The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is the federal regulator of nuclear power and materials in Canada. In addition to nuclear power plants and nuclear research facilities, the CNSC regulates numerous other uses of nuclear material such as radionuclides used in the treatment of cancer, the operation of uranium mines and refineries, and the use of radioactive sources for oil exploration, and in instruments such as precipitation measurement devices. The CNSC is an agency of the Government of Canada which reports to the Parliament of Canada through the Minister of Natural Resources. Wikipedia.
News Article | May 19, 2017
On Thursday, over 40 groups—representing nurses, environmentalists, and farmers—released a statement saying Ontario isn't ready for a large-scale nuclear emergency, even though half of the province's population lives near a nuclear plant. This week, Ontario launched a 60-day public consultation to update its nuclear emergency plan in the event of a catastrophe, the first time it's opened it up to the public like this. "An accident on the scale of Fukushima needs to be planned for," Theresa McClenaghan, Executive Director of the Canadian Environmental Law Association (CELA), told me over the phone. "When you look at the history of nuclear accidents around the world, we're seeing a significant [one] approximately every 10 years." Canada, she noted, is not immune. Watch more on Motherboard in 360/VR: The province of Ontario coordinates nuclear emergency planning. "Nuclear power has been the backbone of Ontario's electricity supply for over 40 years, and we are proud that our CANDU reactors have an impeccable safety record," said a spokesperson for the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services (MCSCS) in an email to Motherboard. The Provincial Nuclear Emergency Response Plan (PNERP) has never been activated, but is reviewed every four years, the spokesperson noted, and it was last updated in 2009. Even so, after the Fukushima disaster, people within 10 kilometres of nuclear plants were sent anti-radiation pills in the mail, and are now required to have them on-hand by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission. In a recent documentary on nuclear power, Motherboard interviewed locals around the plant. "We received the potassium iodide pills, and I did tell [my wife] Pina we had to remember where they are," David Wysocki said. Yet the couple hadn't fully discussed what would happen in the event of a nuclear emergency. Wysocki noted that his wife is vision-impaired, which might make it difficult for her to access the pills if she were home alone at the time of such an event. Ontario is re-upping its investment in nuclear energy, partly to wean off fossil fuels (it phased out coal in 2014). The province now gets about 60 percent of its power from nuclear energy. Two of its three operating plants, the Darlington and Pickering Nuclear Generating Stations, are within an hour's drive of Toronto. That's a big concern to McClenaghan and others. The 40-plus groups who've signed onto this statement, including Greenpeace and the Registered Nurses' Association of Ontario, say that current emergency plans don't sufficiently account for evacuations that would be required to get people out of the Toronto area in the event of a major nuclear accident. Nor do they note alternative water sources if our drinking water were affected. (All three of Ontario's nuclear facilities are on the shores of the Great Lakes.) Finally, emergency plans need to take better account of vulnerable populations in hospitals or long-term care facilities, these groups say. Read More: The Plan to Build a Million-Year Nuclear Waste Dump on the Great Lakes The nurses' association believes its members should have training to help people in the event of a nuclear disaster. Nurses "must learn to identify vulnerable populations in the shadow of nuclear plants," Kerrie Pickering of RNAO said in a statement provided to Motherboard. "When the disaster at Fukushima occurred," Pickering's statement noted, "nurses were afraid to come to the hospital or long-term care homes where they worked because they did not know if they were in danger. Training will reduce this problem." "As part of this ongoing review process, we are incorporating lessons learned from past nuclear emergencies such as Fukushima, to ensure that we are using the most up-to-date and internationally acclaimed practices," the spokesperson for the ministry said. Nuclear power was largely reviled by environmentalists in the '80s and '90s, but now, a growing number are coming around to it because we need to do something to curb our greenhouse gas emissions before it's too late. (CELA is calling for the phase-out of nuclear power, McClenaghan told me, but not all of the statement's signatories are against nuclear.) "Regardless of where you stand on nuclear power, you have to agree we need very high levels of nuclear emergency planning, which we don't have," she said. Subscribe to Science Solved It, Motherboard's new show about the greatest mysteries that were solved by science.
News Article | April 26, 2017
Led by Ontario, Canada is looking to fill their looming energy supply gap, and address climate change, by building a fleet of the new super-safe small modular nuclear reactors (SMRs) over the next 20 years. Ontario’s electricity supply is quite low-carbon already, with about 60% nuclear and 20% hydropower, with gas about 10%. Canada overall is about 60% hydropower and 16% nuclear, with the rest spread out among coal, gas and wind. At 50 grams of CO2 per kWh, Canada is one of the cleanest grids in the world. Aggressive targets for further reducing carbon emissions from Ontario resulted in 7 GW of coal-fired generation closing between 2005 and 2014. The province’s largest utility, Ontario Power Generation, replaced all its coal with renewable energy backed-up by natural gas, plus life extensions of almost 7 GW of existing nuclear. In October 2016, Ontario Power Generation started a US$9.6 billion refurbishment project at its 3.5 GW Darlington nuclear plant to extend the lifespan by 30 years. Bruce Power has also begun a US$10 billion life-extension project for its 6.3 GW nuclear plant northwest of Toronto. The utility plans to close its 3 GW Pickering nuclear plant in 2024, so it needs new carbon-free power to ensure Ontario meets its 2030 goal to cut carbon emissions by 37% below 1990 levels, and its even more ambitious 2050 goal of being 80% below 1990 levels. As Nicolle Butcher, Vice President of Strategy & Acquisitions at Ontario Power Generation, told the 2017 International SMR and Advanced Reactor Summit in Atlanta, Georgia last month, “Ontario Power Generation forecasts a significant gap in its power generation mix after 2030, and it intends to fill this gap with nuclear power.” Butcher added that long-term economic uncertainties and a lack of long-term political stability favor SMR plants with short lead times rather than large-scale nuclear projects. Ontario Power Generation has maintained the option to build new nuclear plants by obtaining a 10-year site preparation license in 2012 at its Darlington nuclear plant near Toronto. Canada is a pioneer in nuclear power. The CANDU (CANada Deuterium Uranium) reactor was designed in the 1950s – a heavy water reactor that can make the most of Canada's uranium supplies without the need to enrich. All 19 of Canada's nuclear reactors are CANDU and there are 31 CANDU reactors around the world. A number of advanced nuclear reactor developers are targeting the Canadian market, where a risk-informed regulatory framework is considered more flexible and conducive to licensing new designs than in the United States, and where numerous remote communities and industrial facilities represent captive electricity consumers. Canada even has a fusion reactor design company, General Fusion. Ontario has most of the large-scale nuclear power plants in the country, but several Canadian provinces are seen as potential markets for SMRs, making for a Pan-Canadian nuclear approach with standardized designs. Saskatchewan is a global uranium producer that could easily supply all these reactors with nuclear fuel for centuries. GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy and Advanced Reactor Concepts are jointly developing and licensing a sodium-cooled advanced small modular reactor (aSMR) based on their reactor technologies, and plan to enter the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission's Vendor Design Review process. In January, NuScale Power out of Oregon announced their submission to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of the first design certification application for any SMR in the United States. It is expected to be built in the early 2020s. ThorCon has a molten salt design that uses thorium as well as uranium. But Canada’s own new SMR company, Terrestrial Energy Inc. (TEI), has a new small modular Integral Molten Salt Reactor (IMSR) design that is ideal for this future, that is, a nuclear reactor that: - is cheaper than coal and can last for decades longer - is a 400 MWt (190 MWe) modular design, one able to be adapted to needs for both on and off-grid heat and power - is small and modular enough to allow simple construction in under 4 years, and trucking of modules to the site - operates at normal pressures, removing those safety issues, and at higher temperatures, providing more energy for the same amount of fuel - it does not require water for cooling and has the type of passive safety systems that make it walk-away safe - can load-follow rapidly to buffer the intermittency of renewables - generates less waste that is also more easily managed Terrestrial Energy’s reactor uses the natural convection of the molten salt to remove the heat to the vessel walls passively where its containment silo simply adsorbs the heat decay and conducts it away – this is passive cooling at its simplest. The Canadian Power Workers Union is all for expanding nuclear. They understand safe, secure, high-paying jobs. Nuclear is the foundation of Ontario’s and New Brunswick’s electricity systems and nuclear will be providing large volumes of affordable, baseload, low-carbon electricity, week in and week out, for decades to come. Besides, nuclear power shrugs off a Polar Vortex like it’s a summer’s day. Dr. James Conca is an expert on energy, nuclear and dirty bombs, a planetary geologist, and a professional speaker. Follow him on Twitter @jimconca and see his book at Amazon.com
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: NFRP-05-2014 | Award Amount: 1.48M | Year: 2015
The coordination action SITEX-II aims at implementing in practice the activities along with the interaction modes issued by the FP7 program SITEX project (2012-2013), in view of developing an Expertise function network. This network is expected to ensure a sustainable capability of developing and coordinating joint and harmonized activities related to the independent technical expertise in the field of safety of deep geological disposal of radioactive waste. SITEX-II tasks include: the definition of the Strategic Research Agenda (SRA) based on the common R&D orientations defined by SITEX (2012-2013), the definition of the ToR for the implementation of specific topics from the SRA, and the interaction with IGD-TP and other external entities mandated to implement research on radioactive waste disposal regarding the potential setting up of an European Joint Programming on radioactive waste disposal; the production of a guidance on the technical review of the safety case at its different phases of development, fostering a common understanding on the interpretation and proper implementation of safety requirements for developing, operating and closing a geological repository and on the verification of compliance with these requirements; the development of a training module for generalist experts involved in the safety case review process, including the implementation a pilot training session; the commitment of CS in the definition of the SRA mentioned above, considering the expectations and technical questions to be considered when developing R&D for the purpose of Expertise function. Close interactions between experts conducting the review work will allow enhancing the safety culture of CS and more globally, proposing governance patterns with CS in the framework of geological disposal; the preparation of the administrative framework for a sustainable network, by addressing the legal, organisational and management aspects.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: NFRP-02-2014 | Award Amount: 4.57M | Year: 2015
When dealing with emergency, two issues with fully different time requirements and operational objectives, and thus different methods and tools, have to be considered: emergency preparedness and emergency response. This project will address both issues by combining the efforts of organizations active in these two areas to make already identified deterministic reference tools and methods a decisive step toward. In particular capabilities of these methods and tools will be extended to tackle main categories of accident scenarios in main types of operating or foreseen water-cooled NPPs in Europe, including Spent Fuel Pools. A first task will be the identification of these categories of scenario, the proposition of a methodology for their description and the development of a database of scenarios. Building this database will constitute a first important step in the harmonisation goal defended in this project. Promising probabilistic approaches based on Bayesian Belief Networks (BBN) are currently developed to complement operational deterministic methodologies and tools by contributing to diagnosis accidental situations. The development of the methodologies will be pursued in this project with the extension of the existing deterministic ones to European reactors. Both approaches will be assessed against the above mentioned database of scenarios. Finally a comprehensive set of emergency exercises will be developed and proposed to be run by a large set of partners. A first series of exercises will address source term evaluations that will be compared to the reference source terms from the scenarios database. Then a second series of exercises will be proposed on the same scenarios that will be used for the first series but accounting for the main emergency objective : to protect the populations. Progresses made by the methods and tools developed within this project will be notably assessed by comparing the results obtained in these two series of exercises.
News Article | September 26, 2016
SNC-Lavalin has signed an agreement with two Chinese nuclear energy firms to develop, market and build an advanced CANDU type nuclear reactor The Montreal, Canada, based engineering and construction giant SNC-Lavalin, which five years ago, bought AECL’s reactor division from the government, has a new joint venture with China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) and Shanghai Electric Co. The immediate results of the agreement will be the creation of two nuclear reactor design centers, one in China and the other in Canada. The design centers will collaborate to complete the Advanced Fuel CANDU Reactor (AFCR). It is expected that the first two units will be then built in China and then the reactor will offered via export to global markets. “’The market potential for AFCR technology in China is considerable. Each AFCR can use recycled-fuel from four light-water reactors (LWRs) to generate six million megawatt-hours (MWh) of additional carbon-free electricity without needing any new natural uranium fuel. This would be enough new electricity to power four million Chinese homes, and also displace six million tonnes of carbon emissions per year vs. coal, the equivalent of removing one million cars from the road. China has more than 33 LWR nuclear power reactors in operation and another 23 LWRs under construction.” The agreement occurred during an official four-day visit to Canada by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Canadian PM Justin Trudeau promoted the visit as a thaw in relations between the two nations following a decade of chilly diplomacy under the Conservative government of PM Stephen Harper. According to news coverage in the Toronto Globe & Mail for 9/22/16, John Luxat, a professor of nuclear safety analysis at McMaster University, told the newspaper the new reactor technology has “high potential for use in China because of the large number of light water reactors” who spent fuel could be used by CANDU designs. However, AltgaCorp investment analyst Chris Murray told the newspaper he sees the design and marketing effort to be a slow, drawn out effort and does not expect there to be any near-term financial impact. CANDU stands for CANada Deuterium Uranium, because it was invented in Canada, uses deuterium oxide (also known as heavy water) as a moderator, and uranium as a fuel. CANDU reactors are unique in that they use natural, unenriched uranium as a fuel; with some modification, they can also use enriched uranium, mixed fuels, and even thorium. Thus, CANDU reactors are ideally suited for using spent fuel from light water nuclear reactors, or downblended uranium from decommissioned nuclear weapons, as fuel, helping to reduce global arsenals. CANDU technical description and schematic courtesy of AECL and the Canadian Nuclear Association CANDU reactors can be refueled while operating at full power, while other light water designs, including PWRs and BWRs, must be shut down for refueling. Moreover, because natural uranium does not require enrichment, fuel costs for CANDU reactors are very low. Canada is one of the world’s leading sources of uranium with rich deposits in Saskatchewan and other provinces. It has no uranium enrichment capabilities. The safety systems of CANDU reactors are independent from the rest of the plant, and each key safety component has three backups. This redundancy increase the overall safety of the system, and it also makes it possible to test the safety system while the reactor is operating under full power. There are 19 CANDU reactors in Canada and 31 globally including two in China, two in Argentina, and two in Romania. While all three countries are potential markets for the new SNC-Lavalin / CNNC design, only China has committed, in principle to building the new ACFR. It is unclear to what extent the new AFCR benefits from a design heritage with the now suspended work on the ACR-1000 which was proposed in 2007 and 2008 for Canadian and UK power markets. The ACR-1000, a 1200 MW CANDU type reactor design, was proposed to be built in the tar sands region of Alberta for power and process heat customers and at Point Lepreau in New Brunswick for electric power customers. Neither projects ever made it off the drawing boards. Efforts to license the 1200 MW unit with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission ended in Spring 2008 when AECL also withdrew the design from consideration in the UK generic design assessment. AECL CEO Hugh MacDiarmid was quoted at the time as saying, “We believe very strongly that our best course of action to ensure the ACR-1000 is successful in the global market place is to focus first and foremost on establishing it here at home.” But there were no sales at home due to Bruce Power declining to consider the 1200 MW reactor. In June 2011 SANC-Lavalin bought the reactor division of AECL for the bargain basement price of $15 million which included all of AECL’s intellectual property related to CANDU reactor designs. The advanced CANDU reactor (ACR), in its current design status, frozen in 2008, is a Generation III+ nuclear reactor design and is a further development of existing CANDU reactors designed by Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL). The ACR is a light-water-cooled reactor that incorporates features of both pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR) and advanced pressurized water reactors (APWR) technologies. It uses a similar design concept to the steam-generating heavy water reactor (SGHWR). The difference between heritage CANDUs and the ACR is that it uses low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, (3-5% U235), ordinary (light) water coolant, and a separate heavy water moderator. The ACR also incorporates characteristics of the CANDU design, including on-power refueling with the CANFLEX fuel; two fast, totally independent, safety shutdown systems; and an emergency core cooling system. The relatively small reactor core reduces core size by half for the same power output over the older CANDU design. The ACR fuel bundle is a variant of the 43-element CANFLEX design (CANFLEX-ACR). The use of LEU fuel would result in higher burn-up operation than traditional CANDU designs. None of these features were found to be compelling by potential customers and AECL shelved the entire effort to develop the ACR. About the New AFCR According to SNC_Lavalin the Advanced Fuel CANDU reactor (AFCR) (fact sheet) is a 700MW Class Generation III reactor based on the successful CANDU 6 and Enhanced CANDU 6 (EC6) reactors with a number of adaptations to meet the latest Canadian and international standards. This is 300 MW less in power than the ACR and also differs technically from the ACR in that it uses only heavy water as a moderator. Its fuel flexibility allows it to use recycled uranium or thorium as fuel. SNC-Lavalin calls such materials “natural uranium equivalent” fuels, It uses a heavy water moderator and heavy-water coolant in a pressure tube design. CANDU reactors can be refuelled on power. The firm claims it will have “one of the highest lifetime capacity factors among the world’s reactors.” The development of the AFCR was first reported by World Nuclear News in November 2014. That report also provided insights into the place in China’s nuclear fuel cycle that would be the niche for the reactor. WNN noted in its report that the used fuel from four conventional PWR reactors can completely supply one AFCR unit (as well as providing recycled plutonium for MOX). This process significantly reduces the task of managing used fuel and disposing of high-level wastes. The R&D effort also explored the use of thorium as a fuel for the new reactor. In June 1998, construction started on a CANDU 6 reactor in Qinshan China of the Qinshan Nuclear Power Plant, as Phase III (units 4 and 5) of the planned 11 unit facility. Commercial operation began in December 2002 and July 2003, respectively. These are the first heavy water reactors in China. In 2015 China signed agreements in principle with Romania and Argentina to supply CANDU reactors. In a World Nuclear News report in November 2015 report details were revealed that China and Argentina had in 2014 signed a new high-level agreement towards construction of a third CANDU type pressurized heavy water reactor (PHWR) at the Atucha plant in Argentina. Under the agreement, CNNC will be providing goods and services and long-term financing. The utility in Argentina will be designer, architect-engineer, builder and operator of the new PHWR (Atucha 3). Under the agreement, over 70% of the components to be used in the plant will be supplied by Argentine companies. CNNC is now expected to advance the negotiations with Chinese financial institutions to conclude project financing. Atucha 3 will be a part Canadian-developed Candu reactor running on natural uranium fuel, like the 648 MWe Embalse Candu reactor in Córdoba province. Because of the localization strategy for major components, and the history of the supply chain in Argentina with the other CANDU reactors, it is unlikely that Atucha 3 could be based on the new AFCR design. Atucha 3 is expected to cost almost $6 billion and to take eight years to build at the Atucha Nuclear Power Plant Complex in Buenos Aires province, where the 335 MWe Atucha I and 745 MWe Atucha 2 currently operate. Also in November 2015 World Nuclear News reported Romania’s Nuclearelectrica signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with China General Nuclear (CGN) for the development, construction, operation and decommissioning of units 3 and 4 of the Cernavoda nuclear power plant. The Romanian national nuclear company said a joint venture project company is to be established, with CGN owning at least 51% of the share capital. That company will oversee construction of the units, which will be 700 MWe Candu 6 reactors. Two Candu units already operate at the Cernavoda site. Romania and China signed a letter of intent in November 2013 during a visit to Bucharest by Chinese premier Li Keqiang. Cernavoda is home to two operating Candu 6 pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWRs) supplied by Candu Energy’s predecessor, Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd (AECL), and built by a Canadian-Italian consortium of AECL and Ansaldo. Unit 1 started up in 1996, but work was suspended on a further four units in 1991. Unit 2 was subsequently completed and has been in operation since 2007. Given Romania’s history with CANDU reactors, and its intent to apply its operating experience with them to Units 3 & 4, it is unlikely that country would be a market for the new AFCR model. Romania will supply the fuel for all four reactors. According to the same World Nuclear News report, the new conventional CANDU units will have an operating life of 30 years with the possibility of extension by an additional 25 years. With Argentina and Romania committed to conventional CANDU, off-the-shelf, technology, it is unclear what the commercial prospects will be for the new AFCR CANDU design. The design intent to use spent nuclear fuel in the reactor would make it attractive to many countries. China will build and operate the first two units to prove to potential customers that the design is safe, affordable, and will have a long and cost-competitive service life. Assuming the units can be built in China for $3,000 to $4,000 per Kw, a 700 MW unit will cost approximately $2.1 billion to $2.8 billion which is far less than the cost in the U.S. for a 1000 MW Westinghouse AP1000. Similar cost comparisons would be expected for new nuclear reactors in the UK. However, China is proposing its new PWR design, the Hualong One, for the UK market. Once China has proven the technical and financial viability of the AFCR CANDU, it will face the uncertain prospects of design safety reviews for first-of-a-kind units by nuclear regulatory agencies in countries where it wants to sell the reactors. By leveraging the well-known CANDU technology, SNC-Lavalin and CNNC are placing a bet that they will find willing buyers of their new nuclear reactor.
News Article | November 14, 2016
The development of new nuclear fuels is crucial to the success of new fast reactor designs. Examples include TRISO fuel for HTGRs and Molten Salt fuel for 21st century iterations of the work done at Oak Ridge in the 1960s. (WNN) Russia has started testing its new type of nuclear fuel, REMIX, at the MIR research reactor at the Research Institute of Atomic Reactors in Dimitrovgrad, which is in the Ulyanovsk region. Rostaom said on 11/3 that REMIX fuel rods manufactured in July had been “immersed in the active zone” of MIR. Development of REMIX (from Regenerated Mixture) fuel is part of state nuclear corporation Rosatom’s strategy to enable better use of recycled uranium and plutonium on an industrial scale in pressurized water reactors. Some of the plutonium may come from nuclear weapons decommissioned as part of international treaties. Russia is also using this inventory of surplus plutonium to make MOX fuel for its BN-800 fast reactor which was recently connected to the grid to generate electricity. A loop-type research reactor, MIR is designed mainly for testing fuel elements, fuel assemblies and other core components of different types of operating and promising nuclear power reactors. The first data from testing the fuel in MIR will include the “swelling, gassing and distribution of fission products and, of course, the isotopic composition of the used fuel rods,” the head of innovation at the Khlopin Radium Institute, Andrey Belozub, said in the Rosatom statement. Use of the MIR research reactor is an “extremely important step”, Rosatom said, towards full implementation of the project to introduce REMIX into the Russian fuel cycle. According to World Nuclear News, REMIX fuel is produced directly from a non-separated mix of recycled uranium and plutonium from reprocessing used fuel, with a low-enriched uranium (LEU, up to 17% U-235) make-up comprising about 20% of the mix. This gives fuel initially with about 1% Pu-239 and 4% U-235 which can sustain burn-up of 50 GWd/t over four years. REMIX fuel can be repeatedly recycled with 100% core load in current VVER-1000 reactors, and correspondingly reprocessed many times – up to five times according to Russian nuclear fuel manufacturer Tenex, so that with less than three fuel loads in circulation a reactor could run for 60 years using the same fuel, with LEU recharge and waste removal on each cycle. (WNN) Canadian reactor designer StarCore Nuclear has applied to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to begin the vendor design review process for its Generation IV high temperature gas reactor (HTGR). The CNSC’s pre-licensing vendor review process is an optional service to provide an assessment of a nuclear power plant design based on a vendor’s reactor technology. The three-phase review is not a required part of the licensing process for a new nuclear power plant, but aims to verify the acceptability of a nuclear power plant design with respect to Canadian nuclear regulatory requirements and expectations. Earlier this year the CNSC agreed to conduct a phase 1 vendor design review for Terrestrial Energy’s integral molten salt reactor design concept. StarCore CEO David Dabney said the company’s application to the CNSC, lodged on 24 October, marked the culmination of eight years’ work. “We are confident that our plant size and technology will enable us to bring safe, clean energy to the many remote sites in Northern Canada that currently have no choice other than to use costly, unreliable and polluting carbon-based fuels,” he said. Montréal-based StarCore, founded in 2008, is focused on developing small modular reactors (SMRs) to provide power and potable water to remote communities in Canada. Its standard HTGR unit would produce 20 MWe (36 MWth), expandable to 100 MWe, from a unit small enough to be delivered by truck. The helium-cooled reactor uses Triso fuel, – spherical particles of uranium fuel coated by carbon which effectively gives each tiny particle its own primary containment system, manufactured by BWXT Technologies. Each reactor would require refueling at five-yearly intervals. StarCore describes its reactor as “inherently safe.” The use of helium, which does not become radioactive, as a coolant means that any loss of coolant would be “inconsequential”, the company says. The reactors would be embedded 50 metres underground in concrete silos sealed with ten-tonne caps. DOE Inks Deal with GE-Hitachi for Laser Enrichment Plant at Paducah The Department of Energy (DOE) has agreed to sell depleted uranium to GE-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment, LLC (GLE) over a 40-year period which would be enriched at a proposed GLE state-of-the-art facility. DOE has agreed to sell 300,000 tonnes of depleted uranium hexafluoride (UF6) to GE Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) for re-enrichment at a proposed plant to be built near DOE’s Paducah site in Kentucky. The agreement paves the way for commercialization of Silex laser enrichment technology. The proposed new facility would use depleted uranium to produce natural uranium which is used for production of fuel for civil nuclear reactors. The facility would be built near DOE’s Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in western Kentucky. The construction and operation of the billion-dollar facility at Paducah could to bring approximately 800 to 1,200 jobs to the local community. “This agreement furthers the Energy Department’s environmental cleanup mission while reducing cleanup costs, creating good local jobs, and supporting an economical enrichment enterprise for our energy needs,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. GLE will finance, construct, own and operate the Paducah Laser Enrichment Facility (PLEF) adjacent to the Energy Department site. The facility will be a commercial uranium enrichment production facility under a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license. DOE’s inventory of depleted uranium is safely stored in approximately 65,000 specialized storage cylinders at the Department’s Paducah and Portsmouth (Ohio) sites. The Paducah plant was constructed in the 1950s to enrich uranium for national security applications, and later enriched uranium for commercial nuclear power generation. The Energy Department resumed control of the plant enrichment facilities in 2014 after the operator ceased gaseous-diffusion enrichment operations in 2013. GLE is a joint business venture of GE (51%), Hitachi (25%) and Cameco (24%). Earlier this year GE Hitachi announced its desire to reduce its equity interest in GLE and in April signed a term sheet with Silex giving the Australian company an exclusive option to acquire GE Hitachi’s entire 76% interest in GLE. In 2012, the US NRC granted GLE a combined construction and operating licence for a laser enrichment plant of up to 6 million separative work units at Wilmington, North Carolina. GLE has successfully demonstrated the concept in a test loop at Global Nuclear Fuel’s Wilmington fuel fabrication facility but has not yet decided whether to proceed with a full-scale commercial plant there. (NucNet): Russia is considering asking foreign partners to join its development of the Generation IV SVBR 100 reactor design, but has denied reports that the cost of the project has more than doubled. The original cost of the project was put at 15bn rubles (€209m, $226m) and this has not changed, Rosatom said. The SVBR 100 is one of six designs chosen by the Generation IV International Forum (GIF) for its program of research and development into the next generation nuclear energy systems. GIF said the SVBR 100 is a lead-cooled fast reactor which features a fast neutron spectrum, high temperature operation, and cooling by molten lead or lead-bismuth. It would have multiple applications including production of electricity, hydrogen and process heat. Molten Salt Reactors: IAEA to Establish New Platform for Collaboration Experts from 17 countries laid the foundations last week for enhanced international cooperation on a technology that promises to deliver nuclear power with a lower risk of severe accidents, helping to decrease the world’s dependence on fossil fuels and mitigate climate change. “It is the first time a comprehensive IAEA international meeting on molten salt reactors has ever taken place,” said Stefano Monti, Head of the Nuclear Power Development Section at the IAEA. “Given the interest of Member States, the IAEA could provide a platform for international cooperation and information exchange on the development of these advanced nuclear systems.” Molten salt reactor technology has attracted private funding over the last few years, and several reactor concepts are under development. One area under research is the compatibility between the salt coolant and the structural materials and, for some designs, the chemical processes related to the associated fuel cycle, Monti said. The challenges are not only technical. Nuclear regulators will need to review existing safety regulations to see how these can be modified, if necessary, to fit molten salt reactors, since they differ significantly from reactors in use today, said Stewart Magruder, senior nuclear safety officer at the IAEA. Participants, including researchers, designers and industry representatives, emphasized the need for an international platform for information exchange. “While the United States is actively developing both technology and safety regulations for molten salt reactors, the meeting is an important platform to exchange knowledge and information with Member States not engaged in the existing forums,” said David Holcomb from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Molten salt reactors, nuclear power reactors that use liquid salt as primary coolant or a molten salt mixture as fuel, have many favorable characteristics for nuclear safety and sustainability. The concept was developed in the 1960s, but put aside in favor of what has become mainstream nuclear technology since. In recent years, however, technological advances have led to growing interest in molten salt technology and to the launch of new initiatives. The technology needs at least a decade of further intensive research, validation and qualification before commercialization. Molten salt reactors operate at higher temperatures, making them more efficient in generating electricity. In addition, their low operating pressure can reduce the risk of coolant loss, which could otherwise result in an accident. Molten salt reactors can run on various types of nuclear fuel and use different fuel cycles. This conserves fuel resources and reduces the volume, radiotoxicity and lifetime of high-level radioactive waste. To help speed up research, it is essential to move from bilateral to multilateral cooperation, said Chen Kun from the Shanghai Institute of Applied Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. “It is the first time China has the opportunity to share knowledge with India, Indonesia and Turkey on this technology.” Indonesia is considering building its first nuclear power plant with molten salt reactor design, said Bob Soelaiman Effendi from Indonesia Thorium Energy Community. (WNN) China and the UK have signed a joint R&D agreement which created their Joint Research and Innovation Centre (JRIC) to be opened soon in Manchester, England. Initial work is expected to include developing advanced manufacturing methods. JRIC will support innovation in nuclear research and development through UK-China collaboration. This will develop, it said, “leading-edge research and innovative technologies which will support safe and reliable nuclear energy around the globe.” With NNL and CNNC each owning a 50% share, they will jointly pay for the centre’s research and development expenses and plan to invest 422 million yuan ($65.1 million) over a five-year period, CNNC said. (WNN) The UK’s Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC) said it has signed a new agreement with the US Nuclear Infrastructure Council (USNIC) to work together on research and development to support the UK’s civil nuclear program. The memorandum of understanding was signed by Jay Shaw, senior business development manager for the Nuclear AMRC, and David Blee, executive director of USNIC, during a visit to the Nuclear AMRC on 10/26.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-CA | Phase: Fission-2011-1.1.2 | Award Amount: 1.36M | Year: 2012
SITEX aims at identifying the efficient means that should be developed through the establisment of a sustainable expertise function network within a European framework with the view to: - allowing mutual understanding between regulatory bodies, TSOs and waste management organisations (WMOs) on (i) the regulatory expectations at decision holdpoints and (ii) how the scientific and technical elements carried out by the WMOs comply with these expectations. In that perspective, the needs in clarification of existing regulatory guidance or in developing new guidance will be addressed. Exchanges with IGD-TP on that issues is favoured. In complement, role of expertise function and the needs for improving it will be discussed; - in coordination with or in complement to WMOs research program, defining TSOs R&D program that would ensure independent capabilities development for reviewing the Safety Case and assessing the scientific arguments provided by WMOs. TSOs R&D program and priorities will be adressed by favouring close interaction with IGD-TP and seeking for joined research activities with the WMOs in order to foster common understanding of technical key points for safety and avoiding undue duplication; - ensuring competence building of experts in charge of technical review and transfer of knowledge on waste safety and radiation protection; the needs in guidance development for harmonising the technical review activity and in dedicated training and tutoring for spreading the expertise culture and practices will be addressed; - sharing, where needed, expertise approach with various stakeholders, in a manner more integrated than when only communication or dissemination are envisaged. Compilation of past actions and learning of ways of implication of stakeholders in the process of technical review will be discussed.
Zablotska L.B.,University of California at San Francisco |
Lane R.S.D.,Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission |
Thompson P.A.,Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission
British Journal of Cancer | Year: 2014
Background:A 15-country study of nuclear workers reported significantly increased radiation-related risks of all cancers excluding leukaemia, with Canadian data a major factor behind the pooled results. We analysed mortality (1956-1994) in the updated Canadian cohort and provided revised risk estimates.Methods:Employment records were searched to verify and revise exposure data and to restore missing socioeconomic status. Excess relative risks per sievert (ERR/Sv) of recorded radiation dose and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were estimated using Poisson regression.Results:A significant heterogeneity of the dose-response for solid cancer was identified (P=0.02), with 3088 early (1956-1964) Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) workers having a significant increase (ERR/Sv=7.87, 95% CI: 1.88, 19.5), and no evidence of radiation risk for 42 228 workers employed by three nuclear power plant companies and post-1964 AECL (ERR/Sv=-1.20, 95% CI: <-1.47, 2.39). Radiation risks of leukaemia were negative in early AECL workers and non-significantly increased in other workers. In analyses with separate terms for tritium and gamma doses, there was no evidence of increased risk from tritium exposure. All workers had mortality lower than the general population.Conclusion:Significantly increased risks for early AECL workers are most likely due to incomplete transfer of AECL dose records to the National Dose Registry. Analyses of the remainder of the Canadian nuclear workers (93.2%) provided no evidence of increased risk, but the risk estimate was compatible with estimates that form the basis of radiation protection standards. Study findings suggest that the revised Canadian cohort, with the exclusion of early AECL workers, would likely have an important effect on the 15-country pooled risk estimate of radiation-related risks of all cancer excluding leukaemia by substantially reducing the size of the point estimate and its significance. © 2014 Cancer Research UK.
News Article | September 12, 2016
A small entrepreneurial start-up developing a high temperature gas cooled reactor (HTGR), based on the design work of the pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR), is looking for a site to build a test bed for its technology in the Odessa, TX, area. X-Energy sent company representatives to the area last week who met with a team from the University of Texas Permian Basin (UTPB) and the Odessa Development Corp which serves Ector County, TX. According the local news media reports, Eben Mulder, X-Energy’s Chief Nuclear Officer, said his firm is hoping to pull together academic and community resources top create the basis for building a test facility for its Xe-100 HTGR. UTPB has a newly developed nuclear engineering program that could work with the company. The Xe-100 at full commercial scale is expected to be able to generate 80 MW of electricity and provide 200 MW of process heat from extremely hot helium used in the reactor. X-Energy plans to offer the reactor to customers in configurations of four units each. Last January the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) awarded X-Energy a $40 million grant. The firm has also invested $13 million of its own money. More recently, it partnered with Southern Nuclear with also has a $40 million grant from DOE to conduct work on design of a molten chloride salt reactor MCSR). What is common to both the HTGR being worked on by X-Energy and the MSR being developed by Southern Nuclear is that they use TRISO “pebble bed” fuel which was developed for the PBMR work in South Africa. Several of the key technology executives at X-Energy are veterans of the PBMR project. While no formal commitments have been made by the parties involved, the enthusiasm for the effort, expressed by the parties involved, embodies traditional Texas values that the effort will be a very big deal. Mulder told the Odessa news media that “nuclear energy is a sustainable solution.” “I’m talking about cost, safety, proliferation resistance, emissions, and security of [electricity] supply.” Jim Write, UTPB’s director of economic development, expressed enthusiasm for the X-Energy project. He said the firm could be expected to spend more than $1 billion on development of the Xe-100 including a test and demonstration facility. Terrestrial Energy Lands $4M in New Round of Funding A Canadian company developing a integrated molten salt reactor (IMSR) has landed a new round of Series A funding. The $4 million added to previous funding raises total in Series A funding so far to $17.2 million. The funds are being used to develop a commercial implementation of the IMSR which is based on a design originally developed at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in the 1950s. Unlike conventional light water reactors, the IMSR uses a liquid fuel suspended in a hot liquid salt medium, which doubles as the coolant, and which operates at atmospheric pressure. The firm is reportedly working with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to conduct an assessment of its technology relative to the agency’s safety standards. In March 2016, Terrestrial Energy announced a grant award of CAD $5.7 million from the Canadian Federal Government’s Sustainable Development Technology Canada’s (SDTC) SD Tech Fund. The source of the latest investment was not disclosed by the company. The firm is targeting having a design ready for customers in the 2020s. Urenco Takes the Wraps Off its Nuclear Battery Project A firm that operates a uranium enrichment plant in southeastern New Mexico is developing a 4 MW HTRG that will use TRISO fuel enriched to 19.2% U-235. Fuel Cycle Week (FCW) publisher Andre Jennetta reported the development in the September 8, 2016, issue of the industry newsletter. According to the FCW report, Urenco’s work is in its initial phase of design. According to the company’s website, Urenco has initiated talks with potential technology partners and investors in Poland, Japan, and the UK. The firm’s technology executives have significant experience with work on small modular reactors. The company reports on its website that in May 2016 it announced the agreement of terms with the National Centre for Nuclear Research (NCBJ) to cooperate for the deployment of U-Battery in Poland. Agreement was reached and a Confidentiality Agreement was signed during the visit of the Polish Undersecretaries of State for Energy, Andrzej Piotrowski and Michal Kurtyka, to the United Kingdom on 24-25 May, accompanied by other senior officials from the Polish Ministry of Energy. In July Urenco team members conducted a working level meeting with officials from the Japan Atomic Energy Agency. Urenco is also targeting the SMR competition for $250M in the UK.
News Article | September 8, 2016
Starting as early as this month, trucks loaded with reinforced casks containing the most dangerous material in the world—highly enriched, weapons-grade uranium—will begin moving across Canada and into the US, potentially passing through various communities along the way. This radioactive waste is the kind of material that someone with a bad idea could use to make a bomb. More likely, it could irradiate a tract of land or pollute waterways if there’s a crash or a spill, an eventuality that shippers prepare for by testing the casks for a nine-metre drop and being submerged in water. Such shipments are tightly controlled by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, which oversees the Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), a government-owned corporation that manufactures medical isotopes in Canada. Shipping operations for nuclear materials are highly secretive. The route that the trucks will take from the Chalk River nuclear plant in Ontario to Savannah River in South Carolina—a journey that will be nearly 1,700 kilometres—is closely protected, and a number of plaintiffs living nearby potential routes are suing the US Department of Energy in an attempt to force the agency to complete an environmental impact assessment for the shipment. The materials are refuse from the production of medical isotopes used in cancer treatments, including highly enriched uranium. The materials are being shipped as part of a “repatriation” process to send nuclear material from Canada to the US so it can be processed for non-weaponized purposes, and eventually disposed of. Read More: Canada’s Nuclear Material Risk Assessment Won’t Look Into Unsafe Practices Motherboard has obtained security and transport requirements for the drivers and security escorts that will drive the irradiated material through Canada, through an access to information request for safety and incident reports and briefings. They are marked “PROTECTED - SENSITIVE” and are from Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL), the organization that took over managing Chalk River from AECL in 2014. An AECL spokesperson confirmed that these checklists are up-to-date and will be filled out by personnel involved with the upcoming shipments. The email containing the checklists was sent in response to a “letter for the failure to comply with all conditions specified in the transport license” in October of 2015 to the Nuclear Safety Commission’s director of transport licensing. The checklists reflect and formalize security processes that, at the time of the email’s writing, had not yet been implemented. The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission is currently soliciting input for a planned “risk assessment” for transporting nuclear materials in Canada, but the agency told Motherboard in July that it won’t be looking into “unsafe practices,” and will instead hope to confirm that existing practices are working. According to the checklists, which are completed before shipments depart, escorts must provide a radio to the driver and call an operator every hour to check in with location and status. Security “must maintain constant surveillance of the shipment at all times” and no stopping for meals is allowed. The checklist states that the shipment will stop at the Duty Free shop at the border for an escort switch-over. Once an escort through the US has been arranged, the driver calls the escort to confirm they are in the US, and the escort heads home. On the driver side, it’s much of the same—no stopping for meals, but if you must stop, notify the escort team beforehand and do so in a “safe location.” Security must again be in “constant surveillance” of the shipment, and so the checklist warns drivers to “be cautious of traffic lights and intersections.” The drivers also have both a primary route and a secondary route planned, in case something goes sideways. Motherboard followed up with AECL to ask whether a US security detail takes over once the shipment crosses the border, and if the escort in Canada will comprise of police or employees. An AECL spokesperson said that the company can't disclose those details "for security reasons." “Radioactive material has been transported safely nationally and internationally for over 50 years by road, rail, water and air without a single radiological incident,” a spokesperson for AECL said to Motherboard in an email. If you think you’ve had a tense drive in your life, this is on a whole other level.