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Power

Surry Nuclear Reactors To Extend Lifespan To 80 Years (richmond.com) 148

QuantumPion writes: Dominion Virginia Power today will formally seek a second license extension for its Surry nuclear power plant, becoming the first utility in the U.S. to try to push the operating range for nuclear reactors to 80 years. If successful, the utility's pair of reactors in Surry County would be eligible to operate past 2050. The Surry plant, along with its North Anna sister site in Louisa County, were initially granted 40-year permits and operate today on 20-year renewals. Those two plants provide about 40 percent of Virginia's electricity.
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Surry Nuclear Reactors To Extend Lifespan To 80 Years

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  • by CajunArson ( 465943 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @05:07PM (#50879897) Journal

    Thank you so much anti-nuke extremists. Thanks to your inability to look at the bigger picture, we get to enjoy nuclear reactors using designs from the 1950's well into the 21st century instead of actually using safer, modern designs.

    It's like if the safety problems with the Corvair had been used to shutdown all production of newer car models.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      If you looked at the figures of deaths per terawatt of nuclear compared to the next item on the list (wind), it will be obvious where nuclear power's place is. Just those figures alone should make people reconsider nuclear power as a core energy source.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Why compare them? Wind and solar cannot replace nuclear. The only replacement is coal.

        • Reminds me of the shuttle launches in 1986. Just keep on launching them in colder and colder weather until one blows up. I guess we keep on recertifying nuke plants until one blows up.

          A nuclear plant will eventually blow up/melt down in the US, just like in Russia and Japan. And when it does, we will suddenly be surprised at how costly it is to abandon a large section of the country. We will suddenly realize that nuclear is not a good deal at all. So why can't we just decide that right now, before we

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Junta ( 36770 )

        The logic being that the deaths are *caused* by resistance to constructing newer, so power plants have had to do their best to extend the serviceable life of less safe reactors. It'd be one thing if the result were *shutting down* the reactors and not building new ones, but here we have the worst of both worlds, no newer reactors with safer designs, but still running older ones that are actually the problem. Newer designs engineer to address some of the most dangerous aspects.

        Now I'm not sure I buy into t

        • by MerlynEmrys67 ( 583469 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @06:11PM (#50880411)
          Yes it is that bad. Imagine having to replace 40% of your electric load generation for Virginia. This is done with 2 nuke plants, probably 5-10 coal plants, or covering the state in solar panels and going dark at night. Now I can't build a new plant - no permitting has been allowed out of the NRC since 3 mile island happened in the late 70s, you can't shut them down or the state goes dark (heck that is probably close to 1/2% of the power generated in the whole country). You have a small group of people that have made building new/retrofiting old reactors a non starter so we are left with 50 year old reactors powering our country for the foreseeable future. The smart thing to do would be to build modern reactors to decommission old reactors, leading to safer electricity and fewer pollutants in our environment.
          • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @06:34PM (#50880541) Homepage Journal

            no permitting has been allowed out of the NRC since 3 mile island happened in the late 70s,

            Actually it has, it's just that we were just getting around to it - some new reactors are coming online this year. However, they were made at already existing plants, IE adding another reactor to an already existing nuclear power plant, and worse, it's the old design - they finished up a reactor that had construction suspended back in the '80s.

            That being said, in order to keep nuclear power plant ages 'reasonable', you're looking at that we should be completing 4-8 reactors/plants a year. 200 reactors for current power needs, 400 to 'green up' our power by eliminating coal. Estimates, which is why I'm only being single digit specific. 200 plants, 4 built a year, gives you an average lifespan of 50 years. Probably means that you'd have a few shut down at 10,20, and 30, such that the maximum age at plants without earlier problems discovered would be around 60 years, in order to compensate for the 'lemon' reactors that have to be shut down early.

            • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

              200 stations at conservatively $10bn each, accounting for evict l economy of scale and other costs... So $2 trillion, or $4 trillion if you want to go green.

              Good luck funding that.

              • 200 stations at conservatively $10bn each,

                "Conservatively" should be closer to fact, because if we're building them that steadily, using a known design, economy of scale and experience *should* kick in and reduce costs some. Part of the problem with existing plants is that they're all effectively prototypes. Not much knowledge sharing between plants.

                So $2 trillion, or $4 trillion if you want to go green.

                This isn't a good way to look at it. That's 'merely' the fifty year cost. You hit year 50, you start retiring the plants built 50 years ago*. Remember, we're only building 4 of them a year(at the

                • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

                  It's not true to say that nuclear energy is 100% CO2 free. Some CO2 is emitted by the plant, and by efforts to mine and refine the fuel, and by efforts to store it long term. That's the other elephant in the room - long term storage.

                  It's better than coal, but in the medium term will lose out to renewables on cost, even for base load.

                  • It's not true to say that nuclear energy is 100% CO2 free.

                    True, which is why I didn't say that. I said they wouldn't provide 100% CO2 free generation. I also switched from 'carbon free', which it isn't, to 'carbon neutral', implying that carbon would still be involved. Hell, there's currently carbon involved in solar and wind plants simply because you have to drive out there and inspect, clean, maintain, and repair them occasionally. That's typically done with the current predominant fuels, which is diesel and gasoline.

                    Mining and refining nuclear fuel is almos

                    • In Situ Leach Mining is pretty nasty and there are a couple of points worth considering about it.

                      First, it is restricted to soft ores. The *availability* of this method is not indicative of total supply. Uranium in hard ores still have to be refined with crushers before processing further.

                      Acid leech mining is 'in-situ' - meaning the acid is pumped into the ground to dissolve rock. The risk you introduce with this method is polluting the water table. Any failure to assess the geology properly and it pois

                    • These are the options the Nuclear industry has to consider to get it's fuel, it's no better than coal this way, just differently bad.

                      The fact that you need to process at least 3 orders of magnitude less ore for a given amount of electrical power still means that, while a uranium mine might actually be worse at a local level, it's still better on the grand scale of things, because you don't need a lot of uranium mines to produce an equal amount of power.

                      That being said, if you look at my posting history you'll see that I'm very much in favor of reprocessing, to the point that I think that a Yucca Mountain style repository is missing the p

                    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

                      Depends on how you consider "significant". Coal mining was, for the longest time, the single most polluting mining activity due to sheer scale. Uranium mining is so small that it's below things like mining for metals like copper and iron.

                      Here is what Dr. Gavin Mudd, Hydrogeologist had to say about it. [foe.org.au]

                      because you don't need a lot of uranium mines to produce an equal amount of power.

                      and you likewise don't need a lot of ISL to produce a disproportionate amount of pollution.

                      our heirs would be digging it up for the valuable stuff we buried.

                      So bury the fuel processing and reactors with them, make it closed loop and teach your heirs how to maintain it, then keep building reactors in the same facility. That would support your 40%, 20,20,20 percent vision for a very long time. States would clamor over themselves to place such facilities as it would also attract industrial power users and infra

                • And that's pocket change, really. War on Drugs is costing us $15B/year. War on terror runs about $100B/year. [forbes.com]

                  You do realize there is a HUGE difference in money that we all spend through the government (See above) and money that private companies spend because they believe that they will make a profit on it (It is cheaper to produce nuke power than it is other power, otherwise please build the other power plants).

                  Your guess on solar/wind is way off base. The best you could do is get 10-15% from combined solar/wind, so that leaves 65% hydrocarbon/nuke. Yes there are large scale hydro plants, but they only add up

                  • You do realize there is a HUGE difference in money that we all spend through the government (See above) and money that private companies spend because they believe that they will make a profit on it (It is cheaper to produce nuke power than it is other power, otherwise please build the other power plants).

                    Then you make it profitable for them. Personally, I'd start straight up taxing pollution. Charge $x per ton of mercury/arsenic/lead/NOx/CO2 and you'd see power producers greening up.

                    Your guess on solar/wind is way off base. The best you could do is get 10-15% from combined solar/wind, so that leaves 65% hydrocarbon/nuke. Yes there are large scale hydro plants, but they only add up to about 7%, you might be able to get this to 20, but I wouldn't like to see the natural disasters that follow. Interestingly solar doesn't even rate a mention (gets included with "Other" at 2.1 percent).

                    No, 10-15% is NOT the 'best you could get'. Hawaii is past 15% on solar already, and while the power company is making alarming noises, they still have juice. Next, I didn't say 20% hydro. I said 20% OTHER(including hydro). So that's 7% hydro, plus a mix of 'everything else' - geothermal, biomass, tidal, gas reclamation fr

      • Nuclear saves lives (Score:2, Informative)

        by Tito1337 ( 1585785 )
        The number of death associated to nuclear accidents is so small [wikipedia.org] I would consider it a statistical fluke. In 2013, NASA calculated [acs.org] that "global nuclear power has prevented an average of 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent greenhouse gas"
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Firethorn ( 177587 )

          Next Big Future [nextbigfuture.com] also has a good writeup:

          Nuclear: 0.04 deaths per TWH
          Hydro: 0.10 (Euro standard)
          Wind: 0.15
          Rooftop solar: 0.44 (mostly people falling off of roofs installing them)
          Natural gas: 4
          Coal, US: 15 (China is 278)

          • is that the results linger. They'll be cancer victims out of Fukushima for decades. Or maybe not. It's hard to say. Too many people have a vested interest in both camps to be sure how many will get cancer from the disaster.

            The other problem nuclear has is that it while safety is cheap per MW it's expensive as hell on the balance sheet. At least in America we've got a long history of privatizing things to hand off the profits to somebody's brother in law. But sooner or later inflation bites into their pr
            • is that the results linger. They'll be cancer victims out of Fukushima for decades. Or maybe not. It's hard to say. Too many people have a vested interest in both camps to be sure how many will get cancer from the disaster.

              As the AC mentioned - how long does it take for the CO2 from burning fossil fuels to go away? How long for the mercury, sulfur, NOx and everything else to degrade?

              At least radioactivity decreases over time. Much of the rest of the stuff is here to stay until we go in and clean it up.

              And the death toll from nuclear DOES include estimated deaths from nuclear disasters.

              At least in America we've got a long history of privatizing things to hand off the profits to somebody's brother in law. But sooner or later inflation bites into their profits and they start cutting corners....

              Remember, I want to build NEW safer plants. Second, the USA suffered the first major accident, it hasn't suffered a major one since. Thus f

            • by jez9999 ( 618189 )

              Fukushima was OLDER than Chernobyl. The results of a nuclear disaster at a positively ancient nuclear plant linger. So what? We aren't talking about building ancient nuke plants.

              • Fukushima was OLDER than Chernobyl.

                You want fun? Fukushima, depending on how you measure it, was older than TMI. They broke ground and started construction a year or so earlier on Fukushima than they did for TMI, though construction lasted for longer because they built more reactors.

    • We can run them for thousands of years. Once we get a Star Trek teleporter, we can use it to beam the core into space in case of meltdown. For now, we can use lucky rabbit feet.

    • What is different about the extension approval process that it see more success than the creation of newer, safer reactors? Why aren't they (the anti-nuke people) willing/able to pursuit the more logical course of action--the denial of operating extensions for obsolete, unsafe reactors?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Why aren't they (the anti-nuke people) willing/able to pursuit the more logical course of action--the denial of operating extensions for obsolete, unsafe reactors

        Because "they" are just some imaginary straw-men that /. loves to bash whenever their fanboy technology continues to fail their expectations? People against new nuclear plants are, of course, also against license extensions. You making a straw-man argument that basically questions the rationality of the irrational straw-man that you and your ilk created is testament to the complete cluster-fuck of nonsense this topic has at /. Seriously, you people should get out more, instead of circle jerking each other o

      • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @05:41PM (#50880211)

        It's all about NIMBY. People who don't have nukes in their backyard will fight to keep them away because they fear what they don't understand. They also have more to lose. For people who already live near nuke plants, if their property values were going to go down because of the plant, it has already happened.

        The plants that are already there have been safe for decades and people are used to them. It's also very difficult for anti-nukes to call for a plant with a safe record to shutdown because they get less traction suggesting that a plant that has been safe for decades is somehow a looming menace.

        Of course, when a Chernobyl or Fukushima happens, then the fear level can be ramped up enough to deny extensions for even safely operating plants with a good record.

         

        • I understand very well how business works. 20 years into the 80 year operation of the factory it'll be time for major repairs and maintenance. Meanwhile inflation will have bit into the profitability of the plant. Best case scenario is the maintenance is done half assed. Worst case it isn't done. With Fukushima I remember the prez of TEP saying it was a once in a hundred year storm. No one pointed out to the bastard that it'd been 100 years since the last record of such a storm. I guess that wouldn't be pol
      • What is different about the extension approval process that it see more success than the creation of newer, safer reactors? Why aren't they (the anti-nuke people) willing/able to pursuit the more logical course of action--the denial of operating extensions for obsolete, unsafe reactors?

        Probably a mix of things...

        First off, I suspect most of them don't actually know that their local power is coming from nuclear. Of those that do, well, shutting them down means no power for their TVs, stoves, things like th

        • Hint: read up what 'base load' means.
          Actually it exactly means what the words imply, I don't get why you americans write so much nonsense about 'base load'.
          Another hint: your fridge does not care, your grid does not care if 'base load' comes from wind or any other plant.

      • by khallow ( 566160 )

        What is different about the extension approval process that it see more success than the creation of newer, safer reactors?

        It's vastly easier. They're already built, so you can't block construction (which is the most common way new power plants have been obstructed).

      • What is different about the extension approval process that it see more success than the creation of newer, safer reactors?

        Because the extension of an existing reactor is WAY cheaper than building a new reactor. New reactors are not cost competitive with shale gas. Watts Bar [wikipedia.org] is only being completed because they have a guaranteed price for their power. If they had to sell power at market rates, the project would have been cancelled years ago.

    • or we may of had more Fukushima like plans owned by MR buns where safety is cut in the name of profit.

      • or we may of had more Fukushima like plans owned by MR buns where safety is cut in the name of profit.

        Two things:

        1) "may have". NOT "may of". Makes you look illiterate.

        2) If the death rate from nuclear power were 1000 times as high as it currently is, it would still be safer than coal or oil. If it were ten times safer than it is, it would still be safer than rooftop solar.

        So, why are you advocating replacing nuclear with other power sources that are far less safe than nuclear???

      • by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @05:50PM (#50880287)

        Which achieves fossil fuel plants where safety isn't even really a concern to begin with because we're less afraid of lung cancer and radiation from coal than evil radiation from heavily shielded nuclear plants.

        We're hyper-aware of nuclear safety, but there are industrial accidents all the time that kill lots of people due to cost cutting and poor management. Something like solar would just shift the danger to fabrication plants which use plenty of toxic chemicals and batteries which are basically made of toxic materials. We accept that because we're being trained to believe that solar power is light and airy and clean and totally safe, but it's only "safe" in the generation. There's nothing clean about what goes into solar plants and what happens when you decommission the apparatus to support it.
         

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rudy_wayne ( 414635 )

      Thank you so much anti-nuke extremists. Thanks to your inability to look at the bigger picture, we get to enjoy nuclear reactors using designs from the 1950's well into the 21st century instead of actually using safer, modern designs.

      It's like if the safety problems with the Corvair had been used to shutdown all production of newer car models.

      I would love for nuclear power to be more widespread, but the Nuclear Power Industry keeps giving people good reasons to be against nuclear power.

      For example, instead of properly maintaining their reactors, they keep asking the NRC for lower standards so existing reactors can continue to operate as is. The companies operating nuclear reactors have a 60 year track record of greed, corruption, dishonesty, massive cost over-runs (passed on to consumers) and general incompetence.

      And even without all those pro

      • The nuclear power industry might be asking for loosened standards because the standards are so high as to be unreasonable.

        There's a meme that is floating around the internet with a picture of Grand Central Terminal in New York explaining that the radiation in the station from natural decay of elements in the granite walls would be high enough to have any nuclear power plant in the USA shut down. People obviously visit the terminal daily with no signs of ill effects but that level of radiation would be into

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo@worl d 3 . net> on Friday November 06, 2015 @06:42PM (#50880583) Homepage

      This has nothing to do with anti-nuclear campaigning, and everything to do with getting maximum return from the investment in the plant. Why spend billions building s new plant when you can keep the old one running for a fraction of that?

      Until a new plant will cost less / make more money, they will of course try to keep the old one going.

    • by ljw1004 ( 764174 )

      Thank you so much anti-nuke extremists. Thanks to your inability to look at the bigger picture, we get to enjoy nuclear reactors using designs from the 1950's well into the 21st century instead of actually using safer, modern designs.

      Is it actually a problem to be using the existing reactor? I understand modern designs are better. But if there's an existing plant that seems to be working well, is it really cost effective to decommission it, tear it down, and build a new one in its place? Or to find a new location, build a new reactor there, and still decommission this one?

      (my impression was that decommissioning costs are extremely high because there's so much material that has levels of radioactivity that are perfectly fine and safe in their normal place inside a working reactor, but can't be released where environmental forces will break them down and spread them around).

    • Thank you so much anti-nuke extremists. Thanks to your inability to look at the bigger picture, we get to enjoy nuclear reactors using designs from the 1950's well into the 21st century instead of actually using safer, modern designs.

      It's like if the safety problems with the Corvair had been used to shutdown all production of newer car models.

      Oh, well played sir. So you figure that after all the money they spent on making this reactor they wouldn't try to extend it's lifetime? Makes no financial sense that they would decommision thise reacter tear it down, then spend billions more building a new safer modern designed one H^H^H^H^H^H^

      Wait a second!!!!! You just said that nuc reactors online today are unsafe. Turn in your nuc card ya bastard, there are some sins that cannot be forgiven, and you just commetted the worst one

    • In this case 1: appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect [merriam-webster.com]

      You don't care about their concerns, just that they don't see your 'idealized' version of the Nuclear Industry that only exists in your head. You criticize them for not understanding your point of veiw and your not even interested in theirs which you dismiss as invalid.

      Your "argument" isn't even supported by the laws governing site selection [slashdot.org] of Nuclear power plants.

    • by hey! ( 33014 )

      Thank you so much cheap fossil fuel prices.

      There. Fixed that for you.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I've been assured right here on this site that we will be able to 3D print anything, using materials from space, that's assuming space-based solar power doesn't make that moot.

    Space. 3D printing. Stop being Luddites!

    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      I've been assured right here on this site that we will be able to 3D print anything, using materials from space, that's assuming space-based solar power doesn't make that moot.

      Space. 3D printing. Stop being Luddites!

      Beautiful technology, beautiful idea. It's Solar and Nuclear combined. I commend you Mr AC.

  • Cheaper to extend (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PineHall ( 206441 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @05:32PM (#50880153)
    From a business perspective it is cheaper to ask for an extension than to spend the money to build a new one. It is economics. And all the red tape associated with a new plant and the anti-nuke fear factor makes the decision even easier.
  • That'll work out well.
    • Why wouldn't it. The worse that could happen is that reactor head replacement would be done when needed, so it would start to leak, into containment. Then the thing would be powered down and cooled for weeks on recirculated coolant.......*yawn*

      Are you imaging some kind of massive nuclear explosion? a dirty bomb kind of scenario? sorry, the real world is more boring.

  • Surry Nuclear Reactors To Extend Lifespan To 80 Years

    Extend? I was hoping to live about that long anyway. And I thought nuclear reactors were supposed to give you super powers.

  • What could possibly go wrong?
  • The Washington Times [washingtontimes.com]. Say what you will about their ownership and/or editorial slant, but it works right out of the box without trying to figure what you need to enable.

  • Needed (Score:5, Informative)

    by confused one ( 671304 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @07:44PM (#50880907)

    They need this. Dominion has a significant number of older (built in late '50's and early '60's) coal fired plants, which are all being shut down over the next couple of years because they cannot be brought up to a high enough standard to meet the new EPA requirements. They are also shutting down an 800 MWe oil fired unit built in the 1970s, because of the new EPA requirements and because it's not very economical to operate any more (it was only being used for peaking and to supply base load if one of the nuclear plants was shut down for service). We already depend on those nuclear plants for base load and we will be leaning on them more in the future

    Dominion submitted an application to add a third reactor to the North Anna site in 2007. It's been in review since then. As I understand it, the plan is to put in a third generation ESBWR that will nearly double the North Anna site's output. The reactor design was finally approved late 2014. Hopefully they'll get site approval to start construction soon.

  • by MrKaos ( 858439 ) on Friday November 06, 2015 @11:55PM (#50881649) Journal

    Thank you so much pro-nuke extremists. Thanks to your inability to look at reality you overlooked that placement of Nuclear facilities is governed by a Suitability Criteria that is an act of law. [nrc.gov]

    It's pretty ridiculous to think greenpeace, hippys in combi vans, NIMBYS or any one else for that matter has any influence at all as all of their concerns are addressed in Section C.9 [nrc.gov]. Pointing fingers is just a way to ignore the process and economics involved in proposing and building a Nuclear Reactor. It is a complete ad hom argument when it is made.

    Especially when you consider there has been [nrc.gov] a bunch of GenIII reactors proposed. So I don't understand how their or anyone else's vision has anything to do with what reactor technology is deployed.

    It's like the safety problems with the Corvair had been left in the production of newer car and they added some new untested features but they think it's better.

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