[ RadSafe ] [Nuclear News] FPL says Turkey Point among possible sites for new nuclear plant

Sandy Perle sandyfl at cox.net
Thu Apr 5 09:57:20 CDT 2007


*FPL says Turkey Point among possible sites for new nuclear plant
*Experts say switching to nuclear may be expensive
*New blood test to rapidly detect levels of radiation exposure 
*FDA proposes softening irradiated food labels 
*Polonium test continuing for 17
*Russia's pricing change may boost nuclear
*Combined Construction and Operating License Application Continues 
*Nuclear Power Making California Comeback?
*U.S. Utilities Stealth Nuclear Revival

FPL says Turkey Point among possible sites for new nuclear plant

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Apr 4 - Florida Power & Light Co. said 
Tuesday that its Turkey Point nuclear power complex is one of more 
than a dozen potential sites being evaluated for building a new 
nuclear power plant.

Juno Beach-based FPL, which already operates nuclear reactors at 
Turkey Point in Homestead and St. Lucie County near Fort Pierce, said 
that a proposed nuclear plant could be part of an overall plan to 
increase the company's generating capacity by 28 percent, or 6,700 
megawatts, by 2016.

In announcing the outlines of its 10-year power generation plan 
Tuesday, FPL said that its customer base was expected to grow to 5.9 
million customers by 2016, up from 4.4 million subscribers today.

New power plants will cost FPL billions of dollars and will help meet 
burgeoning demand for electric power among its customers. But 
consumers eventually will pay the bill. Pending approval by 
regulators in Tallahassee, the costs of new generating facilities are 
factored into electric power rates after the plants go into 

The 10-year program, which is updated each year and submitted to 
state regulators for approval, aims at diversifying FPL's fuel 
sources to help stabilize future power costs, conserving energy and 
using renewable energy resources. Currently, the company generates 
electricity using 50 percent natural gas, 21 percent nuclear power, 9 
percent fuel oil and 5 percent coal. It also buys about 15 percent of 
the power it needs from other utilities.

FPL estimates that energy conservation over the past 25 years avoided 
the need to build 11 medium-sized power plants. It expects to avoid 
the need to build four more plants through 2016 by encouraging 
customers to conserve energy.

Although FPL has not committed to building a nuclear plant, the 
company advised the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission last year that 
it intended to submit a license application. It also has been looking 
for potential sites since last year. These are initial steps in a 
long process -- including choosing reactor and technology, obtaining 
state and federal licenses and construction -- that could take about 
12 years before a plant is completed. FPL says a final decision on 
building the nuclear plant is not expected for "several years."

FPL filed its 10-year plan with the Public Service Commission late 

Other power generating facilities under construction or planned for 
the near future include natural gas-powered plants for Turkey Point 
and western Palm Beach County and a coal-fired plant in Glades 

The Turkey Point natural gas plant, to be completed this summer, will 
cost about $600 million, while the West County Energy Center in Palm 
Beach County has an estimated price tag of $1.3 billion. FPL's 
projected coal plant in Glades County will cost about $5.7 billion. A 
new nuclear plant could cost between $5 billion and $6 billion.

Experts say switching to nuclear may be expensive

Industry must manage itself much better than in past, Berkeley 
researcher says

After painstakingly analyzing the costs of U.S. nuclear power plants 
built decades ago, energy experts caution that a resurrection of 
nuclear power could bring along some financial risk and surprisingly 
high electricity costs. 
Researchers reporting in the most recent edition of the journal 
Environmental Science & Technology found that construction costs 
varied by as much as 500 percent before the last U.S. nuclear power 
station was built almost 30 years ago. 

"There is no other (energy) technology we're looking at where the 
range in cost is a factor of five," said Dan Kammen, professor of 
energy and resources and of public policy at the University of 
California, Berkeley. "It means that if the nuclear industry doesn't 
manage itself much better than in the past, we are likely to still 
get this large range of costs." 

The clean, carbon-free energy from splitting atoms has drawn backing 
among influential lawmakers and environmentalists as a way to ease 
consumption of fossil fuels and global warming. 

But the industry and its financial backers could be vulnerable to the 
same cost volatility, scientists warned, especially if utilities 
begin trying half a dozen new kinds of reactors cooled by metals or 
gases rather than water. 

In recent weeks, federal regulators have given the nod to new reactor 
sites in Illinois and Mississippi, and firms are readying 
applications for construction and operation of up to 33 new U.S. 
reactors, mostly in the Southeast and 

Industry officials say soaring plant costs in the 1980s are all but 
irrelevant to this renaissance. 

"I don't think it's a good prologue," said Peter Saba, a former 
Energy Department official and financial adviser at the law firm 
Paul, Hastings, Janovsky & Walker for several utilities eyeing new 
nuclear plants. "Past experience is not going to be a good gauge, 
because people are building them differently and you've got a 
different licensing process as well." 

Ordinarily, an industry learns by producing and with learning, 
technology gets less expensive. But researchers at UC Berkeley, 
Georgetown University and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found 
that "the case of nuclear power has been seen largely as an exception 
that reflects the idiosyncrasies of the regulatory environment as 
public opposition grew, regulations were tightened and construction 
times increased." 

Particularly after the loss of reactor coolant at Three Mile Island 
in 1979, tougher new safety requirements came into play, and 
utilities had to upgrade their construction plans, increasing 
construction costs at a time when interest rates were high. By the 
end of the decade, costs inflated so rapidly that the industry no 
longer could afford to build plants. 

Saba, whose father was a nuclear engineer, said part of the problem 
was that utilities wanted every nuclear power station to be unique. 

"They were designing them as they were building them," he said. 

Starting in 1992, Congress and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission also 
have reworked the rules for licensing new plants, allowing nuclear 
firms to get the latest three basic Generation III+ reactor designs 
approved in advance. Saba said the advanced Generation IV reactors 
that concern the energy scientists at Berkeley and Georgetown are at 
least a decade away. 

The rules also permit utilities to seek early site approvals, mostly 
for sites adjoining existing reactors. Utilities then can apply for a 
joint construction and operating license, rather than work through 
two costly and combative licensing proceedings. To these changes, 
Congress has added billions of dollars in federal liability 
protections and loan guarantees. 

"I don't have any doubt that companies are going to do some pretty 
hard number-crunching before they proceed," said Steve Kerekes, a 
spokesman for the industry's trade association, the Nuclear Energy 

"It never hurts to look at what the history was in that period. I'm 
not sure what that tells you because the rules have changed."

New blood test to rapidly detect levels of radiation exposure 

Devices/Technology  Apr 4 - In the event of a nuclear or radiological 
catastrophe - such as a nuclear accident or a "dirty bomb" - 
thousands of people would be exposed to radiation, with no way of 
quickly determining how much of the deadly substance has seeped 
inside their bodies.

Scientists at Duke University Medical Center have developed a new 
blood test to rapidly detect levels of radiation exposure so that 
potentially life-saving treatments could be administered to the 
people who need them most. 

There appears to be a critical window of 48 to 72 hours for 
administering treatments aimed at halting the devastating effects of 
radiation, said senior study investigator John Chute, M.D., an 
associate professor of medicine in the Duke Adult Bone Marrow and 
Stem Cell Transplant Program. But existing tests for measuring 
radiation exposure take several days and are not practical for 
testing large numbers of patients at once. 

"If a terrorist attack involving radioactive material were to occur, 
hospitals might be overrun with people seeking treatment, many of 
whom have actually been exposed and many of whom are simply 
panicked," Chute said. "We have to be able to efficiently screen a 
large number of people for radiation exposure in order to respond 
effectively to a mass casualty event." 

The new test scans thousands of genes from a blood sample to identify 
distinct genomic 'signatures' reflecting varying radiation doses. 
Patients can then be handled according to whether they received no 
exposure to radiation, an intermediate level of exposure that may 
respond to medical therapies or an inevitably lethal dose. 

The researchers published their findings April 3, 2007, in the 
journal Public Library of Science (PLoS) Medicine. The research was 
funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. 

High doses of radiation can damage or wipe out a person's blood and 
immune systems, leading in some cases to bone marrow failure 
accompanied by infections, bleeding and a potentially heightened 
lifetime risk of cancer. Since the symptoms of radiation exposure can 
take days or weeks to develop, it could be difficult to identify 
individuals truly exposed without a practical test to make this 
distinction, the researchers said. Current treatments for radiation 
exposure aim to bolster the blood and immune systems before the 
damage becomes too severe. 

Previous studies by researchers at the Duke Institute for Genome 
Sciences & Policy have used genomic technology to identify genes that 
can predict prognosis and response to chemotherapy within several 
types of cancers. In the current study, the Duke team used a similar 
strategy to determine which genes change in response to different 
levels of radiation exposure. 

The researchers subjected mice to low, intermediate and high doses of 
radiation and looked for the impact of each dose on specific genes in 
the blood. They found that each dose resulted in distinct profiles, 
or signatures, representing 75 to 100 genes that could be used to 
predict the degree of exposure. 

They also analyzed blood from human patients receiving bone marrow 
transplants who were treated with high doses of radiation prior to 
transplant and found specific gene profiles that distinguished the 
individuals that were exposed to radiation from those that were not 
with an accuracy of 90 percent. 

"The goal now is to refine this test to the point that if a disaster 
were to occur, we could draw blood from thousands of people and have 
results back in time for treatment to have effect," said Joseph 
Nevins, Ph.D., a professor of molecular genetics at Duke's Institute 
for Genome Sciences & Policy and co-investigator on the study. 

These findings also could point to new treatments for victims of a 
radiological catastrophe, said lead study investigator Holly K. 
Dressman, Ph.D., an associate professor of molecular genetics at the 
Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy. "By identifying genes 
that are major players in the response to radiation, we hope to 
compile a list of future targets for protection against its harmful 

The researchers are currently refining the test by looking at the 
effects of time from exposure, gender, age and additional genetic 
factors on the ability of the test to predict radiation dose, 
Dressman said.

FDA proposes softening irradiated food labels 

WASHINGTON (AP) - The government proposed Tuesday relaxing its rules 
on labeling of irradiated foods and suggested it may allow some 
products zapped with radiation to be called "pasteurized."
The Food and Drug Administration said the proposed rule would require 
companies to label irradiated food only when the radiation treatment 
causes a material change to the product. Examples includes changes to 
the taste, texture, smell or shelf life of a food, which would be 
flagged in the new labeling.

The technique kills bacteria but does not cause food to become 
radioactive. Recent outbreaks of foodborne illness have revived 
interest in irradiation, even though it is not suitable for all food 
products. For example, irradiating diced Roma tomatoes makes them 
mushy, the FDA says.

The FDA also proposed letting companies use the term "pasteurized" to 
describe irradiated foods. To do so, they would have to show the FDA 
that the radiation kills germs as well as the pasteurization process 
does. Pasteurization typically involves heating a product to a high 
temperature and then cooling it rapidly.

In addition, the proposal would let companies petition the agency to 
use additional alternate terms other than "irradiated," something 
already allowed by the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002 
but that no firms have pursued, according to the FDA.

The FDA posted the proposed revisions to its rules on irradiated 
foods on its website Tuesday, a day before they were to be published 
in the Federal Register. The FDA is publishing the proposal as 
required by the 2002 law.

FDA will accept public comments on the proposal for 90 days. A 
consumer group immediately urged the FDA to drop the idea.

"This move by FDA would deny consumers clear information about 
whether they are buying food that has been exposed to high doses of 
ionizing radiation," Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & 
Water Watch, said in a statement.

The FDA acknowledges in the proposed rule that allowing alternative 
ways of describing irradiation could confuse consumers: "Research 
indicates that many consumers regard substitute terms for irradiation 
to be misleading," the proposal reads in part.

But the requirement that the new labeling explain why a product was 
irradiated should clear up some consumer confusion, said Barbara 
Schneeman, director of the FDA's office of nutrition, labeling and 
dietary supplements.

"You would be told the material fact: what is it about this product 
that is different from some other product," Schneeman said. If a food 
were irradiated but left unchanged and indistinguishable from an 
identical but unradiated product, it wouldn't have to be labeled, she 

A 1984 FDA proposal to allow irradiated foods to go label-free 
garnered the agency more than 5,000 comments. Two years later, it 
reversed course and published a final rule that requires the small 
number of FDA-regulated foods now treated with radiation to bear 
identifying labels, including the radiation symbol.

"We have long argued that the use of the term irradiation or 
radiation has such a negative impact on the consumer that it 
basically acts as a warning label," said Jeff Barach, vice president 
of the Grocery Manufacturers/Food Products Association, an industry 
group. "Fixing this problem will help in food industry efforts to 
provide consumers with safe and wholesome foods with reduced risk of 
foodborne pathogens."

Foods still require FDA approval before they can be irradiated. 
Examples currently radiated include a small number of fruits, 
vegetables, spices and eggs.

The proposed rule would apply only to foods regulated by the FDA. 
However, if and when the rule is finalized, the Department of 
Agriculture could undergo a similar process to change the irradiation 
labeling requirements for the foods it regulates, including meat and 
poultry, said Amanda Eamich, a spokeswoman for USDA's Food Safety and 
Inspection Service.

Polonium test continuing for 17  
BBC News Apr 4 - Mr Litvinenko's London home is still sealed up 
Seventeen people exposed to radiation after the poisoning of former 
KGB spy Alexander Litvinenko are continuing to be monitored five 
months on. 

All have been assigned a doctor, provide regular samples for testing 
and have been offered counselling. 

After testing positive for polonium-210, they were told they had a 
greater long-term risk of cancer. 

Among them were hotel staff and guests, and Marina Litvinenko. Her 
husband died in London last November. 

A major public health investigation was launched by the Health 
Protection Agency after Mr Litvinenko's body was found to contain 
high levels of the radioactive substance polonium-210. 

They have elevated levels of polonium-210 in their bodies which does 
slightly increase their risk of cancer later in life  

It is still ongoing and has cost £2m so far and involved hundreds of 
agency staff. 

In all, more than 700 people in the UK have been tested for 

Of those, 17 were found to have levels that were not high enough to 
cause illness in the short term, but in the long term there may be a 
very small increased risk of cancer. 

Dr Michael Clark, of the Health Protection Agency, said: "The 17 are 
not likely to see any health effects in their lifetime. 

"These people have not been poisoned, they have elevated levels of 
polonium-210 in their bodies which does slightly increase their risk 
of cancer later in life." 

A further 673 people from 52 different countries were also tested. 

Just three were found to have had possible contact with polonium-210, 
but their levels posed no risk to their health. 

The Pine Bar at the Millennium Hotel remains closed 

The HPA has also taken requests for particular individuals to be 
tested for radiation from the Metropolitan Police, which is 
investigating Mr Litvinenko's death. 

The Millennium Hotel in Mayfair where he met his associate Dmitry 
Kovtun and his business partner Andrei Lugovoi, on 1 November 2006, 
emerged as being at the heart of the polonium trail. 

Four guests at the hotel's Pine Bar and nine members of staff were 
among the 17 to test positive. 

According to the hotel, all nine members of staff are still working 

Others affected include two employees of the Sheraton Hotel, in Park 
Lane, who are both still working there, and one member of staff from 
Best Western Hotel in Piccadilly. 

Police investigation 

Tests for radiation were carried out at all three hotels, and a 
further 11 sites. 

At the Millennium Hotel, the Pine Bar and several guest bedrooms 
remain shut while remediation work continues to seal or remove 
contaminated material. 

However, it is understood that by the end of the month all except two 
sites where work has taken place, will be open. 

Only Mr Litvinenko's London home, and offices in Grosvenor Street 
will remain shut, largely due to difficulties in tracing the property 
owners who live abroad. 

Meanwhile, the police investigation in the UK is still continuing and 
some information has already been passed onto the Crown Prosecution 

The latest development in the independent investigation by Russian 
police was an interview with Russian billionaire, Boris Berezovsky.

Russia's pricing change may boost nuclear

MOSCOW, April 4 (UPI) -- Russia's Rosatom will build three nuclear 
plants per year by 2015, the agency's chief, Sergei Kiriyenko, said 

Russia decided last year to move toward a competitive electricity and 
gas-pricing policy by 2011 and 2012; Kiriyenko said he expects the 
nuclear-energy sector to be competitive by then, the Daily News 
Bulletin reported. 

Under the current pricing policy, Russia's gas market is much larger 
than the hydro, coal and nuclear markets. The potential for nuclear 
growth hinges on the move to competitive pricing, Kiriyenko said. 

In 2006, Kiriyenko said, the nuclear industry reached its highest 
production levels since the industry began. 

Two plants are expected to begin construction under a federal nuclear 
energy complex program. Looking past 2015, four or more plants are 
expected to be built annually. 

Recently, the French company Alstom invested $400 million along with 
Russian nuclear company Atomenergomash to build a factory that will 
produce low-speed turbines for use in nuclear power stations, the 
Itar-Tass news agency reported. 

Over the next 30 years, Kiriyenko said 300 to 600 nuclear plants are 
expected to be built worldwide, and Russia may be poised to represent 
about 20 percent of the market.

UniStar Nuclear Signs Contract with AmerenUE to Prepare Combined 
Construction and Operating License Application Continues Progress 
toward Fleet of U.S. EPR Advanced Power Plants 

BALTIMORE, April 5 /PRNewswire/ -- UniStar Nuclear's development arm, 
UniStar Development Company, has entered into an agreement with 
Ameren Corporation's (NYSE: AEE - News) Missouri-based utility, 
AmerenUE, to assist in preparing a combined construction and 
operating license application (COLA). UniStar Nuclear, the jointly 
developed nuclear business enterprise of Constellation Energy (NYSE: 
CEG - News) and AREVA Inc., is working toward developing and 
deploying a proposed standardized fleet of advanced U.S. Evolutionary 
Power Reactors (U.S. EPR) in the U.S.

This agreement initiates a multi-year process for the possible future 
investment decisions required to meet anticipated future energy 
challenges through new nuclear. Although no firm decision has been 
made by AmerenUE on a location for a possible UniStar Nuclear-
developed power plant, this agreement adds to UniStar Nuclear's 
growing list of potential nuclear development projects now under 
consideration across the country.

"This is an important step forward for the UniStar Nuclear business 
model and our value-driven, risk managed business model," said 
Michael J. Wallace, co-chief executive officer of UniStar Nuclear, 
executive vice president of Constellation Energy, and president of 
Constellation Energy subsidiary, Constellation Generation Group. "As 
we continue to bring on new partners, we are expanding our options 
for potential projects and moving closer to realizing our vision of a 
standardized fleet of U.S. EPR advanced nuclear power plants."

UniStar Nuclear utilizes AREVA's U.S. EPR as its technology of choice 
in pursuing the potential for future nuclear power generating 
capacity across the country. "The U.S. EPR is the safest, most secure 
advanced nuclear power plant design currently under construction 
around the world, which provides a reliable knowledge base for 
certainty of cost, licensing and construction to meet the schedule to 
qualify for incentives in the Energy Policy Act," said Tom 
Christopher, CEO of AREVA Inc., headquartered in Bethesda, Md.

By signing on early with UniStar Nuclear, companies can take 
advantage of the flexibility and benefits of this innovative business 
model and also help refine the model for standardized fleet 
operations going forward.

UniStar Nuclear is the standardized nuclear business model jointly 
developed by Constellation Energy and AREVA Inc. that provides the 
platform upon which to license, construct and operate the safest, 
most secure and most reliable fleet of advanced nuclear power plants 
in the United States. It brings together industry-leading design, 
licensing, construction and operations expertise in a unique business 
model that is pioneering a new era of emissions-free American power 
generation. UniStar Nuclear's business operations 
(http://www.unistarnuclear.com) are headquartered in Baltimore, Md.

Constellation Energy (http://www.constellation.com), a FORTUNE 200 
company with 2006 revenues of $19.3 billion, is the nation's largest 
competitive supplier of electricity to large commercial and 
industrial customers and the nation's largest wholesale power seller. 
Constellation Energy also manages fuels and energy services on behalf 
of energy intensive industries and utilities. It owns a diversified 
fleet of 78 generating units located throughout the United States, 
totaling approximately 8,700 megawatts of generating capacity. The 
company delivers electricity and natural gas through the Baltimore 
Gas and Electric Company (BGE), its regulated utility in Central 

As the leading U.S. nuclear supplier and a key player in the 
electricity transmission and distribution sector, AREVA's 5000 
American employees are committed to serve the nation and pave the way 
for the future of the electricity market. The company's commitment to 
America is reflected in its initial investment of $200 million in the 
U.S. EPR. With 40 locations across the nation and $1.7 billion in 
revenues in 2006, AREVA combines homegrown leadership, access to 
worldwide expertise and a proven track record of performance. In the 
U.S. and in over 100 countries around the world, AREVA is engaged in 
the 21st century's greatest challenges making energy available to 
all, protecting the planet and acting responsibly towards future 
generations. AREVA, Inc. is headquartered in Bethesda, Md. Visit us 
at http://www.us.areva.com.

Ameren Corporation serves 2.4 million electric customers and nearly 
one million natural gas customers in a 64,000-square-mile area of 
Missouri and Illinois. AmerenUE serves 1.2 million electric customers 
and 125,000 natural gas customers in Missouri

Nuclear Power Making California Comeback?
Nearly two decades after Sacramento area residents voted to close the 
Rancho Seco nuclear power plant, the nuclear power industry is trying 
to make a California comeback. An organization called the Fresno 
Nuclear Energy Group is pushing to build a new nuclear power plant 
near the Fresno water treatment facility.

"We think the public is going to benefit by having a nuclear power 
plant here," said John Hutson, President and Chief Executive of the 
Fresno Nuclear Energy Group.

Nuclear power advocates say rising energy prices and global warming 
concerns may cause Californians to reconsider the issue of nuclear 
energy. They say nuclear power is a clean alternative to fossil 

"We frankly are going to have to find other alternatives for 
producing energy," said former SMUD board member and St. Senator Dave 
Cox, R-Fair Oaks. "Certainly nuclear power is one of those things 
that we ought to probably be looking to."

But some environmental groups are skeptical. 

"The nuclear industry is shamelessly trying to manipulate public 
concern over global warming to revive the nuclear power industry," 
said Bill Magavern, senior representative with the Sierra Club. 
"Nuclear power is the wrong solution."

Attempts to revive nuclear power in California face a number of 
roadblocks. State law currently prohibits construction of new nuclear 
power facilities until the federal government builds a permanent 
facility to store spent fuel rods. Assemblyman Chuck DeVore, R-
Irvine, is pushing new legislation that would repeal that 
prohibition, potentially helping pave the way for new construction.

DeVore's bill, AB 719, is scheduled to be heard before the Assembly 
Natural Resources Committee April 17th.

U.S. Utilities Stealth Nuclear Revival

James Finch submits: The news media love headlines, especially those 
which mention that no nuclear reactor has come online in more than a 
decade. How would journalists (and environmentalists) react if they 
discovered U.S. nuclear utilities have added the `nuclear power´ 
equivalent to four large reactors? A fifth or more could be on the 

With projected increases in electricity demand, construction of new 
nuclear power plants or the re-activation of shutdown reactors is 
drawing public and media attention. Both of these options, however, 
would take place in the future-if at all. A third option that is 
already taking place has generated less publicity: uprating existing 
units to generate more power. Although the uprates are usually less 
than 10 percent, they are quite significant. If all of the proposals 
are implemented, nuclear capacity would increase by more than the 
construction of any new reactor design now under consideration.

Surprise, there is a nuclear renaissance. New nuclear capacity has 
been growing in the United States for the last quarter century. 
According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory [NRC] website:

Utilities have been using power uprates since the 1970s as a way to 
increase the power output of their nuclear plants. As of July 2004, 
the NRC has completed 101 such reviews resulting in a gain of 
approximately 12,548 MWt (megawatts thermal) or 4,183 MWe (megawatts 
electric) at existing plants. Collectively, an equivalent of about 
four nuclear power plant units has been gained through implementation 
of power uprates at existing plants.

To put this into perspective, if one separated the power `uprates.´ 
of more than 5100 MWe, from total U.S. nuclear capacity and counted 
this capacity as `its own country,´ the uprates alone would become 
the world´s 14th largest nuclear electricity producer! As of January 
2007, the U.S. uprates, past and proposed, would generate more 
electricity than nuclear reactors in Brazil, Mexico and Argentina 
combined; nearly as much nuclear-generated as India and South Africa 
combined; more nuclear-generated electricity than Finland, 
Switzerland, Slovakia, or the Czech Republic.

The power uprates have created a `stealth´ nuclear renaissance in the 
United States. Flying under the radar screen, the increased nuclear 
capacity is something environmentalists have paid attention to, but 
not made serious effort to roadblock. Tiny capacity increases, adding 
up over a period of years, don´t make headlines. But, as you can see, 
it adds to additional U3O8, conversion, enrichment and conversion 

With all the hoopla of new nuclear reactors proposed for construction 
in China, India, Russia and elsewhere, `new´ capacity requiring more 
uranium has been a continuous effort, right here in the United 
States. Some of the up-and-coming uprates, in percentage terms, are 
quite substantial.

These are the power uprates currently being reviewed by the NRC. Six 
of the reactors plan to have completed their uprate procedure within 
the next twelve months. Another three remain in the `to be 
determined´ category. The nine uprates with 1002 MWe capacity 
represent slightly more than the average capacity of the 103 nuclear 
reactors currently operating in the United States - averaging 955 

Further, the NRC reports licensees plan to submit 18 power uprate 
applications over the next five years. At a 2005 World Nuclear 
Symposium, one utility spokesman forecast another 2600 MWe would be 
generated by 2010 as a result of power uprates. This additional 
growth could represent slightly less than the combined nuclear 
reactor capacities of Hungary, Pakistan and the Netherlands. 
Potentially, this would be tantamount the construction of 5 new 1,000 
MWe reactors - since the uprate process began, or the same number of 
nuclear reactors in Switzerland or Slovakia.

About 105 power uprates were completed between 1977 and 2006. Most 
uprates increased capacity by less than two percent, but more than 30 
reactors increased capacity by 5 to 15 percent through the uprate 
process. Exelon Corp (NYSE: EXC - News) increased capacity at the 
Clinton reactor by 20 percent in 2002.

There are three types of power uprates. The Stretch Power Uprate 
[SPU] requires no hardware changes, but can increase thermal power by 
7 percent through analysis of the plant´s existing safety margins. 
Improving the feed water flow measurements generally nets a thermal 
power prate of about 1.5 percent. This is called a `Measurement 
Uncertainty Recapture´ [MUR] power uprate. The NRC approved the first 
MUR uprate in 1999. More than 30 MUR uprates have been approved, 
adding an additional 500 MWe capacity.

The most significant in adding power to a nuclear plant is the 
Extended Power Uprate [EPU]. Since 1998, the NRC has approved 13 EPU 
uprates, adding more than 1500 MWe to the U.S. nuclear capacity - the 
equivalent of 1.5 nuclear reactors. This would be same power 
generated by two small natural gas combined cycle plants, a small 
hydroelectric facility or a 150 MWe wind farm. EPU uprates require 
major modifications which often include the replacement or 
modification of the turbine-generator, reactor pressure vessel 
internals, controls and instrumentation. Generally, the EPU process 
has involved replacing old turbines with more efficient new ones, but 
it can also involve other changes. Some industry experts believe the 
EPU uprate and other efficiencies could add up to 20 percent more 
capacity to a nuclear reactor.

Uprates are neither a new development nor limited to the United 
States. In May 2006, Nucleonics Week reported KHNP had applied to 
upgrade four reactors in South Korea. In the late 1990s, one Swiss 
reactor was uprated by 12 percent and a Finnish reactor was uprated 
by 15 percent. Spain has been aggressive in its uprate programs. The 
country has added 11 percent to its nuclear capacity by uprating its 
reactors by as much as 13 percent. One reactor´s capacity was 
upgraded by 5 percent for $50 million. Another reactor is operating 
at 112 percent of its original capacity.

Because licensing has been an uphill fight in many developed nations, 
many nuclear utilities have circumvented the process through uprates. 
In many cases, this extends the plant life and avoids the 
decommissioning process. Prime candidates for additional uprates 
include Exelon (NYSE: EXC - News), Entergy (NYSE: ETR - News) and FPL 
(NYSE: FPL - News), among others.

What impact on U.S. electricity generation takes place by adding more 
than 5,000 MWe capacity through power uprates? Quietly and under the 
radar screen the uprate process saves the United States the annual 
equivalent of 68 million barrels of oil, 17 million short tons of 
coal or 329 billion cubic feet of natural gas, while generating 
nearly 40 billion KWh of electricity - all of the electricity needs 
for nearly four million people. And that is just through the power 
uprate process.

Hypothetically, U.S. utilities could add the equivalent of 20 new 
nuclear reactors by 2020 through the uprate by upgrading the maximum 
power level of the nation´s existing 103 reactors. Under this 
scenario uranium mining production would have to increase another 20-
30 million pounds to accommodate the increased power expansion.

Sandy Perle
Senior Vice President, Technical Operations
Global Dosimetry Solutions, Inc.
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614 

Tel: (949) 296-2306 / (888) 437-1714  Extension 2306
Fax:(949) 296-1144

E-Mail: sperle at dosimetry.com
E-Mail: sandyfl at cox.net 

Global Dosimetry Website: http://www.dosimetry.com/ 
Personal Website: http://sandy-travels.com/ 

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