Category: Civil (Nuclear)

Calls for nuclear safety probe over station faults

EDF Torness power station.

Torness is one of 15 nuclear power stations across the UK that have been forced to shut down due to faults over the last three years – with campaigners calling for an urgent review into the reliability of nuclear energy.

Analysis for local councils revealed that 15 reactors have had 62 unplanned shut-downs since 2011, with Torness near Dunbar forced to close twice last year due to the build-up of seaweed clogging the plant’s filters.

The research – which was carried out by Edinburgh-based nuclear consultant Pete Roche – found plants hit by a range of faults including cracks and electrical, boiler and valve defects.

And now the 50-strong group of local authorities who commissioned the report are raising fears over safety and the UK’s future energy supply.

Manchester councillor Mark Hackett, who chairs the group, said: “I call upon the UK Government, the National Grid and the nuclear regulators to urgently review the safety issues around such a large number of unplanned shutdowns.

“The Government also has to prioritise alternatives over the next 12 months to ensure the unreliability of nuclear power does not lead to the lights going off around the country.”

Dungeness nuclear power station in Kent had to be shut down 21 times between 2012 and 2014.

Source: Edinburgh Evening News


Russia moves in on Finnish nuclear energy market

Finland is to build a new nuclear reactor in cooperation with Russia, despite growing EU energy security fears.

Dungeness Nuclear Power Station

Finland has announced controversial new plans to build a nuclear reactor in cooperation with Russian firm Rosatom.

The nuclear reactor will be built on the condition that Finland maintains an energy partnership with Russia over the coming years.

Sampo Terho, who is an MEP for Finland and a substitute member of parliament’s industry, research and energy committee, said, “I welcome Fortum taking a stake in Fennovoima nuclear power plant project as positive news, which hopefully will help to advance the project”.

He added that “nuclear power is an important part of the efforts to achieve the EU’s climate targets and this project is a step in the right direction”.

Last October, member states agreed to work to reduce EU domestic greenhouse gas emissions by at least 40 per cent below the 1990 levels by 2030, and to increase the share of renewable energy to at least 27 per cent of the EU’s energy consumption by 2030.

The project has posed concerns due to Russia’s involvement, among deepening tensions between the country and the EU as the conflict in Ukraine rages on.

The strained relations between Russia and the EU have caused observers – including former council president Herman van Rompuy – to worry that Europe’s gas and energy supplies may be in jeopardy, as most of it is streamlined through Russia.

According to Eurostat data, in 2012, 33.7 per cent of the EU’s crude oil, 32 per cent of natural gas and 25.9 per cent of solid fuels were imported from Russia.

The commission has repeatedly expressed its hope for more energy security in Europe, and for the EU to produce more of its energy rather than relying on third countries. Last March, EU leaders asked the commission to come up with a plan to reduce the union’s energy dependence, especially to Russia.

Greens/EFA group co-president Rebecca Harms described the plans as “very regrettable”. She insisted that “the decision to build a new nuclear reactor is wrong; with a Russian partner, it is even worse, given the current situation in eastern Europe”.

The German deputy said, “seen from a European perspective the manoeuvre is totally contrary to the EU’s energy security goals, which aim to cut the EU’s damaging dependency on Russian energy”.

This is not the first time Rosatom has worked closely with a European firm, as it had previously teamed up with British company Rolls-Royce to assess the feasibility of introducing Russian nuclear reactor technology to the UK market.

Source: The Parliament Magazine

Growth in support for UK new build

Support for the construction of new nuclear power plants in the UK has grown by more than 10% over the past decade, with 45% of people now approving the building of new reactors, according to the latest Nuclear Industry Association (NIA) poll.

More than two-thirds (68%) of those who support the construction of new reactors to replace existing ones do so because of concerns about the UK’s energy self-sufficiency. Some 66% said they believe new reactors could reduce reliance on coal and gas.

The reliability of electricity supply from nuclear power plants was named as the main reason for supporting the construction of new reactors by 64% of respondents, an increase of seven percentage points over the past two years. Job creation and investment was cited as the second reason.

However, the poll highlighted a lack of knowledge on how the nuclear industry deals with its waste, with 82% of respondents who oppose the construction of new reactors citing this as their main reason. Only 21% of those questioned said they were aware of future plans for waste disposal.

Concerns about public safety was cited by 39% of those questioned as the main disadvantage of nuclear energy, down from 46% in 2012.

NIA chief executive Keith Parker said, “The UK is on the cusp of a major program of nuclear new build and the industry has to make sure that people trust and understand the sector.”

He said, “We often talk about the positive impact building new nuclear capacity will have on jobs and businesses. But, if we don’t build new nuclear power there will be a much bigger issue. The country will lose almost a fifth of its generating capacity, carbon dioxide emissions will rise, and the country would become more dependent on imported energy – something which concerns a large number of people.”

Referring to the results of the latest poll, Parker said it is “clear that industry and government need to engage openly and build greater understanding about what radioactive waste is. The British industry is successfully decommissioning old nuclear plants and that expertise is being used across the world. We should be proud of that.”

The online YouGov poll questioned 2015 UK adults between 10 and 17 November, the NIA said.

Source: World Nuclear News

EDF Energy to press on with Hinkley nuclear reactor project

Chief executive says construction of UK’s first reactor in 20 years should begin early next year despite financial pressures
Hinkley Point nuclear power station
Artist’s impression of EDF’s Hinkley Point C station. Photograph: EDF/PA  

EDF Energy expects to give the go ahead before spring for construction of the UK’s first new nuclear reactor for 20 years, despite financial problems at its partner Areva and a warning on the difficulty of such projects.

The comments from Vincent de Rivaz, EDF chief executive, came at a nuclear conference where senior industry figures raised fears of a skills and supply chain crunch at the £25bn Hinkley Point C power station in Somerset.

De Rivaz admitted that delays at its Flamanville plant in France were a setback, but insisted they would not impact financially on the British project, which is using the same European pressurised reactor (EPR) technology.

“We should be under no illusion that building new nuclear plants has never been easy,” he told the Nuclear Industries Association (NIA). “We take the construction risk for Hinkley Point C – not the customers. Let us be clear, the cost of Hinkley Point C has not increased by one penny as a result of the delays at Flamanville.”

The EDF executive said volatile oil prices, uncertainty over Russian energy supplies and high hopes for a binding new climate change agreement to restrict carbon emissions underlined the need for new nuclear plants.

De Rivaz said legal and other work needed to be completed before EDF could give the final investment decision on Hinkley Point, but he remained confident that a positive decision could be made in the first quarter of 2015. He said discussions with potential new and existing foreign shareholders to the project were continuing.

Asked about the problems at Areva, designer of the EPR and shareholder in the Hinkley project, De Rivaz said the French government, which owned the majority of shares in the business, had agreed to support it as a going concern.

Read the full article here

Source: Guardian

Ukraine’s Zaporozhiya 3 trip ‘no threat,’ says energy minister

Unit 3 of the Zaporozhiya nuclear power plant tripped on 28 November, but posed no threat to the environment or public and is expected to return to normal operation on 5 December.

Zaporizhzhya - 460 (Energoatom)

The six-unit Zaporozhiya plant (Image: Energoatom)

Energoatom, the country’s state-owned nuclear power plant operator, said today that the unit had disconnected from the grid automatically as “protection against internal damage to the generator.”

The short circuit was caused by damage to the “winding voltage section of the auxiliary transformer and switch block transformer,” it added. The unit was transferred to a cold state.

Ukraine’s energy minister Volodymyr Demchishin said earlier today that the short circuit at unit 3 had led to a drop in electricity production, but stressed that the problem had occurred in the electricity transmission system and not in the reactor. “There is no threat … there are no problems with the reactor,” Demchishin said at a briefing to local media, following inaccurate reports there had been an accident at the plant.

Energoatom issued a statement in response to “misinformation” distributed by some media about the incident at unit 3.

The unit “was disconnected from the grid as protection against inner generator damage. The incident occurred at 19:24 on 28 November and was caused by damage of the house load voltage transformer coil that led to disconnection of the house load transformer and unit transformer breakers,” it said. “The specified event does not refer either to nuclear or [any] other type of accident and is classified as ‘failure in NPP unit operation’, according to regulatory documents. Work to restore power supply of the unit is well underway according to the emergency work order.”

The incident had no radiological consequences and a preliminary assessment indicated that it was “below scale,” or Level 0 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES), Energoatom said.

Work is underway to restore the auxiliary power supply unit, and the reactor is expected to return to normal service on 5 December.

With an installed capacity of 6000 MWe, the six unit Zaporozhiya nuclear power plant is the biggest electricity generating station in Europe and accounts for half of all nuclear power generated in Ukraine and 22% of the country’s entire electricity production. The six units were commissioned between 1984 and 1995.

Like the scales that describe earthquakes or major storms, each of the INES scale’s seven levels is designed to be ten times more severe than the one before. After below-scale deviations with no safety significance, there are three levels of incidents, then four levels of accidents.

The State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine (SNRC) said that radiation levels at the site of the Zaporozhiya plant remain within the limits of normal plant operation and that its physical protection systems are operating “in normal mode”.

Twelve of Ukraine’s 15 nuclear power reactors are in operation. Zaporozhiya 3, Khmelnitsky 1 and Zaporozhiya 1 are undergoing scheduled maintenance work until, respectively, 5 December, 15 December and 30 December, SNRC said.

Source: World Nuclear News

Hartlepool Nuclear Plant Back Online

Image: EDF Energy
Image: EDF Energy

EDF Energy switched on another nuclear reactor at the Hartlepool power plant in the early hours of the morning.

Hartlepool was closed for safety inspections in August after a crack was found in the boiler spine of its sister plant, Heysham 1.

Both the plants have eight boilers, which channel heat away from the reactor core and creates the steam which drives the electricity-generated turbines.

The boilers each have a number of boiler tubes with a central cylindrical boiler ‘spine’ which supports the tubes.

The power company said it was back online after the “successful completion” of the unit’s boiler inspection. This was to check there were no other “defects” to the boiler spine which could develop into cracks.

Source: Energy Live News

Horizon & Regulator Sign Agreement on Procurement of Reactor Equipment

Horizon Nuclear Power has signed an agreement with the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) which paves the way for it to begin purchasing major equipment for its Wylfa Newydd development.

Certain parts of the new nuclear reactor and associated technologies are designated as „Long Lead Items‟ (LLIs) as they take a significant amount of time to manufacture and are needed early in the construction phase. They therefore need to be ordered well in advance of nuclear construction beginning on site and in order for Wylfa Newydd to start generating in the first half of the 2020s. To enable this process to begin Horizon has signed a Deed with ONR to give the regulator oversight of Horizon‟s procurement activities for the LLIs, which includes the reactor pressure vessels, in advance of Horizon applying for a full Nuclear Site Licence at Wylfa.

Janet Wilson, Licensing and Permitting Director at Horizon said:

“This is a significant milestone for Horizon as it marks another step in our journey towards becoming a Nuclear Site Licensee and the construction and operation of Wylfa Newydd. The Deed is a sign of how we have grown and developed as an organisation over the last few years and we look forward to strengthening our working relationship with the ONR still further as our project advances.”

Under the Deed, Horizon will inform ONR of its schedule for procurement and make documents, activities, and premises relating to the procurement of LLIs available for inspection. Horizon will also work with the regulator to ensure that all procurement activities for the LLIs are in compliance with the ONR‟s standard licence conditions.