[ RadSafe ] [Nuclear News] PG&E underground storage facility for spent nuclear rods
sandyfl at cox.net
Thu Apr 5 10:25:27 CDT 2007
*PG&E underground storage facility for spent nuclear rods
*Green Activists Beach at Finnish Nuclear Site
*Japan's Power Price May Rise 58% After Atomic Scandal
*U.S. will assess damage at Hanford nuclear site
PG&E breaks ground on underground storage facility for spent nuclear
Spent nuclear fuel rods that are resting in the decommissioned
nuclear power facility in the King Salmon area are on a short path to
being considerably safer from the North Coast´s hefty seismic
A small group of residents, community leaders and Pacific Gas and
Electric Co. employees gathered in King Salmon Wednesday afternoon to
break ground on a PG&E project to build a large underground concrete
storage facility inside a 44-foot-high hill on the plant property.
The dry cask storage facility is scheduled to be completed by 2008
and will be an interim, but safer stop for the 390 fuel rods until
the U.S. Department of Energy completes its Yucca Mountain Repository
in Nevada that is expected to be the final destination for the
nation´s spent nuclear material.
The massive concrete structure, which was engineered to withstand a
9.4 Richter scale earthquake and is above an expected tsunami
flooding area, will hold six seal-welded stainless steel canisters
that will each hold 80 8-foot-long fuel rods and other waste.
The Humboldt Bay Power Plant Unit 3, which was built in 1963, was
shut down for seismic modifications in 1976 and remained closed until
1983, when PG&E determined that the required seismic modifications no
longer made the plant economically feasible, according to the federal
Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Terry Nelson, Humboldt Bay Power Plant´s nuclear manager, who started
his career with PG&E at the facility in 1977, reflected Wednesday on
a news conference he attended 24 years ago when the company announced
the nuclear facility would be decommissioned and promised to store
the spent material more safely when it was feasible.
"That has happened," Nelson said. "We are here today to commence with
the fulfillment of that promise."
With the construction of the storage facility, Nelson said PG&E can
remove the fuel from the plant to allow the complete decommissioning
of the plant, which is expected to be completed by 2010.
First District Supervisor Jimmy Smith took the time to compliment
PG&E for doing the "very best job" it could to make the plant a safer
Smith, who lives in nearby Fields Landing and represents those and
even closer residents to the plant in King Salmon, said the dry cask
storage project is "of great importance" to him personally, as well
as the community.
"This dry cask storage project will take some material out of what I
think is a fragile environment and put it in a safe place and make it
safer for the people who live nearby," Smith said.
That sentiment was echoed by Redwood Alliance member Michael Welch,
who told those assembled that he has been pushing for the dry cask
storage since the 1980s.
Jack Keenan, PG&E senior vice president-generation, commented during
the ceremony that the groundbreaking was the beginning of many
positive changes for the Humboldt Bay Power Plant in the next few
PG&E announced in May its plans to modernize the Humboldt Bay Power
Plant facility over the next three years with 10 modularly arranged
natural gas burning engines that could be run independently and more
efficiently to provide up to 163 megawatts of electricity.
Green Activists Beach at Finnish Nuclear Site
HELSINKI - Protesters in inflatable boats landed near the site of
Finland's new nuclear power station on Wednesday, chaining themselves
to the gates and demanding a halt to construction, Greenpeace and
plant officials said.
Finland's fifth reactor, commissioned by utility Teollisuuden Voima
(TVO), has been hit by delays and Greenpeace said safety has been
compromised to catch up with the work and cut costs.
The environmental group said it wanted construction halted until the
problems were ironed out.
Greenpeace said about 10 people had set out from their ship, Arctic
Sunrise, and landed at the site on Finland's west coast before
chaining themselves to the gates.
Rauno Mokka, deputy head of TVO, said police detained seven
"They were protesting against the building of the Olkiluoto 3 plant,"
he told Reuters.
Greenpeace campaigner Lauri Myllyvirta said the group wanted to
highlight safety problems.
"There have been efforts to bring down the cost and catch up with the
delayed schedule at the expense of safety," Myllyvirta told Reuters
by telephone. "The nuclear project had an unrealistic timetable and
price from the beginning."
The Greenpeace protesters carried signs saying "French nuclear
disaster", a reference to the firm building the plant.
Asked about the safety concerns, Mokka said: "We are familiar with
these issues, which have been and will be taken care of ... We do not
compromise on quality issues or technical requirements."
The 1,600 megawatt plant, which is the first reactor to be built in
western Europe in more than a decade, was originally scheduled to
start up in 2009 before being put off to the second quarter of 2010,
and then to early 2011 due to slower than expected construction work.
The plant is being built by a consortium led by France's Areva and
Japan's Power Price May Rise 58% After Atomic Scandal
April 4 (Bloomberg) -- Japan's electricity prices may surge because
safety cover-ups could prompt the government to order the closure of
more nuclear reactors, Mizuho Investors Securities Co. says.
The average price on the Japan Electric Power Exchange may climb more
than 58 percent to pass the record of 21 yen (17.7 cents) a kilowatt-
hour for the peak hours of 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. as demand rises in July
and August, Hirofumi Kawachi, an energy analyst at Mizuho Investors,
said in an interview in Tokyo.
Japan relies on nuclear power to produce 30 percent of its
electricity and consumption rises in summer as higher temperatures
increase air conditioning use in homes and offices. Hokuriku Electric
Power Co. will keep two reactors closed until March 2008 after the
government ordered a shutdown. Japan Atomic Power Co., which hid an
accident in 1997, may have to shut a plant.
``The government may call on several other utilities to suspend
reactor operations and conduct emergency inspections after the
scandal,'' Kawachi said. ``That should spark concern over a power
The wholesale power exchange in Tokyo enables utilities and new
market entrants such as Nippon Oil Corp. and Tokyo Gas Co. to trade
1,000 kilowatt-hour lots of electricity for delivery the next day or
month as far as a year ahead. The exchange began trading in April
Electricity for delivery during peak-hours tomorrow averaged 13.53
yen on the exchange, up from 13.33 yen today.
Shares in Tokyo Electric Power Co., Asia's largest utility, rose 1.3
percent to close at 4,030 yen a share. The Topix Electric Power and
Gas index climbed 1.6 percent.
In 2004, Japan's retail electricity prices for household use averaged
19.6 cents a kilowatt-hour, compared with 8.9 cents for the U.S.,
17.6 cents for Germany, and 14.1 cents for France, according to
research conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and
In 1999, there was an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction at the No.
1 reactor at Hokuriku Electric's Shika power station during a
maintenance shutdown because of improper handling of control rods,
the Toyama City-based company said on March 15. The company didn't
record the accident or notify local and state authorities.
In February, the 10 regional power utilities burned 1 million
kiloliters (6.3 million barrels) of crude oil and heavy fuel oil for
thermal power generation, less than the 2.3 million kiloliters
consumed a year ago, according to statistics compiled by the
Federation of Electric Power, Japan.
To compensate for the shutdown, Hokuriku Electric plans to more than
double the use of crude oil and fuel oil for thermal power generation
to 1.25 million kiloliters in the year beginning April 1 from 550,000
kiloliters in the previous year.
Power from oil- and coal-fired power stations is more expensive than
electricity from nuclear plants.
The government ordered Hokuriku Electric to shut the 540- megawatt
No. 1 reactor at the Shika nuclear power station on March 15.
Hokuriku closed the 1,358-megawatt No. 2 reactor in July after
finding cracks in turbines supplied by Hitachi Ltd.
The trade ministry may decide later this month whether Japan Atomic
Power will have to close the reactors at its Tsuruga plant for safety
checks, Kawachi said.
Akira Amari, minister of economy, trade and industry, said on March
30 that the government will decide within a month on the penalties
and punishment for plant accident cover-ups and safety data
fabrication during the past three decades.
In November, the government ordered all of the country's power
producers to review their plant operation records and whether they
had violated safety laws. It also ordered the utilities to reveal by
March 30 safety breaches at their plants.
``Closure of the Tsuruga power station could lead to a major supply
problem for Hokuriku Electric,'' Kawachi said.
Japan Atomic Power supplies all electricity produced at the Tsuruga
station to Hokuriku Electric, Kansai Electric Power Co., and Chubu
Electric Power Co.
The Tsuruga station houses two reactors, the 357-megawatt No. 1
reactor and the 1,160-megawatt No. 2 unit.
``For now, we have no plans to shut down reactors any time soon,''
Isao Tanabe, spokesman for Japan Atomic Power, said April 2. ``But
it's up to the Trade Ministry.''
Tokyo Electric estimates the utilization rate for its 17 nuclear
reactors at about 70 percent of capacity this fiscal year, down from
75 percent last year, spokesman Takuya Ito said by telephone. The
drop was because of maintenance work on the reactors, he said.
Temperatures in Japan's major cities have already been higher than
average this year, a trend that's forecast to continue into the
summer, the Meteorological Agency said.
In February, temperatures in Tokyo's Otemachi financial district
averaged 8.6 degrees Celsius (47 Fahrenheit), marking the highest for
the month in 131 years, according to the agency's data.
U.S. will assess damage at Hanford nuclear site
Environment - The DOE will look at how plutonium production affected
YAKIMA -- In an abrupt reversal, the federal government has agreed to
begin assessing the damage to natural resources caused by plutonium
production at the Hanford nuclear reservation, the nation's most
contaminated nuclear site.
Such assessments typically cost millions of dollars and often serve
as a precursor to paying monetary damages.
In 2002, the Yakama Nation sued the U.S. Department of Energy, which
manages Hanford cleanup, seeking restoration of soil, water, plant
and animal life that may have been injured by radioactive waste and
other hazardous substances. The Nez Perce and Umatilla tribes later
joined the lawsuit, as did Washington and Oregon.
The Energy Department fought back, arguing it was too soon to
determine whether there were injuries to the environment or whether
reparations should be paid.
But the department said Tuesday it would begin assessing those
damages in collaboration with two other federal agencies, the states
and the tribes.
"The only change was how much we're willing to do when," said Keith
Klein, manager of the Energy Department's Richland Operations office.
"We're willing to do more, sooner, now, because we believe we've
found ways to do it that won't impact our cleanup obligations and
schedules or add unduly to the taxpayer cost."
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