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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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  • SC Legend (Score:5, Funny)

    by Tokolosh (1256448) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @11:53AM (#42348319)

    South Carolina has the largest number of nuclear facilities and radioactive waste in the USA.

    Washington DC has the largest number of lawyers.

    South Carolina won the toss and had first choice.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

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

  • Not revolutionary (Score:3, Interesting)

    by flayzernax (1060680) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @12:19PM (#42348671)

    The reactors them selves are chernobyl biscuis (/sarcasm).

    http://www.ap1000.westinghousenuclear.com/ [westinghousenuclear.com] Commonly known as a pressurized water reactor (PWR).

    The only thing revolutionary is the control systems. Its more digitized and automated then ever before. Personally I don't like this, not very warm and fuzzy about the US nuclear commission and the state of the industry. I would like to see other designs implemented.

    • 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.

    • Automated Digital control systems?!

      I've been qualified since 1980 [thenewgamer.com]!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, the most revolutionary thing in the AP1000s is the passive safety system. Also, the fact that it's a modular design is a pretty impressive thing.

    • by wjwlsn (94460) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @01:06PM (#42349349) Journal

      Compare the safety, reliability, efficiency, and comfort of a car designed and built in the 60s/70s to one from the 21st century... not much revolution, but a whole lot of evolution. Which is better?

      • by Jawnn (445279)

        Compare the safety, reliability, efficiency, and comfort of a car designed and built in the 60s/70s to one from the 21st century... not much revolution, but a whole lot of evolution. Which is better?

        21st century models, of course, but that's probably not a comparison you want to make. After all, accidents still happen and people still die, every day, in late model cars.

        • by wjwlsn (94460)

          Don't stretch analogies too far... they're liable to snap back and leave a welt.

        • by khallow (566160)
          It's worth remembering that 21st century cars are safer even when you do get in an accident, even if you can still die in them. Sure, you can come up with scenarios where nuclear reactor safeguards probably don't work, such as a direct strike by a nuclear weapon (which I might add is not as remote a likelihood as we'd like).

          But it's a bit frivolous to complain that there's still a chance of an accident. You aren't just causing risk of harm for no reason after all. There's a big benefit, power being gener
    • by Anonymous Coward

      "Revolutionary" is a stupid word to use, but there is a great deal more to the AP1000 than just its improved control systems.

      Most of the newer technologies used in the AP1000 are meant to deal with accidents involving loss of offsite power (E.g., the Fukushima accident). It involves a lot of passive cooling systems, which require no power or intervention to operate, and are really neat.

      http://ap1000.westinghousenuclear.com/station_blackout_home/passivecontainmentcooling.html

      This website has a remarkably go

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      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 th

    • by mnooning (759721)
      A passive cooling system means you do not have to pump the water. Hotter water rises to the top because there are less molecules per given volume, hence less weight, than cooler water. Actually implementing a gravity driven cooling system is a big deal.
    • among them are reduced need for pumping water to cool the AP1000, it is claimed that in shutdown, as long as there is water in the machine, it convectively cools without pumping.

  • Other than digital controls the article doesn't say how this design is different.. is it just the controls?

    • 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.

      • ...and we just hope that there is no coolant leak. I suppose that is better than hoping there is no leak and hoping the cooling system remains powered, but really we need systems with better passive safety before we build more nuclear reactors.
        • AP-1000's use a natural circulation cooling feature in such an event to keep cooling flow through the core and breach.
          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            Did you even read what the GP said? "Coolant leak" implies that the coolant has gone, so no amount of natural circulation will help.

            It emerged a month or two ago that in fact the cooling system at Fukushima was damaged by the earthquake, so even if power had been available it was compromised. We don't fully understand what happened there yet.

            • Did you even read what the GP said? "Coolant leak" implies that the coolant has gone, so no amount of natural circulation will help.

              It emerged a month or two ago that in fact the cooling system at Fukushima was damaged by the earthquake, so even if power had been available it was compromised. We don't fully understand what happened there yet.

              I did, and the design of the AP-1000, unlike Fuku's BWR design, is designed to recirculate a coolant leak within primary containment and the core. Even in Fuku's case the real issue was not the loss of coolant accident but the lack of power to recircualte it via pumps.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          Errr, it *IS* a passive cooling system..

          You basically have to open a few explosive bolts on the reactor, and the reactor building along with the reactor enters passive-cooling mode using gravity and convection. The only "non-100%-passive" requirement is someone tops up the water cistern on the top of the building once in a while as it is used to cool *the building* and keep the convection going inside the building.

          It is quite a nice design actually.

          Reactors like this remain PWR because these are cheaper (bu

        • "...and we just hope that there is no coolant leak."

          If there is a coolant leak, you just pump in more coolant. Or hava a passive reservoir supply more. If it is a REALLY major breach, you're probably SOL anyway.

    • 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.

      • Is it going to be standardized? In a previous /. story I read that US nuclear power plants are usually designed by an architect, so every plant ends up having a different layout from the next even if the core components are the same. In France, on the other hand, they're all built to the same design, so operating procedures etc. all transfer from one plant to the next.

        • An architect? No. Nobody cares if the containment is built to the golden ratio.

          Engineers? Yes.

          Meaning it should be torn down but will not fall down.

        • by dbIII (701233)
          You standardise stuff once you've had a few trial runs and you know what works. The first ever AP1000 was supposed to be started up in China this year but I'm not sure if that happened or not, but either way, it's still very early days for this design.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      The AP1000 is different than previous designs in that emergency cooling does not rely on backup AC power to function. Instead, cooling relies on 'passive' features like gravity and convection. For example, in the event of a severe accident, water stored in a 750,000 gallon tank above the reactor building, is released and cascades over the exterior of the containment vessel, cooling it through evaporation. This evaporation in turn sets up convection currents inside the containment vessel that cools the re

    • I heard it has touch screens and supports multitouch.

  • I'm glad to see new designs being used. But why do we keep beating the Uranium drum? Thorium is cheap, it's plentiful, and a thorium based reactor can produce useful byproducts.
    • I'm with you on that. Thorium really seems to be the way to go. Safer, simpler, more plentiful, not as prone to "nuclear proliferation" (i.e., fuel for warheads), more useful byproducts, and much less waste product.
      • I should add that we have had experimental thorium reactors here in the U.S. in the past, and we learned at lot. And India has approved the build of a thorium reactor for electricity generation.
  • South Carolina, Nuclear Plant.
      This should have a what-could-possibly-go-wrong tag.

  • 37 comments and no Homer Simpson reference? Slashot is slipping.

  • by Quila (201335) on Thursday December 20, 2012 @04:01PM (#42351795)

    To be fair, it was only three years from submission to approval and publishing in the register, not bad really. But then Westinghouse submitted several revisions over the succeeding years, triggering more reviews and approvals.

  • If they habe the money to build two nuclear plants, why can't they build a solae thermal one? A molten salt based ne that also generates energy over night?

  • pass: run a 4-minute mile.

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