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Power United States Hardware

Training Under Way For New Nuclear Plant Operators In S. Carolina 74

Posted by timothy
from the we-figure-cut-the-red-fire-first dept.
"Start thinking about getting your tinfoil hat radiation hardened," writes an anonymous reader, and excerpts thus from ABC News: "Southern Co. in Georgia and SCANA Corp. in South Carolina are the first to prepare new workers to run a recently approved reactor design never before built in the United States. Training like it will be repeated over the decades-long lifetime of those plants and at other new ones that may share the technology in years to come. Both power companies are building pairs of Westinghouse Electric Corp. AP1000 reactors at Plant Vogtle near Augusta and SCANA Corp.'s Summer Nuclear Station northwest of Columbia, S.C. While the nuclear industry had earlier proposed a larger building campaign, low natural gas prices coupled with uncertainty after last year's disaster at a Japanese nuclear plant have scaled back those ambitions." Getting a new nuclear plant approved is a long haul.
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Training Under Way For New Nuclear Plant Operators In S. Carolina

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  • Re:SC Legend (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 20, 2012 @12:12PM (#42348575)

    So that explains why they vote Republican! They're suffering from radiation poisoning!

  • Re:Not revolutionary (Score:5, Informative)

    by flayzernax (1060680) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @12:24PM (#42348745)

    According to this article though, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pressurized_water_reactor [wikipedia.org], Chernyobyl was graphite modulated, and different then a PWR.

  • by Trepidity (597) <.delirium-slashdot. .at. .hackish.org.> on Thursday December 20, 2012 @12:30PM (#42348843)

    It's the first "3rd generation" reactor design to be approved, and is supposed to have much better passive-safety features than previous generations. For example, in a reactor scram, the core would be cooled by a gravity-driven cooling system that works without power.

  • by wjwlsn (94460) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @12:52PM (#42349163) Journal

    On top of the digital controls, it has vastly simpler mechanical and electrical design, yielding significant reductions in the amounts of safety-related piping, cabling, valves, seismic building volume, etc.

    Something that should be appreciated, but is seldom mentioned: the design work has been conducted using modern computers and software incorporating vastly improved analytical methods for nuclear, thermal, mechanical, civil, and electrical analysis. The last round of plants built in the US were designed in the 60s and 70s using tools that seem positively ancient by today's standards.

  • Re:Not revolutionary (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 20, 2012 @03:03PM (#42351043)

    The only thing revolutionary is the control systems.

    The nuclear industry doesn't like "revolutionary". They are risk-adverse and prefer reliable, proven, known technologies over more exotic options. Sorry... but no regional power company is going to commit billions to implementing a Gen IV design [wikipedia.org] at commercial scales until this stuff is much, much further along. Not that the NRC would let it happen at this point anyways. The hurdles to any new nuclear development are enormous enough without this sort of fantasizing.

    That said, I think you're overlooking this tidbit from the AP1000 [wikipedia.org] Wikipedia page:

    • 50% fewer safety-related valves
    • 35% fewer pumps
    • 80% less safety related piping
    • 85% less control cable
    • 45% less seismic building volume
    • passive cooling for up to 72 hours

    This is pretty freaking cool. It's a big win for safety (that passive cooling would have been a nice backup for the 36 minutes that Vogtle lost cooling in 1990, for example). It's an even bigger win for cost reduction. A nuclear plant is basically one huge machine that is constantly undergoing maintenance. This requires a huge amount of human capital to plan, review, coordinate, practice, perform, check, and proceduralize the work in a safe and secure way. And these aren't people with art degrees... these are engineers, managers, and skilled blue-collar workers. With the AP100, nuclear's "talent cost" per MW is lowered, which means that society can generate more energy for the same amount of talent or it can allocate more human talent to other endeavors (such as going back to the moon, etc.). [Whether our society will smartly allocate this excess talent or not is a different question, admittedly, but it's still a "win" in principle for this new design.]

    Disclaimer: used to support Vogtle.

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