Archive for the ‘Used Fuel’ Category

March 17, 2014 | 10:59 am

Congressman Wilson and Secretary of State Kerry Discuss Concern with Insufficient MOX Project Funding

We appreciate the concern expressed by Secretary Kerry last week for the broader international implications of walking away from the U.S. nonproliferation commitment to permanently dispose of surplus nuclear weapon-grade plutonium through the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF), generally called the MOX Project.

As shown in the video below, Secretary Kerry was responding to information provided by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) about the Obama Administration’s FY 2015 budget proposal to Congress to minimally fund the more than 60% constructed MFFF, subjecting the project to “cold-standby” stagnation while re-examining previously considered options.

This uncertainty in our nonproliferation agreement with Russia comes at a sensitive time in world affairs, especially since it heightens the juxtaposition with the fourth anniversary of the nonproliferation protocol signed between then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the first Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010. This protocol amending the Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA) of 2000 specifies that the United States will dispose of no less than 34 metric tons of surplus weapon plutonium by irradiating the plutonium as MOX fuel in nuclear power reactors.

The proposed MFFF cold-standby places into question the U.S. commitment to global nuclear nonproliferation only a week before the Administration leads the international summit on nuclear nonproliferation and terrorism at the Nuclear Security Summit at The Hague, March 24-25. President Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin are among the world leaders scheduled to participate. Abandoning the MOX Project will leave the U.S. with no timely cost-efficient alternative to honor the nonproliferation agreement. Selecting another option that does not honor the PMDA will require the U.S. to renegotiate with Russia.

Congressman Wilson and at least seven U.S. Senators have recognized that—to honor our existing nonproliferation commitment—we must complete the MOX Project.

December 12, 2013 | 3:00 pm

AREVA’s VEGAPULS Used Fuel Pool Instrumentation

Our friends at NEI have a new piece up about the nuclear industry’s latest tools for monitoring the water level in used nuclear fuel storage pools, including AREVA’s through-air radar system.

Along with the article’s general content, this is a great opportunity to add performance details about AREVA Inc.‘s groundbreaking efforts in used fuel pool level instrumentation—efforts that are already set to further enhance safety at nuclear energy facilities throughout North America.

In partnership with VEGA Americas, Inc., we’ve developed state-of-the-art tools like the VEGAPULS™ system to monitor used fuel storage pools. VEGAPULS is a through-air radar system that works by measuring the reflection times of microwave pulses to calculate a pinpoint measurement of water levels.

The benefit of using through-air radar is that it works even under adverse conditions—conditions in which used fuel pool monitoring is most important. Field tests of the VEGAPULS through-air radar demonstrated that it can efficiently handle environments containing saturated steam, dense smoke, boiling water, and floating debris without any loss of accuracy —at a range of up to 212 feet.

Check out this video demonstration of our used fuel pool instrumentation:

We’re proud to be doing our part to help utilities safely deliver and manage on-demand, clean-air nuclear energy.

November 6, 2013 | 3:23 pm

Safe Nuclear Fuel Management Important for Energy Generation in the Carolinas

Tom FranchBy Tom Franch, Senior Vice President, AREVA Inc. North America

It is no secret that the Southeast is one of the fastest-growing areas in the United States. The Southeast’s GDP was $3.45 trillion in 2012, $600 billion more than the Pacific and Mid-Atlantic regions. Further, population rise in the South has maintained a brisk pace for decades. Charlotte and Raleigh in particular are recognized as economically dynamic, culturally vibrant cities, and boast an unmatched quality of life.

The important links between quality of life, economic growth and energy consumption are not secret. In order for the Carolinas to maintain economic progress, we need to ensure the production of a stable and robust electricity supply. This requires reliable and inexpensive power from a balanced and diverse generation portfolio that includes the vital contribution of nuclear power.

Nuclear power provides approximately 35 percent of North Carolina’s electricity generation. This is clean, safe, affordable and reliable electricity that serves as the stable energy foundation for economic growth in the state. Charlotte has become a hub of the nuclear industry and hosts a dynamic energy cluster that benefits from access to world-class educational institutions and a supportive infrastructure.

Earlier this week, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a public meeting in Charlotte to discuss a proposed rule that would serve as the basis for the commission’s confidence that used nuclear fuel can and will be safely stored after generating electric power. The commission has taken a serious and thorough approach to examining the potential environmental impacts of used nuclear fuel storage, and the public deserves this regulatory diligence.

The technical aspects for safe and effective used nuclear fuel management are well understood. From our operating experience and technical expertise, we know in astounding detail the characteristics of used nuclear fuel, and how to design systems and protections to assure proper containment and safeguards. This is supported by our proven track record of safe, secure onsite storage in used fuel pools and in dry storage, both in the United States and abroad, over many decades. Our challenge is to leverage these technological and engineering capabilities to support a sustainable policy path that includes ultimate disposition of material in a geologic repository.

This particular rule is important because a clear determination from the NRC of their confidence in the safe management of used nuclear fuel will allow the commission to resume issuing licenses and license renewals for the operation of nuclear plants and safe, onsite storage of used nuclear fuel. This will assure the continued operation and growth of nuclear electricity generation in the Southeast and power the region’s economic growth.

Citizens of North Carolina should be comfortable supporting the NRC’s conclusion that used nuclear fuel can be stored safely and they deserve timely completion of the rulemaking process. Charlotte’s leadership in nuclear power and the energy industry is the foundation for economic growth in the Carolinas. Throughout the Southeast and all of North America, we are moving forward with confidence toward a clean, safe and affordable energy future.

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November 5, 2013 | 5:01 pm

NRC Dialogue: Nearly 50 Years of Safe U.S. Used Nuclear Fuel Transport and Storage

AREVA employees’ red shirts were a visual show of support in favor of nuclear energy at the NRC meeting in Charlotte.

AREVA employees’ red shirts were a visual show of support in favor of nuclear energy at the NRC meeting in Charlotte.

When you’re passionate about something called into question, you show up and speak out to ensure your opinion is heard. Sixty AREVA employees did just that yesterday evening as part of the 200 attendees at the NRC “Waste Confidence” public meeting in Charlotte, NC.

On behalf of their fellow red-shirted employees, seven AREVA employees stepped to the microphone to speak about their personal commitment to safe nuclear energy operations, their high skill level honed from continuous training, and their confidence in the advanced technologies that currently assure safe used nuclear fuel management in the United States. Each person spoke from the heart, and gave an expert opinion from years of personal experience working inside the U.S. nuclear energy industry.

Vic Fregonese, responsible for AREVA’s Safety and Quality in the U.S. Region, said, “I have worked in the U.S. Nuclear Power Industry for more than 30 years.  I have worked in both the utility and supplier sectors of this business.  During that time I have witnessed our industry continue to be a safe, secure, and environmentally sound source of electricity supply to our nation.  Nuclear energy provides an emissions-free, domestic source of base load electricity generation, and creates thousands of jobs for our citizens … Safety has been, and is, our highest priority.”

Mechanical engineer Frank Barilla focused his comments on used nuclear fuel, saying it “has been stored safely for decades.  The technology is mature and well understood. Other countries such as France, Finland, and Sweden have solved this problem, and are putting geological repositories into place.”

NAYGN chapter officer and chemical engineer Matt Cagnetta stated, “I assert that this country cannot sustain its energy needs, reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by any significant factor, and continue to secure the low cost of electricity that consumers and industries enjoy without drawing from nuclear power. The many available facts and my personal experience with respect to nuclear design, licensing, maintenance, research and development, and advocacy bolster this conclusion.”

AREVA employees believe nuclear energy should serve as the solid foundation for building America’s clean energy portfolio. We have nearly 50 years’ experience in the U.S. safely removing, transporting and storing used nuclear fuel. We understand and advance the robust technology and processes needed to safely manage this unique material.

And it is from this experienced perspective that we support with confidence the proven and safe management of used nuclear fuel in the United States. The technological side of the question has been demonstrated as capable over decades of operations, and we support the NRC in its timely resolution of Waste Confidence rulemaking.

May 14, 2013 | 5:52 pm

Making A Safe Shift from Nuclear Waste to U.S. Energy Resource

TN-transportUsed nuclear fuel management is a topic that comes up frequently in the world of politics and anti-nuclear activists. The U.S. used fuel policy has been dominated by the once-through cycle concept, which resulted in used fuel being labeled as a waste product—a waste product with up to 96% recoverable and reusable energy. To best make use of this valuable resource, AREVA supports the implementation of a sustainable, safe used nuclear fuel management strategy for the United States’ nuclear reactor fleet.

Safe used fuel management is forward-looking. It is about keeping our options open, knowing that the solution can be managed from different angles that can provide a variety of benefits, all of which could be realized now … from interim storage to recycling to ultimate safe disposal. We have a responsibility to safely manage today’s used fuel to create a better future for generations to come.
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April 16, 2013 | 12:30 pm

MOX Project is Best Option for Nonproliferation and Budget Goals

MOX-fuelIf the United States is going to honor its international nonproliferation agreement with Russia, then the MOX Project is the best option based on time, money, security and environmental goals.

In 1998, the United States and Russia committed to each other and the world that each country would permanently convert 34 tons of weapons grade plutonium into non-weapons material. After extensive research and analysis of multiple options, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) chose to convert the plutonium into fuel for the American nuclear reactor fleet as a low cost fuel supply for decades of low carbon electricity production. The DOE affirmed its decision in the July 2012 Draft Surplus Plutonium Disposition Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, stating on page S-33: “The MOX Fuel Alternative is DOE’s Preferred Alternative for surplus plutonium disposition.”
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April 10, 2013 | 10:23 am

“Predicted Budget Cut Could Put MOX Project in Danger”

From the Aiken Standard this week: This article begins with a stark warning for fulfilling our international nonproliferation commitments, “If the MOX Project has its funding cut by 50 percent in the FY 14 budget, as many have said is likely to happen, this could put the entire project in danger.”

In the article, Kelly Trice, Shaw AREVA MOX Services president and COO, explains specifically what this could mean:

“A significant cut in funding or delay in the project, as it stands, would leave an 80-foot-tall, multibillion dollar building with 110 holes in it, at the mercy of the elements. Beyond this are significant amounts of equipment that need regular maintenance and 400 outstanding contracts, to contractors in 40 states, valued around $500 million to fabricate equipment, which would have to be paid off…However, Trice said he remains confident and believes that the administration supports the project and the funding would be made available. But that he had not seen the FY 14 Budget, due to be announced next week.”

We’ll provide more perspective as the FY 14 Budget surfaces, but be sure to be informed on the important issues, including what crucial security and economic benefits the MOX Project represents, and how budget cuts could endanger America honoring its international agreements.

April 9, 2013 | 4:36 pm

Energy Nominee Moniz Fields MOX Project Questions

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing this morning on the nomination of Ernest J. Moniz to succeed Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy.

Moniz addressed a range of topics, including his support for nuclear energy, small modular reactors, and a consent-based process for managing used nuclear fuel.

He also engaged in a thorough and substantive exchange with South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who posed a series of important questions related to the MOX Project under construction in his state.

Senator Scott’s focus on the fiscal and international consequences of failure to complete the MOX Project highlight the two choices facing the Congress:

1.) Secure funding to complete the 60% constructed MOX Project, delivering energy security and economic benefits while converting enough plutonium for 17,000 warheads into a form that can never be reusable for weapons or any other military purpose; or

2.) Suspend the MOX Project, diminishing U.S. credibility in future international negotiations and exposing taxpayers to the fiscal ramifications, including substantial costs to continue securing and storing weapons material on-site, payment of $1,000,000 a day in fines from the U.S. government to South Carolina for not meeting original project obligations, and the unknowable cost to pursue alternatives to MOX previously determined in the United States and throughout the world to be either inadequate or unproven.

Details in the video posted to Senator Scott’s site [direct link:]…

March 23, 2013 | 2:35 pm

MOX Project Achieving Milestones

With the facility already more than 60% complete, the MOX Project is achieving construction, safety and functional milestones towards fulfilling America’s international nonproliferation goals.

As the first major nuclear-grade construction project in more than 20 years and the first-of-its-kind facility in the U.S., the MOX Project is a national and economic investment in establishing a nuclear-certified national supply chain, developing and fine-tuning new construction processes, and training a highly skilled, 2,200-person workforce from the ground up.

The MOX Project supply chain already reaches coast-to-coast, purchasing materials and equipment from 39 states in businesses employing more than 4,100 Americans—and what a wealth of material and economic benefit it represents. The latest MOX Project factsheet [PDF file] lists the expected final tally as:

  • Concrete: 170,000 cubic yards
  • Reinforcing Steel: 35,000 tons
  • Process Piping: 85 miles
  • HVAC duct work: 1,000 tons
  • Conduit: 500,000 linear feet
  • Cable Tray: 47,000 linear feet
  • Power/Control Cable: 3,600,000 linear feet
  • Process Systems: 300
  • MFFF and Support Facilities Size: 600,000 square feet

Managing any national construction project of this scope would be a challenge in terms of worker safety, material costs, and regulatory compliance. Impressively, the MOX Project construction workers have achieved more than 14.5 million safe work hours without an accident causing a lost workday. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a typical site would have averaged 112 lost workdays. This determined focus on employees’ safety and well-being requires paced, carefully considered fulfillment of daily tasks in a complex construction environment.

Material costs are also closely managed, but when purchasing, transporting, and working with quantities like those listed above, even a moderate increase in costs can significantly impact project expenses. One unfortunate result of the MOX Project’s unique nuclear-grade training and construction experience is the recruitment of these highly skilled workers away from MOX Project to go work on the two new nuclear reactor projects. The ongoing loss of these MOX-trained workers requires constant replenishing, training, and investment in new construction employees. But development continues, and the NRC recently acknowledged appropriate progress was being made in the construction of MOX Project.

In all, the MOX Project is accomplishing the task and challenges of delivering on America’s nonproliferation commitment, and also leading the economic renewal of American nuclear energy supply chains and competencies.

March 11, 2013 | 6:29 pm

Slade Gorton: Warnings of “A Critical Mistake”

Photo credit: Shaw AREVA MOX Services

Photo credit: Shaw AREVA MOX Services

Slade Gorton is a former U.S. Senator, and was also a member of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (popularly known as the “9/11 Commission.” He is also a Senior Fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Gorton writes an imported editorial in this week’s Tri-City Herald newspaper, warning of the effects of the current budget battles on key nonproliferation projects ensuring the safety of nuclear material:
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