Back in the early 80s, Atlanta Mayor Maynard Jackson told everyone to go home around noontime one December day over fears of imminent snowfall. No snowfall that day or that season.Jackson was made fun of back then for that decision – Chicken Little, Boy who Cried Wolf, you know, that kind of thing – but he was right. Conditions said snow, Atlanta cannot move (well, could not then move) when there is any snow, and abandoned cars clog up the thoroughfares, hampering cleanup.So it’s more than right to prepare for Irene. Nuclear energy plants have roosted along the east coast since there have been such facilities and hurricanes have roared around them every time …

Friday Update

From NEI’s Japan micro-site:Japanese Prime Minister Kan Resigns as Party LeaderIndustry/Regulatory/Political IssuesJapanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan has resigned as head of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, amid growing complaints about his performance. He came to office in June 2010. During his term, he had made unpopular moves, including an early pledge for a tax increase and handling a diplomatic issue with China in September. Most recently, Kan has been criticized about his response to the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant accident. His departure paves the way for Japan’s sixth leader in five years.Plant StatusWork continues on construction of a cover for the damaged unit 1 reactor building at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. Initial preparations began in May, and construction of the steel frame started earlier this month. Reference 2 of Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s updated roadmap to recovery at the facility, released Aug. 17, includes several graphic…

Wednesday Update

From NEI’s Japan micro-site:Japanese Government Reduces Radiation Release EstimateIndustry/Regulatory/Political Issues• The Japan Nuclear Safety Commission has cut its estimate of radioactive substances released by Fukushima Daiichi between March 12 and April 5 by 10 percent. The new estimate is based on recently released data on radiation levels at monitoring posts and the amount of radioactive material in the air.• The Japanese government is set to decide on a decontamination plan for the Fukushima prefecture that would cut radiation levels in residential areas by nearly half over two years. Work will include cleaning drainpipes, pruning plants and weeding gardens, washing roofs, removing surface soil, and cleaning the joints in asphalt roads.• Twelve U.S. nuclear energy facilities declared “unusual events” and one an “alert” following the Tuesday afternoon earthquake centered in Virginia. All twelve facilities have since exited unusual event status. The alert at Virginia’s North An…

The East Coast Earthquake Redux

From NEI’s Response Center (this goes to members and Capitol Hill, but I asked to be able to share it with you):All 12 plants that declared unusual events in the wake of yesterday’s East Coast earthquake have exited emergency status. Dominion’s North Anna station declared an alert, as both reactors at the site shut down automatically upon the loss of off-site power, which the company reported late yesterday had been restored. North Anna remains in alert status. NEI will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.---Here’s your headline (from The Hill, which covers Capitol Hill) - Earthquake reignites debate over safety of nuclear power – and here’s your sample paragraph:While there were no reports of damage at the North Anna reactors [the ones nearest the epicenter] and plant operator Dominion said the cooling systems were working properly, nuclear opponents quickly pounced on the incident Tuesday.I’m almost absolutely sure The Hill isn’t this naïve. The web is …

The East Coast Earthquake of 2011

Those of us on the east coast have yet another major event to remember – a 5.8 earthquake that shook virtually the entire east coast. No one who doesn’t come from the west is used to such an event, so the level of surprise and mystified reaction was considerable. We won’t know for awhile if there was substantial damage or casualties. Let’s hope for little of the former and none of the latter. But we do know something about the nuclear facilities.Dominion Virginia Power shut down its two North Anna reactors  as a result of the earthquake, according to the  the company.The earthquake was felt at the North Anna Power Station and the reactor operators, following procedures, shut down the reactors," said company spokesman Jim Norvelle. "It was a manual shutdown."The plant declared an alert, the second lowest level of emergency declaration, a commission spokesman said.About what you’d expect. Virginia was at the epicenter of the quake.Dominion Virginia Power's Surry Power…

Monday Update

From NEI’s Japan micro-site:Some Evacuated Areas Around Fukushima Daiichi to Remain Off-Limits for Extended PeriodIndustry/Regulatory/Political Issues• Some areas within the 12.5-mile exclusion zone around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility are to remain off-limits to evacuated residents for “a long time,” Japan’s government said. Officials had planned to allow residents eventually to return to their homes once the reactors are stabilized, but a government task force said that some areas likely will remain contaminated beyond that period and that exclusion orders will remain in force. • The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the commissioners would be able to vote as early as next month on the first of two reports it requested from staff recommending actions based on the agency’s near-term task force report on the Fukushima Daiichi accident. The first paper, due Sept. 9, will recommend immediate actions to be taken by industry based on the task force’s recommendations.…

Friday Update

From NEI’s Japan micro-site:NRC Commissioners Direct Staff to Act Promptly on Fukushima Task Force RecommendationsIndustry/Regulatory/Political Issues• The five-member U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued a memorandum directing the agency staff to engage with staff experts and external stakeholders to provide the commission with options for agency actions based on the NRC’s near-term task force report on insights from the Fukushima Daiichi accident. The commission requested a report in three weeks noting actions from the task force report that industry should take “without unnecessary delay.” Longer-term actions required by industry would be identified in a separate report within 45 days. • NHK World reports that the Japan Atomic Energy Agency has created a detailed map showing ground radiation levels within 62 miles of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. The map was developed using a detailed survey conducted in June by a JAEA team. The color-coded map uses Google…

Bellefonte: “We're excited. It's been a long time coming.”

The suspense and tension are over:After hearing about 70 speakers support or oppose nuclear power and the completion of the half-finished Bellefonte Nuclear Plant, the TVA board voted unanimously on Thursday to restart construction.So it wasn’t even a near thing. But that meeting sounds like it was pretty interesting. The local paper, The Scottsboro (Ala.) Daily Sentinel, sent writer Ken Bonner over to take a listen:"We're very excited to see it," Jackson County Economic Development Authority President and CEO, Goodrich "Dus" Rogers said. "Now we move into a capitalized project rather than one just in the planning stages." Rogers, and a group of 26 other people from northeast Alabama who attended the meeting were excited with the outcome. The contingent included 22 people from Jackson County including governmental, business and civic leaders, four from Fort Payne and Guntersville Mayor Bob Hembree.Jackson County is home to Bellefonte and Scottsboro. S…

Wednesday Update

From NEI’s Japan micro-site:TEPCO to Desalinate Used Fuel PoolsPlant StatusTokyo Electric Power Co. plans to begin desalinating water in the used fuel storage pools at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility by the end of this week. TEPCO said it will start with the pool at the fourth unit because it contains the most used fuel. The new desalination equipment will arrive on five trucks and use special membranes and electricity. Salt was introduced into the facilities immediately after the March 11 accident, when workers used seawater to provide emergency cooling. Desalination will reduce the likelihood of salt-induced corrosion of stainless steel pipes and the pool walls. Media HighlightsThe Wall Street Journal reported today that the cleanup of radioactive water at the Fukushima Daiichi plant is behind schedule because of recurring problems with the decontamination equipment. TEPCO began testing a new decontamination system Tuesday. “Strengthening the capability of the water tr…

Hokkaido, Repossession, Standardized Cars

There’s talk of turning one of the furloughed plants in Japan back on:The turning point could be the northernmost region of Hokkaido, which is on the verge of formally restarting the first nuclear plant to come back online since the March 11 disasters. Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi announced at a press conference Wednesday that she will be asking the government for final approval, effectively giving the green light from the local level to restart the nuclear plant.Writer Cheng Hergn Shinn tries out the idea that Japanese opposition might take all nuclear facilities off-line next year, but that seems highly unlikely and is certainly the first we’ve heard of such an potential outcome. That supposition, though, is what creates this “turning point.” What seems as likely – more likely, really – is that HEPCO (correx: not TEPCO, as I originally wrote. Thanks to commenter Jose A. for the heads-up) has done a good job testing the Hokkaido plant, enough to satisfy Gov. Takahashi. And there’s …

Monday Update

From NEI’s Japan micro-site:Japanese Government Endorses Plan for New Nuclear RegulatorPlant Status• Levels of radioactive cesium near the seawater intake area of Fukushima Daiichi reactors 2 and 3 have fallen below the safety limit, Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported over the weekend.Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues• The Japanese cabinet has endorsed a plan to establish a new nuclear energy agency that would take over the regulatory functions of the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, which is now under the industry ministry that also promotes nuclear energy. The new agency, to be set up under the environment ministry, will also carry out the advisory functions of the Nuclear Safety Commission and the radiation monitoring functions now being performed by the science ministry. The government plans to launch the agency in April 2012.• With more than 70 percent of Japan’s 54 nuclear reactors shut down for inspections, energy companies are experiencing rising prices for conventional…

Suspense. Tension. Bellefonte!

I’m not sure if it belittles the importance of the event to call it, well, suspenseful:Later this month [this Friday, to be exact], the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority could take up a proposal to complete the Bellefonte nuclear power plant in northeast Alabama.TVA administrators are conducting a campaign to gain public support for the project and nuclear energy in general despite a dangerous incident at a Japanese plant this year.TVA had already put off making this decision once:TVA staff says the most reliable and least costly option for future growth in electricity needs is nuclear power and completing the Bellefonte plant in Hollywood, Ala., for an estimated $4 billion to $5 billion. The board’s vote on the proposal, which had been expected this past spring, was put off after a nuclear fiasco in Japan.“Dangerous incident,” “nuclear fiasco.” We may in for a long period of creative description-making for the accident at Fukushima. I’m not crazy about either of these,but poin…

65th Carnival of Nuclear Energy: Turning Inspiration Into Action, Not Just Nuclear, And The Bigger Pictures

For the sixth time in the carnival’s 15-month history, we have the privilege of hosting. Each time we’ve written, the number of contributions from pro-nuke bloggers has increased. Today we have posts from 13 folks discussing all sorts of topics.Inspiration Into ActionSuzy Hobbs at the ANS Nuclear Cafe asked:Inspiring people to learn about energy issues is a huge step, but how do we turn that inspiration into action?Her answer:My best piece of advice to a newly minted nuclear supporter is to be bold and talk about it. Talk about it every chance you get. Bring it up, even at the risk of creating or escalating a conflict.…Will Davis at Atomic Power Review did just that. He recently chatted with a friend who had seen the Davis-Besse plant at a distance while on vacation. Addressing his friend’s concerns, Davis started a frank discussion about perceived risk and how big media drives and controls it.…Rod Adams hosted two gentlemen on his Atomic Podcast Show: Ben Heard of Decarbonise SA (Sou…

Friday Update

From NEI’s Japan micro-site:Cooling Restored for the Used Fuel Storage Pools at All Four Damaged Fukushima ReactorsPlant Status
• Workers at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility achieved a major milestone this week as recirculating cooling was restored to the used fuel storage pools at the last of the four damaged reactors. Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) activated the cooling system at the reactor 1 pool on Wednesday, marking the first time since the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that the pools at all four reactors have used recirculating cooling rather than water injection. Cooling systems for the pools were restored at reactor 2 on May 31; reactor 3, June 30; and reactor 4, July 31. The cooling systems for the pools at reactors 5 and 6 and the common pool were not damaged. TEPCO released an update to its roadmap to restoration of the facility on Aug. 10.• TEPCO plans to train approximately 4,000 workers in radiation safety by the end of the year. So far, about 1,900 work…

Southern Co. Advances; Atomists and Their Games

For those who have been following nuclear energy issues for the last 10-15 years, this kind of news can cause a bit of a tingle:The utility recently cleared a couple of hurdles in the approval process for Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4. Last week, the NRC determined its new Westinghouse AP1000 design meets current federal and state safety requirements. After the Fukushima I disaster, NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko had expressed concerns that Westinghouse, a unit of Japan-based Toshiba, had failed to properly measure the impact that earthquakes, tornadoes or other disasters could have on the new design.Officials approved the plan after Westinghouse addressed those concerns. So far, the NRC has turned a deaf ear to anti-nuclear and other environmental activists who are urging the agency to halt new plant approvals like this one, as well as re-licensing older reactors.Because we haven’t heard news like this before. It’s all new. And it’s very exciting. (The two reactors should begin operation …

Wednesday Update

From NEI’s Japan micro-site:NRC Votes Are All In on Task Force ReportPlant Status• Tokyo Electric Power Co. has begun erecting the steel support for an airtight cover for reactor building 1 at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility. The 17-story polyester fiber fabric cover is designed to shield the environment from the release of radioactive particles. TEPCO is planning similar covers for reactors 3 and 4.• TEPCO has established a means of sampling the liquids and gases in the primary containments at Fukushima Daiichi. Samples have been taken from the containments for reactors 1 and 2.Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues• NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko this morning submitted his voting document on the recommendations of the agency’s post-Fukushima task force. All five commissioners have now cast their votes. The voting papers are on the NRC’s website.• Residents and business owners evacuated from near the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear energy facility may be permitted to check on thei…