[ RadSafe ] Nuclear News - Finn Fennovoima outlines nuclear plant plans

Perle, Sandy sperle at mirion.com
Tue May 20 16:37:41 CDT 2008


Finn Fennovoima outlines nuclear plant plans
Netherlands looks at nuclear options
CEZ says high time to prepare new nuclear plants
TVA plans to cap emissions, look to nuclear power
Entergy nuclear spinoff plan meets resistance in NY
Uranium shortage hits Nuclear Power
Obama Bobbles Answer on Hanford Nuclear Site
Russia flags nuclear energy deal with China
Job cuts 'won't affect safety' at Australian nuclear plant
Idaho environmental group questions nuclear waste shipments
Gordon argues for ban on foreign nuclear waste

Finn Fennovoima outlines nuclear plant plans

HELSINKI, May 20 (Reuters) - Finnish energy consortium Fennovoima said on Tuesday it was considering building either one 1,500-1,800 megawatt nuclear reactor or two smaller, 1,000-1,250 MW reactors in Finland.

The company, a joint venture formed by Finnish steel firm Outokumpu (OUT1V.HE: Quote, Profile, Research), German utility E.ON (EONG.DE: Quote, Profile, Research) and other, smaller companies, plans to build in total 1,500 to 2,500 MW of new nuclear capacity, hoping to complete it by 2018.

"In preparation for the decision-in-principle application to be submitted to the Finnish government, Fennovoima has reviewed a number of light water reactor designs currently on the market for a detailed feasibility study," Fennovoima said.

The company said it was considering Areva's (CEPFi.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) EPR or SWR-1000 reactor designs or Toshiba Corp's (6502.T: Quote, Profile, Research) ABWR design.

Fennovoima said it expects the government to make a decision on applications submitted by 2010. 

Netherlands looks at nuclear options

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, May 20 (UPI) -- The Netherlands might build nuclear power stations.

In order to help meet greenhouse gas targets handed down by the European Commission, many countries are looking at nuclear options, the Financial Times reported.

Maria van der Hoeven, Dutch economics minister, said there cannot be a nuclear-free future if the government plans on meeting its carbon dioxide targets.

"We are very gas-dependent and we have to do something about it," she said.

Van der Hoeven is expected to present a report to Parliament next month outlining energy options, although no decision is expected from the present government.

The Dutch face an increasing challenge as their domestic natural gas reserves, which represent 61 percent of power-generating capacity, start to diminish.

The country currently has one nuclear power station, but nuclear power represents less than 2 percent of the Dutch domestic electricity mix, compared with 28 percent in Germany, 21 percent in Britain and 78 percent in France.

CEZ says high time to prepare new nuclear plants

PRAGUE, May 20 (Reuters) - CEZ (CEZPsp.PR: Quote, Profile, Research) should prepare itself to build new nuclear reactors in the Czech Republic to ensure stable power supplies after 2020, Chief Production Officer Vladimir Hlavinka said on Tuesday.

The majority state-owned CEZ has frozen its plans for nuclear expansion since the 2006 national election, when a new coalition government agreed not to promote nuclear energy due to opposition from the junior ruling partner, the Green Party.

Senior government representatives including Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, as well as opposition parties, have since advocated nuclear energy.

Hlavinka said the preparations could not start immediately in the current political environment, though CEZ saw nuclear power plants as the most efficient, thanks to low production costs and no greenhouse gas emissions. He said any delay would be costly because after 2020, the Czech Republic and all of central Europe could face a power shortage as consumption rises and few new plants are built.

"It is high time to start preparations of new nuclear blocks by entering the legislation process," Hlavinka told Reuters on the sidelines of an energy conference in Prague.

"I can hardly imagine that CEZ will start to manoeuvre outside the field set by its owner. But it is necessary to sensitively persuade, explain ... at a certain stage of the whole process, there has to be a decision, and the moment has not come yet," he said.

Hlavinka said enlargement of the 2,000 megawatt plant at Temelin in the southern Czech Republic by two reactors of over 1,000 megawatts each would be most efficient, as the site had originally been designed for two extra units and had the proper infrastructure.

But expansion of the Dukovany plant in southern Moravia was also possible, he said.

TVA plans to cap emissions, look to nuclear power

At 75, TVA steps up growth in clean and renewable energy sources;
Part of the plan is to encourage customers' energy efficiency

FLORENCE, Ala. - The Tennessee Valley Authority board made a commitment Monday to cap its carbon emissions growth by 2020 in an effort to muzzle its contributions to climate change.

Proposals to find ways to increase renewable energy sources like solar power and to persuade customers to use less electricity - including by offering incentives - were approved, too.
The actions, which came as the agency recognizes its 75th anniversary, could mark a return to the leadership role TVA took in energy conservation in the 1970s but later dropped.

Nuclear power was listed Monday among the "clean" energy sources that officials said would be looked to increasingly.

"The real objective is to reduce the carbon footprint," TVA CEO and President Tom Kilgore said after the meeting at the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Spa.

"Nuclear (power) does not produce carbon. I cannot argue that it doesn't produce radioactive waste that has to be dealt with."

But, with population growth in the region, large additional sources of energy are needed, he said, adding that nuclear power can provide that without putting more carbon in the air.

TVA, which is self-financing, is the largest public power producer in the country, providing virtually all of the electricity used in Tennessee and parts of six other states.
Good move, but no nukes

John McFadden, head of the nonprofit Tennessee Environmental Council in Nashville, said in a phone interview that he was "glad" about TVA's turn toward energy conservation and cleaner power, a move that some utilities made several years ago.

"It's obvious it's something we've really needed to do for a long time," he said. "All you have to do is look at the mountaintops in the Great Smoky Mountains and see all the dead trees.

"And Knoxville is the asthma capital. ...

"They should have been leading the country in this."

Nuclear power, however, should not be in the mix, he said.

"We have no long-term plan to deal with nuclear waste," he said.

"You can't sell a kilowatt hour of nuclear power for what it costs to produce it. That's why the federal government is having to subsidize the nuclear industry."

TVA is still carrying billions of dollars of debt from its first spurt of nuclear plant building that took place in the 1970s and 1980s, he said.

TVA sets five-year goal

One new TVA goal set Monday is a reduction within five years - in part through customers' energy efficiency - of 1,400 megawatts of electricity use at peak times. This would be the equivalent of building a nuclear reactor to provide energy on days during the summer and winter when energy use spikes.

"We do think it's a goal that's very achievable," said Joe Hoagland, TVA vice president for energy efficiency and demand response.

Pilot programs could include financial incentives to buy energy-efficient appliances and lights.

Making the 2020 date to halt growth in carbon emissions was viewed as more challenging. Most of TVA's electricity comes from coal, which releases carbon that adds to climate change.

Weather remains a stumbling block on another front.

TVA official Bill McCollum said drought could continue to hamper hydroelectric energy generation at its dams this summer.

"We still need significantly more than the normal amount of rainfall between now and June," McCollum said.

When its clean, relatively inexpensive hydroelectric production falls behind, TVA must buy more costly electricity from other producers.

Entergy nuclear spinoff plan meets resistance in NY

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Entergy Corp.'s plan to spin off its northeastern nuclear division into a standalone company has hit a snag in New York.

Lawyers for Entergy _ which owns three nuclear plants in New York _ want state utility regulators to endorse the plan, which they say will be good for consumers because it will provide the company with more financial flexibility.

Opponents say the plan would enrich Entergy and its stockholders at the expense of New York consumers while allowing the company to avoid responsibility and liability for the plants.

The New York Public Service Commission, which oversees utilities in the state, is expected to consider the plan at its meeting Wednesday, said commission spokesman James Denn.

New Orleans-based Entergy wants to separate five of its nuclear plants that sell electricity on the open market into a standalone company. Entergy would keep a 50 percent stake in the new company, while the other half would go to its shareholders.

The spinoff would include two plants at the Indian Point station on the banks of the Hudson River in Westchester County as well Oswego County's James FitzPatrick plant. The two other plants are Vermont Yankee in Vernon, Vt., and the Pilgrim plant in Plymouth, Mass.

New York's attorney general _ who is also opposing re-licensing the Indian Point plants _ and Westchester County officials have asked the Public Service Commission to reject the plan.

In a 156-page objection, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's office tells the Public Service Commission that the state is concerned that the spinoff _ which includes the new company borrowing up to $6.5 billion _ would significantly reduce the financial resources currently available to support the plants, which would rely on funds from riskier sources.

The attorney general also argues that the spinoff would enable Entergy to avoid paying up to $360 million to the New York Power Authority.

The Power Authority _ a state agency that sells power without profit _ sold one of the Indian Point plants as well as the FitzPatrick plant to Entergy in 2001. Entergy agreed to pay the authority up to $72 million a year until 2014 as part of that sale.

The attorney general's office notes that in Entergy's annual report for 2007, the company points out that a clause in that agreement terminates the payments if Entergy or an Entergy affiliate ceases to own the plants.

"Entergy predicts the reorganization will enable Entergy to disclaim ownership of Indian Point 3 and FitzPatrick in 2008 and thus get out of paying NYPA beyond the installment due in January 2009," the attorney general's filing says.

Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano is also trying to block the spinoff, which his office says would result in a complicated set of subsidiary companies that would throw into question who is responsible for the plants.

Stewart Glass, a senior assistant county attorney who is working on the issue, said the county is particularly concerned about what will happen when it comes time to decommission the plants.

"We're worried that Entergy or its successor corporation will not live up to its responsibilities to the local communities and the local communities will be left to solve all the problems in the future," he said.

Entergy executives did not return phone calls seeking comment.

In a 237-page written response to opponents' objections, the company said they "provide no legitimate basis" to reject the plan or require a more thorough review. 

Uranium shortage hits Nuclear Power

Some of the uranium mining projects have been hampered due to delay in getting environmental clearances and also on account of the difficult terrain in which the mines are located

Mumbai, May 20 Shortage of uranium and a shut-down at four plants dragged down revenues and profit of Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd for the fiscal ended March 2008.

The corporation's net profit for the year dipped by 31 per cent to Rs 1,078 crore, from Rs 1,570 crore the previous year.

Income from operations declined by 7 per cent, to Rs 3,333 crore from Rs 3,592 crore.

Mr S Thakur, Executive Director (Corporate Planning), said that due to insufficient uranium supply, power production for the year fell to about 16,960 MU (million units) in 2007-08 from 18,000 MU the previous year.

Shutdown of plants

The lack of uranium supply was compounded by the shut-down of Narora-I, Kaiga-III, Rajasthan-II and Madras-I plants. These 220 MW plants are under going technical upgradation, said Mr. Thakur.

The average plant load factor has decreased to 60 per cent from 90 per cent achieved last year. The 220 MW plants are now running at 150 to 160 MW so as to optimally use the fuel (uranium), he said.

He said that some of the uranium mining projects have been hampered due to delay in getting environmental clearances and also on account of the difficult terrain in which the mines are located. A new uranium mill, which was to go online, has also been delayed, Mr Thakur said. 

Obama Bobbles Answer on Hanford Nuclear Site

WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrat Barack Obama was stumped this weekend when a woman asked him about cleanup at the nation's most contaminated nuclear area: the Hanford site in Washington state where scientists helped create the atomic bomb.

Obama admitted he didn't know much about the problem, but promised he would learn about it.

"Here's something that you will rarely hear from a politician, and that is that I'm not familiar with the Hanford site, so I don't know exactly what's going on there," Obama said Sunday at a campaign stop in Pendleton, Ore. "Now, having said that, I promise you I'll learn about it by the time I leave here on the ride back to the airport."

A spokesman for the Republican National Committee called Obama's answer proof that the Illinois senator has little understanding of issues that are important to families in Oregon and Washington. During a visit to Washington state last week, Republican John McCain said he would speed cleanup efforts at Hanford and push for technological advances in disposing of nuclear waste.

"How can Obama deliver change if he doesn't even understand what needs to be changed?" asked RNC spokesman Paul Lindsay.

Despite Obama's answer to the voter, a campaign spokesman said Monday that Obama is committed to cleaning up Hanford and other contaminated nuclear sites.

"Sen. Obama will reverse the Bush administration's budget cuts and ensure that the Hanford cleanup effort receives enough resources and support to protect area residents and businesses," said spokesman Nick Shapiro.

The federal government created Hanford in the 1940s as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. The government now spends about $2 billion a year to clean up the site.

The Energy Department, which manages Hanford cleanup, announced last year that it would be unable to meet a number of cleanup deadlines at the site. The agency has been in negotiations with Washington state for the past year to establish new deadlines and cleanup priorities.

Ridding Hanford of contamination has long been a priority for Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, who championed the original cleanup pact signed by the state and federal governments in 1989 when she was director of the state Department of Ecology. A Democrat, Gregoire has endorsed Obama and is herself running for re-election.

The governor is confident that Obama will make toxic cleanup a priority, Gregoire campaign spokesman Aaron Toso said.

"We feel that an Obama White House will be much more favorable to environmental cleanup than the Bush administration," he said.

Russia flags nuclear energy deal with China

BEIJING (Reuters) - Top Russian energy officials may sign a cooperation agreement on nuclear power with China during President Dmitry Medvedev's visit this week, Russia's ambassador in Beijing said on Tuesday.

Medvedev, who took over the presidency from his mentor Vladimir Putin earlier this month, will meet with President Hu Jintao and other senior Chinese leaders during a two-day state visit starting on Friday.

Russia has forged close ties with Beijing and is eager to boost exports of oil, gas and nuclear products to China, which is desperate to secure energy for its booming economy.

The delegation, which will also include Russia's new energy minister Sergei Shmatko, a former nuclear plant salesman, may yield an agreement on nuclear power cooperation, Sergey Razov said, without elaborating.

"I cannot disclose what project, because it is under discussion. But it is a big possibility that it will be signed (during the visit)," Razov said.

Russia's atomic energy agency in November said its building contractor Atomstroiexport had signed deals to build two more nuclear reactors for China's Tianwan power station in coastal Jiangsu province, where it finished building two reactors this year.

The preliminary deals did not set a time frame or price, but they are potentially worth several billion dollars.

"The cooperation in the Tianwan nuclear plant has brought many fruitful results. So I think there is great potential for further cooperation," Razov said.

China plans to install 40,000 gigawatts of nuclear power generating capacity by 2020, an investment of $50 billion in 30 reactors across the country.

Razov indicated that little progress, however, would be made on long-running disputes over gas prices that have held up work on two planned pipelines to transport the fuel to China.

"In terms of gas pipelines, as far as I know, the two countries will not sign any new documents," Razov said.

Eventually, under a deal signed last year, two pipelines either side of Mongolia could deliver China up to 80 billion cubic meters of gas a year.

Beijing, which holds its gas prices below international market levels, wants to buy the fuel at levels closer to Russian domestic prices, but Russia's monopoly supplier Gazprom has demanded the gas export price be comparable with that for supplies to Europe.

Job cuts 'won't affect safety' at Australian nuclear plant

The Federal Government's nuclear research body says job cuts will not affect safety at the nation's only nuclear reactor.

The Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) has announced 80 staff will lose their jobs as a result of federal budget cuts.

There are expected to be voluntary redundancies as well as sackings.

ANSTO manages Sydney's Lucas Heights nuclear reactor and acting chief executive Ron Cameron says the job cuts will not impact on safety.

"Clearly our focus on safety and security and compliance of regulations remains as strong as always," he said.

"We are committed to ensuring that we operate safely all the time and we will ensure that in making the reductions that we need to make we will maintain our ability to deliver on our core scientific research areas."

'Nothing to do with nuclear power'

Meanwhile the Federal Government says the job losses are part of its war on inflation, not an anti-nuclear agenda.

Opposition senator Eric Abetz says Labor is targeting ANSTO because it is ideologically opposed to nuclear power.

"Because it has the name nuclear in it, the Labor Party wanted to make cuts to it," he said.

But the Industry, Science and Research Minister, Kim Carr, has dismissed the claims.

"It's got nothing to do with nuclear power," he said.

Mr Carr says many other Government agencies have been hit by Budget cuts as the Treasurer tries to keep a lid on inflation.

Mr Abetz also says the job cuts will be a major set-back for nuclear medicine.

"There will be a very real impact in the health area for ANSTO and that is going to put at risk a lot of the very valuable diagnosis and treatments that ANSTO's developed for cancer, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease," he said.

Idaho environmental group questions nuclear waste shipments

TWIN FALLS, Idaho - An Idaho nuclear watchdog group has asked the U.S. Department of Energy to conduct more environmental studies before going ahead with a plan that would increase the amount of nuclear waste being sent to eastern Idaho for processing.

The Snake River Alliance, in a May 14 letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, asked that more analysis be done before going through with the plan that makes the Idaho National Laboratory the nation's primary processing center for transuranic waste from nuclear sites that don't have their own processing capabilities.

"It seemed to us there was a lot of information that wasn't taken into account when the Department of Energy made its decision," Beatrice Brailsford, Snake River Alliance program director, told The Times-News.

Transuranic waste includes building, laboratory and other debris contaminated with nuclear material.

The Energy Department announced earlier this year that it plans to send such waste from 14 facilities to the INL, an 890-square-mile federal nuclear research area in eastern Idaho, for repackaging before it is sent to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.

As part of the plan, 9,000 cubic meters of radioactive waste from south-central Washington's Hanford nuclear reservation and 13 other areas would be sent to Idaho for repackaging.

The Snake River Alliance and four other similar groups say DOE documents contain conflicting information and errors about the shipments, and that could mean some of the waste stays in Idaho.

Joann Wardrip, a DOE spokeswoman, said the plan is meant to more efficiently treat and dispose of waste.

"We feel that the Idaho facility is very well equipped to treat this waste," she said. "It helps us get to our mission of safely cleaning up waste we have across (the country)."

The waste, according to department documents, would only be accepted if it meets requirements of an agreement with the state of Idaho. That agreement requires all waste to be treated within six months and shipped out within six months after that.

An analysis by the department found that any impact to the environment or worker safety would be within allowed limits.

The Snake River Alliance calls into question that analysis and asks for additional study.

Among the concerns noted by the alliance is that the New Mexico facility won't accept the waste from the INL due to shipping containers that have not yet been approved for such use, meaning it would remain in Idaho.

Wardrip declined to comment on specific concerns, noting the department is currently preparing a reply to the alliance.

Brailsford said the group expects to get the letter from the department by the end of the month. She said the group's next move depends on how DOE officials respond to the letter.

Joining the alliance in sending the letter were the Natural Resources Defense Council, Southwest Research and Information Center, Tri-Valley CARES, and Heart of America Northwest.

Gordon argues for ban on foreign nuclear waste

WASHINGTON - U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon argued today that allowing nuclear waste to be imported from other countries could use up limited storage space and hurt further development of nuclear power in the United States.

The Murfreesboro Democrat spoke at a committee hearing on legislation he has introduced that would ban such imports. It was prompted by a proposal by EnergySolutions to bring in 20,000 tons of low-level waste from Italy to be processed at its Oak Ridge facility and stored at its site in Utah.

Steve Creamer, chairman and chief executive officer of EnergySolutions, testified that the company has plenty of storage capacity at its Utah facility and promised to limit its importation of foreign nuclear waste.

The company's request for a license to import the Italian waste is pending before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Sander C. Perle 
Mirion Technologies
Dosimetry Services Division 
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