[ RadSafe ] [Nuclear News] NRC says new nuclear plants should be plane-proof

Sandy Perle sandyfl at cox.net
Wed Apr 25 10:40:12 CDT 2007


NRC says new nuclear plants should be plane-proof 
China plans to patent its own nuclear power plants
World: Nuclear Industry Seeks To Escape Chornobyl's Shadow 
Yushchenko: region around Chernobyl nuclear plant must be put to use
NJ State's largest utility shuts down nuclear plant
Rann 'hypocritical' over nuclear power
Scientist questions nuclear future
Virginia Power seeks federal OK for two new generating units 
Japan, U.S. ink pact on nuclear power reactors
Swiss Nuclear plants safe but waste management not
Czech CEZ-owned nuclear plant Temelin to produce 12.5 TWh

NRC says new nuclear plants should be plane-proof 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. nuclear reactor builders will likely have 
to weigh the potential for a commercial aircraft strike when they 
design new plants, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Tuesday. 
The NRC's proposed rules are meant to protect new reactors against a 
deliberate hit by a jet like those that rammed into the World Trade 
Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001, the commission said.

"This is the most recent step in a broad, proactive effort to improve 
the security of reactors initiated by the NRC after September 11," 
NRC Chairman Dale Klein said. "We need more technical analysis to 
understand how to address this.

The proposal would apply to companies that want to build new reactors 
whose designs have not received NRC certification, a spokesman for 
the NRC said. It will not apply to the nation's existing 104 civilian 
nuclear power plants, which already have adequate protection, he 

The proposal will be made public later this year and could take 
effect next year, he said.

The proposal is less stringent than one backed by NRC Commissioner 
Gregory Jaczko, which would have required new nuclear plants to be 
built to withstand a large commercial aircraft impact.

U.S. utilities have not ordered new nuclear plants in about 25 years 
due to cost and safety concerns, but the NRC could weigh upward of 20 
new applications for the first wave of new U.S. nuclear plants in 
coming months.

The NRC said it already requires the owners of nuclear reactors to 
take steps to minimize damage from large fires and explosions from 
any type of attack.

However, companies that ask the NRC to new approve reactor designs 
would have to "assess how the design, to the extent practicable, can 
have greater built-in protections to avoid or mitigate the effects of 
a large commercial aircraft impact."

"This proposal gives us the chance to assess and make practicable 
changes to new reactor designs early in the design process," Klein 

The rules would apply to reactor design proposals submitted by 
General Electric Co., French-based Areva, and Japanese-based 
Mitsubishi Heavy Industries the spokesman said.

And even though the rules would not explicitly apply to four new 
reactor designs already certified by the NRC, it would be "in the 
interest of both the designers and their clients to adopt these 
changes at the design stage," Klein said.

The rules would likely require designers to weigh how an aircraft 
strike would impact the plant operator's ability to keep the reactor 
core cool enough to avoid a meltdown, and to keep radioactive gases 
from escaping into the atmosphere, the NRC said.

The Nuclear Energy Institute, which lobbies for U.S. nuclear 
operators, said the proposal is appropriate, because plant designers 
already weigh cataclysmic events like hurricanes and earthquakes.

China plans to patent its own nuclear power plants

(Xinhua) China is planning to develop its own patented technology for 
third generation nuclear power generating plants which could be 
available before the end of the next decade, said an official with 
the country's atomic energy authority Wednesday. 
Zhang Fubao, vice director of the Systems Engineering Bureau under 
the State Atomic Energy Authority, said Chinese experts will study 
current third-generation nuclear power technology, and develop its 
own reactor by 2017. 

"Even by that time, we may still need international cooperation," 
said Zhang. 

The so-called "third-generation" technology is expected to be safer 
and more economical than existing technology and will be used in new 
nuclear power plants now being built in China. 

The Chinese government wants to raise the proportion of nuclear power 
in the country's total electric power output from the current 1.9 
percent to four percent by 2020. This would require the construction 
of new power plants with capacity of a total of 30 million kilowatts 
in 15 years. 

Under a framework agreement with US-based Westinghouse signed in 
December, 2006, China will acquire advance nuclear power technology 
in exchange for purchasing four nuclear reactors from the 

The deal allows for technology transfers including equipment design 
nuclear facilities and technical support. The first of the four 
reactors is expected to begin generating power by 2013, said Zhang.

World: Nuclear Industry Seeks To Escape Chornobyl's Shadow 
April 25, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- The explosion and fire at the Chornobyl 
nuclear plant in Ukraine happened in the early hours of April 26, 
1986, and the world would never be quite the same again.

At first, the Soviet authorities said nothing, and the first clear 
indication that something was wrong came when monitoring devices in 
Sweden began registering alarming increases in background radiation.

Deep unease quickly spread across Western Europe as people realized a 
huge cloud of radioactivity was drifting toward them.

Extent Of Disaster Slowly Revealed

In the Soviet Union and in Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe, people 
had still not been told of the danger. 

Finally, on April 28, Soviet television carried a short announcement 
that gave no indication of the magnitude of the disaster: "There has 
been an accident at the Chornobyl nuclear power station. One of the 
atomic reactors has been damaged. Measures are being taken to 
eliminate the consequences of the accident. Assistance is being given 
to the injured and a government commission has been set up."

That simple message did not convey the drama going on at Chornobyl. 
U.S. satellite images showed that a reactor block at the nuclear 
power plant was blown apart and burned out.

Teams of men were fighting to stabilize the site, with each extra 
minute of exposure to the intense radiation sealing also their own 

It was not until two weeks later that Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev 
recognized the unprecedented scale of the accident. In a speech on 
May 14, he expressed sympathy for the victims.

"All of you know that we have been struck by a misfortune recently -- 
the accident at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant," Gorbachev said. 
"It has painfully affected the Soviet people and troubled the 
international community. We have, for the first time, confronted in 
reality the dreadful force of nuclear energy that got out of 

Nuclear Energy Now Green?

The accident plunged the civil nuclear power industry around the 
world into crisis, as the public turned away from the possibility of 
more such environmental disasters. And so the matter might have 
rested, but for a new perceived danger: global warming, thought to be 
caused mainly by fossil-fuel use.

The nuclear industry has begun the fight back. Ian Hoare-Lacy, a 
spokesman for an industry group, the World Nuclear Association, says 
that nuclear power makes sense.

"It's hard to see how we're going to grapple with lowering carbon 
emissions without [nuclear energy] worldwide; nuclear energy is the 
main technology ready to be deployed on a much wider scale for 
generating electricity without carbon emissions," Hoare-Lacy says.

He notes there are 440 reactors now online in the world, with some 30 
new plants under construction. And if nuclear energy is going to 
contribute meaningfully to carbon-emission reductions, then there 
could in future be a fourfold increase in this number of reactors. 
Modern reactor design, he says, removes the possibility of another 
catastrophe like Chornobyl.

...Or Still Environmental Threat?

Environmental activists disagree, and continue to regard nuclear 
power as fatally flawed. 

"Nuclear power could be part of the solution to global warming, but 
it produces toxic waste that stays dangerously radioactive for tens 
of thousands of years, it's intimately associated with nuclear 
weapons, and can be very expensive; as a result we believe there are 
better solutions than nuclear power to the problem of global 
warming," says Roger Higman of the Friends of the Earth organization.

Higman lists all the alternatives, from solar and wind power to tidal 
power, to efficiency improvements and electricity-saving programs. 
However, many people are not convinced these "green" alternatives 
would be sufficient to power the heavily industrialized world.

He also points to the issue of nuclear weapons proliferation -- a 
potential problem when it comes to nuclear power.

"The technologies that are used -- enrichment technologies, 
reprocessing technologies -- can all be used to make materials for 
bombs, so there is an intense suspicion of countries like Iran, North 
Korea, when they develop their nuclear-power programs," Higman says.

"That's a big impediment to fighting global warming, because we have 
to be confident that any solution we use, we are happy for other 
countries, other parts of the world to use also, because global 
warming is an international problem," he adds.

Meanwhile, Chornobyl's seething mass of radioactive debris waits. The 
concrete sarcophagus built around the ruins of the shattered reactor 
in the months following the fire is rotting, weakened by intense 

A U.S.-European consortium is building a new billion-dollar 
containment building, which should be ready by next year. But that 
won't be the end of the Chornobyl story by a long way.

Yushchenko: region around Chernobyl nuclear plant must be put to use

On eve of the 21st anniversary of the World´s most nightmarish ever 
nuclear accident, Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko said that 
uninhabited and contaminated region around the shuttered Chernobyl 
nuclear power plant would be put to use again. 
The April 26, 1986, explosion and fire at Chernobyl's Reactor No. 4 
sent a radioactive cloud across Europe, contaminating large areas of 
land and prompting the Soviet government to permanently evacuate more 
than 300,000 people. A 30-kilometer (18 miles) zone around the plant 
remains closed to the public. 

"I am convinced that the Chernobyl zone is coming alive ... and step 
by step, we will begin to develop the possibilities of this 
territory," Yushchenko said during a lecture at a school outside 

Projects being considered include a nature preserve that would take 
advantage of a wildlife resurgence in the area, which is largely 
bereft of humans, and using the area to produce bio-fuels, Yushchenko 
said. He also said he would like to see an international science 
center opened at the site to study the lingering effects of the 1986 

"This land must be revitalized," Yushchenko said during the lecture, 
which was broadcast live on Ukrainian television. "We should look at 
it as having prospects, not with the feeling that this is a territory 
of Ukraine that has been erased from the map and which we must 

A project to build a new shelter to cover Reactor No. 4 will begin 
"in several months," Yushchenko said. Work on the US$1.1 billion 
(EUR885 million) internationally funded project has been delayed 
repeatedly, though the hastily built current shelter of concrete and 
steel is crumbling and dotted with holes. 

Thirty-one people died within the first two months of the Chernobyl 
disaster from illnesses caused by radioactivity. There is debate over 
the longer-term toll. The U.N. health agency has estimated that about 
9,300 people will die from cancers caused by Chernobyl's radiation. 
Some groups, such as Greenpeace, insist the toll could be 10 times 

NJ State's largest utility shuts down nuclear plant

BLOOMBERG NEWS SERVICE Apr 25 - Newark-based Public Service 
Enterprise Group Inc., owner of New Jersey's largest utility, shut 
down its Salem 1 nuclear reactor Tuesday night after screens on its 
water intake system became clogged with marsh grass.

"With the nor'easter we had last week, tides and water levels are 
extremely high,'' Chic Cannon, spokesman for Public Service, said in 
a telephone interview today. Screens that prevent grass and other 
detritus from entering the plant's cooling water system from the 
Delaware River became clogged with grasses and forced the shutdown, 
he said.

It is "historically the highest detritus or grassing levels we've had 
since the plants have been installed,'' said Cannon. He declined to 
speculate on when the reactor would return to service.

The 1,159-megawatt unit is one of two reactors located in Hancocks 
Bridge, N.J., about 25 miles southeast of Wilmington, Del. Salem 2 
was listed at full power by the commission in this morning's report.

The two units combined provide enough power for about 1.8 million 
average U.S. homes, according to Energy Department data.

Rann 'hypocritical' over nuclear power

The South Australia Opposition has accused Premier Mike Rann of 
having double standards on nuclear power.

Mr Rann has written to Labor Party delegates ahead of this weekend's 
ALP national conference calling for the 'no new mines' policy to be 

Mr Rann uses the environmental benefits of nuclear power as part of 
his argument for more uranium mining.

Opposition Leader Martin Hamilton-Smith says Mr Rann is hypocritical.

"We share the climate, we share the atmosphere, if it's good for the 
climate to build nuclear power stations in China then why has he 
rammed the shutters down on an informed debate here in Australia?" he 

"It's hypocrisy. It smacks of double standards."

Scientist questions nuclear future

Uranium has been a hot topic of late, but one environmental engineer 
believes nuclear energy does not have a justifiable place in 
Australia's future.

Labor will be discussing whether to abandon its long held ban on new 
uranium mines this weekend at the ALP's national conference, while 
Prime Minister John Howard has made it clear he believes nuclear 
power is part of the solution to Australia's future energy needs.

But Monash University's Dr Gavin Mudd, an environmental engineer who 
specialises in the mining sector, believes nuclear energy, which 
currently supplies around 17 per cent of the world's energy needs, 
will not have a significantly bigger role in the future.

"I think there's alternatives such as renewable technologies, there's 
solar thermal, there's biomass, there's now photovoltaics, there's 
wind," he said.

"There's a whole range of technologies combined with energy 
efficiency which can supply peak demands and which can meet our 
energy needs."

Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said last year that almost 30 new 
nuclear power reactors are being constructed in 11 countries 
including China, India, Russia and Finland, and the recently released 
Ziggy Switkowski report had a full page on plans for new reactors in 

But Dr Mudd says the reactors being built now are replacing those 
that are closing down.

"Over the same time frame, a lot of reactors are going to be 
decommissioned in the West. There were six reactors in the West that 
were decommissioned on December 31, including four in the UK," he 

"I think ultimately, they're not building new reactors in the West, 
they're building reactors in sort of centrally-planned economies, and 
the one new reactor that they've ordered in the West over the last 
several years in Finland is significantly behind budget and also 
behind time." 

"I think there's real issues there that over the same time frame of 
which they're supposedly going to expand nuclear power, a lot of the 
existing ageing reactors will also be decommissioned."

Dr Mudd says the 57 per cent rise in uranium prices is puzzling.

"I don't think anyone I've seen has a good answer for why the uranium 
price has hit the sort of magnitude that it has," he said.

"A lot of mining industry analysts are also asking about this bubble 
at the moment, about what is causing this price. I don't think anyone 
ever predicted the price would go this high."

Virginia Power seeks federal OK for two new generating units at its 
North Anna site

LOUISA -- A federal licensing board began hearing testimony yesterday 
on a proposed site permit for two new nuclear units at Dominion 
Virginia Power's North Anna Power Station.

 Dominion Virginia Power officials and members of the Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission staff packed the meeting room at the Louisa 
County Government Center for the hearing's start.

The NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board expects to finish this 
week but could move the hearing to NRC headquarters in Rockville, 
Md., on Tuesday, should more time be needed.

Dominion Virginia Power has asked federal officials to approve a site 
for two new generating units at North Anna. An NRC site permit, which 
covers safety, environmental and emergency-preparedness issues, would 
be good for up to 20 years.

The utility expects to receive the site permit by year's end. The 
NRC's staff supports Dominion Virginia Power's proposal and has 
already issued a permit in draft form.

Dominion Virginia Power wants to build one large reactor or up to 
eight smaller reactors to power each generating unit, said Alex 
Karlin, chairman of NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. Nuclear 
reactors boil water, creating steam, which turns generators to create 

A single large reactor is most likely for a third unit at North Anna, 
said Gene Grecheck, a vice president with the utility.

However, should a fourth unit be built at some future point, that 
unit might utilize several smaller, lower-power reactors, if the 
technology has improved sufficiently by then, Grecheck said.

The licensing board, which operates independently, will decide 
whether to award the permit. The board's decision, however, may be 
appealed to the NRC and afterward to the federal courts.

The board is hearing only from sworn Dominion Virginia Power and NRC-
staff witnesses. The board heard from the public Feb. 8 at a Louisa 

Karlin, the board's chairman, said this week's hearing transcripts 
should be available on the NRC's Web site at www.nrc.gov within two 
weeks after the hearing's conclusion.

Begun in September 2003, the quest for a permit has not been cheap.

Dominion Virginia Power lawyer David Lewis said the utility has spent 
100,000 man-hours on preparing the permit application and on follow-
up activities such as explaining the application to the public.

The utility will eventually spend $20 million for the permit, Lewis 
said. The U.S. Department of Energy's Nuclear Power 2010 grant 
program is picking up half the cost.

After public-interest groups raised concerns in 2004 about the 
discharge of heated water into Lake Anna, Dominion Virginia Power 
changed its original plan for a proposed third unit's cooling system. 
Changing the design delayed the application by a year, and building 
the new design will cost the utility an additional $200 million, 
Lewis said.

Once the permit is approved, Grecheck said, Dominion Virginia Power 
will seek a combined construction and operating license for a third 
unit at North Anna. After that permit is approved, around 2010, the 
utility would make a decision whether to build a third unit, he said.

The 1,575 million watts of electricity produced by a third unit would 
be sold to consumers in Virginia, where no primary generating units 
have been built since the mid-1990s. Dominion Virginia Power is the 
state's largest utility, serving 80 percent of the state's 

Japan, U.S. ink pact on nuclear power reactors

(Kyodo News) Apr 25 - Japan and the United States said Tuesday they 
have adopted a plan to advance coordination on nuclear energy policy, 
including the extension of governmental assistance for building the 
first new atomic power plants in the U.S. in 30 years.  

Under the Japanese-U.S. Joint Nuclear Energy Action Plan, the two 
nations will conduct joint studies in six areas, including fast-
reactor technology, fuel-cycle technology and waste management. They 
agreed to hold the first meeting of working groups for each area by 
the end of June, a Japanese official said.

In an effort to prevent proliferation, the action plan requires the 
two nations to consult on whether to extend assistance, such as 
infrastructure construction and training, to third countries.

The comprehensive cooperation pact is the first on nuclear power that 
Washington has ever signed with another country, the Japanese 
official said.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and President George W. Bush are expected 
to adopt the action plan when they meet Friday in the U.S.


Fewer than one in four Scots support building new nuclear power 
stations in Scotland, according to a poll for Greenpeace. 

Swiss Nuclear plants safe but waste management not

(NZZ On-Line) Apr 25 - The country's nuclear power plants have never 
been safer, according to the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety 
Inspectorate : but there is cause for concern.
The inspectorate said no serious incidents were recorded in any of 
the five power plants during 2006, but its expert panel says that 
areas including waste management leave something to be desired.

Professor Walter Wildi, president of the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety 
Commission, which advises the inspectorate, told swissinfo that 2006 
was a "good year as far as radiation doses, production and failures 
or rather no failures" were concerned.

However, waste management was less impressive.

"The main division for nuclear safety has published a new regulation 
on nuclear waste treatment and we found several points such as the 
lack of limits on the content of organic matter in this waste. This 
cannot be accepted," he said.

The presence of such matter could have safety implications for 
long:term disposal solutions of waste produced by the plants. 

The core of the problem, in the Commission's view, was that "we think 
the inspectorate's waste division did not regulate on this point due 
to the influence of the owners and the waste producers."

This was, Wildi said, something that the public should be concerned 

"We have to be very strict about this. It cannot be accepted that the 
inspectors take orders from the nuclear power plant owners and waste 
producers," he stressed.

As to how the situation could be remedied, Wildi said that a staffing 
shortage within the inspectorate had to be addressed.

"The waste division has perhaps five or six persons, which is very 
few when you compare it with Germany or France. This team is just too 
small. The inspectorate would most probably need an external review 
system that has real influence on it," he added.

Latest figures
In its annual report published on Friday, the safety inspectorate 
said that for the most part all was well on the nuclear scene.

"The inspectorate found that nuclear safety ? in terms of the design 
and operation of facilities in all Swiss nuclear power plants ? was 
good throughout the year under review and facilities complied with 
their operating licences," it said.

Nine so:called incidents in power plants were registered but none 
posed a safety risk. All were classified as Level 0 on the 
International Nuclear Event Scale or "no safety significance".

"They had minimal impact on nuclear safety," the inspectorate said.

It added that some problems occurred during the transport of some 
radioactive materials in 2006 but that the Swiss authorities were not 
at fault.

These included four "classified incidents".

"All... were the result of a lack of care on the part of the 
consignor abroad," the report said.

The release of radioactive materials in the environment through 
wastewater and exhaust air from power plants was found to be minimal.

"The analyses showed that the maximum dose, including for individuals 
living in the immediate vicinity of a plant was less than one per 
cent of the annual exposure to natural radiation," the report 

Czech CEZ-owned nuclear plant Temelin to produce 12.5 TWh of 
electricity in 2007 - Manager 

PRAGUE.  APRIL  24.  INTERFAX CENTRAL EUROPE - Czech nuclear power 
plant Temelin  plans  to  produce  12.5  TWh of electricity in 2007, 
like last year, but  wants  to  increase annual production to 15 TWh 
in the medium term, Jiri   Borovec,  production  director  at  state-
controlled  power utility CEZ - Temelin's owner - said Tuesday. This 
year's  planned  production  figure is due to an additional planned 
maintenance  shutdown  of  Temelin's  first  unit in March, Borovec 
told reporters. He added  that  the gap between current production 
and the 15-TWh target costs CEZ hundreds of millions of crowns a 
year. The Temelin  nuclear  plant  has  two  blocks with installed 
capacity of 1,000 MW  each. In 2003 Temelin generated 12.11 TWh of 
power, which rose to 12.69   TWh  in  2004  before  falling  to  
10.98  TWh  in  2005  and approximately 12 TWh in 2006.  

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/ 
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