Life near Pokharan: the people of the fallout

By Kumar Sundaram In Khetolai, the village closest to the Pokhran nuclear test site, cancer is felling people and cattle. No one cares.

Read more here:: http://www.dianuke.org/life-near-pokharan-the-people-of-the-fallout/

Bailouts, Areva, cracking and more…

By Michael Mariotte

Belgium's Doel reactors. The U.S. NRC doesn't seem to care that cracking in their reactor pressure vessels may exist in U.S. reactors as well. Photo from Wikipedia.

Belgium’s Doel reactors. The U.S. NRC doesn’t seem to care that cracking in their reactor pressure vessels may exist in U.S. reactors as well. Photo from Wikipedia.

A bit of a mishmash for this Friday, but we wanted to bring some additional attention to some news and developments you might have missed over the past couple of days (and even a bit farther back in one case).

The efforts by the nuclear power industry to obtain ratepayer bailouts to subsidize their uneconomic reactors in several states, most notably Illinois, New York and Ohio, are gaining greater and greater attention across the country. Any hope utilities like Exelon might have had that their legislative and regulatory machinations might slip under the radar is long crushed.

And today the issue hit the biggest media player covering this venue (not to mention the interests of large industrial consumers of electricity, who have not been sold on the notion of bailout out failed nuclear reactors): the Wall Street Journal. Headlined Nuclear Power Goes Begging, Likely at Consumers’ Expense, the article doesn’t really take a strong position either way on the issue–it’s pretty straightforward–but the reality that if Exelon et. al. are successful consumers will pay more for electricity that they otherwise would have to, comes across clearly.

Meanwhile, Exelon doesn’t seem embarrassed that after more than a year of complaining that its Clinton reactor in Illinois is losing money, it suddenly received quite a windfall from an early Spring electricity auction. Despite what appears to be a rapid return to profitability for Clinton, Exelon hasn’t changed its bailout request for the reactor from the Illinois legislature; it’s too greedy for that. But it may serve to help undermine Exelon’s case for rate increases, which has never been very strong to begin with.

As our guest writer Yves Marignac pointed out earlier this week, the world’s largest reactor manufacturer, France’s Areva, is in a heap of trouble over the discovery of anomalies in the construction of the pressure vessel for its Flamanville EPR reactor. It turns out that the proposed Calvert Cliffs-3 reactor in Maryland, which we defeated in NRC licensing hearings a couple years ago, had a vessel using the same flawed process. No worry that one will ever be used, however.

In China, authorities have announced that no fuel loading will take place in its two Taishan EPRs until the issue is resolved. We smell a lot of big money lawsuits coming…

The choice facing Areva if further tests confirm the problem isn’t pretty for the company. As a French official said speaking of Flamanville, “Either EDF abandons the project or it takes out the vessel and starts building a new one … this would be a very heavy operation in terms of cost and delay.”

Meanwhile, Bloomberg News takes a useful look at Areva’s financial problems and upcoming bailout from the French government. Funny how that “bailout” word comes up whenever nuclear power itself comes up these days.

It isn’t clear, however, that the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission would care much about the safety issues related to the EPR–or any other reactor. As the IEEE Spectrum, normally thought of as a pro-industry publication, reported this week, the NRC is continuing to oppose all European efforts to improve nuclear safety and regulation.

Belgian nuclear regulators recently found cracking in reactor pressure vessels in that country, and believe this cracking is due not to construction defects, as was first thought, but to routine operation. They have urged regulators across the world to conduct the same tests they have done to determine whether this may be an endemic problem for reactors. The NRC’s response: yawn.

In more hopeful news, the global Climate Action Network (CAN), the largest network of organizations working on climate change, has in the past had a rather wishy-washy position on nuclear power. No more. In March, CAN adopted a new position on nuclear, calling for no new reactors and keeping nuclear power entirely out of upcoming climate negotiations at the COP 21 conference in Paris in December. You can read it here.

By the way, we have changed the focus of our Facebook page that previously was used for organizing for the Nuclear-Free, Carbon-Free contingent to last September’s People’s Climate March in New York. Now its focus is on organizing a similar large contingent to the massive climate march planned for that COP 21 conference.

Finally, we’re about to enter the last week of our Legacy Fund Campaign–and we’ve still got not one, but two $5,000 matching challenge grants to meet! Here’s a video of NIRS board member Timothea Howard explaining the importance of this campaign. We hope you’ll take the two minutes needed to watch it.

Michael Mariotte

April 17, 2015

Permalink: http://safeenergy.org/2015/04/17/bailouts-areva-cracking-and-more/

Your contributions make publication of GreenWorld possible. If you value GreenWorld, please make a tax-deductible donation here and ensure our continued publication. We gratefully appreciate every donation of any size.

Comments are welcome on all GreenWorld posts! Say your piece. Start a discussion. Don’t be shy; this blog is for you.

If you’d like to receive GreenWorld via e-mail, send your name and e-mail address to nirsnet@nirs.org and we’ll send you an invitation. Note that the invitation will come from a GreenWorld@wordpress.com address and not a nirs.org address, so watch for it. Or just put your e-mail address into the box in the right-hand column.

If you like GreenWorld, help us reach more people. Just use the icons below to “like” our posts and to share them on the various social networking sites you use. And if you don’t like GreenWorld, please let us know that too. Send an e-mail with your comments/complaints/compliments to nirsnet@nirs.org. Thank you!

GreenWorld is crossposted on tumblr at https://www.tumblr.com/blog/nirsnet

Filed under: aging reactors, International, nuclear industry Tagged: Areva, COP 21, Doel reactors, Exelon, Legacy Fund, Wall Street Journal

Read more here:: http://safeenergy.org/2015/04/17/bailouts-areva-cracking-and-more/

Mr. Modi, don’t nuke the climate change debate. Nuclear is neither clean, nor green!

By Kumar Sundaram

verdict-on-nuclear

Climate Change is an argument AGAINST Nuclear Energy, Not FOR it !!

Read more here:: http://www.dianuke.org/mr-modi-dont-nuke-the-climate-change-debate-nuclear-is-neither-clean-nor-green/

Europe is not prepared for a Fukushima-level accident

By Michael Mariotte

Fukushima radiation plume overlaid on map centered at Indian Point reactors. Can anyone (other than NRC) seriously believe this area can be successfully evacuated in a nuclear accident? From Samuel Lawrence Foundation website.

Fukushima radiation plume overlaid on map centered at Indian Point reactors. Can anyone (other than NRC) seriously believe this area can be successfully evacuated in a nuclear accident? From Samuel Lawrence Foundation website.

Apparently we have a European theme going this week. At least that’s where the major reports and news seem to be coming from…

Today, Nuclear Transparency Watch (NTW), composed of activists and experts from across the continent, released the results of a year-long investigation into the preparedness of European governments and nuclear utilities for a Fukushima-level nuclear accident in the densely-populated region.

What they found, which will be no surprise to us in the U.S. at least, is that Europe is not prepared to effectively cope with such an accident. What the report didn’t get into for the most part is that many European nations have even less-stringent regulations for emergency planning and evacuation than does the U.S., for example, sometimes even smaller evacuation zones than the inadequate 10 mile (18 km) U.S. zones–although some countries do distribute potassium iodide to people inside emergency zones much better than do most, possibly all, U.S. states.

Of course, the ultimate solution to emergency planning issues is not to have them in the first place–by closing all nuclear reactors and storing radioactive waste as safely as possible. Even with perfect preparedness and regulation, the notion of being able to evacuate highly-populated areas like those around Indian Point, Limerick, Diablo Canyon and more, and similarly-sited reactors in Europe, is pure folly. But until we finally win those fights–and we will–the most effective emergency preparedness possible is vital to protect public health and safety.

Below is the executive summary of NTW’s investigation. You can download it, a position paper, and the full 180-page report here.

The Fukushima accident in March 2011 has intensified European concerns about
Emergency Preparedness and Response (EP&R) provisions after nuclear accidents. Although the European Commission and European Nuclear Safety Regulators Group (ENSREG) initiated a process of stress tests for all operating nuclear power stations in Europe, this process did not include off-site EP&R. Later attempts by the European Commission to take action on this issue seem to have come to a virtual halt. This is contrary to the IAEA nuclear safety concept of defence in depth. Nuclear Transparency Watch (NTW) has conducted an investigation of off-site EP&R. The findings highlight many deficiencies in EP&R provisions and the need for extensive improvements in this area. These are detailed in the report.

Emergency preparedness and response plans are mostly based on INES 5 nuclear accidents and they generally cannot cope with an INES 7 accident, which is the level of the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents. The NTW report gives findings, viewpoints, recommendations and proposals from the members of the NTW EP&R Working Group explaining this lack of preparedness.

Emergency drills – NTW observes that many regional and local authorities are not really prepared for a nuclear accident. Sufficient dedicated staff, accurate evacuation plans and full scope exercises involving the local population are missing. Lessons learned from exercises and drills are not taken into account in new versions of plans, nor are they communicated to the stakeholders. NTW believes that there is a need for developing a legal framework requiring the involvement of civil society organizations at each level of EP&R preparation and for related decisions, in the spirit of the Aarhus Convention and in compliance with its requirements.

Changes updating – NTW identifies poor updating of EP&R plans regarding important recent spatial changes (new residential neighborhoods, shopping malls, medical centers, schools, roads, etc.) and recent changes in technology (internet, mobile phones, new social media, availability of basic radiation measurement equipment among the broader population, etc.). During the Fukushima catastrophe, social media networks played an important role in how citizens gathered on-going information in Japan and beyond. This dynamic is not taken into account in national EP&R plans, nor are EP&R plans adequately addressing cross border issues and the multi-lingual, multi-national and multi-cultural character of contemporary European societies. How will authorities use these communication vehicles to quickly dispatch relevant information to a wide audience? How are they going to tackle contradictory information or rumors?

Communication – NTW notices that even during exercises and drills, the communication and
notification lines for the responsible institutions are not entirely working. The contact data of
involved personnel are sometimes wrong or out-dated. Some concerned administration services do not communicate between themselves, and for others, their communication is inadequate or delayed, or even both. For example, in Germany, the crisis teams of the Federal Ministry for the Environment and the federal states Environmental Ministries failed in a communication exercise in September 2014. The outcomes show that more than one million inhabitants would have been affected by radioactive releases before any public warning by the authorities and some regions would have received security instructions (to close the windows, doors, etc.) five hours too late. How are the communication lines supposed to work between two neighboring countries if it is so chaotic already on a national level?

Distribution of iodine tablets – The heterogeneity of measures in different countries
(like the distribution of iodine, evacuation perimeters and zoning) is a crucial transboundary
dimension. This heterogeneity is potentially a source of chaos, loss of credibility and, most important, can lead to failure to protect the population. As an example, in Austria and Luxembourg, iodine tablets can be collected in any pharmacy to be stored at home in the whole territory. In the Czech Republic, iodine tablets are pre- distributed and stored in houses only in an emergency zone up to 13 km around the Temelín NPP and 20 km around the Dukovany NPP. Today, not all parts of the population in the emergency zone have iodine tablets. In Belgium and France, iodine tablet pre-distribution zones are established within 20 km and 10 km around the nuclear power plants respectively. For residents living outside the pre-distribution zone, there are centralized stocks, which need to be distributed after the nuclear accident happens. In Germany, iodine tablets have to be collected by the public itself after the accident. The question is how will the iodine tablets reach the affected population in time? In Japan, stocks existed locally before the Fukushima disaster. But given the fact that the authorities failed to give appropriate instructions to the public, iodine tablets could be distributed only for a very small number of residents in the area surrounding the damaged plant.

Food standards – There is a need for clarification of food standards and their harmonization
especially in the post-accident context. It has been noted that there are several different food
standards imposing radioactivity limits per mass or volume. For example, the FAO and WHO standards state 1000 Bq/kg of food stuff for Cs-137 (Codex Alimentarius), whereas the EU imposes different limits for import of food from different areas affected by a nuclear accident – e.g. 370 Bq/kg for Cs-137 in diary products from the Chernobyl area and 200 Bq/kg for Cs-137 in dairy products from Japan after the Fukushima catastrophe. A repetition of the chaos in food standards after the Fukushima catastrophe has to be prevented at all cost. The confusion caused mistrust of the legal framework and the responsible institutions. The European Commission and other authorities should create a transparent, scientifically sound and publicly accepted set of standards and create harmonization across Europe.

NTW calls for a systematic involvement of citizens and civil society. NTW’s assessment has made it obvious that the usual top-down approach in EP&R, which has been used to date, should be changed and that local populations and interested civil society organisations should be actively
involved and supported in this participation. This would be the best cure against sectoral “silo
thinking” and in particular, against the problem of properly defining the responsibilities of civil
protection authorities on the one hand and the safety and radiation protection authorities on the other. Active citizen engagement would also increase the scope, reduce the use of false or
out-dated assumptions and data, steepen the learning curve necessary after the Fukushima experience and overcome cross-border obstacles. Current limitations, due to a certain “tunnel view” based on a reluctance to include the unexpected, need to be overcome if the complexity of nuclear emergency situations in real world settings is to be addressed.

The European Parliament, the European Commission, national governments, regional bodies and municipalities together with nuclear operators should provide access to relevant
information to interested citizens, citizens’ initiatives and civil society organizations, as well as support their participation in emergency preparedness and response planning. This should happen regardless of a CSO’s position on the commercial use of nuclear power. In order to achieve this, inclusive and participative solution-finding platforms like the French association of local information committees on nuclear power (ANCCLI) and Nuclear Transparency Watch should be established or strengthened to create a level playing field among stakeholders with access to different information, scientific expertise, media and political influence and to ensure a safe and sustainable communication space for actors with different, even opposing, interests.

Michael Mariotte

April 15, 2015

Permalink: http://safeenergy.org/2015/04/15/europe-is-not-prepared/

Your contributions make publication of GreenWorld possible. If you value GreenWorld, please make a tax-deductible donation here and ensure our continued publication. We gratefully appreciate every donation of any size.

Comments are welcome on all GreenWorld posts! Say your piece. Start a discussion. Don’t be shy; this blog is for you.

If you’d like to receive GreenWorld via e-mail, send your name and e-mail address to nirsnet@nirs.org and we’ll send you an invitation. Note that the invitation will come from a GreenWorld@wordpress.com address and not a nirs.org address, so watch for it. Or just put your e-mail address into the box in the right-hand column.

If you like GreenWorld, help us reach more people. Just use the icons below to “like” our posts and to share them on the various social networking sites you use. And if you don’t like GreenWorld, please let us know that too. Send an e-mail with your comments/complaints/compliments to nirsnet@nirs.org. Thank you!

GreenWorld is crossposted on tumblr at https://www.tumblr.com/blog/nirsnet

Filed under: Emergency planning, International Tagged: emergency evacuation, Nuclear Transparency Watch, potassium iodide

Read more here:: http://safeenergy.org/2015/04/15/europe-is-not-prepared/

Warnings That Fukushima Food Could Enter UK Markets

By Broc West from FIS.com / April 13, 2015 / An investigation carried out by The Independent newspaper reveals that there is a risk that food manufactured around the Fukushima nuclear disaster site may be entering the United Kingdom, raising the prospect of mildly carcinogenic ingredients entering the food system. According to the report issued by the media source, products contaminated by radiation, which include tea, noodles and chocolate bars, have already been … Continue reading

Read more here:: http://fukushimaupdate.com/warnings-that-fukushima-food-could-enter-uk-markets/

Japanese Court Forbids Restart of Takahama Nuclear Plant

By Broc West via digitaljournal.com / April 15, 2015 / Pro-nuclear proponents suffered a serious setback today after Fukui District Court’s three-judge panel handed down a ruling forbidding the restart of two of the 13 nuclear reactors in Fukui Prefecture. Fukui Prefecture has a total of 13 commercial nuclear reactors clustered in a line along the region’s short coastline. The prefecture has earned the rather notorious nickname “Genpatsu Ginza,” or Nuclear Alley, not … Continue reading

Read more here:: http://fukushimaupdate.com/japanese-court-forbids-restart-of-takahama-nuclear-plant/

The EPR “anamoly;” what’s at stake for Areva

By Michael Mariotte

Installation of the reactor dome at Areva's EPR reactor at Flamanville, France. Now, indications of a serious problem with the reactor pressure vessel could scuttle the already delayed and over-budget project.

Installation of the reactor dome at Areva’s EPR reactor at Flamanville, France. Now, indications of a serious problem with the reactor pressure vessel could scuttle the already delayed and over-budget project.

In early April, the troubled French nuclear reactor manufacturer Areva announced that there is an “anamoly” in the reactor pressure vessel installed at Electricite de France’s (EdF) Flamanville reactor currently under construction.

While the U.S. thankfully appears to have avoided any construction of the Areva EPR reactors–the U.S. EPR flagship reactor at Calvert Cliffs-3 was defeated in NRC licensing hearings and EdF has announced it is giving up on the U.S. market–EPRs remain under construction elsewhere, most notably in France, Finland and China. Areva–the world’s largest reactor manufacturer–is already near bankruptcy; if this “anamoly” is endemic to Areva EPRs it could put the final nail in Areva’s coffin.

We appreciate the work of Yves Marignac of WISE-Paris, who prepared the following paper on what the problem is, how extensive it may be and its implications for Flamanville and the rest of the world.

Fabrication Flaws in the Pressure Vessel of the EPR Flamanville-3

Summary
Fabrication defects detected at the end of 2014 in upper and lower heads of the Flamanville-3 reactor pressure vessel are, by size and characteristics, very serious mechanical defaults. These phenomena strongly put into question the safety case of the EPR (European Pressurized Water Reactor) currently under construction in Normandy.

The reason why a well-known material heterogeneity problem was not solved during the forging of the pieces at Areva’s Le Creusot plant has yet to be investigated. The reason why the defects were detected or publicly released so late, at a moment when the pressure vessel was already in place in the reactor building, also needs to be scrutinized.

Areva will face a very difficult challenge in justifying the safety case for the flawed pressure vessel. The only alternative to demonstrating safety in spite of the defects would be to repair or replace the faulty components, which appears hardly feasible and particularly expensive in the case of the bottom piece. Therefore the future of the entire Flamanville-­3 project is at stake.

The problem has also international implications, since at least some of the upper and/or lower heads of the Taishan-­1 and -­2 EPRs, under construction in China, are apparently also affected. It is also not clear whether components destined for the Hinkley Point-­C have been fabricated yet and could be concerned.

On the 7th of April 2015, the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) announced that fabrication defects had been found in the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) of the EPR reactor under construction at Flamanville. This information was soon confirmed by the manufacturer of the components, Areva, and the operator, EDF. Additional information was published by ASN on 8 April 2015. The following is a synthesis of this information completed by direct e-mail and phone communication between ASN and WISE-­Paris on 9 and 10 April 2015, and some additional research.

Safety Significance of the Reactor Pressure Vessel
The pressure vessel, which hosts the fission reaction of the nuclear fuel, is one of the most crucial pieces of equipment for the safety of a nuclear reactor. This is even more true in the case of the EPR: with a design capacity of 1,650 MWe, its pressure vessel would hold more nuclear fuel, and therefore a higher potential of danger, than any other reactor in the world. In particular, to exclude any breach of the pressure vessel is key in the safety assessment.

Considering the extreme kind of mechanical, hydraulic, thermal and radioactive loads it is exposed to, this imposes very stringent requirements for the mechanical toughness of the pressure vessel. The design pressure is 176 bar and the design temperature is 351°C. The reactor pressure vessel of the EPR is a cylinder of roughly 12.7 meters high and 5.7 meters diameter (7 meters with the nozzles), made of five main parts: three toruses, of which the upper one holds the nozzles connecting the vessel to the primary loops, and the cap-­‐shaped bottom which are welded together, plus a separate cap-­‐shaped head. Each of these manufactured components as well as the quality of the weldings has to meet specific requirements.

The defects announced on 7 April 2015 concern the pressure vessel head and bottom of the
Flamanville-­3 EPR. Unlike the largest parts of the pressure vessel that were forged by Japan Steel Works (JSW–operating the only forge in the world that can process the very large EPR vessel ingots–these smaller parts could be forged by Areva in its plant at Le Creusot.

Nature of the Defect
The vessel closure head is made up of a forged ring, the vessel flange, and a forged partly spherical upper head, penetrated by welded tubes. The lower head is a similar partly spherical forged piece, welded through a forged transition ring to the central core shells. The whole body of the pressure vessel weighs 410 tons, while the vessel head weighs an additional 116 tons.

China’s Taishan 1 and 2 reactors, now under construction, may be affected by Areva’s pressure vessel problems.

The pieces are all made of 16MND5 steel. The defect consists in carbon segregation in a certain area of the partly spherical upper and lower heads. It occurs due to insufficient elimination during the forging process of the higher part of the ingot, where carbon tends to concentrate, in the fabricated piece. Why such a well-­known phenomenon was not avoided will be, according to ASN, an important part of its examination of the case.

The problem was found recently through destructive tests on a similar vessel head that had been forged in the same conditions. The results are as follows:

• Carbon concentration was found to reach 0.30% in the central area of the forged piece. The fabrication process should ensure, according to the technical specifications applying to 16MND5 steel, that higher concentrations found in the forged piece remain under 0.22%, which is the upper boundary for qualifying materials on the basis of existing studies and return of experience. In other words, as ASN put it, the carbon concentration in the segregated zone brings the material significantly far from the domain of knowledge where the required mechanical properties are well proven.
• This carbon concentration affects the mechanical properties of the material, and most particularly its resilience (its capacity to absorb the energy of a shock, expressed in Joules),which is one of the key properties to be assessed to qualify the pressure vessel. Samples from the segregated zone showed a resilience between 36 J and 64 J, with a mean value of 52 J. This is below the regulatory threshold for the vessel head and bottom, which is of 60 J on average. Taking into account the expected margins, the resilience aimed for and obtained in non-­segregated areas is above 100 J.
• The segregated zone is a concentric area with a diameter of around 1.20 meters, on the external face. The depth of the zone remains to be assessed.

Those results are highly likely to be transposable to the head and bottom of the Flamanville-3 pressure vessel, given the very same conditions of their fabrication. Moreover, non-destructive chemical tests on the surface of these parts have confirmed the presence of a similar defect.

Timing of the Process
The ASN was first informed by Areva of the results of the tests in December 2014. These destructive tests were part of the qualification procedure for the components of a pressurized nuclear piece of equipment which the manufacturer has to complete prior to its operation (independently of the whole approval of the reactor start-up, which has to be obtained by the operator).

The head and bottom were apparently forged as early as 2006 (even before EDF obtained the license to create the new reactor at Flamanville, which was granted by a decree in April 2007).

Major defects in the vessel closure head were found by Areva in the Autumn of 2010 and in June 2011. One concerned the welding of adaptor tubes, the other concerned the welding of more than 50 penetrating tubes (out of 107 in total). In October 2011 ASN allowed Areva to carry out deep repair work instead of fabricating a new head. Also some of the tubes probably cross the segregated zone, the reparation process, which is not complete yet, has apparently proceeded without noticing–or taking into account– this problem.

Meanwhile, no such welding issue was raised with the body of the pressure vessel, which was delivered to the Flamanville site in October 2013 and put in place in January 2014. Nevertheless, the destructive testing program, part of the upper and lower head qualification, was only proposed by Areva to ASN in September 2012. Finally, the tests which revealed the segregated zone were only run in October 2014.

It is unclear for the time being why the industrial process went as far as positioning the pressure vessel in the reactor pit and pursuing the construction around it for many months, when these qualification tests had not even started. This questions both the reason why Areva failed to spot this very important problem at an earlier stage, and the reason why EDF did proceed while qualification was not complete. According to ASN, the reasons for the late testing will be part of the investigation.

Regulatory Issue
Once fully constructed, the EPR reactor in Flamanville-3 would require a final operating license, delivered by ASN under the nuclear regime, to start commercial operation. Prior to that operating license, all pressurized nuclear equipment of the plant, starting with the pressure vessel, must be approved under specific regulations reinforced in 2005. Although previous requirements could have been applied during an exemption period granted in the 2005 ministerial order, ASN made it clear that 2005 regulation fully applies as Areva never asked for such an exemption.

The regulation requires that the manufacturer demonstrates that the pressure vessel meets all the mechanical specifications, of which resilience is an important part. Regarding the parts concerned with the defects, the regulation requires Areva either to prove that the vessel head and bottom meet the mechanical criteria, including an average resilience of 60 J, or to justify that it reaches an equivalent safety level by other means.

Theoretically, there is therefore room for the defective pressure vessel to be qualified through alternative proofing, although the nature and size of the problem will likely make it very difficult, if not impossible. It should also be noted that since vessel head and bottom are not subject to the same operational constraints, the technical assessment could reach different conclusions regarding the acceptability of the two pieces of equipment. In particular, the tube penetrations through the vessel head, needed for the control rods and other instrumentation, introduce further potential weaknesses on welded parts while increasing the mechanical constraints. The lower head, on the contrary, is free of such openings (which is an important change introduced in the design of EPR, compared to previous French reactor designs that had instrumentation penetrations in the bottom plates).

The first step in the reassessment process will be a new series of tests that has already been announced. Areva has proposed a testing program to ASN, which the authority has yet to approve. This will likely consist of further destructive tests on the similar head, which has already been used. These new tests will specifically aim for a more detailed characterization of the defect.

Areva will also need to reinforce the demonstration regarding the transposability of these findings to the actual head and bottom of the Flamanville-3 EPR. Although the program has yet to be discussed, the French Minister of Ecology already announced that the results are expected by October 2015. The ASN will then consider the justification case which Areva will build upon these results. Whether this could be conclusive, one way or the other, and when ASN could come to a final decision are still open questions.

Another open question is the regulatory status of such a decision and whether and how this could be challenged either by the industrial stakeholders or the project opponents, depending on the outcome. In particular, should a positive decision be granted on the basis of a modified justification, this could fall under the regulatory requirement to start a new license, going through a public inquiry, etc. Also, one important issue will be to clarify who would bear the responsibility either to stop the project or to start the reactor in such a context.

Alternative Options

800 protested against the Flamanville reactor in 2011. Photo from Beyond Nuclear.

800 protested against the Flamanville reactor in 2011. Photo from Beyond Nuclear.

If Areva fails to provide a convincing alternative proof to complete the safety case, then the only alternative option is to repair or replace the faulty pieces. The fabrication of a new pressure vessel head would be possible. Regarding the lower head, it is technically very unlikely either to separate it from the whole pressure vessel for replacement or to repair it in situ. Any repair or replacement would therefore almost certainly need the entire pressure vessel to be removed, which would be unprecedented and seems very challenging given the progress of work and lack of space inside the reactor building.

The technical hurdles which any repair or replacement solution for the pressure vessel bottom would need to get over, and the major new safety issues related, come with huge costs and high uncertainty. The feasible alternatives, if any, will raise serious issues of profitability. In other words, economic scenario assessments might show that abandoning the project is cheaper than repair or replacement options, when factors such as the financial costs of further significant delays, or the savings on decommissioning costs if the reactor doesn’t go nuclear, are included.

International impact
The question also arises of the potential impact on other EPR projects where similar defects could be found. There is no particular reason to believe that any vessel head and bottom which has been forged by Japan Steel Works would present the same defect. This is the case of those used for the pressure vessel of the Finnish EPR at Olkiluoto, which are therefore not concerned.

On the contrary, upper or lower heads for other EPRs which have been forged at Le Creusot are expected to be as defective. Although it is still not clear how many and which ones, some of the four parts consisting of the two heads and bottoms of the pressure vessels of Taishan-1 and -2 in China are concerned. One important issue will be the consistency of the technical assessments and the decisions taken by the safety authorities between France and China.

It also remains to be clarified, whether head(s) and bottom(s) already have been forged for the Hinkley Point‐C project in Great Britain or even that of Jaïtapur in India, and if so whether they were forged at Le Creusot.

Yves Marignac, Director of WISE-­Paris
Mail: yves.marignac@wise-­paris.org

April 13, 2015

Permalink: http://safeenergy.org/2015/04/13/the-epr-anamoly/

Your contributions make publication of GreenWorld possible. If you value GreenWorld, please make a tax-deductible donation here and ensure our continued publication. We gratefully appreciate every donation of any size.

Comments are welcome on all GreenWorld posts! Say your piece. Start a discussion. Don’t be shy; this blog is for you.

If you’d like to receive GreenWorld via e-mail, send your name and e-mail address to nirsnet@nirs.org and we’ll send you an invitation. Note that the invitation will come from a GreenWorld@wordpress.com address and not a nirs.org address, so watch for it. Or just put your e-mail address into the box in the right-hand column.

If you like GreenWorld, help us reach more people. Just use the icons below to “like” our posts and to share them on the various social networking sites you use. And if you don’t like GreenWorld, please let us know that too. Send an e-mail with your comments/complaints/compliments to nirsnet@nirs.org. Thank you!

GreenWorld is crossposted on tumblr at https://www.tumblr.com/blog/nirsnet

Filed under: International, nuclear safety Tagged: Areva, EDF, EPR, Flamanville, Taishan, WISE-Paris

Read more here:: http://safeenergy.org/2015/04/13/the-epr-anamoly/

Nuclear Age Impacts Humans

By Caroline Phillips

“What is the impact on the Earth from the Nuclear Age?” CCTV Host Margaret Harrington asks Les Kanat PhD, Professor of Geology in the Department of Environmental and Health Sciences at Johnson State College, Vermont during a televised interview, Dr. Kanat, also a science advisor to Fairewinds Energy Education points out that the Earth is less likely to be effected by the Nuclear Age and poses a new question “What impact will the Nuclear Age have on humans?”

In an effort to answer this question, Dr. Kanat guides us through an understanding of isotopes and explains Madam Curie’s research into radioactivity, which led to the discovery of unstable isotopes like uranium. Unstable isotopes are as their title suggests- unstable, constantly splitting, and always in a state of decay. A perfect example of unstable isotopes may be seen in the video referred to by Fairewinds Crew Member Sue Prent in her blog post, The Uranium Waltz. Sue writes,

“To the strains of a Strauss waltz, puffy little trails begin to erupt from the uranium in staccato straight lines, shooting through the alcohol cloud and radiating in all directions like soft white fireworks. It’s a mesmerizing sight to behold. It is also a sobering one, because what we are enabled to observe through that cloud of alcohol is the behavior of one of the most aggressive toxins on earth: radioactive decay.

This is the stuff that gives nuclear weapons their destructive energy; the instability that, in the course of things, has been somewhat inefficiently harnessed to generate simple electricity.”

Nuclear power plants are home to large concentrations of constantly splitting unstable isotopes. Dr. Kanat explains how with the discovery of radioactivity, and the adoption of extreme cultivation of radioactive isotopes, humans have left their geological mark. How much does this affect the Earth? Not really all that much. By alluding to dinosaurs, and other extinct species that came before us, the real question we should be asking ourselves is: How much does radiation affect us?

The post Nuclear Age Impacts Humans appeared first on Fairewinds Energy Education.

Read more here:: http://www.fairewinds.org/nuclear-age-impacts-humans/