From: Mauro Bonardi Subject: SCI-list Avvisi: ANS Late News Section / June 2004 Nuclear News To: SCI-LIST@LIST.CINECA.IT Questo messaggio vi giunge dalla Lista di Posta elettronica della Societa' Chimica Italiana, cui risultate iscritti; la lista di posta "SCI-list avvisi" e' dedicata alla spedizione di messaggi ufficiali della SCI e delle sue divisioni o ad avvisi di congressi, seminari, etc.; e' aperta ai soli soci. Per ulteriori informazioni collegatevi alla pagina: *************************************************** GINNA'S SALE AND LICENSE RENEWAL WERE APPROVED on the same day, May 19. The New York Public Service Commission approved the transfer of assets for the 495-MWe pressurized water reactor near Ontario, N.Y., from the current owner, Rochester Gas and Electric Company (RG&E), to the prospective buyer, Constellation Energy. Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved license renewal for Ginna, adding 20 years to the term of the operating license and deferring its expiration date to September 18, 2029. Ginna became the 26th U.S. power reactor to have its license term extended from 40 to 60 years by the NRC, following the Summer unit in South Carolina by 26 days (see page 20, this issue). License renewal was a key condition in the pending sale of the plant to Constellation, which will pay RG&E $401 million for the plant and another $21.6 million for existing stocks of fuel. Both parties have been planning to close the sale in June, and according to Constellation this is st! ill the case, with no specific date decided upon at this writing. The state-level approval of the sale clears what was seen as the last significant regulatory requirement for the transaction. The NRC estimates that uncontested renewal applications can be processed in 22 months; the Ginna renewal was approved in 21 months and 18 days. CHINA'S QINSHAN-3 WAS DECLARED IN COMMERCIAL OPERATION on the morning of May 3. Unit 3, a 610-MWe pressurized water reactor, is the second of two power units that form the second phase of nuclear development at the Qinshan site. The two-reactor project was a key part of the country's eighth five-year plan, with construction starting in June 1996. Qinshan-1, the first phase of construction, was China's first Chinese-designed nuclear power plant. While Units 2 and 3 are derived from the Unit 1 prototype, the detailed design and manufacturing of major components of the reactor coolant system made use of French technology, which was transferred to China under a cooperation agreement signed by Framatome ANP and China National Nuclear Corp. (CNNC) in 1992. CNNC has built a 300-MWe unit in Pakistan (Chashma-1) and recently reached agreement to build a second reactor at the site. STP WON THE "BEST OF THE BEST" TOP INDUSTRY PRACTICE AWARD on May 14, presented at the Nuclear Energy Institute's annual conference in New Orleans. Employees at the South Texas Project nuclear power station received the honor because of their comprehensive and innovative approach to managing a first-of-a-kind repair to instrumentation on one of the station's reactor vessels. STP, in Palacios, Tex., has two Westinghouse pressurized water reactors. The station is operated by STP Nuclear Operating Company. The Top Industry Practice (TIP) awards recognize industry employees in 13 categories for innovation to improve safety, efficiency, and plant performance. The Best of the Best Award honors the late B. Ralph Sylvia, an industry leader who was instrumental in starting the TIP awards 11 years ago. Other companies receiving awards were Dominion Nuclear Connecticut, Exelon, Entergy Nuclear, Nuclear Management Company, Exelon Generation Company, Southern Nuclear Operating Company, FirstEnergy, Energy Northwest, and a multicompany group that formed the Nuclear Supply Chain Strategic Leaders' AP-908 team. In-depth coverage of this year's TIP award winners will be featured in the July issue of Nuclear News. THE ADDITIONAL PROTOCOL TO THE NPT WENT INTO FORCE in 15 European Union (EU) countries, including the nuclear-weapons states of France and the United Kingdom, on April 30. EU Energy Commissioner Loyola de Palacio said that this should help the inspection efforts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to concentrate on less stable regions of the world. The Additional Protocol provides the agency with additional methods to verify that countries already party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty are complying with their commitments. The Protocol was devised after the discovery of Iraq's clandestine nuclear weapons program following the Gulf War. It improves the ability of the IAEA to detect such activities, extends the scope of its investigations beyond nuclear fuel cycle installations, and requires signatory countries to make extensive declarations on all installations holding nuclear materials, even in small quantities, or engaging in nuclear fuel cycle activities, including universities, research establishments, industrial complexes or hospitals. The Protocol also covers installations that do not necessarily hold nuclear materials but that, for example, manufacture the nuclear equipment or have the necessary infrastructure for processing them. The European Commission has its own corps of 200 inspectors and also maintains a database containing details of all civilian nuclear materials in the EU. Inspections are already carried out in locations in cooperation with the IAEA. In the past year, Additional Protocols entered into force for 22 countries, raising the total to 58 states, which includes the 15 EU states. On May 1, 2004, 10 more countries became members of the EU, raising the total member country population to some 450 million. Of these, seven have already brought the Additional Protocol into force and the others are expected to gradually accede. Five of the ten rely on nuclear energy to provide one-fourth or more of their electricity needs. These include: * Czech Republic: Six nuclear plants are operating, two at Temelin and four at Dukovany, collectively supplying about a fourth of the country's electricity. * Hungary: Four nuclear plants are operating at Paks, supplying about 36 percent of electricity. * Lithuania: Two nuclear plants are operating at Ignalina, supplying about 80 percent of electricity. * Slovakia: Six nuclear plants are operating at Bohunice and Mochovce, collectively supplying about 55 percent of electricity. * Slovenia: One nuclear plant is operating at Krsko, supplying about 40 percent of the country's electricity. FP&L HAS JOINED THE NUSTART CONSORTIUM, becoming the sixth United States-based nuclear owner/operator utility to participate fully in the group seeking Department of Energy backing to apply for a construction/operating license (COL) from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (see page 14, this issue). Florida Power and Light Company owns and operates a pair of two-unit nuclear plants in its home base in southeast Florida (St. Lucie and Turkey Point), and an affiliated company, FPL Energy, owns and operates the Seabrook unit in New Hampshire. As a full utility participant, FP&L will contribute $1 million per year to NuStart's effort to gain backing under the DOE's Nuclear Power 2010 program. If DOE support is achieved, NuStart would apply for a COL, proceeding all the way to license issuance, but at this stage making no commitment to buy and build a new nuclear plant. Like another recent entrant into NuStart, Duke Energy, FP&L has a nuclear fleet made up entirely of pressurized w! ater reactors. During the COL application process, NuStart is to choose one of two advanced reactor designs: one PWR (Westinghouse's AP1000) and one BWR (General Electric's ESBWR). Both designs are to go through the entire NRC certification process--which is expected to require the bulk of the funding for the project, and for which NuStart hopes the DOE will meet around half of the cost--but the COL application will be for one reactor type, at one of the two candidate sites (Clinton and Grand Gulf). PAUL KEARNS WAS NAMED LAB DIRECTOR AT INEEL, a position he has held on an interim basis since last October. Bechtel BWXT Idaho, the company that manages the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory for the Department of Energy, made the announcement on May 13. Kearns has been with INEEL since 1999, initially serving as associate laboratory director of Environmental Technology and Engineering. In May 2001, he was tapped to serve as vice president and deputy laboratory director, and in October 2003 he was named acting lab director. Kearns succeeded Bill Shipp, who retired last year as lab director and president of Bechtel BWXT Idaho. (Paul Divjak succeeded Shipp as president and general manager of Bechtel BWXT Idaho.) Kearns also serves as a member of Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne's Science and Technology Advisory Council, and he is on the board of trustees of the Idaho Nature Conservancy. From 1995 through 1999, he managed waste disposal integration and process technology and environmental management initiatives at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. From 1980 through the mid-1990s, he held a range of positions with the DOE in Colorado and Illinois. Kearns attended Purdue University, where he completed a bachelor's degree in environmental sciences, a master's degree in bionucleonics and a doctorate in health sciences. HAMAOKA-5 WAS CONNECTED TO THE JAPANESE GRID ON APRIL 30. The operator, Chubu Electric, will undertake a gradual commissioning program with a view to starting commercial operation of the plant, a 1325-MWe boiling water reactor, in January 2005. Fuel loading began on February 19 and was completed on February 28, and the nuclear reactor reached criticality on March 23, 2004. Construction of the unit began in March 1999. THE GAO CRITICIZED NRC OVERSIGHT OF DAVIS-BESSE in a report issued on May 18. The General Accounting Office, the investigatory agency of the U.S. Congress, prepared the report at the request of three legislators with constituencies that include or are near the Davis-Besse power reactor, an 873-MWe Babcock & Wilcox-design pressurized water reactor near Oak Harbor, Ohio: Sen. George Voinovich and Reps. Dennis Kucinich and Steven LaTourette. Concerning the development of the upper head cavity in the Davis-Besse reactor vessel (see page 15, this issue), the GAO asserted that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission should have been able to identify the boric acid corrosion problem, but did not because the NRC's inspections, and its assessment of the performance of the plant owner (FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Co.), yielded inaccurate and incomplete information. The report noted that NRC resident inspectors at Davis-Besse were aware of boric acid deposits on the vessel head and in air ! monitors, but did not know that these might indicate a significant problem and so did not relay the information to other NRC staffers, who might have seen it as significant. Beyond the specifics of the cavity precursors, however, the GAO was critical of the NRC on wider policy matters, on which the NRC disagreed at length. In particular, the GAO said that the NRC has no clear guidance for deciding whether a plant should be shut down (and gauged how long to let Davis-Besse operate from guidance on whether to issue license amendments), and does not have the means to identify shortcomings in a plant's safety culture and assure that improvements are made. As is customary in GAO reports, the object of the investigation was given a copy of the draft version and given the opportunity to comment, and the comments are included in the final report. In his cover letter to the NRC's comments, NRC Executive Director for Operations William D. Travers stated that the NRC relies heavily on information from licensees, and that the Department of Justice is investigating whether FirstEnergy provided complete and accurate information on the state of Davis-Besse. Travers added that the NRC is "particularly concerned" about the GAO characterization that NRC personnel did not fully understand or properly apply risk-assessment calculations; maintained that NRC regulations "are robust and do, in fact, provide sufficient guidance in the vast majority of situations" in which there is concern whether a plant should be allowed to operate or ordered to shut down; and, on the matter of whether the NRC should be involved in a licensee's safety cultur! e, he wrote, "As regulators, we are not charged with managing our licensees' facilities." Nonetheless, on all counts the GAO argued that the NRC should be doing more to achieve the goals set forth in the report. The GAO document includes a report by a committee recruited by the agency to review NRC oversight of Davis-Besse; the three members were John Lee, of the University of Michigan; Thomas Pigford, of the University of California-Berkeley; and Gary Was, also of the University of Michigan. Among the committee's findings: that the NRC did not perform uncertainty analysis in its use of probabilistic risk assessment; that the Davis-Besse technical specifications allowed coolant leakage through flanges and valves, leading to the assumption that boric acid deposits in various locations were routine, and not risk-significant; and that the NRC is slow to integrate new safety information into its programs, and to share that information with licensees. W. GEORGE HAIRSTON III IS THE NEW CHAIR OF THE NEI board of directors, succeeding Don Hintz. Hairston, president and chief executive officer of Southern Nuclear Operating Company, assumed the post on May 12, just before the Nuclear Energy Institute began its three-day annual conference in New Orleans. Robert B. McGehee, president and CEO of Progress Energy Inc., has been elected the NEI board's vice-chair. During the conference, the William S. Lee Award for Industry Leadership was presented to William Cavanaugh III, recently retired as chairman and CEO of Progress Energy. Among the speakers at the conference was Commerce Secretary Donald Evans, who said that nuclear power must "play a critical role" in providing the abundant, affordable, environmentally preferable energy needed to ease the demand for all energy and bring the three billion people struggling in underdeveloped nations out of poverty. NEI's own president and CEO, Joe Colvin, said in his speech that three imperat! ives must be met for nuclear power to remain vital and abundant in the United States: a full transition to safety-focused regulation of power reactors; meeting the milestones in the licensing of the proposed Yucca Mountain, Nev., high-level waste repository; and--calling attention to a recent trend--securing and maintaining a stable, predictable, and competitive supply of uranium. Colvin noted that uranium spot prices rose significantly in the first quarter of 2004, and called for new investment in mining and production. IMPROVED SECURITY MEASURES ARE AT HAND FOR DOE SITES, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced to a gathering of security officers from across the DOE complex on May 7. Initiatives to expand capabilities of the Department of Energy's security personnel include possibly federalizing some security units currently managed by contractors; consolidating sensitive nuclear material into fewer locations; enhancing protection of classified computer information; upgrading security systems at key facilities; and making managers more receptive to security concerns. Addressing the security officers during a speech at the DOE's Savannah River Site, in Aiken, S.C., Abraham warned that the nation's defense assets "must not be allowed to fall into the wrong hands." In that regard, he said the DOE will consider the creation of a specialized security contingent to guard the department's high-priority nuclear facilities, with capabilities similar to the military's Delta Force or Navy SEAL units. Abraham acknowledged recent reports of security lapses at some DOE sites (this issue, page 25), but he called these incidents rare. Still, they are "unacceptable, and the failure of any and all levels of management to address instances such as these will not be tolerated," he said. Abraham also announced a Cyber Security Enhancement Initiative, to be implemented within the next year, which would deploy intrusion-detection systems to guard against potential cyber attacks, improve procedures to guard against Internet threats, and enhance the security of online information. Citing past problems with computer disks and hard drives containing classified information, he proposed "an initiative to move to diskless workstations for classified computing" to allow sensitive functions to be performed in a more secure diskless environment. Abraham also called for regular reviews of DOE security standards and procedures and for new programs to train security officers and test their readiness to respond to attacks or attempts to infiltrate facilities. He also discussed initiatives to recruit and train the best candidates for DOE security jobs and to increase employee retention rates. He noted a change of management culture was needed to improve the way the DOE responds to criticisms and concerns from outside the department, as well as from employees. He stressed that DOE employees should be confident about raising questions without fear of retribution. A SPENT-FUEL RAIL CASK WILL GET HIGH-SPEED CRASH TESTING, according to a Nuclear Regulatory Commission announcement on May 12. Current computer and scale-model tests provide reasonable scientific assurance that NRC-certified casks can survive a transportation accident, according to an agency statement. However, the planned full-scale crash test "will enhance public confidence about how demanding our requirements really are," said NRC Chairman Nils Diaz. The test will involve realistic scenarios (for example, involving a train traveling 75 miles per hour) and include exposing the cask to fire. The NRC is shopping for a cask to be used in the testing. Once selected, the cask will be representative of those already in use by the industry or expected to be used so that the NRC won't have to do further testing on other certified rail casks in the foreseeable future. NRC staff is working on a test plan to be submitted on July 2 to agency commissioners for approval. The plan will include details of the proposed test and projected costs, and also will provide predictions of specific performance measurements to be collected during testing. The actual test is expected to be conducted six months after the commissioners approve the test plan. The NRC establishes design standards for casks used to transport licensed spent fuel, and reviews and certifies cask designs prior to their use. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act requires the Department of Energy to use casks certified by the NRC in the event that spent fuel and high-level waste is transported to a national high-level waste repository, such as the one proposed by the DOE at Yucca Mountain, Nev. FERMILAB'S FIRST MAGNET FOR THE LHC HAS BEEN SHIPPED from the particle accelerator near Batavia, Ill., to the construction site for the Large Hadron Collider at the CERN laboratory near Geneva, Switzerland. The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory will design and build a total of nine superconducting quadrupole focusing magnets for the LHC, each 13 meters long, and will also assemble and ship 18 similar, but shorter, magnets designed and built at the KEK laboratory, in Japan; these magnets are to produce a field strength of 9 Tesla. The LHC will also employ superconducting magnet systems being designed and built at Brookhaven National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The LHC, scheduled for completion in 2007, will become the world's most powerful particle accelerator, a distinction now held by Fermilab. BROOKHAVEN'S RHIC HAS EXCEEDED EXPECTATIONS by routinely achieving twice the heavy ion luminosity anticipated in its design. The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) at Brookhaven National Laboratory, near Upton, N.Y., completed its fourth run of experiments in April, and initial analysis of the four-month series of collisions of gold ions has raised speculation among researchers that some of the impacts may have replicated the conditions of the quark-gluon plasma that is believed to have existed a few microseconds after the Big Bang. The RHIC, which opened in 2000, can accelerate ionized gold nuclei to the point that the energy per nucleus is about 20 trillion electron volts (TeV), so that in the collision of two such nuclei, 40 TeV is available to disrupt the structure of the nuclei and, perhaps, briefly produce either a quark-gluon plasma or some other nonstandard condition of matter. Researchers hope that the ongoing analysis of the run of experiments will allow a clea! rer understanding of what took place during and after the collisions. THE NRC HAS DENIED A UCS PETITION ON EMPLOYEE PROTECTION, ruling that an enhancement of the relevant enforcement policy would be preferable to the promulgation of new regulations. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) had petitioned for rulemaking in 1999, seeking to require holders of Nuclear Regulatory Commission licenses to provide training for managers to assure awareness of licensee obligations to protect employees from discrimination. NRC regulations include provisions on deliberate misconduct by licensees, in areas such as reprisal against employees who raise safety concerns, but in the UCS's view these regulations carry little or no force, because managers of licensees (and their subcontractors) have been able to claim ignorance of their employee protection obligations. UCS argued that mandatory training of management personnel would eliminate ignorance as an excuse in future instances of discrimination against whistleblowers. The NRC, however, decided that mandato! ry training would not lead to a clear conclusion that adverse action against an employee is deliberately discriminatory, and that separate action already taken by the agency--a 2003 staff requirements memorandum approving the recommendations of the NRC's Discrimination Task Group--enhances the enforcement policy so as to satisfy the intent of the petition. The denial was published in the Federal Register on May 19. BACKFIT GUIDANCE FOR SNM LICENSEES HAS BEEN ISSUED by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The agency's Office of Nuclear Materials Safety and Safeguards (NMSS) produced the guidance to assist licensees in using the backfit provisions of 10CFR70.76, related to the handling of special nuclear material. The full text of the guidance is available through the ADAMS electronic document retrieval system on the NRC Web site, . The ADAMS accession number for the guidance is ML040980122. 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