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NRC Expects Applications To Operate Reactors Beyond 60 Years 135

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the maybe-we-should-build-new-ones dept.
mdsolar writes with news that the aging reactor fleet in the U.S. will likely see units hitting 80 or more years of use before being decommissioned. From the article: "Officials of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the nuclear power industry expect the first application to be filed with the agency in 2018 or 2019 for a license renewal to operate a power reactor or reactors beyond 60 years. At a Nuclear Energy Institute forum in Washington Tuesday, neither NRC nor industry officials named specific plants considered likely to apply, and it was not clear from their remarks if any nuclear operator has yet volunteered to be the first to apply." Also see the staff report on preparing for the first applications. The proposed operating license changes would place no limit on the number of 20 year extensions, so perhaps a few reactors will end up in operation for a full century (if there's anyone left who can remember how to operate them then).
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NRC Expects Applications To Operate Reactors Beyond 60 Years

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  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @03:34PM (#46361121) Homepage

    The existing nuclear plants are definitely approaching end of life. New nuclear plants and technologies are pretty damned far away. The NRC definitely needs to shut down some of the older plants. What's more, the NRC definitely needs to start approving new plants and nuclear technologies more quickly. The licensing process is amazingly expensive. We're quickly going to arrive at an energy crisis due to lack of action.

    • by iggymanz (596061) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @03:38PM (#46361169)

      reactors can be refurbished (usually "head" replacement, about $120M ten years ago), steam generators and primary coolant pumps replaced, etc.

      I was scheduler in nuke plant, saw all those things done

      • by Anonymous Coward
        Sure, but (and I honestly can't believe I'm about to say this, in an article about nuclear power submitted by legendary troll mdsolar...) the problem is that 60 years of having the reactor vessel & primary coolant components bombarded with neutrons is a bit of an unknown quantity.
        • by iggymanz (596061)

          not unknown, atoms are displaced. Ultrasonic techniques are proven to be the way to monitor crack and void growth from not just radiation but the thermal and pressure stress. Adoption in the USA has thus far been slow but will be necessary with a fleet of 60+ year old reactors.

        • A few extra decades of metal fatigue, what could go wrong ???

          • by LWATCDR (28044)

            Reactors are made out of steel. Ferrous alloys and titanium alloys have a distinct limit, an amplitude below which there appears to be no number of cycles that will cause failure.

            For example https://upload.wikimedia.org/w... [wikimedia.org]
            Has been round for a good while.

          • by iggymanz (596061)

            nothing that can't be detected with very reliable means, the only issue is to make those commonplace in USA if life extensions for these plants are to be the norm

      • reactors can be refurbished (usually "head" replacement, about $120M ten years ago), steam generators and primary coolant pumps replaced, etc.

        I was scheduler in nuke plant, saw all those things done

        While the steel, copper and aluminum swell, crack and break, crystallize and split. Great idea....not.

        • by iggymanz (596061)

          no, those things are inspected and replaced in the USA as required by the NRC. Nuke plants have to have ISI (In Service Inspection) and FAC (flow accelerated corrosion) programs. Japan, on the other hand, has in the past had pipe explosions because of lack of such inspection and maintenance programs

    • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @03:41PM (#46361203)
      The problem is that they don't want to allow any new reactors to be built. Also if the existing reactors are shutdown they all end up out of work.
      The best solution, as far as any employee of the NRC is concerned, is extend the existing reactors life.

      For the record, I am pro Nuclear power.
      But I am also cynical as hell.
      • by ChefInnocent (667809) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @04:20PM (#46361611)
        Although very limited, there are 4 new reactors being built. 2 at Vogtle, and 2 at VC Summer. It would be nice if we could move a little faster, but at least it is a start. There is also an older style one being built at Watts Bar.
        • I stand corrected.
          Slashdot is my primary new source for nuclear news. I blame /.
          :)
        • by riverat1 (1048260)

          It will be interesting to see if once those new reactors are completed and on-line they can compete with renewable solar and wind energy.

      • But apparently it's thought to be a better idea to destroy the entire stock of precious hydrocarbons that took Nature a hundred million years to lay down in the next century by burning them instead.

        • by khallow (566160)

          But apparently it's thought to be a better idea to destroy the entire stock of precious hydrocarbons that took Nature a hundred million years to lay down in the next century by burning them instead.

          Seriously, what's the better use of those hydrocarbons? I get the feeling people are treating it like a bank. But a bank takes savings deposits and loans them to someone else. So that money never just sits around. OTOH, if you don't pull oil out of the ground and do something with it, then you're doing nothing with it. Hydrocarbons sitting in the ground aren't at all precious.

          So what are we going to be doing with those hydrocarbons in the future that is so precious?

      • If the engineers and safety ppl have top say in the matter it would likely be ok.

        The problem is the money men and bean counters often end up with top
        say and that doesn't end well as seen in other boondoggles.

      • by Void2258 (2555978) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @06:54PM (#46363345)

        The problem is that nuclear power has accrued such a bad reputation. And this with comparatively few accidents. But 'nuclear' is such a huge bogeyman that it is virtually impossible to build any new plants now, regardless of advances in technology. No one wants to have one in their 'back yard' under any circumstances. Given the psychological climate, we are better off working to move on without nuclear energy.

        The current plants will stay operational indefinitely until there is an accident or there is simply a lack of ability to operate them. No new plants will be built. There was a brief window before Fukushima when public opinion was turning around, but after that accident, no amount of propaganda or new technology will be able to overcome the deep cultural fear of nuclear accidents.

        • In order to operate a nuclear reactor in the USA so much documentation is required that I would say there's zero chance of the USA running out of people capable of operating the older reactors.
          The real problem is newer similar technology reactors should be cheaper (because they should be simpler). But in reality after three mile island the world drastically reduced construction of new reactors making new reactors far more expensive due to lack of economies of scale.
          So instead of installing brand new reactor

      • I think you hit the nail in the head. This policy is ridiculous. They need to replace the reactors. There is no shortage of new and safer reactor designs.

        • It's a chicken egg problem. We don't build enough new reactors, and those require extensive on site construction. So they end up being soo much more expensive than upgrading and maintaining the existing ones.
          And there's zero incentive on investing making new reactors cheaper, because there's not much demand. Until we tell the anti nuclear folks to shut up and go home, this will continue.
          Well actually, I'm from Brazil, we have 2 nukes operating, building a 3rd one, plans for starting construction of another

    • by nojayuk (567177) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @03:51PM (#46361309)

      I recall reading somewhere that the NRC has a two-year backlog in its approvals process i.e. a power generating company submitting paperwork for a Construction and Operating Licence (COL) today will get it looked at in 2016 at the earliest with a three to five year delay after that for a yes/no decision. The NRC is a US government department hence it's underfunded and woefully understaffed especially in the technical divisions as there are better career opportunities for the qualified engineers needed to go analyse the intensely technical submission documents for a new build.

      As for existing plants reaching end-of-life, that's debatable. Usually by the thirty-year mark a plant's non-core units are in train to be replaced, things like steam generators, main pumps etc. Almost all of the current US reactors have upgraded to digital control systems if they were originally built with anaogue controls back in the 1970s. The key irreplaceable parts of a reactor are the reactor vessel and its containment and since they were originally overspecified and overbuilt to an almost ludicrous degree and they have no moving parts in themselves they usually pass inspection with flying colours. It tends to be external factors that will downcheck a reactor -- safety systems, steam generators etc.

      If the NRC was to shut down older plants simply because they are old their capacity will be replaced with gas and coal, not nuclear because they're a lot less effort in terms of paperwork and currently they're about as cheap to run assuming no-one cares about the pollution they spew into the atmosphere 24/7.

      • The key irreplaceable parts of a reactor are the reactor vessel and its containment and since they were originally overspecified and overbuilt to an almost ludicrous degree and they have no moving parts in themselves they usually pass inspection with flying colours.

        They won't last forever though, eventually neutron embrittlement will win.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by nojayuk (567177)

          New GenIII reactor designs have a shield/liner that sits between the actual pressure vessel and the core structures that hold the fuel elements and guides for control rods etc. This shield can be removed and replaced during a major refurbishment. It won't stop neutron damage to the vessel but it does cut it down somewhat, extending the reactor's effective life. The GenIII designs are expected to operate within spec for a century absent accident or something unknown appearing in that time (like the Wigner Ef

    • Westinghouse's AP1000 [wikipedia.org] has some new technologies and 4 of them are being built in the US. I'd like to see more work on modular reactors like NuSale's [nuscalepower.com] concept and thorium reactors.

  • by jandrese (485) <kensama@vt.edu> on Thursday February 27, 2014 @03:35PM (#46361127) Homepage Journal

    The proposed operating license changes would place no limit on the number of 20 year extensions, so perhaps a few reactors will end up in operation for a full century (if there's anyone left who can remember how to operate them then).

    You are allowed to train people how to operate machines even when the machine is old. I'm pretty sure people will still understand buttons and knobs even in a future where everything else is touchscreens and direct neural interfaces or whatever.

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @03:44PM (#46361225) Homepage

      You know, my experience with older technology is you can often teach someone the high-level stuff, but when you get into the really low-level stuff there's invariably a zillion little things which come down to lore and things you've seen before and just know about them but which aren't written down.

      I have yet to see any sufficiently old system which is fully documented, actually matches what the documentation says, and doesn't have a bunch of little 'quirks' which prevent the new guy from ever truly understanding it beyond the basics.

      Not knowing that you need to jiggle the control rod 3 times and do a quarter turn to the left to operate it is likely the kind of thing which is going to end badly.

      Which is precisely why I've known mainframe programmers who retired, started collecting their pension, and then started getting 5x their salary in consulting fees to keep it running for their previous employer. Because, try as they might, you just can't find someone who really grasps the entire system.

      I can't tell you how many times in my professional career the answer to "why does this work like this?" has been followed up with "now that's a funny story" followed by a description of some bit of arcane knowledge which nobody else truly understands except the guy telling the story.

      • by OzPeter (195038)

        Which is precisely why I've known mainframe programmers who retired, started collecting their pension, and then started getting 5x their salary in consulting fees to keep it running for their previous employer. Because, try as they might, you just can't find someone who really grasps the entire system.

        Totally unrelated anecdote, but sort of related to your mainframe programmers. I did an HMI change over job a few years ago where the system had been designed and built by one guy and was full of all sorts of non-standard ideas and gotcha's (my fav was the onscreen button that wrote straight to the PLCs I/O). He had this idea that he was going to retire and then come back and support the system on contract rates. But apparently he pissed off so many people that when he retired they were glad to see him g

        • by gstoddart (321705)

          He had this idea that he was going to retire and then come back and support the system on contract rates. But apparently he pissed off so many people that when he retired they were glad to see him go, regardless of the state of the HMI.

          LOL ... if you plan for it, it doesn't work. But I've seen systems which have been added onto for 40+ years, which are business critical, and which exactly one person fully understands. And there's the very real possibility that if he dropped dead they'd be dead in the wate

          • The funny thing is it is just data, and a copy could be exported, setup in a parallel system
            to just act as a backup for awhile, confirm it is keeping parity, then do a cutover during a long
            holiday and do testing.

            If it has issues return to the old system til the issues are worked out.

            Its amazing how fear drives some places to hold onto legacy ancient gear.

            In 2007 Dell was running on a Tandem mainframe supported by COMPAQ/HP.

            And that is totally hilarious with it being Dell.

      • by BUL2294 (1081735) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @04:11PM (#46361493)
        Except that nuclear reactors are, by regulation, among the most-documented entities on earth. From functionality to maintenance logs to upgrades, nuclear plants & their owners are extreme documenters--to decrease liability and meet government regulation. You don't hear stories of nuclear reactors in places like the US, Canada, UK, Western Europe, etc., with "documentation problems" or knowledge transfer continuity. (Pay people to stay to do an easy job & they will...) Sure, a part schematic may be on paper as opposed to stored electronically, but they'll have multiple copies onsite, a few copies at the power utility offsite, and at the NRC or other national nuclear regulatory agency--and everyone who should know where those copies are, do know... And that documentation would be designed so that anyone with the requisite engineering knowledge & skills should be able to read it...

        Nuclear plants are not run like IT shops--and thank God for that...
        • by gstoddart (321705)

          Nuclear plants are not run like IT shops--and thank God for that...

          I sincerely hope so, I really do.

          But my general lack of faith in humans still gives me pause for concern.

        • You've never worked inside a 40 year old nuclear plant before, have you?

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) * <(mojo) (at) (world3.net)> on Thursday February 27, 2014 @06:46PM (#46363249) Homepage

          Documentation is one thing, having people around who really understand the design principals and most critically what to do in the event of an accident is quite another. The problems they had at Fukushima were made worse by the fact that the people on the ground didn't understand what was happening. Monitoring systems failed and they didn't appreciate the potentials risks and didn't do the necessary checks that might have prevented meltdown.

          Nuclear plants are complex. Mistakes have very serious consequences. Documentation alone is insufficient, you need extensive training programs and high wages to retain the skills you invest in, and at the moment that isn't happening.

        • Actually, accurate documents seem to be rare. It was very hard to find out if Vermont Yankee had pipes running under it. Entergy told the State no until they started to leak. And, the military nuclear culture seems to be turning to falsified documents such as test cheating so the future work force for nuclear power is becoming more corrupt. Probably those documents will become completely useless in another generation.
          • by Anonymous Coward

            I have never heard of the cheating schedule but I do know one way the Navy is changing. They used to have a rigorous nuclear training pipeline. Roughly 12-18 of 12-16 hours a day and 10-20 hours over the weekend. You had no life other then inside the buildings with no windows. You may have left the building after 8 hours of formal training for 30 minutes to eat but you came back to study until 9-12 at night every night with no exceptions. That training was your LIFE, you did nothing else but nuclear po

      • You know, my experience with older technology is you can often teach someone the high-level stuff, but when you get into the really low-level stuff there's invariably a zillion little things which come down to lore and things you've seen before and just know about them but which aren't written down.

        A few days ago some posted a picture of my submarine shortly after launch to our re-union group's Facebook page. As a joke, I said everyone should post their age on that date. After I was challenged to be first

        • A few days ago some posted a picture of my submarine shortly after launch to our re-union group's Facebook page. As a joke, I said everyone should post their age on that date.

          Hmm, I had just turned six when the boat I served on was launched.

      • by sjames (1099)

        And that's why instead of just handing the new recruit a pile of manuals and saying good luck, they have a system of seniority in place. As long as you keep hiring new guys to work alongside the old guys, that lore gets passed on.

        Unfortunately, it looks a little better on the quarterly report if you skip the new hires and kick the can down the road. Right up until the road ends in a cliff.

  • by jellomizer (103300) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @03:39PM (#46361173)

    It is really sad how the US cannot come with a good strong Nuclear Energy Policy and rules and regulations.

    Being that voters on both sides a full of complete ignorance that they just make it worse.

    The Democrats who support environmentalists (Scientists) and "environmentalists" (Tree Huggers) often get them confused and will be happy to believe that nuclear energy is like a controlled atomic bomb, thus must be decommissioned at all cost.

    The Republicans who are in bed with the Oil industry will sometimes tolerate nuclear energy, however do not have the guts to push for it as it will step on the Oil Industry.

    So what happens, we get regulations that are overly strict in the wrong areas and have gaping problems in the other.

    Is nuclear energy a Clean Safe and Too cheap to meter? No, not by a long shot. However we have a trade off of saving CO2 output (our current big problem) with Storing and keeping safe hazardous waste for a thousands of years (a future problem, which could get better over time). There are a lot of safety protocols in place and newer designs get safer, I doubt we will see a nuclear explosion, however accidents could create nuclear radiation leaked which are toxic, that said coal spews out a lot of toxic stuff already. These safety protocols comes at a cost, so yes you will still need to meter to pay for the upkeep and running. However it is a source of energy that can be produces without killing the budget.

    Nuclear along with Wind, Solar, Hydropower should all be added to the American clean energy strategies.

    • by timeOday (582209) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @03:59PM (#46361387)
      Nuclear beats hydrocarbons by a mile, and I'm not sad that Japan is restarting their reactors [dailymail.co.uk] and the US is supporting plans for the first new nuclear power plant in over 30 years [reuters.com], all in just the last few days. I don't feel like I have any of the irrational bias against nuclear you are talking about.

      At the same time, I wonder if nuclear is enough cheaper than solar and wind to bother with? It is really hard to accurately value a huge investment that expected to last 80 years. What technological advances and political changes might happen in that time? 80 years ago it was 1934.

      Large-scale thermal plants can store energy to moderate the supply, and we would need a more integrated national grid give more flexibility. But it seems doable. I'll grant there would still be some cost premium, so it won't happen if left to the market alone, but then again markets don't care about global warming or the problems of long-term waste storage (even if that's really just a political problem). I really like the fact that wind and solar can simply be torn down and hauled away, or upgraded as need be.

      • by nojayuk (567177)

        The two Vogtle reactors in Georgia started construction last year as did two new AP1000s Sumner plants in South Carolina, a total of four new starts. The news about the loan guarantees is just that, the loans themselves to pay for construction of the AP1000s had already been agreed. It was expected the guarantees would be issued.

        As for long-term investments the US threw an immense amount of taxpayers money into something called the Interstate starting about 80 years ago. How did that work out for you?

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        There is a very real danger that come the mid 2020s people building new nuclear plants will be looking pretty silly in the face of what Germany will have done. Maybe they won't, but it's a definite risk for investors.

      • by hsu (970167)

        Simplified cost analysis:

        Nuclear plant: Areva 1600 MW unit being built in Finland (and similar one in France, I think): Current cost estimate 8.5B euro (more than 11B USD). Raw cost per W (ignore service breaks for simplicity) becomes 5.3e/W. It does not take up that much space but due to people being allergic to nuclear power plant in their backyard, it needs to be located somewhere remote where there is cooling water available. Efficiency could be increased if the cooling water could be used for, say

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Storing and keeping safe hazardous waste for a thousands of years

      It's a solved problem. Re-process. It's only Americans who talk about "the storage problem" because you've never re-processed, so you don't even realise it's a viable option. All because of Jimmy bloody Carter.

    • believe that nuclear energy is like a controlled atomic bomb

      I once saw someone argue that a reactor has far more uranium in it than the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs, thus if something went wrong it would be far worse.

      I wanted to explain to him just how fucking stupid that was, but I just didn't have that kind of time. I instead told him to research the difference between "critical mass" and "supercritical mass".

      And, you're right. This was your average liberal-leaning guy that is all about science unless y

      • Yes, however a nuclear reactor is built to generate power. an A-Bomb was built to explode.

        A shovel has more metal then a knife, however a knife is often more dangerous.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      "The Republicans who are in bed with the Oil industry "
      ARRRRGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!
      Oil does not compete with Nuclear, solar, or wind! It is less than 3% of the electrical power in the US!
      Natural gas yes, coal yes. Oil no! It drives me crazy every time I see people post about how we need to cut your importation of oil by building Solar, Wind, or Nuclear plants. We need to cut your consumption of coal by building Nuclear, Solar, and Wind!
      Fear of the Middle East seems to be the favorite tool of those that want manipul

      • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

        Actually oil is interested in keeping cheap, clean energy down. They see the Tesla Model S and shit bricks. An all electric car that critics are saying is the best vehicle on the market. Any new electrical capacity is bad from their point of view, especially if it isn't coal or gas.

        • by LWATCDR (28044)

          Sigh.... Still have to trot out that oil company boogie man. The Tesla is a very good car but it is not "best vehicle on the market" it a very good vehicle but frankly their are no cars in the the Tesla Ss price range that are not very good. For 70k you get a very good car pretty much no matter what car you buy in the that price bracket. Well maybe a Land or Range Rover but those are not cars.

          It is not the Oil companies it is the Coal companies. The coal companies have the perfect storm to fight nuclear. Th

    • Great post, except that you need to add geo-thermal in there. And Solar is being done wrong at this time.
  • Run to failure (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mdsolar (1045926) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @03:51PM (#46361305) Homepage Journal
    Looks like they want the closing of a nuclear power plant to happen on the Fukushima model. Run them till they are overwhelmed by circumstance.
  • This is happen when you go 40 years with no core research in an anti nuclear environment.
  • by Anna Merikin (529843) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @04:08PM (#46361467) Journal

    if there's anyone left who can remember how to operate them then.

    Seven years ago I met a former chief operator for Connecticut Yankee nuclear plant no.2; he had just been let go from the governing body at Stanford responsible for setting curriculum for nuclear plant operators, due to cutbacks in (federal) funding.

    We speculated then that the U.S. would someday see the need for building new or updating existing nuclear power plants. So, what was obvious to us then, seems to be the future.

    And, yes, finding qualified engineers to run the plants will be very, very difficult.

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      And, yes, finding qualified engineers to run the plants will be very, very difficult.

      And just like airlines like ex-miltary pilots, I'm sure the nuke industry would like ex-military nuke plant workers

      • by LWATCDR (28044)

        They love them. Join the navy and get into the nuclear power program leave and make 6 figures.

    • And, yes, finding qualified engineers to run the plants will be very, very difficult.

      The Navy Nuclear Power School down in Goose Creek (just north of Charleston) graduates a new class every week.

      • by TheSync (5291)

        I think there is a difference between nuclear power plant operators and nuclear power plant engineers. Kind of like the difference between people that use software and people that write software.

        • The nuclear power plant engineers mentioned in the great-grandparent are operators. Either way, I'm just pointing out there's a steady pool of trained and experienced people who would likely go to college and become full fledged engineer operators if the demand was there. (Many already do.) The OP considerably overestimates the difficulty of finding them.

  • The risk of an overwhelming seismic event striking a power plant is proportional to the length of time it is exposed to the risk. This policy doubles the risk. There should be upgrades in survivability requirements to manage this and keep risk constant. Events with recurrence intervals four times longer than the present design basis should become the new design basis to account for the already suffered exposure.
  • by EvolutionInAction (2623513) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @04:17PM (#46361575)

    I used to really love nuclear power. I believed that a safe plant was simply a matter of good design and good regulatory structure.

    Then came the safety shutdown of the medical isotope reactor at Chalk River. "Good!" I thought. "The system works just like it should." The pressure started mounting because of the shortage. The safety commissioner refused to reopen the plant, and the pressure got worse. Then the government fired her and ordered the plant open again.

    Nuclear plants are great, until the time comes when closing them is just too expensive. Then the government changes from engineering them to be safe to legislating them to be safe. Because nature is bound to follow legislation /s

    • Re:Idiots in power (Score:4, Interesting)

      by inhuman_4 (1294516) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @04:42PM (#46361811)
      The Chalk River medical isotope issue was different though.

      Everyone agrees that the regulator did its job by shutting down the plant for not meeting the once in a million years safety ratio that is the standard. However the plant was not a power plant, it was a research plant producing medical isotopes. So issue wasn't whether the ractor met the standards, it didn't. The issue was the probability of people getting injured or dying from a plant malfunction was significantly less than the probability of people dying from not getting those medical isotopes.

      When presented with instructions to provide a temporary exception to the rule until other sources of the isotope could be brought online, the regulator said no. So things escalated until someone (parliament) had the authority to over rule the regulator.

      She was fired for not granting the exception, even though she knew what the balance of probabilities were. Basically she was power tripping.
      • But that's the point. It's the regulator's job to enforce the standards. The government cannot say "well, we're going to make an exception here. And here. Oh, and over there too." I realize the dilemma as far as probable harm to humans goes, but there's a huge risk in the downward slide of standards. This plant can't go offline because we'd have an isotope shortage, these ones cannot go offline because there'd be a power shortage. So exception after exception is made until you end up with a reactor that is

        • Exception, after exception isn't being made. It made headlines for weeks. Then it had to go all the way to parliament to get an exception made. And even then is was only for a short term exemption until a proper solution to the shortage could be found.
          • Re:Idiots in power (Score:4, Interesting)

            by EvolutionInAction (2623513) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @11:45PM (#46365127)

            But they didn't! The damn plant had another safety shutdown because the reactor vessel was corroded to hell. I happened in 2009 and lasted over a year. Worldwide shortage of medical isotopes because *nobody had prepared for another shutdown.*

            And as a point of interest, according to the safety commissioner, the risk was pegged at 1 in 1000. Which is pretty damn far away from the one in a million standard.

  • by TroyHaskin (1575715) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @04:19PM (#46361597)
    The NRC's job is safety. That's it. They have people stationed at power plants, and their only job is to ask questions and enforce policies such that the plant operates safely. With that beaten home, let's get to some specifics.

    The biggest concern for the current fleet of U.S. reactors (mostly all Generation II designs) in terms of long operation is embrittlement of the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) due to radiation damage (mostly neutronic). Embrittlement of the RPV comes into play when severe accident responses (for either Design Basis Accidents (DBAs) or Beyond Design Basis Accidents (BDBAs)) dictate fast, extreme cooling of the RPV that can lead to pressurized thermal shock (PTS) events. The biggest hurdle toward getting approval is proving which-and-every way to a high confidence level that a PTS breach of the RPV will not occur from this embrittlement. If plants cannot do this, the NRC will not issue a license extension because the plant cannot prove its safety. If you care to read more on it, consult 10 CFR 50.61 [nrc.gov] for details (or the whole thing at the10 CFR 50 Part Index [nrc.gov].

    Are there other requirements? Yes (see the 10 CFR 50 index above). However, this is the one aspect I wanted to expound upon since turbomachinery has been replaced/upgrade, fuel is refreshed every 18 months or so, and piping is constantly checked. But I wanted to stress the safety issue. The NRC has 100% no qualms about telling a plant "no" if that plant cannot prove it is safe to operate.
    • The ongoing studies being done by the DOE are showing that embrittlement should not be a hurdle. The problem is that behavior curves had not been developed for 80 years of aging for the materials of concern. Ongoing experience plus R&D allows for extending those curves through proven methods. Still more work to do. Of course, if needed, simple annealing can take care of embrittlement. (simple in concept, quite a bit more challenging & costly to implement in the plant.). Cracking in welds can be easi
  • "Insurance Companies in the United States have begun notifying customers they will no longer have ANY coverage whatsoever for anything relating to nuclear energy claims. Fallout, radiation sickness, property damage from radiation - all EXCLUDED" http://www.turnerradionetwork.... [turnerradionetwork.com] http://www.dailypaul.com/31155... [dailypaul.com]
  • NRC, I live 40 miles away from a pile of unsecured spent uranium sitting next to Lake Michigan. I and my neighbors are not happy that your agency is allowing this spent fuel to sit there until 2080 next to the Point Beach nuclear reactor. How many accidents is it going to take for us to wake up? Your policies & lack of proper oversight at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New Jersey & the Indian Point plant in New York are deplorable. This nation cannot afford any more nuclear pollution. There is no

    • There are quite a few solutions to put the spent nuclear fuel to good use. It's still 99% fissionable material.
      But as long as the nuclear is bad movement continues to pollute the debate, nothing will get done.
      If all spent nuclear fuel in the USA were used in efficient reactors designed to use that material efficiently, that would be about 70 years worth of USA electricity (replacing all current sources of electricity, not just fossil fuels, like over 100 years replacing only coal, natural gas and petrol for

      • Nuclear is bad; I'll be happy to continue to be part of the movement for many years to come. I realize what you are writing is true but the problem, to me, is that we do not have efficient reactors to burn the fuel. I'm not happy with fuel laying around the country like it is. This madness; we do not have much in the way of nuclear waste repositories to deal with the refuse. I found it funny how you wrote how comments like mine "pollute the debate." Kind of ironic.

        • The problem isn't the spent fuel. The problem isn't the actual cost of the reactors.
          The cost is:
          1 - The NRC system leaves propective nuclear operators of new plants with an enormous uncertainty, even the part that depends solely on the NRC has no certainty. It's the typical big, government, setup to make government important, and the nuclear operators standing on their knees to get something
          2 - Political uncertainty. The areas that consume the most electricity in the USA are anti nuclear. You can't even thi

  • What is really needed is to replace these first and second gen reactors with smaller ones that can burn up their old fuel. Ideally, the thorium reactors would make good sense.
    In addition, we need to replace the coal plants with say 2 small nuke reactors (B&W's mPower would be a good one, perhaps combined with a thorium ), combined with energy storage. One good energy storage would be EOS Energy.

    Regardless, the reason why America, in fact the west, is in trouble with our electricity is that we have f
  • If a nuclear reactor expected to operate for 40 years could last 80 years, then it has just become half as expensive to build per GWh of electricity produced over its lifetime.
    And they keep saying nuclear is too expensive.
    And the same guys saying nuclear is too expensive keep on fueling all anti nuclear intervention to make nuclear even more expensive.
    Nuclear is cheaper than coal in countries that are serious about doing nuclear.
    China, South Korea and India are doing it at a modest cost due to standardizati

Faith may be defined briefly as an illogical belief in the occurence of the improbable. - H. L. Mencken

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