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calendar   Sunday - October 25, 2015

A Glowing Report

First New US Nuclear Reactor In Almost 20 Years Soon Coming Online

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[10/22/15] Federal regulators today approved an operating license for TVA’s Watts Bar Unit 2, allowing the first new American nuclear plant to begin operation in nearly two decades.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission today approved an operating license for the second reactor at Watts Bar, nearly 43 years after the regulatory agency first granted a construction permit for work to begin on the nuclear plant near Spring City, Tenn. The license allows TVA to load nuclear fuel into the new unit and begin testing of the equipment and likely produce power by the end of the year.

NRC commissioners this spring authorized William Dean, director of the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation, to grant the operating license once TVA met all of its regulatory requirements. The last nuclear unit to get an operating license in the United States was Watts Bar Unit 1 in February 1996.

“This achievement signifies more than a stage in construction for TVA,” President and CEO Bill Johnson said. “It demonstrates to the people of the Valley that we have taken every step possible to deliver low cost, carbon-free electricity safely and with the highest quality.”

Construction of both units at Watts Bar began in January 1973, but work was suspended in 1988 when TVA halted its entire nuclear program due to safety concerns. Watts Bar Unit 1 was finished and licensed in 1996, and work on Watts Bar Unit 2 was restarted in 2007.

Horry Clap. How on earth did Obama’s EPA let this one slip through the cracks??

Unit 2 (and the currently operational Unit 1) are both Gen II four-loop pressurized water reactors, built by Westinghouse. Generally, Gen II reactors are distinct from more modern Gen III reactors in that Gen III offers improved safety, increased efficiency, and simpler, more reliable designs. For example, four reactors based on the more modern Gen III design, known as AP1000, are currently being built in the U.S. Compared to a Westinghouse Gen II PWR, the AP1000 contains 50 percent fewer safety-related valves, 35 percent fewer pumps, 80 percent less safety-related piping, 85 percent less control cabling, and 45 percent less seismic building volume.

While some media sources try to subtly stoke your unease by implying that the new reactor is out of date and therefore unsafe, keep in mind two things. One, that the original design was approved more than 40 years ago. Shifting over to a new Gen III design would mean that the entire development, inspection, and permitting process would have to begin anew, which could take several decades. Two, the reactor next to it, Unit 1, is also a Gen II design and has been chugging away for decades. So has nearly every other nuclear generator in the nation.

And of course there are those who object to the utility company running a little side business with the government. No, not cooking up plutonium for bombs. Just tritium for gun sights. Because we can’t use all that terrible radium like we used to in the 50s and 60s ...

TVA’s production of a key nuclear weapons component at its Watts Bar Nuclear Plant is expected to boost tritium levels within the plant above its prescribed limits this year even before the utility decides whether to more than double its production of the radioactive material.
...
In a letter sent to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and released this week, TVA says it expects its production of a bomb material for the military will boost tritium levels within the reactor core above the authorized annual levels sometime later this year. But J.W. Shea, vice president of nuclear licensing for TVA, said the release will not exceed any allowable levels for releases outside of the plant or pose any threat to TVA employees.

“There continues to be no significant radiological environmental effect associated with the Tritium Production Program,” Shea said in a letter to the NRC. “TVA has not, nor do they believe they will, exceed any regulatory limits for tritium release into the environment.”

But the notice of higher tritium releases within the plant’s containment system comes as TVA considers plans to more than double its production of tritium for the military. TVA is completing an environmental review of the impacts of producing more tritium for the military at Watts Bar.

Ok, they use tritium in H-bombs too. But it’s a second or third level catalyst or something like that. It ain’t the part that really goes boom.

So one new “old school” reactor coming soon, 4 new “modern” ones on the way. So five new nukes coming in the next decade? Awesome. That’s nearly 5% of the number we actually need.

Jenkinsville SC - Virgil C. Summer Nuclear Generating Station - 2 new units under construction, both Gen III designs, 1.1gW each, online before 2020
Waynesboro GA - Vogtle Electric Generating Plant - 2 new units under construction, both Gen III designs, 1.1gW each, construction began 2013

Click here for more on those projects.


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Posted by Drew458   United States  on 10/25/2015 at 01:14 PM   
Filed Under: • Oil, Alternative Energy, and Gas Prices •  
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