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Government Power

NRC Expects Applications To Operate Reactors Beyond 60 Years 135

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 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 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 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 Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @03:46PM (#46361245) Homepage

    > You don't talk about a "fleet" of reactors unless you mean a nuclear-powered Navy

    Everyone calls it a fleet.

    I like that righteous indignation you used while illustrating that you know absolutely zero about the topic you are pontificating on.

  • 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.
  • 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 [] and the US is supporting plans for the first new nuclear power plant in over 30 years [], 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 AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) * <> on Thursday February 27, 2014 @06:46PM (#46363249) Homepage Journal

    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.

  • 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.

  • by Derek Pomery ( 2028 ) on Thursday February 27, 2014 @07:28PM (#46363605)

    Could be the parent was confusing embrittlement from stray neutrons with metal fatigue.

The Macintosh is Xerox technology at its best.