[ RadSafe ] [Nuclear News] PG&E underground storage facility for spent nuclear rods

Sandy Perle 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 
Germany's Siemens

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. 

U.S., France 

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. 

Government's Order 

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. 

Atomic Power 

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. 

`Heat Wave' 

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." 

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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