[ RadSafe ] [Nuclear News] FPL says Turkey Point among possible sites for new nuclear plant
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
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
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,
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
"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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Senior Vice President, Technical Operations
Global Dosimetry Solutions, Inc.
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614
Tel: (949) 296-2306 / (888) 437-1714 Extension 2306
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/
More information about the RadSafe