Lessons should be learned from problems with a French reactor that is very similar to one planned in the UK, says Britain’s nuclear safety regulator.
French regulators have been informed of “manufacturing anomalies” in components “particularly important for safety” at Flamanville 3 power plant, in Normandy.
The reactor is similar to one planned for Hinkley Point, in Somerset.
EDF Energy – involved in both projects – said a new series of tests was under way and it was working with regulators.
An investigation revealed potential weaknesses in the steel used to make a safety casing around the reactor at Flamanville, near Cherbourg.
Areva, which is building Flamanville 3 for EDF, says it is the first plant in the “new French reactor fleet”, and it includes Areva’s new EPR reactor.
The UK Office for Nuclear Regulation said it was aware of the French Nuclear Safety Authority’s concerns about the reactor and would continue to liaise with French authorities.
“The UK currently have no EPR reactors but expects that learning from Flamanville 3 will be taken into account in the manufacture of components intended for the planned new reactor at Hinkley Point C,” it said.
These safety issues in France could lead to even further delays in the construction and completion of the proposed £24.5bn Hinkley Point nuclear power plant.
It has already been delayed by months as the government negotiated a contract for EDF to supply electricity at a guaranteed price for 35 years.
The final decision on the project is expected in the coming months but is also delayed by Britain not having a fully functioning government – something which could be exacerbated if talks on forming a government drag on after the election.
These safety concerns in France are not expected to set the Hinkley Point project back too much but they may spook the Chinese companies set to invest in the project.
In a joint statement, Areva and EDF said new tests were under way on the “reactor vessel head and bottom”.
It said this followed initial tests which had shown “greater than average carbon content” – something French regulators said caused “lower than expected mechanical toughness” in the steel.
EDF and Areva added: “Teams are working to perform the additional tests as soon as possible, following approval by the French Nuclear Safety Authority on the test conditions, and to provide the safety authority with all the necessary information to demonstrate the safety and quality of the corresponding equipment.”
The components in question have not yet been fitted at Hinkley, but it would cost money and could delay the project if they had to be entirely re-made.
Source: BBC News
Finland is to build a new nuclear reactor in cooperation with Russia, despite growing EU energy security fears.
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
We need to move quickly if Britain is to regain its leadership role in the nuclear power industry
Over the next 20 years it is estimated that £930bn will be spent globally on building new nuclear reactors. We should aim to win a large slice of that business.
As unlikely as it sounds, 2013 might be remembered as the year when this country actually did something about its energy problem. These islands may be blessed with reserves of oil, gas, wind and hydro but they are not enough to stop future power blackouts.
In October, the Energy Secretary, Ed Davey, struck a deal to build the first new nuclear power station in Britain since 1995. That project, at Hinkley Point in Somerset, was swiftly followed by last week’s announcement that the Government had agreed to underwrite plans for a new reactor at Wyfla in north Wales.
It could be the start of a new nuclear fleet, which is good news for anyone who is worried about Britain’s energy future. But it’s just the start of the change we need.
When he made the Hinkley announcement, Mr Davey said that the construction phase would create 25,000 jobs and a further 900 people would be needed to operate the facility. Wyfla is predicted to sustain 6,000 jobs as it is built, with a further 1,000 employed on a day-to-day basis.
But there was something missing from both announcements. It was a vision of how Britain’s manufacturing industry will benefit from this new generation of nuclear power.
Read the full article here
Japan pledges 47bn yen for Fukushima cleanup
The move follows a long series of embarrassing admissions from the Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) – the operator of the wrecked nuclear plant.
The main concern of the Japanese government will be preventing further leaks of contaminated water used to cool melted fuel rods in the reactor.
Out of the total fund, 32 billion yen (£0.20bn) will be spent creating a wall of frozen earth around the reactor – using pipes filled with coolant – to prevent groundwater coming into contact with the contaminated water used to cool the reactor. The remaining 15 billion yen (£0.10bn) will go on an improved water treatment system to reduce radiation levels in the contaminated water used for cooling.
Read the full article here http://www.energylivenews.com/2013/09/03/japan-pledges-47bn-yen-for-fukushima-cleanup/
Source: Energy Live News
Breakthrough at Box Transfer Facility
An important stage in the construction of the Box Transfer Facility (BTF) at Sellafield was reached recently when the project completed the breakthrough into the sites existing Encapsulation Plants active underground transfer tunnel from the BTF construction site.
When complete, BTF will provide the ability to transfer legacy waste from the Magnox Swarf Storage Silos (MSSS), which has been encapsulated into 3 m³ product boxes within the Silos Direct Encapsulation Plant, to interim safe storage at either the Encapsulation Product Store 3 or the Box Encapsulation Plant Product Store.
Read the full article here http://www.sellafieldsites.com/2013/08/breakthrough-at-box-transfer-facility/
Source: Sellafield Sites
New ceramic nuclear part ‘could prevent more Fukushimas’
American scientists say swapping a building material used in nuclear power reactors could prevent accidents like the triple blow-out at Fukushima power plant in Japan.
Researchers at MIT claim that replacing the metal cladding around fuel rods in water-cooled nuclear reactors with a special ceramic could cut the risk of explosion.
At Fukushima in 2011, the radiation leak may have been caused after explosions of hydrogen gas built up inside some of the reactors.
The hydrogen build-up was the result of hot steam coming into contact with overheated nuclear fuel rods covered by a cladding of zirconium alloy, or “zircaloy”. This is the material used as fuel-rod cladding in all water-cooled nuclear reactors. Water-cooled reactors are used at more than nine in ten of the world’s power reactors.
When it gets hot enough, zircaloy reacts with steam to produce hydrogen, a hazard in any loss-of-coolant nuclear accident, say the researchers.
They believe their alternative – a ceramic compound called silicon carbide (SiC) – could provide similar protection for nuclear fuel, while cutting the risk of hydrogen production by roughly a thousandfold. Tests of their new cladding material, are described in the journal ‘Nuclear Technology’.
Source: Energy live News
Plans for new UK pylon march on
Plans for a new “graceful” style of pylon in Britain are marching on says the National Grid after two prototypes of the T-pylon have been built in Denmark.
The T-pylon (artist’s impression, pictured) was picked out of 250 designs in a competition run by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Royal Institute of British Architects and National Grid last year.
It is now being offered for use in Somerset to transport electricity from the new nuclear reactor due at Hinkley Point and is likely to be built there in 2018.
Before this the National Grid will build a “test line” of T-pylons at its training centre in Eakring although a spokesperson couldn’t confirm when this would happen.
Read the full article here http://www.energylivenews.com/2013/07/23/plans-for-new-uk-pylon-march-on/
Source: Energy Live News