Category: Nuclear Waste

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


Pond decommissioning: safe and steady progress

The condition of these facilities, built in the 1950s and 60s, is well known and well understood. Both NDA and Sellafield Ltd continue to be open and transparent about progress and programmes in place to address associated hazards and risks.

Since the inception of the NDA in 2005, we have recognised the vital task of tackling the open-air storage ponds at Sellafield.

These legacy facilities represent our number one decommissioning priority.

Currently, the NDA spends £1.8bn a year at Sellafield – two thirds of its annual budget. And of this £1.8bn, one third is spent on these plants.

Work goes on around the clock, seven days a week to ensure they remain safe and secure whilst the technically complex task of retrieving and treating the various types of material the ponds contain is being progressed.

More than 100 tonnes of contaminated equipment has been removed from the Pile Fuel Storage Pond.

Progress: the Pile Fuel Storage Pond at Sellafield
Progress: the Pile Fuel Storage Pond at Sellafield

Fuel is being removed continually from that facility and we expect it to be empty and ready to be drained of water within five years.

By the end of this financial year, large amounts of radioactive sludge will begin to be pumped out of the First Generation Magnox Storage Pond.

Work goes on every day at this pond to prepare it for the removal of its contents.

The pond’s overhead crane, which had been out of action since the 1990s, has been fixed and is now being used again.

Underwater vehicles are being used to pick up spilt fuel rods from the pond floor – this is world leading innovation.

Progress is also continuing on building the new facilities which will treat and store the material once it’s taken out of the ponds. Just this year, a new sludge handling plant opened – a key enabler to the ponds programme.

Nobody should be under any illusions – this is difficult and potentially hazardous work which is expensive and takes a long time to complete.

But neither the NDA nor Sellafield Ltd is complacent about the need to remain focussed on the task and to drive safe decommissioning progress.

Source: NDA

How should the UK deal with its nuclear waste stockpile?

The UK is facing the dilemma of what to do with its huge stockpile of highly toxic nuclear waste.
Sellafield in 2000

The Sellafield nuclear plant in Cumbria is where most of the waste is stored, the by-product of years of reprocessing.

By 2020 there will be 140 tonnes of plutonium, the biggest non-military stockpile in the world.

But opinion is divided on whether it should be turned into fuel for the next generation of nuclear power stations or continue to be stored.

BBC Inside Out reporter Chris Jackson travels to America to find out if lessons can be learned from their experiences of turning nuclear waste into mixed oxide (MOX) fuel.

Inside Out is on BBC One North East & Cumbria and North West on Monday, 29 September at 19:30 BST and nationwide for seven days thereafter.

Source: BBC News

Sellafield completes nuclear waste store

Inside the storage facility. Copyright: Sellafield Ltd
Inside the storage facility. Copyright: Sellafield Ltd

A new storage facility designed to keep nuclear waste safe and secure has been completed by Sellafield Ltd.

The Encapsulated Product Store 3 (EPS3) in Cumbria, which contains more than 32,000 cubic metres of concrete and 7,300 tonnes of steel, is capable of storing 29,000 waste drums.

Pete Lutwyche, Sellafield Programme Director for the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) said the completion of EPS 3 marks a “major milestone” in the decommissioning of Sellafield.

He added: “This facility is a key piece in the jigsaw of projects we need to clean up the most hazardous areas of the site – the NDA’s number one priority task.

“Once opened, the building will provide world-class, modern storage of waste for many years to come, pending its ultimate transfer to the safest and most secure method of dealing with this material – disposal in a deep geological facility.”

Last month Sellafield said it is looking for specialist suppliers to help with cleaning up and decommissioning the nuclear site.

Source: Energy Live News

EDF Energy shuts down four UK nuclear reactors

EDF Energy, the British unit of French giant EDF , said on Monday it had decided to shut down four nuclear reactors at two plants in northern England as a precaution.

EDF Energy said it was shutting down two reactors at each of the Heysham and Hartlepool nuclear plants for at least about eight weeks.

It follows a defect at one of the four reactors, which has kept it out of action since June. The decision to shut down an additional three reactors was described as a “conservative decision” in a statement issued by EDF Energy.

It comes as Britain’s government is placing nuclear power at the heart of its low-carbon energy policy, in stark contrast to Europe’s biggest economy Germany, which vowed to phase it out in the wake of Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Last year, Britain signed a £16-billion deal with EDF to build two reactors at Hinkley Point C, southwestern England, to help meet the country’s future energy needs.

Also involved in the contract are French group Areva — the world’s leading nuclear power company — and Chinese nuclear firms CGN and CNNC.

EDF Energy meanwhile said in a statement on Monday that its Heysham 1 Reactor 1 “remains shut down while work continues to characterise the nature of the defect” detected earlier this year.

“Although routine inspections of other boiler spines have not previously indicated any similar defects, EDF Energy has taken the conservative decision to shut down Heysham 1 Reactor 2 and Hartlepool Reactors 1 and 2 that are of similar design,” it said.

“Until the results of the further inspections are known it is not possible to advise exact return to service dates for these four reactors, however, an initial estimate is that these investigations will take around eight weeks,” the statement added.

In a separate statement, British energy group Centrica said the shutdowns announced on Monday would impact its own earnings this year owing to its 20-percent interest in EDF Energy’s existing nuclear operations.

“On this basis, the resulting reduction in output from the affected nuclear power stations is currently estimated to reduce Centrica’s earnings per share in 2014 by around 0.3 pence per share,” it said.

Centrica’s share price was little changed following the announcement, with the company trading down 0.06 percent at 307.7 pence in London. EDF Energy parent EDF was also flat at 23.8 euros in Paris deals.

Source: Yahoo News

New approach for selecting UK repository site

The UK government has published its framework policy for the long-term management of higher activity radioactive waste, including details of how it intends to work with interested communities to site a geological disposal facility.

A long-term geological repository is the UK’s favoured method for management of its intermediate- and high-level radioactive waste, with a site selection process centred on community voluntarism. Two communities in Cumbria – Copeland and Allerdale – had expressed interest in hosting a repository, but the selection process ground to a halt in January 2013 when the local county council voted against moving to the next stage of the process.

“Today we are setting out our plan to find a suitable site, based on a fundamental principle of listening to people, to make sure we have the right process in place.”

Ed Davey
Energy and climate change secretary

The government released a White Paper yesterday that updates and replaces one from 2008 using input from a public consultation conducted last year on the site selection process. it also takes account of lessons learned during the previous siting process. According to the White Paper,Implementing Geological Disposal, the government favours a “voluntarist approach”, working alongside communities that are willing to take part in the siting process. It sets out a number of initial actions to be undertaken by the government itself and by Nuclear Decommissioning Authority subsidiary Radioactive Waste Management Limited (RWM), the developer of the facility.

A two-year process will see the government and RWM work on a national geological screening exercise, preparation for engagement with communities, and development of the necessary planning processes.

Energy and climate change secretary Edward Davey said, “All this is intended to happen before formal discussions between interested communities and the developer begin, so that any community wanting to engage with the process can do so with more information and greater clarity about the nature of a development.”

Community investment

The government said that investment of up to £1 million ($1.7 million) per year would be available to each community that participates in the early stage of the siting process. This would increase to £2.5 million ($4.2 million) per year to each of those communities that then enters formal discussions. This investment would only continue whilst a community remains engaged in the process.

“We cannot be certain how long it will take to deliver an operational geological disposal facility, as the driver for the process is a partnership approach with potential host communities and will be dependent on discussions with local communities,” the government said. However, it estimated that after the initial two-year phase, it could be another 15-20 years before the site selection process is completed and construction can start.

RWM managing director Bruce McKirdy noted that the new plan “clearly positions the public at the centre of any final decision-making on where a facility is sited.” He said, “We will explain, discuss and respond to the many questions the public will inevitably have, building relationships with communities around the country, so that they have trust and confidence that we are working in partnership with them throughout this exercise.”

Davey said, “Today we are setting out our plan to find a suitable site, based on a fundamental principle of listening to people, to make sure we have the right process in place. The area that eventually hosts a geological disposal facility will benefit from significant investment in the community and hundreds of skilled jobs for decades to come.”

The waste to be disposed of in the repository would include used fuel from the UK’s existing and planned nuclear power reactors, as well as wastes from reprocessing operations at Sellafield. In addition, it will include wastes from defence, medical, industrial, and research and development activities. The current estimated volume of all such wastes is some 650,000 cubic metres.

IBERDROLA and GE Hitachi join forces in a project to reuse UK nuclear waste

IBERDROLA and GE Hitachi join forces in a project to reuse UK nuclear waste

IBERDROLA and GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy (GEH) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation towards the deployment of PRISM technology as a credible long-term solution to reuse existing reprocessed plutonium in the UK.

The two companies, together with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) which advises on the decommissioning plans for current and planned nuclear power stations and is in charge of waste management, will analyse the options for GEH’s PRISM technology which can reuse the plutonium stockpile to generate electricity.

IBERDROLA will bring its expertise and excellence as a nuclear power operator in Spain and provider of nuclear engineering services as well as the experience of more than ten years developing nuclear power projects.

In January 2014, the UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) noted that, on the information provided, PRISM’s fourth generation nuclear power technology was considered a credible option for managing the UK’s plutonium stockpile.

PRISM is a proven, safe and mature technology which provides a safe, innovative and clean solution to harness the remaining energy potential of used nuclear fuel, in the form of plutonium, to generate electricity free of CO2 emissions whilst creating significant investment in UK jobs and skills.

First estimates by GEH indicate that PRISM technology, with a life span of at least 60 years, could recycle the UK’s entire plutonium stockpile -which amounts to over 100 tonnes- in 25 years.

GEH, the global nuclear alliance between GE and Hitachi is one of the world’s key suppliers of nuclear technology and services. For several decades, GEH has been partnering with IBERDROLA in the development and deployment of nuclear projects.

IBERDROLA operates 3,403 MW nuclear capacity through its participation in seven nuclear power plants in Spain (Cofrentes, Almaraz –units I and II–, Trillo, Garoña, Vandellós II and Ascó II). The company also has proven expertise in the UK where its subsidiary ScottishPower is one of the Big Six energy companies.

In addition to IBERDROLA’s experience in the nuclear industry, the Group’s engineering and project management subsidiary, IBERDROLA INGENIERÍA, is well established in this sector. It is currently participating in the construction of unit 3 at Flamanville nuclear power plant, in France, and has recently completed the upgrade of Laguna Verde nuclear power plant in Mexico.  It also participates in the consortium that manufactures coils for the international nuclear fusion research and engineering project (ITER) which is currently building the world’s largest fusion reactor.

For more information, please visit: IBERDROLA


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