The NFRC was established in 2002 to promote the construction and operation of nuclear reprocessing facilities. NFRC promotes reprocessing commercial spent nuclear fuel that is generated by commercial nuclear power plants.

Reprocessing dramatically reduces the amount of high-level radioactive waste that would have to be stored in a geologic repository. We also support reprocessing plutonium and highly enriched uranium from nuclear warheads into fuel for use in commercial nuclear power plants.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

NRC Approves Two New Reactors In Georgia

Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Station
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted 4-1 Friday to approve power company Scana Corporation's  proposal to build two nuclear reactors in South Carolina at a cost of $11 billion.  This is the second such approval in two months after a drought that lasted more than 30 years.

Two Southern Company reactors in Georgia also received the NRC's blessing last month. The Georgia reactors will be built at the Plant Vogtle site.

Chairman Gregory Jaczko was the lone dissenting vote.  He believes the commission should have required compliance with any changes the agency adopts in light of Japan's 2011 nuclear accident.
The two reactors are to be built by Scana unit South Carolina Electric & Gas and state-owned utility Santee Cooper. The reactors will serve customers of both utilities. The license approved Friday clears the way for construction of the two reactors, which will sit next to an existing unit at the Virgil C. Summer nuclear station in Jenkinsville, S.C.

Scana said it would complete one 1,117-megawatt unit in 2017 and another of the same size the following year. The reactors are designed by Toshiba Corporation unit Westinghouse Electric Company

Both the Scana and Southern power plants will operate in regulated markets, where state boards that support the nuclear expansion will allow the companies to recover their costs on customers' electricity bills during construction of the facilities.  (WSJ, 3/30/2012)

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Proposed Texas Low Level Nuclear Waste Site

Texas is close to allowing low-level radioactive waste from dozens of states to be trucked in and disposed at a site in West Texas, which would become one of only four in the nation that could take low-level radioactive waste shipped from out of state.  Three other sites currently accept low-level radioactive material: Richland, Wash., since 1965; Barnwell, S.C., since 1971; and Clive, Utah, since 1991.

A state agency with oversight of waste imports adopted rules Friday that help clear the way for the 1,338-acre dump near the New Mexico border, despite concerns expressed by environmentalists that such a facility may be unsafe. Its operator, Waste Control Specialists LLC, still needs final approval from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, but expects to receive it within several weeks. The company is majority-owned by Texas billionaire Harold Clark Simmons, one of the nation's wealthiest men and a major donor to Republican state and national political candidates.

Supporters of the project, located in a remote red-clay formation just east of the New Mexico-Texas state line about 31 miles from the town of Andrews, Texas, maintain it is environmentally safe and note that it will generate needed revenue for Texas.
Critics contend that water near the disposal site could become contaminated by the waste, which can include radioactive material from nuclear-power plants, research facilities and hospitals. They also say that truckloads of refuse will be traveling through Texas with insufficient oversight, creating a recipe for trouble if they get into accidents.

Waste Control Specialists estimated that Texas would receive as much as 25% of the revenue from the disposal of imported waste, up to a total of $20 million annually. (WSJ, 3/23/2012, photo courtesy WSJ)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Obama Announces $450 Million for Small Nuclear Reactors

Today, as President Obama went to Ohio State University to discuss the all-out, all-of-the-above strategy for American energy, the White House announced new funding to advance the development of American-made small modular reactors (SMRs), an important element of the President’s energy strategy. A total of $450 million will be made available to support first-of-its-kind engineering, design certification and licensing for up to two SMR designs over five years, subject to congressional appropriations. Manufacturing these reactors domestically will offer the United States important export opportunities and will advance our competitive edge in the global clean energy race. Small modular reactors, which are approximately one-third the size of current nuclear plants, have compact, scalable designs that are expected to offer a host of safety, construction and economic benefits.

Through cost-share agreements with private industry, the Department will solicit proposals for promising SMR projects that have the potential to be licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and achieve commercial operation by 2022. These cost-share agreements will span a five-year period and, subject to congressional appropriations, will provide a total investment of approximately $900 million, with at least 50 percent provided by private industry.

SMRs can be made in factories and transported to sites where they would be ready to “plug and play” upon arrival, reducing both capital costs and construction times. The smaller size also makes SMRs ideal for small electric grids and for locations that cannot support large reactors, offering utilities the flexibility to scale production as demand changes.

Today’s announcement builds on the Obama Administration’s efforts to help jumpstart America’s nuclear energy industry that include:

· In 2010, the Department signed a conditional commitment for $8 billion in loan guarantees to support the Vogtle project, where the Southern Company and Georgia Power are building two new nuclear reactors, helping to create new jobs and export opportunities for American workers and businesses.

· The Energy Department has also supported the Vogtle project and the development of the next generation of nuclear reactors by providing more than $200 million through a cost-share agreement to support the licensing reviews for Westinghouse’s AP1000 reactor design certification. The Vogtle license is the first for new nuclear power plant construction in more than three decades.· Promoting a sustainable nuclear industry in the U.S. also requires cultivating the next generation of scientists and engineers. Over the past three years, the Department has invested $170 million in research grants at more than 70 universities, supporting R&D into a full spectrum of technologies, from advanced reactor concepts to enhanced safety design. (Energy .gov)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

San Onofre Steam Tubes Fail Pressure Test

Edison International's Southern California Edison announced Friday that four steam tubes, or metal pipes, that carry radioactive water failed pressure tests. Theres failed pressure tests raised new concerns about safety and possible electricity shortages this summer. Three other tubes ruptured during testing earlier in the week, prompting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to send a team to investigate. The utility said it would continue testing more than 120 similar tubes before making a decision as to how or when it might restart the plant.

SoCal Edison is working with the state's electric-grid operator on a contingency plan to replace the nearly 2,200 megawatts of electricity the plant produces in the event that it remains shut through the summer.

Edison shut down one of two reactors at the San Onofre plant Jan. 31 after one tube sprang a leak and released a small amount of radioactive steam. The NRC said the amount of radiation released from the reactor posed no harm to workers or the public. The plant's other nuclear unit, Unit 2, had been shut down for routine maintenance and refueling. Edison, which owns the plant with Sempra Energy's San Diego Gas & Electric utility, plans to keep both units offline until it resolves the steam-tube problem.

At each unit, nearly 19,500 tubes carry hot, radioactive water and steam from pools of water that hold nuclear-fuel rods to the generators, which use the steam to produce electricity.

During the test, the tubes ruptured after being placed at three times the normal pressure level. Those tubes are among 129 the company is testing because they showed premature wear. Because the testing itself wears down the tubes, the tubes will be removed from service. The tubes are components of four steam generators that Edison and Sempra bought from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and installed in 2009 and 2010 at a cost of $800 million. Mitsubishi representatives and independent nuclear experts from around the world were on site helping with the testing and analysis. (WSJ, 3/16/2012)