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kristopher

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Member since: Fri Dec 19, 2003, 02:20 AM
Number of posts: 29,798

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Vogtle Nuclear Construction Faces “Additional Delay” Based on Miscalculations in Foundation Concrete

Press release from NCWarn intended for free distribution

Vogtle Nuclear Construction Faces “Additional Delay” Based on Miscalculations in Foundation Concrete

Southern Company presses NRC for expedited license amendment to avoid further slippage at Vogtle, construction of “nuclear island” not yet underway


Durham, NC – Less than two months after receiving a nuclear construction license for new reactors at its Vogtle site in eastern Georgia, Southern Company is already requesting a license amendment to allow changes to the foundation on which the reactor building would be built. A request which the company aimed to file by last Friday seeks to relax standards for the concrete foundation due to Southern’s miscalculation of soil compaction, and the company is pressing regulators for swift approval to avoid what it calls “an additional delay in the construction of the nuclear island basemat structure and subsequent construction activities …”.

In a letter to the NRC dated March 30, 2012, Southern Company admits that construction of the reactor base has not yet begun and that construction will begin in mid-June – if NRC quickly approves the licensing change. It had been thought that pouring of so-called “nuclear concrete” would begin immediately on issuance of the construction license in February, but the letter confirms the long delay.

Friday’s expected License Amendment Request (LAR) is not yet available to the public, but Southern Company’s preliminary notice* about the forthcoming amendment request describes how recent surveys determined that a level foundation for three “nuclear island” buildings cannot be obtained unless the previously allowed one-inch variation in the “mudmat” substrate is increased to four inches. The nuclear island foundation supports the weight of the buildings and equipment and is vital in protecting the plant against earthquakes and other loads.

Southern told NRC that the increased tolerance should not impact earlier analyses or require additional testing, and it warned that the unforeseen need for the foundation change could cause serious delays to numerous parts of the project. But public interest groups pointed out today that foundational concrete is central to the entire project, and that any relaxing of requirements could have serious safety and cost implications.

“Southern Company clearly miscalculated soil compaction in the holes excavated for both reactors at the Vogtle site, which could be an omen about the path forward,” said Jim Warren of NC WARN today. “The NRC simply cannot skip any steps in reviewing this fundamental safety issue just to accommodate the construction schedule, and a public hearing on the design change is warranted.”


32 AMENDMENT REQUESTS = MORE DELAYS?

Additionally, Southern Company has already identified 32 License Amendment Requests it will seek by 2014. The list of LARs** contains little mention of impacts on construction schedule or cost. Nor is it clear how the list of proposed changes might impact a federal lawsuit that is seeking to stop construction at Vogtle.

NC WARN and the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability believe that the changes being sought via the LARs could add millions to cost overruns already documented at Vogtle and lead to other construction delays.

The public interest groups noted today that each LAR proceeding normally takes up to one year or longer, and that one or more of the nine nonprofits contesting the Vogtle project might choose to intervene in any of the 32 license amendments being sought. Regardless of interventions, the NRC’s ability to handle so many license amendment reviews is in question.

Also, it is not clear whether Georgia utility law allows Southern to continue construction without the NRC’s full approval of LARs – while pre-charging ratepayers for the plant. And the problems could further complicate a pending and highly controversial $8.3 federal taxpayer loan guarantee.

Tom Clements of the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability said today, “The foundation problem raises questions about quality control and highlight concern about slippages in the construction schedule. The foundation problem and the long list of scheduled license amendments show that other changes and unexpected hurdles are ahead for the Vogtle project.”


http://www.ncwarn.org/2012/04/vogtle-nuclear-construction-faces-additional-delay-based-on-miscalculations-in-foundation-concrete-a-news-release-from-nc-warn-and-alliance-for-nuclear-accountability/

Feds confirm Neb. nuke plant fire was major threat

Feds confirm Neb. nuke plant fire was major threat
April 10, 2012 03:57 PM EST


...The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in its final determination that the small fire at the Fort Calhoun plant 19 miles north of Omaha was of "high safety significance." The finding mirrored the commission's preliminary conclusion announced March 12.

"This finding has high safety significance because it affected multiple safety systems and consequently warrants actions to prevent recurrence," said the NRC's regional administrator, Elmo Collins.

...

Such a serious finding typically means additional oversight for a nuclear plant, but Fort Calhoun already is under the NRC's strictest oversight level because of a prolonged shutdown that began last spring and several other reported problems, including the failure of a key electrical part during a test and flood planning deficiencies, both found in 2010.

The plant was shut down at the time of the fire, which started in an ill-fitting electrical breaker. The electrical system running the pumps that cool spent fuel in a pool of water was disrupted. The pumps are a key piece of safety equipment because if pumping systems were to fail for several days and were not fixed, cooling water could boil away and eventually allow radioactive releases...

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20120410/us-nuclear-safety-nebraska/

Poor little feller just ain't got a clue...

In 2003 MIT was projecting the cost of nuclear in 2010 at $1500/kw. They projected a decline of $500/kw after the "renaissance" commenced to $1000/kw.

Does nuclear power have a negative learning curve?
By Joseph Romm

We’ve known for a while that the cost of new nuclear power plants in this country has been soaring.

Before 2007, price estimates of $4,000 per kilowatt for new U.S. nukes were common, but by Oct. 2007, Moody’s Investors Service report, “New Nuclear Generation in the United States,” concluded, ”Moody’s believes the all-in cost of a nuclear generating facility could come in at between $5,000 to 6,000 per kilowatt.” That same month, Florida Power and Light, “a leader in nuclear power generation,” presented its detailed cost estimate for new nukes to the Florida Public Service Commission. It concluded that two units totaling 2,200 megawatts would cost from $5,500 to $8,100 per kilowatt — $12 billion to $18 billion total! In 2008, Progress Energy informed state regulators that the twin 1,100-megawatt plants it intended to build in Florida would cost $14 billion, which “triples estimates the utility offered little more than a year ago.” That would be more than $6,400 a kilowatt. (And that didn’t even count the 200-mile $3 billion transmission system utility needs, which would bring the price up to a staggering $7,700 a kilowatt.)

Historical data cost on the French nukes have not been as well publicized. But Arnulf Grubler of the International Institute for Applied Systems in Austria, using “largely unknown public records,” was able to perform an analysis of French (and U.S.) nuclear plants for Energy Policy, “The costs of the French nuclear scale-up: A case of negative learning by doing” [$ubreq]:
Drawing on largely unknown public records, the paper reveals for the first time both absolute as well as yearly and specific reactor costs and their evolution over time. Its most significant finding is that even this most successful nuclear scale-up was characterized by a substantial escalation of real-term construction costs.




Average and min/max reactor construction costs per year of completion date for U.S. and France versus cumulative capacity completed.

Before discussing that paper, it is worth noting that renewable energy technologies have classic learning curves. Here is solar:



Wind power looks similar....

http://grist.org/nuclear/2011-04-06-does-nuclear-power-have-a-negative-learning-curve/


Finishing what was started long ago:
Watts Bar
Unit 2 construction project

TVA is currently working to finish the partially completed Unit 2. Unit 2 was about 80% complete when its construction was stopped in 1988. The official reason given for halting construction was a decrease in demand for electricity. Unit 2 remains partly completed (several of its parts being used on other TVA units), but on August 1, 2007 the TVA Board approved completion of the unit. Construction resumed on October 15, 2007, with the reactor expected to begin operation in 2012.[1] The project is expected to cost $2.5 billion, and employ around 2,300 contractor workers. Once finished, it is estimated to produce 1,180 megawatts and create around 250 permanent jobs.[2] Unit 2 is expected to be the first new nuclear reactor to come online in the USA in more than a decade.[3]
In February 2012, TVA said the Watts Bar 2 project was running over budget and behind schedule....
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Watts_Bar_Nuclear_Generating_Station



Watts Bar reactor cost to $4.5 bln, online '15
Reactor cost up from $2.5 billion estimate
Project was expected to start in 2012

http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/05/utiliites-tva-wattsbar-idUSL2E8F548S20120405



Bellefonte
TVA decided in August that it would complete the 1,260-MW Bellefonte 1 reactor. In the past, TVA said the project would cost about $4.9 billion and could enter service by 2020.
The company has said it would take about six years of construction time to finish Bellefonte 1, which was already about 55 percent complete.
But the ultimate cost and timing for Bellefonte depends on work at Watts Bar 2.
TVA started work on the Watts Bar and Bellefonte reactors in the 1970s but put both projects on hold in the next decade due
in part to a projected decrease in power demand.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/05/utiliites-tva-wattsbar-idUSL2E8F548S20120405



New construction with transparent accounting:

Olkiluoto
The first license application for the third reactor (EPR) was made in December 2000[10] and the original commissioning date of the third reactor was set to May 2009.[11] However, in May 2009 the plant was "at least three and a half years behind schedule and more than 50 percent over-budget".[12][13][14] The commissioning deadline has been postponed several times and as of November 2011 operation is set to start in 2014.[15]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olkiluoto_Nuclear_Power_Plant



Flamanville
First concrete was poured for the demonstration EPR reactor at the Flamanville Nuclear Power Plant on December 6, 2007.[33] This will be the third unit on the site and the second EPR ever constructed. Electrical output will be 1630 MWe (net)[2] and the project involves around € 3.3 billion of capital expenditure from EdF.[34] The following is a condensed timeline for the unit:
From October 19, 2005 to February 18, 2006 the project was submitted to a national public debate.

On May 4, 2006 the decision was made by EDF's Board of Directors to continue with the construction.
Between June 15 and July 31, 2006 the unit underwent a public enquiry, which rendered a "favorable opinion" on the project.[35]

In Summer 2006 site preparation works began.

In December 2007 construction of the unit itself began. This is expected to last 54 months.

In May 2009 Professor Stephen Thomas reported that after 18 months of construction and after a series of quality control problems, the project is "more than 20 percent over budget and EDF is struggling to keep it on schedule".[27]

In 2010 EDF announced that costs had increased 50% to € 5 billion, and commissioning was delayed by about two years to 2014.[36]

In July 2011 EDF announced that the estimated costs have escalated to €6 billion and that completion of construction is delayed to 2016

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Pressurized_Reactor#Flamanville_3_.28EDF.27s_first_plant.29



Comparison of different views of a specific point - learning curve of nuclear power

This is from a post I made on DU2 when my comment was that "i was struck by the radical qualitative difference between these two discussions - both dealing with learning curves for nuclear power."

Learning Curves – Why Costs Should Fall With Repetition – Even In Nuclear Energy?
by Rod Adams on January 3, 2011

After having sat out of the real estate market since 2003, I recently jumped back in by purchasing a home. I had a learning curves experience yesterday that might help me explain why I stubbornly believe that one of the best ways to lower the cost of manufacturing and constructing any product is to keep repeating the process with improving refinements as you learn more about the steps required.

Our new (to us) home included some windows that did not have any kind of blinds or curtains, so I was motivated yesterday morning to take corrective action. There were two windows at the top our our priority list. Fortunately, both windows were exactly the same size.

Some of the windows in the house had blinds that had been installed by the previous owner and we had decided that we liked the look and functionality of the 2 inch wide, faux wood blinds. Since we had recently looked through a lot of homes in the area of relatively recent vintage, we knew that these blinds were not custom or unique; they were fairly common.

We also figured that, since our home included 4-5 windows with common dimensions, we might be lucky enough to need a size that we could purchase off the shelf. (There are too many different sizes and shapes of windows to call any of them “standard.”) Because we wanted to mount the blinds inside the window frame, we needed to accurately match the dimensions with either off-the-shelf items or by taking advantage of the in store trimming services that some retailers offer.

I measured both windows carefully...

http://atomicinsights.com/2011/01/learning-curves-why-costs-should-fall-with-repetition-even-in-nuclear-energy.html




Does nuclear power have a negative learning curve?
‘Forgetting by doing’? Real escalation in reactor investment costs

By Joe Romm on Apr 6, 2011 at 4:05 pm

Drawing on largely unknown public records, the paper reveals for the first time both absolute as well as yearly and specific reactor costs and their evolution over time. Its most significant finding is that even this most successful nuclear scale-up was characterized by a substantial escalation of real-term construction costs.




Fig. 13. Average and min/max reactor construction costs per year of completion date for US and France versus cumulative capacity completed

We’ve known for a while that the cost of new nuclear power plants in this county have been soaring (see Nuclear power: The price is not right and Exclusive analysis: The staggering cost of new nuclear power).

Before 2007, price estimates of $4000/kw for new U.S. nukes were common, but by October 2007 Moody’s Investors Service report, “New Nuclear Generation in the United States,” concluded, “Moody’s believes the all-in cost of a nuclear generating facility could come in at between $5,000 – $6,000/kw.” That same month, Florida Power and Light, “a leader in nuclear power generation,” presented its detailed cost estimate for new nukes to the Florida Public Service Commission. It concluded that two units totaling 2,200 megawatts would cost from $5,500 to $8,100 per kilowatt “” $12 billion to $18 billion total! In 2008, Progress Energy informed state regulators that the twin 1,100-megawatt plants it intended to build in Florida would cost $14 billion, which “triples estimates the utility offered little more than a year ago.” That would be more than $6,400 a kilowatt. (And that didn’t even count the 200-mile $3 billion transmission system utility needs, which would bring the price up to a staggering $7,700 a kilowatt).

Historical data cost on the French nukes have not been as well publicized. But Arnulf Grubler of the International Institute for Applied Systems in Austria, using “largely unknown public records” was able to perform an analysis of French (and U.S.) nuclear plants for Energy Policy, “The costs of the French nuclear scale-up: A case of negative learning by doing” (subs. req’d).

Before discussing that paper...


http://thinkprogress.org/romm/2011/04/06/207833/does-nuclear-power-have-a-negative-learning-curve/

Is nuclear power industry poised to repeat 'managerial disaster'?

Is nuclear power industry poised to repeat 'managerial disaster'?
By Robert Trigaux, Times Staff Writer
April 8, 2012

The failure of the U.S. nuclear power program ranks as the largest managerial disaster in business history, a disaster on a monumental scale.


The rant of an antinuclear activist?

Hardly. It was the first sentence of an in-depth story in a conservative business magazine, Forbes.

In 1985.

Forbes' point then — that out-of-control costs and poor decisionmaking doomed the nuclear power industry — may prove as relevant in 2012 as it was a generation ago. And it points up a looming question as Tampa Bay faces its own $22.4 billion nuclear project:

Is the U.S. nuclear power industry poised to repeat its own troubled and, at times, inept history?

• • •

Eerie parallels link then and now...


http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/energy/is-nuclear-power-industry-poised-to-repeat-managerial-disaster/1224045

Vicious words mark the war between pro and anti-nuclear environmentalists

Vicious words mark the war between pro and anti-nuclear environmentalists
The dispute is getting personal and much closer to the political bone with the fallout potentially damaging the whole idea of 'environmentalism'


The war of words between the pro- and anti-nuclear environmentalists shows no sign of ending, with those writers in favour – George Monbiot, Mark Lynas, Fred Pearce and Stephen Tindale – now slugging it out with those campaigning against – Jonathon Porritt, Tom Burke, Tony Juniper and Charles Secrett. Everyone is pretending to be quite grown-up, polite and cool, but actually it's getting vicious.

Apart from a few gratuitous insults on either side, the dispute that has rumbled on for a few years has so far been largely technocratic and conducted with political and personal respect. In the latest skirmishes, the four former heads of Friends of the Earth (FoE) politely wrote to the prime minister advising him to drop nuclear power on cost and other grounds; whereupon the hacks also wrote to No 10 saying this advice undermined government climate change policy. Over the next month Porritt, Burke & co will issue four or five more intellectual blasts, and will convene a press conference, and we can expect the hacks to respond.

Until now it has been a classic "fundi" and "realo" split with the pros' (the realos) desperation to address climate change set against the antis' (the fundis) conviction that nuclear takes too long, is too expensive and won't actually work.

But now, the dispute is getting personal and much closer to the political bone with the fallout potentially damaging the whole idea of "environmentalism". First we have Lynas suggesting that nuclear protesters are not really environmentalists at all, then Monbiot doubted Burke's commitment to the environment – despite his 40 years' active service. Now, in an extraordinary exchange of emails between Monbiot and Theo Simon – who is one half of the renowned radical protest band Seize the Day – all opponents of nuclear power are said to have made their arguments "with levels of bullshit and junk science".

Here's part of Monbiot's letter ...


http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2012/apr/10/war-nuclear-environmentalists-vicious

Many many background links embedded in original.




Really? See also

Expert: Nuclear Power Is On Its Deathbed
A new report from a University of Vermont researcher says the cost of the safety measures needed for nuclear energy will eventually make the power source economically unviable

By Jason Koebler March 30, 2012

"Regardless of what Congress does, the NRC has put on the table very serious and important changes in how we look at safety after Fukushima," Cooper says. "There was one permit [for a new reactor] issued recently, and there's a second one expected in the near future. Frankly, that's about it. I don't see any other reactors moving forward. The economics are so unfriendly that I don't think the rest of the [proposals] are very active."

... http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/03/30/expert-nuclear-power-is-on-its-deathbed

http://www.democraticunderground.com/112710815


Nuclear giants RWE and E.ON drop plans to build new UK reactors
German nuclear companies pull out of Horizon project for two new plants, with France's EDF most likely to pick up contract

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/mar/29/nuclear-reactors-rwe-eon-energy


Vogtle nuclear plant loan guarantees may not be finalized: NEI

Georgia Power and its partners may not be able to reach terms with the US Department of Energy on $8.3 billion in loan guarantees to finance the Vogtle nuclear plant expansion, Alex Flint, senior vice president of governmental affairs for the Nuclear Energy Institute, said Thursday.

... http://www.platts.com/RSSFeedDetailedNews/RSSFeed/ElectricPower/8123712

http://www.democraticunderground.com/112710758


U.S. Department of Energy must release Plant Vogtle loan guarantee credit subsidy data
By Rob PaveyStaff WriterThursday, March 29, 2012

An environmental group’s two-year quest for details about the U.S. Department of Energy’s $8.3 billion federal loan guarantee for Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle expansion must be partially honored, according to a U.S. District Court judge.
... http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/government/2012-03-29/us-department-energy-must-release-plant-vogtle-loan-guarantee-credit

U.S. District Court ruling: http://www.cleanenergy.org/images/testimony/032812_FOIA_Decision_Summary_Judgment.pdf

Background: http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/lawsuit-department-of-energy-hiding-risk-of-833-billion-taxpayer-backed-loan-guarantee-for-proposed-georgia-nuclear-reactors-100361524.html

http://www.democraticunderground.com/112711032

The Doomsday Machine: The High Price of Nuclear Energy, the World's Most Dangerous Fuel

The Doomsday Machine: The High Price of Nuclear Energy, the World's Most Dangerous Fuel

Today, there are over 400 nuclear reactors in 31 countries, including France, Brazil, India, the UK, and Canada. Proponents claim that nuclear power is the only viable alternative to fossil fuels given rising energy consumption and the looming threat of global warming, and are pushing for an even greater investment. Here, energy economist Andrew McKillop and social scientist Martin Cohen argue that the nuclear power dream being sold to us is pure fantasy. Debunking the multi-layered myth that nuclear energy is cheap, clean and safe, they demonstrate how landscapes are ravaged in search of the elusive yellow cake to fuel the reactors, and how energy companies and politicians rarely discuss the true costs of nuclear power plants - from the subsidies that build the infrastructure to the unspoken guarantee that the public will pick up the cleanup cost in the event of a meltdown, which can easily top a hundred billion dollars. In the wake of the meltdown at Japan's Fukushima power plant, the future of nuclear energy is again uncertain; this is a timely and hard-hitting look at why its costs are simply too high for humanity.


Contents:
Introduction
Myth 1: Nuclear Energy is the Energy of the Future
Myth 2: Nuclear Power is Green
Myth 3: Nuclear Reactors are Reliable and Safe
Myth 4: Nuclear Energy is Cheap - Too Cheap to Meter
Myth 5: Nuclear Energy Avoids Geopolitics
Myth 6: Nuclear Energy is Very Clean
Myth 7: Nuclear Radiation is Harmless
Myth 8: Everyone is Looking to Invest in Nuclear Energy


http://www.palgrave.com/products/title.aspx?pid=537536

Did you ever take a course where they graded on a curve?

I think the nuclear industry is on to something here. We can do a lot to fix the problem with health care costs if we make the qualifying tests easier and get more doctors out the door.

Turnover, flawed exams led to Plant Vogtle reactor licensee failures
By Rob Pavey
Wednesday, March 21, 2012 5:54 PM

The loss of experienced training staff and poorly prepared licensing tests contributed to an unusually high failure rate last year among Plant Vogtle’s 2011 class of reactor operators, according to company officials.
“We see this as an isolated case,” said Tom Tynan, Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle vice president, who briefed U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staffers on the situation during a Wednesday meeting in Atlanta.
Ten new operators were tested last April, but only three passed and received licenses, according to NRC records. The candidates had undergone two years of training to operate the plant’s existing Units 1 and 2.
Tynan said Southern Nuclear’s root cause investigation identified turnover among the most experienced exam development professionals as a leading cause.
“Management underestimated ...


http://chronicle.augusta.com/latest-news/2012-03-21/turnover-flawed-exams-led-plant-vogtle-reactor-licensee-failures

"Atomic Anne" tries to nuke France's Sarkozy

"Atomic Anne" tries to nuke France's Sarkozy
* Ex-CEO says Sarkozy tried to sell reactor to Gaddafi
* Government says Lauvergeon's account is "fiction"
* Socialists question EDF boss' future
By Paul Taylor

PARIS, April 11 (Reuters) - Nuclear warfare has broken out between France's two main political parties 11 days before the first round of a presidential election, with a woman known as "Atomic Anne" launching a strike on President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Anne Lauvergeon, a former top aide to Socialist President Francois Mitterrand ousted as head of French nuclear group Areva last year, accused Sarkozy of having tried to sell an atomic reactor to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi until mid-2010.

"The state, which was supposed to be responsible, was supporting this folly," she told weekly magazine L'Express in an interview. "Imagine, if we had done it, how it would look now."

Government spokeswoman Valerie Pecresse, a member of Sarkozy's conservative UMP party, responded by accusing Lauvergeon of trying to "settle scores". She described the former CEO's account of dealings with Libya as fictitious.

"She should have ...


http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/04/11/france-election-nuclear-idUSL6E8FB2GE20120411


The nuclear industry's concept of "responsible behavior".
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