Decommissioning dominates

Paul Boughton

Investments in the nuclear power industry are dominated by decommissioning, refuelling and safety projects, reports Eugene McCarthy

The United Kingdom Nuclear Decommissioning Authority has selected the Cavendish Fluor Partnership as the preferred bidder in the competition to take ownership of Magnox and Research Sites Restoration Limited (RSRL), the site license companies that manage and operate 12 UK nuclear sites. It is anticipated that this contract will provide savings in excess of US$1.6 billion (£1 billion) in the decommissioning programme for the 12 nuclear sites.

Cavendish Fluor Partnership will begin a five-month contract transition phase following a 10-day standstill period. Once transition is complete, it will become the new parent body organisation and take ownership of Magnox and RSRL.

“Being selected as preferred bidder is a fantastic achievement,” said Roger Hardy, Cavendish Nuclear’s MD. “The Cavendish Fluor Partnership brings together outstanding international decommissioning, operational and site management expertise and we look forward to working with the Magnox and RSRL teams to deliver the sites’ programme safely and cost effectively.”

Magnox is responsible for decommissioning ten Magnox reactor sites, located in England, Scotland and Wales, which were the first generation of civil nuclear power plants in the UK built during the 1950s and 60s. RSRL is responsible for decommissioning two pioneering nuclear research centres at Harwell and Winfrith.

In other good news for Fluor, NuScale Power – a company in which it is majority investor – has signed an agreement with the US Department of Energy (DOE) for funding which will support the development, licensing and commercialisation of the company’s nuclear small modular reactor (SMR) technology.

The DOE will provide up to US$217 million (£134 million) in matching funds over five years to help the Oregon-based nuclear power company develop its SMR design, which the company hopes will revolutionise the next generation of nuclear power plants. NuScale Power says the reactor technology can deliver the energy diversity needed to replace aging coal plants, to power growing populations and to reduce emissions, all while proving to be a safer, more flexible and cost-effective nuclear power solution.

Nuclear fuel deliveries

In Sweden, Westinghouse has been selected by OKG to provide replacement nuclear fuel deliveries for all three reactors at Oskarshamn units one, two and three. The contract includes yearly deliveries of fuel for their reactors during the five-year period of 2016 to 2020.

Under the terms of the contract, Westinghouse will produce the fuel at its facility in Västerås, Sweden. Westinghouse has been a main fuel supplier to OKG, having already delivered nearly 8500 fuel assemblies to the plants.

“This contract reflects OKG’s continued confidence in Westinghouse as a high-quality fuel supplier,” says Johan Hallén, Westinghouse vice president and managing director, Northern Europe. “It also helps us strengthen our position as a leading boiling water reactor fuel supplier on the European market which ensures a strong domestic industry employing thousands in Sweden.”

All three boiling water reactors (BWR) in Oskarshamn were designed and built by ASEA-ATOM, acquired by Westinghouse in 2000.

Westinghouse is a single-source global nuclear fuel provider for pressurised water reactors (PWRs), including Russian-designed VVER reactors, as well as BWRs and advanced gas-cooled reactors (AGRs). Currently the company is fuelling 145 PWR and BWR plants, and has ten nuclear fuel manufacturing locations around the world, including two sites in Europe: Springfields Fuels Limited in Preston, Lancashire, UK and Westinghouse Electric Sweden in Västerås.

In another business development, Westinghouse has confirmed an important strategic partnership with Czech company Vitkovice, in preparation for the potential construction of Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear power plants in the Czech Republic.

In accordance with the partnership, Vitkovice will join the Westinghouse/Toshiba/Metrostav team to jointly offer as a potential fabricator of key structural and mechanical equipment modules, should the AP1000 reactor be selected to complete the expansion of the Temelin nuclear power plant.

The AP1000 has been designed to make use of modern modular-construction techniques, which allow many more construction activities to proceed in parallel. This reduces the calendar time for plant construction, thereby reducing the cost of money and the exposure risks associated with plant financing. Westinghouse says that these construction techniques are already being utilised with great success in the USA and China – achieving significant savings in overall plant construction time and cost.

Key player AREVA has been selected by the operator of the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) to provide services for the safety instrumentation and control (I&C) and electrical systems for Kozloduy units five and six The company also will provide its expertise for the replacement or adaptation of the main electrical generators, which will provide a 10% increase in the electrical power output of each reactor.

“AREVA has already installed its TELEPERM XS digital safety I&C platform at both of the VVER-1000 reactors. This new contract demonstrates our customer’s complete satisfaction and strengthens our position in the VVER modernisation market,” said Tilo Landgraf, senior vice president of installed base, AREVA Germany.

To date, the company’s safety-related digital TELEPERM XS platform has been installed in or ordered for 80 nuclear power plants in 16 countries for 14 different reactor designs.

In other news, AREVA has entered into a 50/50 joint venture with Japanese maintenance services specialist ATOX. Known as ANADEC, the new group will provide solutions and services in the field of decommissioning and dismantling of Japanese nuclear power plants. This joint venture expects to operate at the damaged Fukushima nuclear power plant.

The two companies will combine their expertise to contribute to the stabilisation of the situation at the Fukushima site and its clean-up. AREVA says it will provide its know-how and technology in the field of decommissioning while ATOX, with its strong local presence and expertise in engineering and on-site operations, says it will adapt the solutions proposed by AREVA to the specific needs of Japan.

In particular, ANADEC will focus on developing investigative and mapping techniques for use at Fukushima, and develop robotic solutions to speed up dismantling of difficult to reach areas. 

Sendai reactor changes sanctioned

On 10th September, Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) granted permission to Kyusyu Electric Power to make changes to the installation of two reactor units at Sendai. It follows an application by the company in 2013, which was later followed up with a number of amendments earlier this year. 

“This is a regulatory step to grant permission for the basic design of nuclear reactors and related facilities applied from the operator. The applied design and safety features of Sendai units one and two and were deemed to meet the NRA’s new regulatory requirements,” said the NRA. 

Next, the NRA will review the detailed design and construction of the nuclear reactors and related facilities as well as operational safety programmes including organisation systems and procedures for accident responses.

The NRA says its decision was a result of a careful review of the 18,600 page document from Kyusyu Electric Power, taking more than 110 hours all together, holding 62 review meetings and conducting field investigations for safety assessment.

All the meetings with NRA commissioners who are in charge of earthquakes or reactor facilities were made public live via the internet. After released the draft assessment on facilities, the NRA collected opinions through the public comment procedures, reviewed these opinions and reflected them on the results of its assessment.

In a separate development, the NRA says that 1,188 out of a total of 1,533 spent and unirradiated fuel assemblies in the unit four spent fuel pool area at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station  have been transferred to the common spent fuel pool on site.

Fig. 1. All three boiling water reactors at Oskarshamn were designed and built by ASEA-ATOM (sent as OKG.jpg).

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