Woke nuclear?

September 15, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear CafeMaureen T. Koetz

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After decades of relinquishing its value and return on investment as “emission-free” electricity generation, segments of the nuclear industry are pursuing actions in several states to secure emission credits for avoiding greenhouse gas emissions. To harmonize electricity market stability and greenhouse gas emission reduction goals, states such as New York and New Jersey have enacted programs to award zero emission credits (ZECs) to nuclear plants for their emission-free output.

Dearly earned and too long forgone, air emission credits have been the economic birthright of the nuclear industry since the passage of the 1990 Clean Air Act (CAA) amendments, when emission control capability first became a tradable commodity. Yet it took until 2016 for ratepayers and shareholders to receive even a small fraction of this valuable return on investment.

Court finds no breach of contract in failed Bellefonte sale

August 30, 2021, 12:00PMNuclear News
Bellefonte nuclear power plant (Photo: TVA)

A federal court last week sided with the Tennessee Valley Authority in its legal dispute with Nuclear Development LLC over the proposed sale of the unfinished Bellefonte nuclear power plant. The court, however, also ordered the utility to refund millions to Nuclear Development over the aborted transaction.

TVA's OIG spots “high” risks in Sequoyah chemistry program

July 14, 2021, 9:30AMNuclear News
Sequoyah nuclear power plant (Photo: Photorush/Wikimedia Commons)

In an evaluation report released last week on the Sequoyah nuclear plant’s chemistry/environmental program, the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Office of the Inspector General identified certain risks, both behavioral and operational, that could impact organizational effectiveness. Program behavior was assessed from interviews and field work conducted from September 21 through November 3, 2020, with operations assessed in February of this year.

2020 enforcement cases rise but still below five-year average

June 22, 2021, 9:29AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently released its Enforcement Program Annual Report for calendar year 2020, showing a total of 61 escalated enforcement actions taken last year against licensees, non-licensees, and individuals—an increase of 7 percent from CY 2019, but a number that remains below the five-year (2016–2020) average.

TVA and Kairos partner on demonstration reactor

May 6, 2021, 3:00PMNuclear News
Artist’s rendering of Kairos Power’s KP-FHR reactor. (Image: Kairos Power)

The Tennessee Valley Authority and nuclear technology and engineering company Kairos Power this morning announced plans to collaborate on the deployment of the latter’s low-power demonstration reactor, dubbed Hermes, at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) in Oak Ridge, Tenn. TVA will provide engineering, operations, and licensing support to help Kairos with deployment, according to the announcement.

Company settles dispute with TVA over Watts Bar project

April 27, 2021, 12:04PMNuclear News
Watts Bar nuclear power plant in Tennessee

Construction and maintenance services firm Day & Zimmermann (D&Z) has paid $200,000 to resolve allegations that it submitted false claims to the Tennessee Valley Authority for services performed in connection with capital improvement projects at the Watts Bar nuclear plant, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee announced last week.

Senate hearing to focus on nuclear energy

March 24, 2021, 3:00PMANS Nuclear Cafe

The U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (ENR) will hold a hearing on Thursday, March 25, to examine the latest developments in the nuclear energy sector, with a focus on ways to maintain and expand the use of nuclear energy in the United States and abroad.

The hearing can be viewed live at 9:45 a.m. EST. More information about the hearing is available online.

Browns Ferry-2 outage to include turbine work, loading of 3D-printed parts

March 2, 2021, 12:04PMNuclear News

A replacement rotor is lifted and staged for the upcoming Browns Ferry-2 turbine work. Photo: TVA

The Tennessee Valley Authority has begun a refueling and maintenance outage at Browns Ferry-2 that includes the largest scope of turbine deck work since the unit’s construction, as well as innovations in fuel assembly components, the utility announced on March 1.

On deck: All three of the 1,254.7-MWe boiling water reactor’s low-pressure turbines will undergo a comprehensive replacement of major components, including new rotors, inner casings, steam piping and bellows, and turbine supervisory instruments, requiring the support of more than 500 additional outage workers. TVA said that 600 crane lifts will need to be performed for some components, such as the rotors, which weigh up to 327,888 lb., and inner casings, which weigh up to 200,000 lb.

TVA invites input on Clinch River plans

February 3, 2021, 3:19PMNuclear News

An advanced nuclear reactor technology park is hoped for the 935-acre Clinch River site. Image: TVA

The Tennessee Valley Authority is seeking public comment on its notice of intent to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS) on proposed actions for an advanced nuclear reactor technology park at the 935-acre Clinch River site near Oak Ridge, Tenn. The notice, published yesterday, is also expected to appear in this Friday’s Federal Register.

The consideration of a new nuclear facility at the Clinch River site “supports TVA’s mission statement and is another way to assess how to serve the people of the Tennessee Valley,” according to TVA.

Your turn: TVA is requesting comments on the scope of the PEIS, alternatives being considered (including a no-action alternative), and environmental issues. Comments are due by March 19 and can be submitted online, via email, or by mail to J. Taylor Cates, NEPA Specialist, 1101 Market Street, BR 2C-C, Chattanooga, TN 37402.

TVA recommends giving feedback electronically, due to COVID-19 teleworking restrictions.

NRC issues EA & FONSI for Bellefonte construction permit extension

January 21, 2021, 9:39AMNuclear News

The unfinished Bellefonte nuclear plant. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued an environmental assessment (EA) and finding of no significant impact (FONSI) in connection with its proposed action to extend the completion dates for the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Bellefonte plant reactor construction permits. If approved by the NRC, the construction permits for Bellefonte Units 1 and 2 would extend to October 1, 2021.

In a notice on the EA and FONSI published in the January 19 Federal Register, the NRC explained the reason for the proposed action. “In its March 31, 2017, and August 28, 2020, letters, TVA noted that it sold the Bellefonte property at auction, the sale of Units 1 and 2 did not close, and the purchaser filed a lawsuit against TVA,” the notice said. “TVA stated that an extension is needed to allow the parties additional time to obtain a decision in the lawsuit.”

New 3D-printed fuel assembly brackets to load at Browns Ferry next spring

December 15, 2020, 7:00AMNuclear News

Additively manufactured channel fastener. Source: ORNL

The Tennessee Valley Authority will load four new 3D-printed fuel assembly brackets next spring at its Browns Ferry nuclear power plant, in Athens, Alabama. The brackets will be the first of their kind loaded into a commercial reactor, according to the Department of Energy.

The components, also called channel fasteners, were manufactured at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in Tennessee, in a joint project with TVA and its fuel supplier, Framatome, as part of the lab’s Transformational Challenge Reactor program. The program is designed to introduce new manufacturing techniques and approaches to industry partners in order to speed up the deployment of nuclear systems.

NRC proposes fine, issues violation notices over Watts Bar-1 incident

November 10, 2020, 3:04PMNuclear News

Watts Bar. Photo: TVA

One week after issuing a six-figure civil penalty to the Tennessee Valley Authority for violating Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules involving employee protection, the NRC has proposed penalties totaling more than $900,000 on TVA for a 2015 incident at the utility’s two-unit Watts Bar nuclear plant, located near Spring City, Tenn.

The NRC also has issued violations to two managers and a reactor operator for their roles in the incident.

The enforcement actions are the result of an NRC investigation—initiated in August 2016 and completed in May of last year—into events that occurred during and after the startup of Watts Bar-1 following a maintenance outage in November 2015.

TVA fined over employee protection violations

November 9, 2020, 7:03AMNuclear News

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on October 29 imposed a civil penalty of $606,942 on the Tennessee Valley Authority for violating the agency’s rules involving employee protection, after proposing the fine and issuing four related violation notices in August.

Following investigations completed in October 2019 and January 2020, the NRC concluded that two former TVA employees had been subjected to reprisals for raising concerns regarding a chilled work environment.

In a November 4 Federal Register notice, the NRC notes that TVA responded to the proposed fine on September 23, denying all four violations and arguing (unsuccessfully) that “if the NRC continues to believe that the violations occurred, then at a minimum the NRC should reduce the severity level of the alleged violations and commensurately reduce the civil penalty.”

NRC gives nod to Watts Bar-2 power uprate

October 30, 2020, 9:27AMNuclear News

Watts Bar Unit 2. Photo: TVA

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved a request from the Tennessee Valley Authority to increase the generating capacity of Unit 2 at the Watts Bar nuclear power plant by 1.4 percent, according to an October 27 press release from the agency. TVA submitted its application for the power uprate on October 10, 2019, and the NRC issued the required license amendment on October 21.

The power uprate, which TVA intends to implement by mid-December, will increase Unit 2’s generating capacity from approximately 1,223 MWe to 1,240 MWe.

“The NRC staff determined that TVA could safely increase the reactor’s output, primarily through more accurate means of measuring feedwater flow,” the press release stated, adding, “NRC staff also reviewed the TVA evaluations demonstrating that the plant’s design can safely handle the increased power level.”

EIA: Nine of top 10 electricity generators in 2019 were nuclear plants

October 6, 2020, 12:01PMNuclear News

Graph: EIA

Of the 10 U.S. power plants that generated the most electricity in 2019, nine were nuclear plants, a recent report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration states.

These 10 facilities produced a combined 230 million megawatt hours of electricity last year, accounting for 5.6 percent of all electricity generation in the United States, according to the report. The report also notes a shift in the makeup of the top plants over the past 10 years, from a mix of nuclear and coal-fired generators in 2010 to nearly all nuclear in 2019.

Coal’s share of U.S. electricity generation dropped from 45 percent in 2010 to 23 percent in 2019, the reports says. Stricter air emission standards and decreased cost competitiveness relative to other generators are given as the key reasons for coal’s decade of decline.

NRC proposes six-figure fine to TVA; cites two former execs

August 27, 2020, 9:55AMNuclear News

In actions related to its rules involving employee protection, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on August 24 issued a proposed civil penalty of $606,942 to the Tennessee Valley Authority, as well as an order prohibiting a senior TVA executive from NRC-licensed activities for five years and a violation notice to a second executive.

Following investigations completed in October 2019 and January 2020, the NRC concluded that two former TVA employees had been subjected to reprisals for raising concerns regarding a chilled work environment.

UT, TVA to evaluate SMR development at Clinch River

April 23, 2020, 1:04PMNuclear News

The University of Tennessee (UT) and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) signed a memorandum of understanding on April 7 to evaluate the development of a new generation of cost-effective advanced nuclear reactors, such as small modular reactors (SMR), at TVA’s 935-acre Clinch River Nuclear Site in Roane County, Tenn.

Nuclear Matinee: Prep work at Sequoyah Unit 2

October 5, 2012, 6:00AMANS Nuclear Cafe

Today's ANS Nuclear Matinee shows viewers a time-lapse film of a steel superstructure being built on top of the dome of Sequoyah-2's reactor containment building. The work is being done to ready the site for a large maintenance project scheduled at the plant. When complete, the superstructure will support the removal of parts of the dome along with the reactor containment vessel and steam generator enclosures.