Second license renewal application filed for North Anna

North Anna nuclear power plant. Photo: Dominion Energy

Dominion Energy has filed an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to renew the North Anna nuclear power plant’s reactor operating licenses for additional 20-year terms, the Richmond, Va.–based utility announced on September 4. The NRC received the application on August 24.

North Anna, located in Mineral, Va., is home to twin 973-MWe three-loop Westinghouse pressurized water reactors. The filing makes the plant the second nuclear facility in the state to seek subsequent license renewal, after Dominion's filing in 2018 of a similar application to renew the licenses of its two Surry units—twin 874-MWe reactors. The NRC is currently reviewing that application.

(Following its April 2020 meeting, the NRC’s Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards issued a report recommending approval of the Surry SLR applications [NN, June 2020, p. 15].)

According to Dominion, the North Anna and Surry units produce 31 percent of the electricity for the company’s 2.5 million customers and 95 percent of the carbon-free electricity in Virginia.

UAMPS clarifies next steps for planned NuScale SMR deployment

Full-scale mockup of the upper third of the NuScale Power Module. Photo: NuScale

With a design that has just emerged from a rigorous safety evaluation by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and a customer—Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS)—getting ready to prepare a combined license (COL) application, what is next for Oregon-based NuScale Power and for near-term small modular reactor prospects in the United States? As milestones are reached, many want to know.

NuScale plans to supply twelve 60-MWe modules for a 720-MWe plant—called the Carbon Free Power Project (CFPP) by UAMPS—to be sited at Idaho National Laboratory. A smaller, 50-MWe module version of NuScale’s design recently became the first SMR to receive a final safety evaluation report (FSER) from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“The NRC design approval represents a significant de-risking factor for the CFPP,” said UAMPS spokesperson LaVarr Webb. The project is “making steady progress,” Webb said, adding that “UAMPS General Manager and CEO Doug Hunter has said it is much more important to do the project right than to do it fast.”

More voices come to the defense of Ohio’s H.B. 6 policy

Despite high-profile calls to repeal the scandal-tainted Ohio Clean Air Program Act (H.B. 6) and recent legislation crafted toward that end in both the Ohio House and Senate (66 of 99 House members have reportedly co-sponsored Democratic or Republican bills to repeal H.B. 6), the policy behind the measure continues to garner support.

As reported here on August 26, the six commissioners from Ohio’s Lake and Ottawa counties—home to Davis-Besse and Perry, the two nuclear plants saved from early closure by H.B. 6—have made clear their opposition to an immediate repeal of the act.

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Inspecting Hidden Areas of Metal Tanks and Containment Vessels or Liners

Figure 1. The Hanford Site in Washington state stores millions of gallons of high-level radioactive waste in 28 double-shell tanks. The tanks are buried underground to enhance radiation shielding. The space between the primary tank and the steel liner can be used to allow inspection of the inaccessible regions of these vessels.

Nuclear power plant containment vessels have large, inaccessible regions that cannot be inspected by conventional techniques. Inaccessible regions often are encased in concrete, soil or sand, or hidden behind equipment attached to a wall. Similar constraints affect the inspection of double-shell tanks designed to store nuclear waste, illustrated in Figure 1, that have an inaccessible region at the tank bottom where the primary shell is supported by the secondary shell. Present methods to monitor the integrity of these vessels primarily rely on partial inspections of accessible areas or estimation of corrosion rates; however, these approaches cannot account for nonuniform localized corrosion or cracking.

DOE issues RFP for nationwide mixed LLW treatment services

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management issued a final request for proposal (RFP) last week for its Nationwide Low-Level Mixed Low-Level Waste Treatment Services procurement. According to the DOE, the RFP is being issued on a full-and-open, unrestricted basis. The DOE intends to issue one or more basic ordering agreements as a result of this RFP.

The final RFP was can be found on the website of the DOE’s Environmental Management Consolidated Business Center. It also will be posted to the Fedconnect website. The deadline for RFPs is September 30.

Licensing board denies reopening Holtec CISF license proceeding

A licensing board of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued an order last week denying calls to reopen proceedings against Holtec International’s application to construct and operate a consolidated interim storage site for used nuclear fuel in southeastern New Mexico.

Fasken Land and Minerals, an oil and gas company based in Midland, Texas, along with Permian Basin Land and Royalty Owners, an association of oil and gas producers and royalty owners (collectively called Fasken), filed motions with the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) seeking to reopen the record and submit an amended late contention against Holtec’s license application.

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Consortium participates in National Academies webinar on low-dose radiation

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) has begun a new webinar series, with the first entry titled “What’s new in low-dose radiation.” The July 22 event kicked off the Gilbert W. Beebe Webinar Series—an extension of the Beebe Symposium, which was established in 2002 to honor the scientific achievements of the late Gilbert Beebe, NAS staff member and designer/implementer of epidemiologic studies of populations exposed to the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as well as the Chernobyl accident.


Duke companies include advanced nuclear in plans to speed carbon reduction

Duke Energy Progress and Duke Energy Carolinas have filed their 2020 Integrated Resource Plans (IRPs) with state regulators, parent company Duke Energy announced September 1.

The plans outline a range of options to achieve varying levels of carbon reduction, including, for the first time, potential pathways to achieve up to 70 percent carbon-emission reduction through policy and technology advancements.

Aggressive carbon-reduction targets are attainable, the company said, with investments in solar, wind, and energy storage, as well as with advanced nuclear, offshore wind, and other technologies “as they become available.” (Last September, Duke Energy declared its intention to seek subsequent license renewal for the 11 reactors it operates in six nuclear plants in the Carolinas [NN, Oct. 2019, p. 9].)

DOE grants $29 million for fusion energy R&D

The Department of Energy announced on September 2 that it has issued $29 million in funding for 14 projects as part of its Galvanizing Advances in Market-aligned fusion for an Overabundance of Watts (GAMOW) program, which is jointly sponsored by the department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) and the Office of Science–Fusion Energy Sciences (SC-FES).

According to the DOE, GAMOW teams will work to close multiple fusion-specific technological gaps that will be needed to connect a net-energy-gain “fusion core,” once it is ready, to a deployable, commercially attractive fusion system.

Settlement reached over Summer equipment ownership

South Carolina’s state-owned utility Santee Cooper and Westinghouse Electric Company have finalized the terms of a settlement for determining ownership of equipment associated with the Summer plant’s abandoned nuclear new-build project. The settlement agreement gives Santee Cooper full ownership of, and the ability to immediately begin marketing, all nonnuclear equipment, the utility announced on August 31.

Crews make progress on Hanford tank farm improvements

Crews work on Hanford's tank farm improvements. Photo: DOE

Work crews at the Department of Energy's Hanford Site recently completed removal and staging of 52 large concrete covers used to shield hoses for transferring radioactive waste between waste tanks in Hanford’s AY and AP farms. (Tank farms are groups of tanks.) The covers, known as “barns,” are being staged as part of an infrastructure improvement project until they can be used in the building of a hose system that will transfer waste from Hanford's A farm to the AP farm.

U.K. trade group debuts blueprint for lowering nuclear construction costs

The Nuclear Industry Association (NIA), the trade group for the United Kingdom’s civil nuclear industry, unveiled a new report yesterday that sets out a framework for cutting the cost of building new nuclear power plants in Britain.

The 27-page report, Nuclear Sector Deal: Nuclear New Build Cost Reduction, is available online.

Georgia Power provides Vogtle project update, addresses COVID concerns

Vogtle Unit 3, in August. Photo: Georgia Power

The target in-service dates for the Vogtle nuclear expansion project remain November 2021 for Unit 3 and November 2022 for Unit 4, plant owner Georgia Power announced in an August 31 report to the Georgia Public Service Commission. The project is now approximately 87 percent complete.

TerraPower’s Natrium pairs a sodium fast reactor with heat storage

An artist’s rendering of Natrium. Image: TerraPower

The Natrium reactor and energy system architecture, recently introduced by TerraPower and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH), offers baseload electricity output from a 345-MWe sodium fast reactor with the load-following flexibility of molten salt thermal storage. Stored heat can be used to boost the system’s output to 500 MWe for more than five and a half hours when needed, according to TerraPower. A company representative told Nuclear News that the company expects a commercial Natrium plant to cost $1 billion or less.

DOE ends dispute with South Carolina on Pu removal

The DOE is working to remove plutonium stored at its Savannah River Site.

The Department of Energy has reached a settlement with the state of South Carolina to remove 9.5 metric tons (t) of plutonium from the state, the agency announced on August 31. Under the settlement, which resolves litigation over the storage of surplus plutonium at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C., the state will receive an upfront lump sum of $600 million in economic and impact assistance payments. In return, the DOE will be allowed more time (through 2037) to remove the plutonium from the state without the threat of lawsuits.

The settlement stems from the DOE's termination of the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility in 2018. The MOX facility was intended to meet a nonproliferation agreement between the United States and Russia to dispose of 34 t of weapons-grade plutonium by converting it to nuclear fuel for commercial power reactors. Reported to be 70-percent completed when construction was halted, the MOX facility was approximately $13 billion over budget and 32 years behind schedule, according to the DOE.

Leningrad II unit reaches first criticality

Rosatom officials and plant staff celebrate in the control room at Leningrad II-2 as the unit achieves first criticality. Photo: Rosatom

Rosenergoatom, the electric power division of Rosatom, Russia’s state-owned nuclear power corporation, announced on August 31 that Leningrad II-2 has achieved initial criticality. The unit is one of two Generation III+ VVER-1200 pressurized water reactors at the Leningrad nuclear plant.

Leningrad II-2 is scheduled for commercial start early next year, replacing Leningrad I-2, a 925-MWe RBMK-1000 light-water–cooled graphite-moderated reactor that will permanently cease operation at the end of 2020 after 45 years of service. Fuel loading at Leningrad II-2 began in July.

Work continues at WIPP to increase underground ventilation

A bucket of dirt is lifted out of the utility shaft that is being excavated at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. (Photo: DOE OEM)

Work crews continue with a project to place a utility shaft at a location west of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, N.M., the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management announced on September 1.

Key federal nuclear policy post opens to applicants

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) within the Executive Office of the President is charged with reviewing and approving the annual budget requests of federal departments and agencies, including the Department of Energy. “In many ways, the OMB is the final authority on government spending,” explained ANS Executive Director/CEO Craig Piercy.

A window has just opened for applicants to serve as a nuclear program examiner for the OMB, with responsibility for analyzing nuclear policy issues and developing recommendations.

Hunterston B Unit 3 to restart soon; plant to retire earlier than expected

Workers on the fueling machine at Hunterston B. Photo: EDF Energy

EDF Energy has received approval from the United Kingdom’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) to restart the Hunterston B power station’s Unit 3 for a limited run, according to August 27 announcements from both the company and the regulator. EDF has permission to operate the unit for up to 16.425 terawatt days (approximately six months of operation), the ONR said.

EDF also announced that Hunterston B—located in North Ayrshire, along the western coast of Scotland—will begin its defueling phase no later than January 7, 2022, more than a year earlier than the expected retirement date of March 2023. The decision, EDF said, was made following a series of executive board and shareholders meetings.