[ RadSafe ] Japan To Develop Next-Generation Nuclear Reactor - Kyodo

Sandy Perle sandyfl at earthlink.net
Mon Jun 13 03:29:43 CEST 2005


Japan To Develop Next-Generation Nuclear Reactor - Kyodo
Dismantling facility involved in Japan's worst nuclear accident
Utilities Show Interest in New Nuke Plants
Hanford nuclear workers enter site of worst contamination accident
PSEG says cause of N.J. nuke leak still unknown
Shipment of Radioactive Waste Leaves Ohio
Entergy To Ask To Store Nuclear Waste In Dry Casks In Vt.
Panel Sets Aside Proposal on Nuclear Waste

Japan To Develop Next-Generation Nuclear Reactor - Kyodo

TOKYO -(Dow Jones)- Japan plans to develop a next-generation version 
of light water nuclear reactors in pursuit of the world's highest 
economic efficiency for reactors, Kyodo News reported Friday, citing 
government sources.

The Agency for Natural Resources and Energy will include an expense 
for a preliminary survey on the development into its budget request 
for fiscal 2006 starting next April, the sources told Kyodo.

Under the Japanese government's first nuclear reactor development 
program in 20 years, the agency will seek to cut construction and 
operation costs and radioactive waste by 20% from the present levels 
to achieve the highest economic efficiency in the world, they said.

The agency has asked the Institute of Applied Energy to consider the 
development since January and has concluded that the government and 
private sectors should launch the development toward the replacement 
of existing reactors in the 2020s, the sources said.

The agency plans to base the next-generation nuclear reactor on the 
existing light water type, as a program has been effectively stalled 
for the development of a fast breeder reactor that could generate 
electricity while producing more fuel than it consumes, they said.

The next-generation nuclear reactors could be exported to the United 
States, which will also have to replace existing ones, they said.

Work starts on dismantling facility involved in Japan's worst nuclear 

TOKYO (AP) - The operator of a plant involved in Japan's worst 
nuclear accident began dismantling the facility on Monday, and said 
it expects to finish the job by next March.

JCO Co., an affiliate of Tokyo-based Sumitomo Metal Mining Co., 
abandoned its nuclear fuel-reprocessing business in 2003 after losing 
its license over the 1999 radiation leak that killed two workers.

JCO spokesman Hirokazu Miyauchi said some of the parts would be 
stored onsite in drums after the facility had been dismantled.

Though there were still parts with low levels of radiation, all of 
the highly radioactive uranium fuel had been removed from the site, 
he said.

JCO officials acknowledged that systematic violation of regulations 
led to the Sept. 30, 1999, accident at the company's Tokai plant, 113 
kilometers (70 miles) northeast of Tokyo. It was the worst-ever 
nuclear mishap in Japan, exposing a total of 439 people to radiation, 
forcing 161 people to evacuate their homes and another 310,000 to 
stay indoors for 18 hours as a precaution.

Six former top JCO officials were later found guilty of negligence 
and received suspended prison sentences, and the company agreed to 
compensate victims of the accident.

After being stripped of its license to run the plant in March 2000, 
JCO had sought to gain regulatory approval to reopen its reprocessing 
facility but failed. The government approved the company's demolition 
plans for the Tokai facility last month.

Utilities Show Interest in New Nuke Plants
WASHINGTON (AP) - For two months, Ray Ganthner took to the road, 
visiting a dozen power companies to find out if his bosses should 
take a $100 million gamble. Asking executives "eyeball-to-eyeball" 
about their future generating capacity needs, he wanted to know just 
how serious utilities were about building a new nuclear power plant 
in the United States for the first time in three decades.

"I was surprised at the consistency of the answers," Ganthner, a 
Lynchburg, Va.-based senior executive for the French reactor 
manufacturer, Framatome, said in an interview.

Based on what he found, AREVA, Framatome's parent company, is now 
investing $100 million on U.S. marketing and to get a design 
certificate from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for its newest 
reactor, one already being built in Finland.

It may be a long shot. Two other manufacturers, Westinghouse and 
General Electric, have a head start. But the French company's 
decision to make it a three-way race demonstrates the resurgent 
interest in nuclear power in the United States, where no new reactor 
has been ordered since 1973.

The 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in 
Pennsylvania, followed by the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl plant 
in the Ukraine ended any U.S. interest in more reactors beyond those 
already under construction.

Recently a consortium of eight U.S. utilities, called NuStart, 
announced potential sites where one or more of its members might put 
a new reactor. Two other American utilities are pursuing separate 
licensing efforts.

While no one has yet committed to construction, Energy Secretary 
Samuel Bodman recently told an industry group, "If all goes well, we 
could see new plants on line by 2014."

Westinghouse Electric Co., a subsidiary of the British company BNFL, 
already has approval from the NRC for its new 1,000 megawatt AP1000 
reactor design and General Electric will submit an application for 
its 1,500 megawatt ESBWR reactor later this year.

Both companies are working hard to line up customers, convinced that 
electricity demand a decade from now will require more large power 
plants, and that some will be nuclear.

"We think everything is heading in absolutely the right direction," 
says Vaughn Gilbert, a Westinghouse spokesman. "Nuclear has to be 
part of the energy picture. We expect the U.S. market will come back 
and eventually be robust."

The new reactors are described as "evolutionary" advancements over 
the 103 now in operation in 31 states. They basically use the same 
technology, but with fewer valves, pipes and pumps, and - in the case 
of Westinghouse and GE - passive safety systems that, if needed, can 
shut the reactor down and pour in cooling water without human 
intervention. Other modifications such as setting the radioactive 
fuel lower into the ground were added in response to post-Sept. 11 
worries about terrorism.

President Bush has pushed nuclear power as a way to take the pressure 
off fossil fuels - oil, natural gas and coal. While the United States 
gets 20 percent of its electricity from nuclear reactors, France 
meets 78 percent of its electricity needs with nuclear power.

Even some environmentalists have abandoned their opposition to 
nuclear power, arguing it is needed to address climate change because 
reactors do not produce so-called "greenhouse" gases as do fossil 
fuels. Other environmentalists are not convinced, citing worries 
about reactor waste and safety.

At the heart of the resurgent interest in nuclear power are the high 
cost of competing energy sources and improved reactor efficiency. A 
University of Chicago study concluded that a new fleet of reactors 
can be expected to produce power as cheaply as coal and natural gas, 
given's today's prices.

"People are getting comfortable with nuclear," Paul Dabber, a vice 
president for mergers and acquisitions at J.P. Morgan, told a 
conference on new reactor technology in February. One reason is that 
existing nuclear power plants have been making profits, he said.

Wall Street has long been skeptical about committing $2 billion or 
more to a new nuclear reactor and investors still consider such a 
venture risky unless the government provides tax breaks or other 
incentives to get the first group of reactors started.

Without some government help, no new reactors are likely to be built 
before 2025, says the Energy Information Agency, the government's 
energy statistical agency.

Congress is considering loan guarantees for new-design reactors, and 
lawmakers are expected to come up with other tax breaks to stoke 
investor interest. But a Bush proposal to provide "risk insurance" to 
protect the industry against licensing or legal delays has attracted 
little interest on Capitol Hill.

No one has yet committed to building a new reactor and despite the 
optimistic rhetoric, utilities are moving toward that decision 

A premature pronouncement about a new reactor could rattle investors 
and depress a utility's stock, industry experts say. Utilities and 
investors still remember the pitfalls of long licensing delays that 
doubled and tripled the cost of many reactors in the 1980s. In one of 
the biggest cost overruns, the proposed twin-reactor Seabrook plant 
in New Hampshire was projected to cost $850 million in 1976 and be 
finished in six years, but ended up costing $7 billion when completed 
in 1990 even though the second reactor was canceled.

"My company lost $5 billion to $10 billion on the last round of 
nuclear construction," Exelon chairman John Rowe said in a recent 
speech, explaining why he is approaching new reactor investments with 

Rowe, whose Chicago-based utility company owns 17 nuclear reactors, 
more plants than any other utility, also says his company won't 
invest in a new plant until there is more progress in dealing with 
reactor waste. A proposed waste repository at Yucca Mountain in 
Nevada has had a string of setbacks and the date for its completion 
is optimistically put at 2012.

Still, Exelon and two other utilities, Dominion and Entergy, have 
separately applied to the NRC for early site permits for reactors 
with the idea of shortening the licensing process if a decision is 
made to go ahead with one.

"There is a growing recognition that if we are going to meet our 
future need for electric energy and also reduce our emissions of 
greenhouse gases ... we simply must build the next generation of 
advanced nuclear energy plants," said Marilyn Kray, an Exelon vice 
president and head of the NuStart consortium.

In an interview, she said the goal is to preserve the nuclear option 
by testing the NRC's streamlined licensing process.

Also testing the water is Duke Energy, based in Charlotte, N.C., 
which, moving on its own, is talking about possibly having a new 
reactor operating by 2014. Dominion, based in Virginia, also is 
making plans to seek an NRC reactor construction permit. Neither 
company has made a final decision.

The Energy Department is paying half the cost of the various initial 
licensing efforts, including an expected $46 million next year.

"Adding nuclear capacity ... makes a lot of sense," says Henry "Brew" 
Barron, in charge of nuclear operations at Duke Power, a subsidiary 
of Duke Energy that serves 2 million customers in the Carolinas. By 
2014, Duke will need at least one more large power plant to meet 
demand in one of the country's fastest growing regions. Many other 
utilities around the country are facing similar electricity demands.

Once the logjam is broken with the first orders, the U.S. reactor 
market could become the world's second largest, after China, given 
expected growth in U.S. electricity demand and environmental and cost 
concerns about rival fossil fuels, says Andy White, president of GE 
Energy's nuclear business.

"We've probably never had a better situation," White said in an 
interview, predicting that 60 or more new reactors may be built in 
the United States over the next 20 to 30 years with several designs 
finding customers.

Hanford nuclear workers enter site of worst contamination accident

YAKIMA, Wash. (AP) - Workers in protective gear Thursday entered a 
long-sealed room at the Hanford nuclear reservation where the 
complex's worst contamination accident occurred nearly 29 years ago.

The August 1976 explosion contaminated several workers and resulted 
in one man being dubbed the Atomic Man. Radioactivity levels in the 
room were so high that Hanford workers only briefly entered a few 
times after the blast, and the room was sealed in 1989.

Thursday's entry began the process of evaluating the room's hazards 
and marked the next step in cleaning up the nation's most 
contaminated nuclear site.

The room is part of a 63-building complex comprising the Plutonium 
Finishing Plant. Ten buildings already have been destroyed. The rest 
are to be ready for demolition by the end of next year.

Costs to clean up the entire 586-square-mile Hanford site are 
expected to total $50 billion to $60 billion, with the work to be 
completed by 2035.

The finishing plant processed plutonium nitrate solutions into 
metallic form for shipment to nuclear weapons production facilities. 
An investigation determined the blast was an accident.

The explosion blew out the quarter-inch-thick lead glass shielding 
workers, showering Harold McCluskey, a 64-year-old chemical operator, 
with nitric acid and radioactive shards of glass.

Within minutes, McCluskey inhaled the largest dose of americium-241 
ever recorded, about 500 times the occupational standards for the 
element. Doctors isolated him for five months and injected an 
experimental drug to flush the isotope from his system. By 1977, his 
radiation count had fallen by about 80 percent.

When McCluskey returned home, friends avoided him and church members 
shunned him until his minister told people it was safe to sit with 
him, according to newspaper accounts. He died of natural causes in 
1987 at age 75.

PSEG says cause of N.J. nuke leak still unknown

LOS ANGELES, June 10 (Reuters) - PSEG Nuclear said on Friday that the 
source of a leak which shut the 1,049-megawatt Hope Creek nuclear 
power plant in New Jersey earlier this week has been found but the 
cause is still under investigation.

"We have found the source of the leak," a spokesman said, noting a 
shutdown cooling check valve had broken off. "The cause of the 
breakage is still under investigation."

PSEG Nuclear is a unit of Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. .

The spokesman said the failed device had been sent to a laboratory to 
analyze why it broke, noting similar installations would also be 
examined as part of an extended condition review.

The unit shut on June 7.

Electricity traders said the cause of the breakage could be fatigue, 
in which case operators would have to determine why preventative 
maintenance did not spot the problem in advance. It could also have 
been accidentally damaged during repairs to nearby components, they 

PSEG declined to estimate the length of the outage. Traders said the 
unit could be off-line for about two weeks.

The Hope Creek station is located in Hancocks Bridge in Salem County 
about 40 miles south of Philadelphia.

One MW powers about 800 homes, according to the North American 

Exelon Nuclear, a unit of Chicago-based energy company Exelon Corp.'s 
Exelon Generation Co LLC subsidiary, operates the station for PSEG.

Shipment of Radioactive Waste Leaves Ohio

CINCINNATI (AP) - About 40,000 pounds of radioactive waste from a 
long-closed uranium-processing plant were loaded onto a flatbed truck 
Monday for a 1,300-mile journey to storage.

It was the first Texas-bound shipment of Cold War-era waste being 
cleaned up at the former Fernald plant just outside Cincinnati after 
neighbors fought for year to get rid of it and the government 
struggled to find a place to take it.

"I'm glad it's going," said Lisa Crawford, president of the Fernald 
Residents for Environmental Safety and Health. "But wherever it goes, 
it needs to stay there."

In April, Waste Control Specialists of Dallas won a $7.5 million 
contract to store the material after earlier plans to take it to Utah 
and Nevada fell through because of opposition.

The waste will be transported in 2,000 shipments to Andrews, Texas, 
near the New Mexico line, in large, sealed containers.

Shipments of the estimated 45,000 tons of waste should be completed 
within nine or 10 months. About 15 truckloads a day will leave 
Fernald at the peak of the shipping process, said Jeff Wagner, a 
spokesman for Fluor Fernald, the Energy Department contractor 
cleaning up the site.

"The material does not pose a great risk to humans, and there are 
things coming across the interstates every day that would be higher 
up on the security radar screen than a radioactive concrete block," 
Wagner said.

The Ohio plant processed and purified uranium metal for use in 
reactors that produced plutonium for nuclear weapons from the 1950s 
until 1989.

Eighty-five percent of the site's other wastes are to be permanently 
stored at Fernald. The more radioactive silo wastes being shipped to 
Texas are part of the 15 percent to be sent elsewhere under the 
cleanup plan.

Entergy To Ask To Store Nuclear Waste In Dry Casks In Vt.

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP)--The company that owns the Vermont Yankee 
nuclear plant expects within a few weeks to make a formal request to 
the Public Service Board to store highly radioactive nuclear waste in 
dry casks on the plant's grounds in Vernon.

Robert Williams, spokesman for Entergy Nuclear (ETR), said that would 
be the next step now that the Vermont Legislature has passed a law 
authorizing Entergy to make the request to the three-member PSB.

The case could take a year or longer, depending on the number of 
parties the board allows to intervene.

Williams said the company was studying the new state law in order to 
incorporate its terms into the application it must make to the board.

The company already has filed its request with the Windham Regional 
Commission, which it is required to do before going to the PSB.

Jim Matteau, executive director of the regional commission, said he 
was bothered that the new law does not require Entergy to come back 
to get lawmakers' OK before trying to extend the plant's license 
beyond its 2012 expiration date.

"There's not going to be public discussion about re-licensing. There 
will be a Public Service Board proceeding, but that's not really 
accessible to the public, " he said.

Members of the public may attend the board hearings, but only parties 
officially involved in the case can participate.

Supporters of the bill argued that legislative approval would be 
required for storing any nuclear waste generated by operations 
continuing past 2012, effectively giving lawmakers a say in 

Both the regional commission and the nuclear watchdog group New 
England Coalition have been parties in the ongoing PSB case on 
Vermont Yankee's bid to boost its power output by 20%. Both are also 
expected to be parties in the dry- cask storage case.

Vermont Yankee officials say they're running out of room to store 
spent nuclear fuel in a pool of water inside the plant for that 
purpose. They say that to continue operating after 2008, they need to 
begin storing the spent fuel in concrete and steel casks on the 
plant's grounds.

Panel Sets Aside Proposal on Nuclear Waste

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has put on hold a 
proposal to allow some very low-level radioactive waste to be 
routinely put into public landfills or recycled instead of shipped to 
special disposal sites.

By a 5-0 vote, the commission decided against issuing a final 
regulation on the matter, although it did not rule out considering 
the issue again in the future. The agency's staff had recommended 
that the rule change be approved, saying the waste under 
consideration has such a low level of radioactivity that it does not 
pose a public health risk.

The NRC acted earlier this week, but the vote only became public 
Friday in a news release from several environmental and nuclear 
industry watchdog groups.

The groups applauded the action, saying the proposed rule change 
would have allowed radioactive material to be mixed with normal 
garbage and reused in consumer products and in roadbeds.

NRC spokesman Elliott Brenner, confirming the commission's action, 
said the agency did not reject the proposal outright. "It is in a 
holding pattern because of higher priorities. That's not to rule out 
looking at it again later," he said.

"Most of these materials have no residual radioactivity," he said. 
"Some have very small amounts, so low that potential exposure to the 
public would have negligible impact."

Brenner said the commission decided to put the issue aside because of 
the "urgent need to put resources in higher priority areas" such as 
nuclear power plant security and a rush of applications for power 
reactor relicensing.

The material subject to the proposed rule change is located at 
nuclear power plants and other facilities licensed by the NRC and 
includes such items as office furniture, tools, equipment, routine 
trash, soil and concrete.

Diane D'Arrigo of the Nuclear Information and Resources Service, a 
watchdog group, said the NRC's decision is "a victory for public 
health and environmental protection," although she expressed concern 
that the agency might reverse course.

"The NRC clearly backed down from this crazy idea because it 
recognized the firestorm of public concern that would be triggered," 
said Daniel Hirsch, head of the Los Angeles-based Community to Bridge 
the Gap. "The public doesn't want radioactive waste in their local 
garbage dump, children's braces or tools."

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

Global Dosimetry Website: http://www.dosimetry.com/ 
Personal Website: http://sandy-travels.com/ 

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